Bangalore may be known as the IT hub of India but it is also a place soaked in rich culture, heritage and history. It is also a major tourist destination of the country. The capital city of Karnataka thus has a dual image, on one side it portrays modern culture with IT establishments, pubs and malls and on the other side, there is the city that still boasts of its historical monuments. When one visits Bangalore, apart from the many places of tourist importance, the must-visit places are the temples. It is estimated that there are at least 1000 small and big temples in Bangalore and of these, many are centuries old. Here are the 10 temples of Bangalore that are not only famous as religious centres but also as architectural and historical wonders.
1. Dodda Ganesha Temple
Dodda Ganesha Temple is one of the most popular temples in Bangalore and also a prominent landmark in the city. The temple was built by Kempegowda who is known as the founder of Bangalore. It is said that Kempegowda once came upon a rock which had an image of Lord Ganesha engraved on it. He took it to his sculptors and asked them to carve a huge statue of Ganesha from it. The idol is 18 ft tall and 16 ft wide, making it one of the biggest Ganesha idols in the country. Another attraction here are the different decorations on the idol done daily, like the butter application, also known as Benne Alankara. The temple is open in the morning till noon and in the evening, from 5.30 to 8.30 pm.
2. Chokkanathaswamy Temple
Located in Dolmur in Bangalore, the Chokkanathaswamy temple is one of the oldest temples in the state. It was built in the 10th century AD by the Chola rulers. It is dedicated to lord Vishnu and the lord here is known as Chokka Perumal or Chokkanathaswamy. Another notable feature of the temple is its architecture with beautiful sculptures and other decorations. The pillars have inscriptions of the ten avatars (Incarnations) of lord Vishnu.
3. Gavi Gangadareshwara Temple
Gavi Gangadareshwara temple is a beautiful rock-cut cave temple dedicated to lord Shiva. It is believed to have been built in the 9th century and is sculpted out of a single rock. The stone discs in the temple are another attraction. The temple also houses a sculpture of lord Agni or the God of fire, which is a rarity in India. Shivaratri festival is observed with lot of devotion and people from far come to the temple during this period to offer their prayers.
4. Shiva Temple
Shiva temple was built in 1995 but its architecture reminds one of the grand old ages. A grand temple, it is one of the most popular temples of lord Shiva in Bangalore. The 65 feet tall statue of the lord is the main attraction, not to mention the elaborate yet delicate architecture. The Shiva temple is open the entire day.
5. Banashankari Temple
The temple is dedicated to Banashankari Amma, giving its resident region its name. Banashankari temple is situated in the southern part of the city. It is believed that worshiping the goddess here can lessen your difficulties and remove obstacles from your path in life. The temple is open on all days from morning till night. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays special poojas (Prayers) are held for the deity. On Dussehra festival and the temple anniversary, celebrated either in December or January, thousands of devotees visit the temple to offer their prayers. The birthday of the deity is also celebrated on September 13th every year. Lemon diyas (Small lamps) are the special offering here. Lemons are cut in half and after removing the inner pulp, oil is poured into it and the diyas are lit.
6. Sugreeva Venkateshwara Temple
Situated in Balepat in Bangalore, the Sugreeva Venkateshwara temple is dedicated to lord Venkateshwara, and also has a six feet tall idol of Sugreeva, who was lord Rama’s friend. The idol stands with folded hands offering prayer to the lord. The idol of lord Venkateshwara is housed inside the inner sanctum and is seated on a pedestal. The temple is open from morning till night.
7. The Bull Temple
This Bull temple is housed in the same premises as Dodda Ganesha temple and is located in Basavanagudi. It is also one of the oldest temples in Bangalore as it was built in 1537. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and the main attraction here is the mammoth statue of the Nandi bull, Shiva’s mount, which stands 15 ft in height. The statue was carved out from a single rock and is a marvel in itself. There are also statues of lord Surya (Sun God), and lord Chandra (Moon God) riding their chariots just behind the Nandi statue. The temple has ceremonies all around the week. Musicians perform at the temple during weekends. Every year in the Hindu month of Kartika, a ground nut fair is held at the temple which is attended by a large number of devotees. The ground nut is also offered to the deity on the occasion.
8. The Kanyakaparameshwari Temple
Located in Kumara Park, the Kanyakaparameshwari temple is a unique temple with distinct features. It has beautiful murals along with exquisite marble work. The Mirror temple, or the darpana mandira, is another attraction at the temple. The idol of the goddess is adorned beautifully all the time. There are many legends associated with the temple and it is believed that the goddess is an incarnation of goddess Parvati.
9. The ISKCON Temple
With its architecture that combines glass and the gopuram style, the ISKCON temple of Bangalore is a perfect example of amalgamation of traditional and modern architecture. It is also one of the largest ISKCON temples, not just in India, but also in the world. The main deities are lord Krishna and Radha. Built in 1997 to honour the birth centenary of Sri Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, the temple is one of the landmarks of Bangalore city. The 17 m tall flag post and the 8.5 m Kalash Shikhara, both gold plated are the other attractions. There is also a theater, a lecture hall, an exhibition area and a Vedic museum in the temple building. The shrine also offers lodging facilities for visitors. It is not open throughout the day, but has specific timings. Morning 4 am to 5 am, the temple opens but then is shut for two hours, and again opens at 7 to 1 pm. In the afternoon, the temple remains closed. The evening timings are from 4 pm to 8.30 pm.
10. Venkataramanswamy Temple
Located at Visvesvarapuram in Basavanagudi region, the Venkataramanswamy temple was built at least three centuries ago and is thus one of the oldest temples of Bangalore. It has beautiful architecture in the traditional style with intricate carvings. One of the main attractions are the beautiful pillars. They were destroyed by cannon balls during the Mysore war that took place in 1791 but later on, they were repaired and restored. However, the marks can still be seen on the pillars. The temple is open from morning till night.
11. Chennakeshava Temple
Located near Avenue Road, the ChennaKeshava temple is one of the oldest temples in the city. Dedicated to lord Vishnu, the temple was built during the reign of Vijayanagar empire. The architecture of the temple is simply marvellous and worth looking at for hours. Though the temple can be visited any time during the year, the months of January-February, August, November and December-January are the best time as it is during these months that the annual chariot festival, Shravana Masa, Kartika Masa and Dhanur Masa respectively are celebrated with great devotion.
12. Panchamukhi Ganesha Temple
It is one of the recently built temples in Bangalore and is also one of the few such temples in India. As the name suggests, the main deity is lord Ganesha with five faces or Panchamukhi. It is believed that the deity is one of the 32 avatars or forms of lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God. It is located at Hanumantha nagar in Bangalore. The temple interiors is built in marble and is one of the most popular temples in the city.
13. Kailash Vaikunta Mahakshetra Temple
Located at Chamundi nagar on 67th Cross road in Rajaji nagar, the Kailash Vaikunta Mahakshetra temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and lord Vishnu. The main attraction of the temple is the idol of lord Vishnu in the reclining position which is about 20 feet in length. There are also idols of Tripurasundari, lord Ganesha, Navagrahas and lord Subramanya inside the temple.
14. Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple
The colourful architecture of the temple is the first thing that arrests you. One of the oldest and most popular temples in Bangalore, the Shri Dharmaraya Swamy temple is one of its kind as it is dedicated to the Pandavas. It is believed that the temple was built 800 years ago and its beautiful architecture is testimony to it. It is believed that the temple was built by the Thigalas or the Ganga Arasu people. The temple is located at Thigalarpet. The main festival of the temple is the Bangalore Karaga festival dedicated to Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas.
15. Shrungagiri Shanmukha Temple
Located in Raja Rajeshwari nagar, the Shrungagiri Shanmukha temple is one of the most important religious places in the city of Bangalore. It is a unique temple and dedicated to lord Shanmukha or lord Muruga, with six faces. The main attraction is the gopuram which has on its top, with six faces of the lord. Above it, is a dome made from 2500 crystals. When sun’s light falls on the crystals, rainbow patterns are formed. It is also a beautiful sight to watch the dome at night when it is lit using LED lights. Also, these sun rays fall on the deity, thus facilitating ‘Surya Kiran Abhisheka’ or the pouring of sun rays. It is definitely one of the best and most unique temples in the world. At the entrance, two beautiful peacock statues are situated, as peacock is said to be the vehicle of lord Muruga.
Each temple of Bangalore has a tale to narrate and a glory to display. Apart from the magnificent architecture, the temple of Bangalore also are places where even today, centuries old traditions and rituals are observed with much devotion and reverence. A visit to these temples means peace and bliss for sure.
Visiting the temples of Bangalore not only gives you a spiritual experience that you can cherish for a long time, but these temples are also a symbol of our historic past with many of the old temples also reminding us of the craftsmanship and skills ancient India possessed. Though each temple has its own festival and unique annual celebrations, they can be visited any time of the year. The early morning and the evening poojas are the preferable time as the whole temple during this time is filled with holy chants and rituals which give a soul-lifting experience to visitors.