India is known as the Land of Temples. Millions of tourists visit these temples and encourage tourism as an industry. There are various cave temples some hidden beneath the ground or some mighty structures with intricate decorations and carvings. You will be overwhelmed by the number of famous temples in India, in case you consider taking an India temple tour. There are a multitude of religions in India and even a greater number of temples. Indians are enormously possessive about their religion and all Indian temples are thronged by pilgrims and visitors owing to the rich heritage and cultural significance these places carry.
Here is a list of top 10 famous Indian temples you must visit:
1. Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh
The Khajuraho temples are one of the seven wonders of India, second only to the incredible Taj Mahal, which is a mausoleum. While the brilliant architecture and symmetry remains a point of amazement, the Khajuraho temples mainly in the limelight because of the incredible erotic art and carvings. Although the erotic sculptures make for just 10% of the temples, the temples have become synonymous with love and erotica. The name Khajuraho, ancient “Kharjuravāhaka”, is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura, date palm and vāhaka, one who carries. Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could.
2. Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Located in Saurashtra, Somnath (The Protector of the Moon God) is considered to be the first of the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is the holiest of all the Jyotirlingas and is considered as the prime abode of Lord Shiva. The Somnath Temple is known as “the Shrine Eternal”, having been destroyed many times by various kings and rulers. Ancient Indian traditions maintain a close relationship of Somnath with the release of Moon God from the curse of his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati. Legend has it that the Moon was married to 27 daughters of Daksha. However, he favoured Rohini and neglected other queens. The aggrieved Daksha cursed the Moon and the latter lost power of light. With the advice of Prajapita Brahma, Moon arrived at the Prabhas Teerth and worshipped Lord Shiva. Pleased with his penance, Lord Shiva blessed him and relieved him from the curse of darkness.
2. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath Temple (one of the twelve Jyotirlingas) is the most famous and most sacred Hindu temples located in Varanasi on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and the holiest of Lord Shiva temples. Once in a life a Hindu (devotee) is expexted to do pilgrimage as it is the holiest existing place of Hindus. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The oldest living city in the world it is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
4. Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa
Situated in the northern coast of Orissa, The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and is famous for its annual Ratha yatra which is attended by millions of Hindu pilgrims every year. It was built by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in the 12th century. The temple complex is one of the magnificent structures of India as it is housed with 120 shrines and temples and encompassed by a soaring fortified wall. The Mahaprasad served in the temple is a pure vegetarian meal cooked without using onion and garlic. It is believed that food is prepared under the scrutiny of Goddess Mahalakshmi and those who have it attains spiritual advancement.
5. Venkateshwara Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh
With the annual visitors touching 40 million, Tirupati Balaji is the largest visited temple in India and is considered as the second richest pilgrimage center after Sree Pdmabhaswamy Temple. The temple was built during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya, built in Dravidian architectural style. During special occasions such as Ram Navami, Janmashtami and Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims coming to the temple can mount up to 5, 00,000 per day.
6. Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple is a historic Hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Meenakshi. It is situated in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai.The complex houses 14 gateway towers called gopurams which are painted in bright colors and bejeweled with figures of animals, gods and demons. The temple structure is a foremost example of Dravidian style.
7. Siddhivinayak Temple in Maharashtra
Shree Siddhivinayak Temple is considered among the most revered temples of India Tour and is One of the most prominent and famous temples of Lord Ganesh. It was built in the year 1801 by Vithu and Deubai Patil and the current generation of Patil family stays in its vicinity. The sanctum sanctorum for devotees of elephant deity Ganesh, Siddhivinayak Temple boasts of a small Mandapam where the main idol of Siddhivinayak is enshrined. The wooden doors of this temple are carved with the images of Ashtavinayaka and the inner roof is plated with gold.
8. Amarnath Cave Temple in Jammu & Kashmir
Amarnath Yatra has begun, with thousands of pilgrims awaiting their turn to have the darshan (view) of the holy Lingam inside the Amarnath cave. The holy cave of Amarnath is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva narrated the secrets of immortality to his consort Parvati. Hndus believe a visit to this holy shrine ensures Moksha (salvation) after death. The cave is believed to have a Lingam structure made of ice. As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival. Scientists describe this as a natural phenomenon caused by the falling of icicles inside the cave during the long winter.
9. Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab
Harmandir Sahib aka Golden Temple in Amritsar is the most famous Sikh pilgrimage in India which is a perfect symbol of religious tolerance and spiritual freedom. The foundation of this Sikh shrine was laid by Guru Arjuna Dev. It was later refurbished by Maharaja Ranjit Singh who bejeweled it with pure gold and transformed it into an architectural masterpiece. The sacred pool known as Amrit Sarovar has a great spiritual significance and is believed to have curative medicinal powers.
10. Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Brihadeshwara Temple is one of the most prominent temples in south India owing to its religious significance and artistic brilliance and is designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This temple structure is purely built in granite and it was built during the reign of Chola dynasty. This magnificent temple flaunts exquisite carvings which are supreme examples of artistic creativity.
source: indiatvnews.com, 20 Aug 2013