India is well known for its rich culture and religion. A number of stories and legends revolve around this mysterious country. The country is full of monuments and historical places, all of which have surprising and intriguing stories behind them. Similarly, being a secular country, India also has many temples dedicated to Gods of different religions. The architecture of these old temples still leaves people surprised and mesmerized. Scattered all over the country, you will find a temple on highest of the hills and in deepest of the valleys. Some are even found in the middle of oceans and lakes, while some stand proudly amidst the cities and villages. Given below are just a few of India’s most visited temples. These temples are very popular and attract a large number of devotees.
1. Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati
Tirumala Venkateswara temple of Lord Venkateswara, who is famous for being the richest God and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is one of the most visited temples in India. Its popularity is evident by the fact that more than 60,000 devotees visit it every single day. Brahmoutsav is the best time to visit the temple as it is celebrated with great pomp and show that enthralls the spectators. The Prasadam (a food substance that is a religious offering in both Hinduism and Sikhism) of this temple is also quite famous for its yummy taste.
2. Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu Kashmir
This temple of Vaishno Devi is situated high up in the mountains and is dedicated to Adi Shakti. It is perched on the mighty Trikuta Hill in Jammu. The shrine attracts a huge number of devotes on a daily basis. People usually take up a trek to walk to the top of the hill. The scenery is beautiful and the faith and energy of the devotees keep the area lively. There are options for helicopters for those who are not willing to walk so much. However, if you are accompanied with an elderly person yet wish to take the trek, there are options for palanquins and they can accompany you on the trek without having to walk with you.
3. Jagannath Temple, Puri
The Jagannath temple of Puri comes under the ‘char dhams’, a visit to which, according to Hindu belief, can grant salvation to humans. The main deity of the temple of lord Jagannath. Apart from that, there are idols of Goddess Subhadra and Balabhadra. The best time to visit this temple is during the festival of ‘Rath Yatra’. You will be amazed to see how people celebrate it. The crowd during this time is highly enthusiastic and the energy level of the devotees would really give you goose bumps.
4. Amarnath Dham, Srinagar
Located in the high hills of Jammu and Kashmir, the Amarnath Dham is another one of the four ‘dhams’ of the Hindus. This dham is more like a cave and is famous for the lingam (lord Shiva’s representation) that sculpts spontaneously every year. According to the legends, centuries ago, lord Shiva was having a conversation with his wife goddess Parvati right at this spot. He told her the secret of immortality and the conversation was eaves dropped by a couple of pigeons. People say that two pigeons are still seen at this cave at all times. One can reach this heavenly temple through a long trek.
5. Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand
Located on the majestic Himalayan Range, the Badrinath temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu, also known as Badrinathji. Lord Vishnu came here to meditate after he realized that he had started taking too much interest in the worldly affairs. This temple stays closed for six months because of the harsh weather conditions of the Himalayas. People who visit it during summers also need to carry heavy woolen clothes. The Badrinath temple too comes under the four ‘dhams’ of the Hindus. People of Uttarakhand also call it as the ‘chota dham’.
6. Dwarakadheesh Temple, Gujarat
The Dwarakadeesh temple located in Gujarat is a temple dedicated to lord Krishna. It is said that the initial structures of the temple were built by lord Krishna’s grandson Vajranabha. This temple became a sacred part of the ‘Char Dhams’ after the 8th century. This is the last of the four ‘Dhams’ and it attracts a huge number of Hindu devotees daily. The way Janamastami (festival celebrated in the honor of Lord Krishna’s birth) is celebrated here is nothing like any celebrations you might have ever seen.
7. Golden Temple, Amritsar
Formally known as the Sri Harmandir Sahib, the Golden temple is the most popular Gurudwaras of the Sikhs. This Gurudwara was made under the artistic patronage of the fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan. The holy book of the Sikhs, the Adi Granth Sahib is also installed here. This Gurudwara has witnessed a number of great historic events that took place in the Sikh religion. Every Sikh wishes to visit this Gurudwara at least once in his entire lifetime.
8. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the most visited pilgrim place for Christians. This church has the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The body is presented for a public viewing every 10 years and it attracts people from all over the world. This church is a World Heritage Site and is under the care of UNESCO. Apart from that, it is also India’s oldest church. Needless to say, it serves as a major landmark in the history of Christianity. The construction of church began in the year 1594. The interiors of this church are lovely and beautifully decorated with precious marble and stones.
9. Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer
Located at a distance of 2 km from Ajmer railway station, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah houses the remains of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a great Sufi saint. The mosque was built here by Shah Jahan. It is said that the great Mughal emperor, Akbar visited this dargah every year with his wife. They walked all the way from Agra. They did so because of an oath they had taken when they were both praying for a son. According to rough statistics, about 125,000 devotees visit this place on a daily basis.
10. Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat
Located in Gujarat, the Somnath temple is the first Jyotirlinga shrine of Shiva. Jyotir means radiance while lingam is the form in which lord Shiva is worshipped. Jyotirlangas are believed to be the places from where Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a light. A number of legends revolve around this temple and the most intriguing part is its history. No one knows how or when it was built. This temple was attacked innumerable times by the Islamic kings and the Hindu kings had it rebuilt every time. Some of the other places with Jyotirlingas are Varanasi and Dwarka.
As said earlier, India’s culture can leave anyone surprised. With each religion having so many beliefs and traditions, India flourishes with the color of these Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras and Churches. If you are an Indian, you must visit all of these places irrespective of your religion because it would give you a great insight of the other religions. Apart from that, you would be impressed to see the enthusiasm and devotion of all. If you are not an Indian, you are in for big and beautiful surprises.