India is a diverse country with many cultures, festivals and beautiful temples. Temples are found everywhere from the Himalayan hills to the hills of Ladakh and from the forgotten villages of Tamil Nadu to the caves of Maharashtra. Every street in India, big or small, has at least one.
This is because people in India are very religious and mostly follow their religion very well. This devotion can be seen in the annual festivals where people gather and organize pandals to worship God. The most famous are Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai and Durga Puja in Kolkata. In India, many people go to extremes to show their faith in God.
Some leave their hometowns and walk for about 25-30 days to visit certain temples. Others have given up what they have and become saints or Khareshwari or permanent fathers, people who stand without long sleep as a punishment for self-enlightenment. Anyone can say that India is the most religious and spiritual place in the world. Whatever it is, it must have some of the most spectacular temples on the planet. Below is a list of 26 famous temples to visit in India with gorgeous photos.
Best 25 Temples to Visit in India
1. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
The name of this spectacular temple is synonymous with the name of the city of Madurai. The Madurai Meenakshi Temple is considered to be the largest temple in India in terms of size and region. Founded in the sixteenth century, it is one of the oldest temples in India.
It is the most famous temple in Tamil Nadu. There are about 14 gopurams or gateways that are beautifully carved and thousands of stone painted walls are beautifully painted. Of the 14 towers, only four are considered major. These are located on south, east, west and north of the temple.
2. Golden Temple, Amritsar
The Golden Temple, otherwise known as Harmandir Sahib, is considered to be the holiest temple in Sikhism. If you watch Bollywood movies, you may have seen them. Every year many people from all over the world and from all religions come on this tour. The temple is gold plated, and the interiors are decorated in a great style that will take your breath away.
The annual harvest festival of Baishakhi attracts thousands of people and is celebrated with utmost warmth and intensity. The festival of Diwali is also celebrated with great enthusiasm. The temple is known as the langar (community kitchen), the largest free dining lodge, where people of any religion, regardless of caste, creed or economic background, can come and eat for free. About 50,000 people eat here every day and about 100,000 people visit on weekends.
3. Sai Baba, Shirdi
Sai Baba came to the small village of Shirdi with the message of one owner (one God rules all). He taught people that there is a God and encouraged everyone to love, be kind, and help others unselfishly. Saibabu Temple is located in Shirdi and is one of the main places of worship in Mahara Maharashtra. People who travel 300 to 400 kilometers here every year as part of their religious pilgrimage or hiking (walking). Don’t be surprised to see children over the age of 60 or under the age of eight.
4. Vaishno Devi temple, Katra
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Mata Vaishnav and is the second largest temple in India. It is located 5200 feet above the ground. The temple is very significant among Hindus and most of them try to visit it once in their life time. If you are planning to visit, it is mandatory to get a Travel Registration Card (YRC) or slip. YRC is available free of charge at Katra bus station which also happens to be the nearest bus stop. It will be available online from YRCO official website for Rs 10,000. 50 per person. No private party can issue YRC
5. Tirumala Venkateswara, Tirupati
Also known as Tirupati Balaji, this temple is one of the most visited temples in India and also one of the most scenic places in India. People travel here for good wishes: some pray for wealth, some come to donate their wealth, some wish to have children, and some come to get married. The temple receives about 50,000 daily visitors and 40 million visitors annually. Fans often come to offer lots of cash and gold offerings as an estimate, the annual gold offered here is more than 3000 kg.
6. Shravana Belgola, Hassan
Shravan Belgola is the name of the place where the world’s longest monotonous idol stands. This idol known as Bahubali or Gomteshwar is highly revered by Jain observers. There are many more idols like Hanuman in Paritala of Andhra Pradesh which are taller than this. It is one of the holiest places in Jainism.
As Sharavana Belgola or Shravanabelagola can be pronounced, it has two hills, named Bindigiri and Chandragiri. The statue is located on the Bindyagiri hill. It is a 57-foot tall statue. Mahamasthaka Vishwesh is a festival every twelve years. In this festival, the idol is represented by milk, oil, ghee, and sandalwood etc. Thousands of people go to this festival. The event was last held in 2006 and the next one is scheduled for 2018.
7. Chennakesava Temple, Belur
This temple and the Hoesaleshwar temple of Halebidur are near Shravan Belgola. He who visits Shravan Belgola also visits Chennakasava and Hoysaleshwar temples. It is actually located in a center of the Chennakasava temple in the center, lit by several small temples to the left and right. It is certainly one of the best examples of architectural excellence. Built in the eleventh century, it still stands strong today.
8. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu
This temple is not too far from the Channeksava temple and it is another great piece of architecture. It belongs to the pre-Haisal empire, which ruled mostly in southern India from the 10th to the 14th century. It is rumored that the construction of this temple did not end as soon as it was started, it was attacked by invaders from northern India. While this may be incomplete, the beauty and precision of the structure is mind-blowing. It is dedicated to Shiva and contains many finely carved idols and pillars. You can go back in time and also visit the ancient city of Halebidu
9. Sabarimala, Kottayam
The Sabarimala temple is surrounded by 18 hills. It is not open all year round but only for 411 days between the months of November and December Mak Makar Sankranti, Vishu, and the first six days of each Malayalam month. For the annual pilgrimage, millions of devotees fast for 41 days and abstain from spending any material. This fast is one of the hardest and devotees should abstain from alcohol and sex (no woman is allowed to touch). They are only allowed to eat once in 41 days and bathe twice. Their Tusrab women are not allowed here
10. Murugan Temple, Palani
This temple is located in the small town of Palani, which is more famous for its temples than anything else. It is one of the six most important residences of Lord Karthik. Another famous one is Thiruchendur. There is an interesting short story about how Lord Karthik chose Palani as his abode. The story shows that Narad Muni gives a gift to Shiva, the fruit of wisdom.
Lord Shiva, being a loving father, wants to share the fruit between his two sons, Lord Ganesha and Lord Karthik. However, Narad Muni opposed it. So Lord Shiva proposed that after orbiting the earth three times, any son would come back first and get the fruit.
Lord Karthik began to surround the world with his peacock. But Ganesha decided to circle his parents instead and through it declared that his world is his parents. Thus, Shiva gave the fruit to Lord Ganesha awarded It did not go well with Karthik, so he decided to leave the hill of Kailash and settle at his abode in Palani.
11. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located on Rameshwaram Island in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This is the Chardham shrine. Just visiting the temple itself is a perfect experience because you have to cross a bridge from the mainland to reach this temple. Unlike other shorelines, the shores of this island are very quiet. It is rumored that the sea god promised Lord Rama that he would stop the waves to help Lord Rama build the bridge.
Suggested Read: 12 Jyotirlingas of lord Shiva in India
12. Sun Temple, Konark
This temple is dedicated to Suryadev Surya. According to a survey conducted by NDTV, it has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the Seven Wonders of India. The architectural design features intricate works of art, iconography and themes, including erotic commas and sweet scenes.
13. Lotus Temple, New Delhi
Delhi has many historic sites as well as lots of modern architecture, including the Lotus Temple. The Padma Temple is one of the most popular places to visit in Delhi. The name comes from the size of the building, it is similar to a lotus flower.
14. Akshardham Temple, New Delhi
One of the temples of Delhi or Gujarat. It was a difficult decision, and I chose Delhi because it was awarded the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest temple in the world. Akshardham in Gandhinagar is also great, so be sure to check it out.
15. Char Dham Temple
Chardham or Chhota Char Dham (small four dwellings) in Uttarakhand is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. It consists of four of the holiest places in Uttarakhand – Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Jamunotri. It is not known when and how these places were connected to the pilgrimage circuit. Each of the places has its own unique and legendary history. But perhaps it is the generosity and mysticism of each site that has made them worthy of forming a holy pilgrimage.
16. Jagannath Temple
The Jagannath Temple is located in Puri, Orissa, and is one of the most famous temples to visit in India for a number of reasons. Rathyatra is a festival held every year around the ancient temple in memory of Lord Jagannath and his siblings. This festival is so famous that people from all over the world gather around Puri. The Jagannath temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, and if you go there, you will see the royal kitchen located inside the temple. In the temple, dinner is regularly prepared for the Lord, and it is a sight to behold.
17. Amarnath Cave Temple
The Amarnath Cave Temple is located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is over 5000 years old. The temple is located at an altitude of 3900 m and therefore cannot be visited in winter season as the road to the temple is closed due to significant snowfall.
Although the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, interestingly the temple is not man-made. It is a natural cave made up of ice and a linga of ice is worshiped because it resembles Lord Shiva. Millions of travelers from all over the world visit this cave and it is quite challenging to reach. To enter the cave you have to walk miles0 miles. Not every tourist is able to deal with such adverse situations.
Suggested Read: Top 23 Shiva Temples in India
18. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Resting on the west bank of the Ganges at Varanasi, Kashi Bishwanath which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is located in Varanasi which is the cultural capital of India. The temple is coated with kg00 kg of gold in its tower and boasts a great architecture. There is a well inside the temple called Gyan Bhapi and only Hindus can go here. In addition to the main temple, there are other smaller temples such as Kalbhairav, Birupaksha Gauri, Binayak, Vishnu, and Abimukteshwar.
19. Brihadeeswara Temple
Brihadeshwara Temple is located in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and is one of the most famous and ancient temples in India. The UNESCO heritage site is not only the name of the world, it is truly a real piece of brilliant architecture. The temple was built by King Chola I, the ruler of the Chola dynasty, and was dedicated to Lord Shiva. Even if you are not religiously interested, you should visit the temple once in your life to soak in the glory of extraordinary architecture.
20. Somnath Temple
The Somnath Temple is one of the oldest architectural monuments in India, located in Saurashtra, Gujarat. It is dedicated to the Moon God and involves an interesting history. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in the last thousand years. Legend has it that Lord Shiva built the temple and it is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. Even if you are not interested in history, you should come to Saurashtra once to see the glory and hear the exciting story about the temple itself.
21. Badrinath Temple
The Badrinath temple is quite sacred among the Hindus as it is believed to be one of the 108 temples built for Lord Vishnu in the world. It is located in Uttarakhand and is adorned by tourists of all religious faiths. It is not only one of the four dhams of the four dham tirthas in India, it is also quite beautiful. This is one of the famous temples to visit in India. If you want to visit Badrinath, visit it between April and November as it will be impossible for you to see the temple during winter due to heavy snowfall.
22. Dilwara Temples
Surrounded by the lush green Aravalli hills of Mount Abu, the Dilwara temple is a beautiful architecture and a pilgrimage site for the Jains. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the temple is designed by Bastupala Tejpal and built by Bimal Shah. Strictly speaking, this temple is built of marble and intricate carvings.
23. Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple
This temple is located on the south bank of the river Krishna in the town of Srisailam. The Mallikarjun Swami Temple is known as one of the most famous temples in India, tracing its roots over 6 centuries from history. This is one of the famous temples in India. Built by King Harihar Roy of Vijayanagar, the idol of Bshi Bringi stands on three legs in this temple, when he was cursed to stand beside Goddess Parvati only for the worship of Lord Shiva. Like looking at the walls and pillars which add splendor to the temple.
24. Kandariya Mahadev Temple
Built between 1025-1050 AD, the temple boasts of a fine and magnificent architecture, reflecting its rich tradition. This is one of the most visited temples in India. The walls of the temple are decorated with great frescoes of women standing in different poses. This temple is considered as one of the best places of interest in Khajuraho which is visited by many tourists. The Kandaria Mahadev Temple is engraved in the tomb of about women00 female idols which is about a foot high. There is a Shivling in the center of the Garba House at this place dedicated to Lord Shiva.
25. Kedarnath Temple
The Kedarnath Temple is famous not only among religiously inclined tourists, but also among other nature lovers because of its location. The temple is located in the middle of the Royal Himalayan Glacier and in winter the whole area is covered with ice. That’s why it stays closed for half a year. This temple was built for Lord Shiva and is claimed to have been built by the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. Pilgrims have to walk more than 14 kilometers to reach there.
India can be referred to as a country of temples or a country of religious structures, as one temple is found every 3 km or more. For most Indians, going to the temple is a daily ritual to pay homage to the Lord. Also, many of these temples are centuries old with amazing architecture, and thus a prominent part of India’s cultural heritage history.
There are many legends associated with these temples which add to their significance. There are thousands of temples in India that have their place in history and mythology and of course because it is a marvel of architecture, a symbol of India’s rich cultural past.