10 The Most Beautiful Temples in India: India is known to be a land of cultures and traditions. One of the most secular countries in the world, India is home to a number of beautiful temples. A temple can also be called a structure that brings human beings and God together, the connecting link between the human and the Divine. Temples are a mark of faith and culture. In ancient times, temples were also considered to be a social hub where people congregated. Temples were also a significant site for practicing a variety of art- music, dance etc. It was a place where people would congregate to pray, watch and participate in devotional music and dance recitals.
A temple is not just a physical structure but is also symbolic in various ways- a typical Hindu temple usually presents God, the theory of good vs. evil and the cycle of time. The carvings and paintings in ancient temples reflected the art and lifestyle of ancient people. Temples are an example of not only our rich cultural heritage but also some brilliant craftsmanship. Here is a list of 10 most beautiful temples in India –
10 The Most Beautiful Temples in India
1. Badami Cave Temple
Badami Cave Temples are located in a town in the Bagalkot district of northern part of Karnataka. The temples are an exemplary of Indian rock-cut architecture, especially that of the Badami Chalukya architecture. The two primary elements of this school of architecture were structured temples and rock-cut halls. Pillared verandahs, columned halls and a sanctum cut out deep into rock form the essential components of any structure built according to this school of architecture. The Badami cave temples are also a complex for Hindu, Jain and Buddhist worshippers. Badami cave temples also signify some of the earliest known Hindu temples.
2. Brihadeeswarar Temple
A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. One of the largest temples in India, this temple stands as an example of the Tamil architecture during the Chola Period. Built in 10th century AD, the temple is more than a thousand years old. The temple is one of the most visited tourist destination in Tamil Nadu and is said to be made of 60,000 tons of granite. Activities like music, dance and art were encouraged in the temple, and the temple was also known as a hub of social activities and gatherings.
3. Lingaraj Temple
Lingaraja temple is one of the oldest and largest temples of the ‘Temple City of India’ – Orissa. Drenched in the architectural style typical of Kalinga, the temple doesn’t only attract religious devotees but also the historians.
The idol of Lingaraj usually represents Lord Shiva, but over here it symbolizes Shiva and Vishnu. The combined form of both the Gods is referred to as Harihara. A large lake called Bindu Sagar touches the temple from one side and is said to have healing powers. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the premises, thus they can see the magnificent structure from a platform outside the temple. Shivratri is the main festival of the temple.
4. Kailashnath Temple
Located in Ellora, Maharashtra, Kailashnath Temple is one of the largest rock-cut temples in India. Because of its size and architecture, it is considered as one of the most amazing rock cave temples. The temple architecture shows hints of Pallav civilization. The temple is also known for its vertical excavation, which means, the carvers started excavating downward, starting from the top. The central shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his mount Nandi, the sacred bull. The temple is also known for its beautiful, intricate carvings. There are five smaller, separate shines in the premises of the temple, three of which are dedicated to the river Goddesses Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
5. Akshardham Temple
An eternal place of devotion and peace, the word ‘Akshardham’ means God’s divine abode. It is not just a place of spiritual devotion but also cultural congregation. The temple is also surrounded by an entire complex which includes activities like Sahajananda Darshan (Hall of Values), Neelkanth Darshan (A film on the early life of Swaminarayan) and Sanskruti Darshan (Cultural Boat Ride). The Akshardham temple remains the main attraction and the intricate carvings on the temple which include dancers, musicians and deities are a sight to behold. At night, the musical fountain is played depicting the circle of life, at the Yagnapurush Kund, which is also India’s largest step well.
6. Ramanathaswamy (Rameshwaram) Temple
Rameshwaram is a small island town in Tamil Nadu and is one of the four holiest pilgrimage places (Char Dhams) of the Hindus.
The reason for its being so sacred is the belief that Lord Rama along with his wife Sita first landed on its shore after defeating the demon Ravana (who was also a Brahmin). To seek atonement for killing a Brahmin, Rama wanted to pray to Shiva. Hanuman was sent off to Kailash to bring an idol of the God. In the meantime, Sita made a small lingam. The one made by Sita is called Ramalingam and one brought by Hanuman is called Vishwalingam.
As per the instructions of Lord Rama, Vishwalingam is worshiped before the Ramalingam, even today.
7. Dilwara Temples
Dilwara Temples are located close to Mt. Abu in Rajasthan. The temples displays and excellent use of marble and were built in between 11th and 13th centuries AD. Dilwara temples also include five legendary temples and are an important place of worship for the Jains. Located in the middle of a range of forested hills, these temples signify architectural perfection along with Jain values like honesty and frugality. There are also five temples in all, each of which has its own identity. It is mandatory to take a bath before puja is performed for the idols and bathing facilities are also available. The doorways, pillars, panels and ceilings have meticulously carved details.
8. Somnath Temple
This is one of the oldest pilgrimage centers in India and finds mention in the ancient books, like Shivpuran, Skandpuran and Shreemad Bhagvat. Som refers to the ‘Moon God’, thus Somnath means ‘Protector of the Moon God’. According to a legend, Som got the temple built in the honor of Lord Shiva as it was Shiva who cured the illness, which was inflicted on him due to his father-in-law’s curse.
It is one of the most revered ‘jyotirlings’ among the 12 existing jyotirlingas of India. The temple is located in Prabhas Kshetra in Saurashtra (Gujarat). Prabhas Kshetra is also the region in which, it is believed that Lord Krishna left his mortal body.
Another interesting thing about the place is that it is built on the shore of Arabian Sea and in between the temple and the South Pole, in a straight line there is no land area. Somnath temple was destroyed and re-built many times. The place also has a Somnath museum, Junagadh gate, beach and a sound and light show to amuse the pilgrims.
9. Konark Sun Temple
The Sun temple is situated in the small town of Konark, which is situated in the Puri district of Odisha. This marvel of architecture is dedicated to Lord Sun. And resembling his carriage, the temple has been built in the shape of a chariot, which has twelve wheels and is shown as being dragged by the seven horses also.
The temple is believed to be constructed in the 13th century by a king called Narasimhadeva. Like with most things in India, this temple too has connections with a few legends. As per one of the legends, God Krishna cursed, one of his own sons with leprosy. To seek penance, Samba worshiped Lord Sun (Surya) for a period of twelve years. Pleased with his devotion, Surya healed him. Samba made the Sun temple in return to express his gratitude.
The mesmerizing beauty of the place was best summed up by the Rabindranath Tagore through these words: ‘Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.’
10. Tirupati Balaji
Locate in the hilly town of Tirumala (Andhra Pradesh), the temple is also known as Tirumala Venkateshwara temple. The temple is devoted to Lord Venkateshwara, who is popularly called ‘Balaji’ and is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Venkateshwara Tirupati Balaji is the second richest religious site with people offering money and gold to their Lord running into millions, each day.
The ancient temple has been visited by the rulers of many grand dynasties of Southern India. The temple celebrates many festivals, most famous among them is Brahmotsavam (also known as ‘Salakatla brahmotsavam’), which goes on for 9 days and witnesses a great mass of the devotees.
The laddoos (a kind of sweet), which are given in the form of prasadam in the shrine are famous around the world for their unique delectable taste. As a religious ritual, people get their heads tonsured in large numbers over here, so much so that every year about 6 million US dollars are earned through the auction of hairs.