What are the major temples in India? Why are they significant? Read further to know more about it.
India is known for its diverse and unique temple architecture, which has evolved over thousands of years. Some of the major temple architecture styles in India are the Dravidian style, Nagara style, Vesara style, etc.
Famous Temples in India
A few prominent temples in India with important features are:
Khajuraho Temple, Madhya Pradesh
- The group of temples was built by the Chandela Dynasty rulers.
- Though originally there were 85 temples spread over an area of 9 square miles, only 25 temples remain.
- The Khajuraho temples are famous for their Nagara style of architecture and extensive erotic sculptures.
Siddhivinayak Temple, Maharashtra
- The temple is one of the richest temples in India, with an estimated worth of several million dollars.
- It was built by Laxman Vithu and Dubai Patil in 1801 and is dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
- The temple is built in the typical Hemadpanthi style of architecture.
Lord Venkateswara Temple, Andhra Pradesh
- The temple is located on the Tirumala hills and is also known as the Tirupathi Balaji temple.
- It is a temple of seven hills and is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the world.
- The temple’s architecture is in the Dravidian style, with intricate carvings and sculptures.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in the holy city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, and is one of the most sacred Hindu temples in India.
- The original temple was destroyed by the army of Qutb-Uddin Aibak in 1194 CE when he defeated the Raja of Kannauj.
- There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi or Gyaan Vapi, which is believed to be the source of knowledge and wisdom.
- In 1669 CE, Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple and built the Gyanvapi Mosque in its place.
- In 1780, Malhar Rao’s daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar constructed the present temple adjacent to the mosque, which is now a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus.
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, which are considered the most sacred Shiva temples in India.
Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar
- This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the oldest brick structures in the world.
- The central tower of the temple is 180 feet tall and depicts the life of Buddha through intricate brickwork.
- It is a significant Buddhist temple and attracts millions of visitors each year.
Konark Sun Temple, Odisha
- The temple was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva I during the Ganga Empire.
- It is a unique temple in the shape of a gigantic chariot of the Sun God and is built in the Kalinga style of architecture.
- The temple is famous for its intricate stone carvings and sculptures, depicting various aspects of life.
Jagannath Temple, Odisha
- The temple, located in Puri, is also known as Yamanika Tirtha.
- The temple is famous for its annual chariot festival, Ratha Yatra, which attracts millions of devotees from all over the world.
- The temple has three deities – Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra – who are worshipped by the devotees. The temple was commissioned by King Indradyumna.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
- The temple is a fusion of Chera and Dravidian styles of architecture.
- It is one of the wealthiest temples in India, and the assets of the temple are estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
- The main deity of the temple, Lord Padmanabhaswamy, is depicted in a reclining posture on the serpent Ananta.
Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu & Kashmir
- The temple is located atop Trikuta Hills at an altitude of 5200 feet above sea level and is a cave temple.
- It is dedicated to Goddess Vaishno Devi and is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in India.
- The temple attracts millions of devotees each year, who undertake a strenuous trek to reach the shrine.
Amarnath Temple, Jammu & Kashmir
- This cave temple is situated at an altitude of 3888 meters and is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths.
- It is believed that Bhrigu Muni, a great sage, was the first to have discovered Amarnath.
- The temple attracts millions of devotees every year who undertake a challenging trek to reach the shrine.
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
- This temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples, built in the 12th century.
- It boasts the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India and features Dravidian-style architecture.
- The temple was built by the Pandyas and Jaffna Kings and has 64 Tīrthas, or holy water bodies, in and around the island of Rameswaram.
Brihadeeswara Temple, Tamil Nadu
- Brihadeeswara Temple is also known as Raja Rajeswara Temple and is located in the city of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.
- The temple was built in the Dravidian style of architecture by the Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I in the 11th century.
- It is one of the tallest temples in India, standing at 66 meters (216 feet), and is completely made of granite.
- The temple is part of the Great Living Chola Temples, which also includes the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple.
- Brihadeeswara Temple is also called Dakshin Meru and is situated on the bank of the Cauvery river.
- In recognition of its cultural significance, the temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
Rajagopalaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
- Rajagopalaswamy Temple is located in the town of Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu, and is built in the Dravidian style of architecture.
- The temple is also called Dakshina Dwaraka, which means “Dwaraka of the South”.
- It has one of the largest temple tanks in India called Haridra Nadhi, which is used for various religious ceremonies.
- The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is a popular pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu.
Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
- This temple has Dravidian architecture and over 40 inscriptions.
- It is famous for its 3 storied Gopuram at the main entrance and has 985 richly carved pillars that depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi (Parvati) and Sundareswarar (Shiva).
Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
- This temple is one of the most important of 108 (Divya Desam) Vishnu Temples.
- Built-in the Dravidian style during the Vijayanagar Period, it is located on the island formed by the twin rivers Cauvery and Coleroon.
- It was the first temple to be awarded by the UN Body for protecting and conserving cultural heritage.
- Its Gopuram is the biggest in Asia and the temple is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world.
Nataraja Temple, Tamil Nadu
- The Nataraja Temple is located in the town of Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, and was built in the 10th century when Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola dynasty.
- The temple is known for its elaborate wall carvings that depict all the 108 karanas from the Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, which form the foundation of Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance.
- The temple is one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India and is considered one of the holiest Shaivite temples in India.
Somnath Temple, Gujarat
- This temple is also known as Deo Patan and is one of the 12 jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva.
- It is constructed in the Chalukyan style and is situated on the seashores, with no land in between from Somnath temple to Antarctica.
- The temple was reconstructed in 1951 under the orders of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel after being destroyed several times throughout history.
Dwarkadhish Temple, Gujarat
- This temple is also known as Jagat Mandir and is one of the four Hindu pilgrimages (Char Dham).
- The original structure of the temple was destroyed by Mahmud Brgada in 1472, and the present structure is in the Chalukya architecture style.
- The temple attracts millions of devotees every year and is considered one of the most significant Hindu temples in India.
Virupaksha Temple, Karnataka
- This temple is located in Hampi and is a part of the Group of Monuments designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The temple was built by Lakkana Dandesha, a chieftain under the ruler Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire.
- The temple is a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus and attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Gomateshwara Temple, Karnataka
- Also known as Bahubali temple, it is a Jain temple with a height of 57 feet.
- The temple is famous for the tallest monolithic statue of Gomateshwara, which is carved out of a single block of granite.
- The Bahubali statue is one of the largest free-standing statues in the world and depicts the prolonged meditation of Bahubali.
Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand
- The Badrinath Temple is a revered Hindu shrine located in the Garhwal hill region of Uttarakhand.
- It is situated on the banks of the Alaknanda River, surrounded by scenic mountain views.
- The temple is situated at an elevation of 3,133 meters (10,279 ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest temples in India.
- According to ancient Hindu texts such as the Vishnu Purana and Skanda Purana, the temple has a rich history dating back centuries.
- The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is worshipped here in the form of the Badrinarayan deity.
Yamunotri Temple, Uttarakhand
- The Yamunotri Temple is a sacred Hindu shrine located in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
- It is situated at an altitude of 3,291 meters (10,797 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by the picturesque backdrop of the Bandarpunch mountain range.
- The temple is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna, who is considered the daughter of the sun god Surya and sister of the god of death, Yama.
- It is believed that taking a dip in the natural thermal springs near the temple can cure a variety of ailments.
Gangotri Temple, Uttarakhand
- The Gangotri Temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand.
- It is located on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, which is one of the main tributaries of the river Ganges.
- The temple is situated at an altitude of 3,415 meters (11,204 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks.
- The temple is dedicated to the goddess Ganga, who is believed to have descended to earth from heaven to purify the sins of humanity.
- The temple is also the starting point of the famous Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to four sacred Hindu sites in Uttarakhand.
Also read: Kashi Vishwanath Temple
In a nutshell temples in India are crucial to the culture and beliefs of the entire nation. They act as social hubs and focal points of local life in addition to being houses of worship.
These temples are frequently distinguished by complex architectural design, intricate carvings, and significant historical and cultural value. Every shrine in India has its own distinct charm and history, from the historic temples of the south to the opulent buildings of the north.
Article Written By: Priti Raj