Hinduism, a polytheistic religion that originated in ancient India, is also highly practiced in Nepal, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Idol-worship being an integral part of Hindu belief system, shrines hold a very important place in this religion. Most of the Hindu shrines are structures dedicated to specific deities. Many of the shrines belong to the ancient world architecture pointing towards the pre-historic origin of the religion. Hinduism, essentially paganistic in nature, also believes in abstract symbols like the Shiva Linga. There are many different kinds of shrines-both natural and manmade. While, cave temples like Amarnath, situated in the slope of Himalayas, are natural shrines, others like Iskon temples are manmade but equally mystifying. Moreover, almost all ancient Hindu shrines are cited in holy scripts and connected to various holy figures. Devotees visit these shrines and make offerings in the form of flower, food and/or incense. The Pooja (ritual associated with worship) is performed by the priest, post which, people sing devotional songs and chant hymns. India, being the most prominent Hindu country of the world, has countless temples spread across its boundaries. From the Himalayan heights in the North, to Cape Comorin in the South-this country has a plethora of Hindu shrines to boast of.
Hindu shrines/temples usually have a main deity to which the temple is dedicated and one or more subsidiary deities which are also worshipped there. Indian temples are famous for their marvelous architecture which is owed to the Vishwakarmas or Shilpies, the temple constructors. A typical Hindu temple consists of an innermost Sanctum (garbha griha), where the idol is placed. This place is restricted for the priests only while the devotees offer prayers from the congregation hall. Hindus believe that there are four paths to attain salvation; by stainless devotion/worship (Bhakti Yoga), by deep meditation (Sadhana), by performing duties correctly (Karma Yoga) and by achieving divine knowledge through intellectual path (Jnana Yoga). Temples, as the channels of Bhakti yoga, have a remarkable place in Hindu way of life.
Despite all other aspects, Hinduism is best-known for the sheer multitude of its Gods and Goddesses. Hinduism has about 330 million deities however, the Rig Veda mentions only 33! How? Hinduism is an inclusive and liberal religion and every Hindu has the freedom to worship any Brahmana (Superior Human) in any form depending upon his/her belief system. Hindus also believe in incarnations of God and according to this belief, Gods are mere expansions of Brahman. Thus, even a charismatic human being can be worshipped for his/her virtues like bravery, loyalty etc. Adding on to this belief, Hinduism, being paganistic in nature, also has a special place for natural forces like water, air, earth, etc.
Articles in this section give you a detailed description on the famous shrines in India with a description on their historical background. Read on!
Amarnath Temple is a sacred Hindu shrine located in Kashmir and surrounded by beautiful Himalayan valleys. This ancient cave temple, dating to more than 5000 years ago, is devoted to Lord Shiva-one among the Holy Trinity of Hinduism. The temple is situated on Mount Amarnath which is about
Situated in the midst of the glorious Himalaya Mountains, Badrinath never fails to mesmerize visitors because of its serene beauty. But it is not just beauty that marks its importance; Hindus believe that it is one of the holiest places in the world. It is believed that this is where Lord Narayana resides and
Jagat Shri Brahma Temple
The famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Jagatpita (Father of the world) Brahma Mandir is situated at Pushkar, in the state of Rajasthan, India. The temple is dedicated to God Brahma, the Creator-the foremost in the Holy trinity of Hinduism. Despite being one of the important deities of Hinduism, there are very
Chamunda Devi Temple is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Goddess Chamunda, which is just another aspect of Goddess Shakti bodied fearsomely and created with the sole purpose of eradicating all evil from earth. The shrine is very strikingly seated
Galta Temple, the temple of Sun, is located at a distance of 10 km from Jaipur, the capital city of the state of Rajasthan, India. Jaipur is famous for its architectural excellence which is beautifully illustrated through the multitude of buildings and monuments there-many of them being famous tourist attractions.
A visit to the Gangotri would consist of the beautiful snow-capped mountains, pure springs of water and rocky terrains. A look from top, at the point where the river originates, rarely comprises of any greenery. While, one can visit the temple and get a darshan of the Ganga at the Gangotri itself, it is an altogether divine
The Kamakhya Temple is one of the 108 'Shakti Peethas' making it the most acclaimed Shakti shrines in the country. Perched on the Nilachal Hill and overlooking the West of the Guwahati city, it is one of the most ancient temples in the state. It is dedicated to goddess Sati, an embodiment of goddess Durga
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath temple is the holiest existing temple for the Hindus. It is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Varanasi (earlier Banaras), Uttar Pradesh, India. Every Hindu is expected to go there at least once in his/her lifetime to pay homage to this ancient shrine.
Located 3584 metres above sea level, Kedarnath is a scenic small town in the Himalayas and lies in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Being a part of the Chota Char Dham (Mini Four Abodes, a form of Hindu Pilgrimage), Kedarnath temple is held in very high regard and reverence by the Hindus.
The Lingaraj Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is said to be known as one of the oldest pilgrimage centers in the city. Located in the midsts of several ancient monuments in Bhubaneswar, the temple sees a large number of religious tourists throughout the year. The shrine's main deity is known as Lingaraj,
Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna
Shri Samsthana Mahabaleshwara Deva temple is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea in the holy town of Gokarna. Situated on the west coast of India in North Karnataka or Uttara Kannada district, it is one of the major Hindu pilgrim centres of South India. This temple enshrines the Atma Lingam of Lord Shiva.
The Mahakaleshwar Temple is an important and scared abode of Lord Shiva. Several tourists flock this shrine from different parts of India and the world. The temple is one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingams' in the country and is also highly revered by Hindu devotees. The holy sanctuary is found along the banks of the Rudra
Mathura and Vrindavan are the famous twin cities known to glorify the life of Lord Krishna. Mathura is the birthplace and Vrindavan, the place where Krishna spent most of his early life. Thus these two locations are of great significance to the Lord's devotees. A visit to Mathura is usually accompanied by a trip to Vrindavan,
Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This sacred island, shaped like the holiest of Hindu symbols 'Om', is about 2km long and 1km wide. Omkareshwar Temple is situated on the mountain Mandhata by the banks of Narmada River in Malva, Madhya Pradesh which is 77km away from Indore.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the one out of the 108 most holy temples of Lord Vishnu that is situated at the East Fort in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. Thiruvananthapuram literally means the 'land of Shree Anantha Padmanabhaswamy', which originates from the name of the temple itself and thus,
The Rameshwaram Temple is one of the most famous Hindu shrines in the country. It is tucked away at the tip of the Indian isthmus on the Pamban Island. This holy place is an important pilgrimage site as it happens to be one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas'. The shrine comprises of a main deity in the shape of a 'linga' called Sri
Shri Mahavirji Temple
Shri Mahavirji Temple, also known as Atishya Kshetra, is located in the Chandanpur Village of Karauli district in Rajasthan. The village rose to prominence after the antique idol of Lord Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankaras of Jains, was unearthed from the soil. Thus, it was renamed as 'Shri Mahavirji'. After this incident,
Somnath, home to the 'Aadi Jyotirling Sri Somnath Mahadev', is a holy place for Hindus. Although Somnath literally means "The Moon God", this shrine is actually dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be home to one of the twelve Jyotir Lingas. Somnath is located on the western cost of India, near Veraval in Gujarat.
The Trimbakeshwar temple is one of the most highly venerated and sacred pilgrimage sites in India. It is also said to be the cradle of the River Godavari as there are many legends associated with the existence of this watercourse. One of the main reasons that this shrine is declared to be holy is due to the fact that the Trimbakeshwar
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most important Hindu shrines in the world receiving more than 8 million devotees every year The temple, located in the picturesque hills of Jammu & Kashmir in India, is a cave temple seated at an altitude of 5200ft in a three-peaked mountain known as Trikoot. It is near a small
Amongst the most famous and pious pilgrim spots is the Yamunotri, situated in the midst of the beautiful and majestic Himalayas. Visitors say that the beauty of this shrine is breathtaking, irrespective of the number of times they have visited it. Hindus from all over the country travel here to pay homage to the origin of the River
Other Important Shrines
The Varah temple was built in the 12th century and, and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb is said to have destroyed it. Aurangzeb was understandably rather upset with the huge statue of Varah, the god with the body of a man and the head of a boar. However, Raja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur thought differently,