India happens to be a land where confluence of many faiths and religions takes place and one finds temples, churches, mosques and gurudwaras in every nook and corner of the country. People of every community co-exist in peaceful harmony and celebrate their faith, often people belonging to one religion taking part in the festivities of another religion. A list of the most famous temples of different faiths is given below to give one an idea of the different religious colours and diversity that exist in the enigmatic country of India.
Table of Page Contents
10. Lord Jagannatha Temple, Puri (Odisha)
Erected by Raja Anantavarman in the 12th century on the coastal lands of Odisha, the establishment of this temple celebrates the shifting of the monarch’s capital from Southern India to Odisha. Inside the temple resides Lord Krishna in his incarnation of Lord Jagannatha accompanied by Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra on both sides. The entire area of the temple houses another 120 temples, dedicated to different Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu religion. During the festival of Rathyatra in monsoon, the temple is spectacularly decorated and pilgrims from all over the world congregate at Puri to get a glimpse of the extravaganza that takes place there. The idols are placed in humungous chariots and thousands of pilgrims struggle to tug at the ropes pulling the chariots as this activity is considered to be immensely holy.
9. Lotus Temple, Delhi
A blessing of modern architecture, the Lotus Temple is one of the most visited places in New Delhi. Dedicated to the Bahai faith, this spectacular temple resembles a lotus with 27 petals made out of white marble. The temple has nine doorways, all of them leading to a grand hall of height 40 metres where more than 2000 people can congregate, pray and worship irrespective of their religion, sex, caste and creed.
8. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
A temple of immense importance to the Hindus, this sacred edifice was built in the year of 1780 by Queen Ahilya Bai and happens to be the abode of the Supreme Lord, Shiva.The temple houses one of the twelve Jyotirlngas ( “Jyotirlinga” is a sacred object which symbolizes Lord Shiva) scattered all across the country and is considered to be immensely holy. It is believed that a visit to the temple along with a bath in the Holy River of the Ganges purgates one’s soul of all sins and helps him attain salvation or “moksha”.
7. Mahabodhi Temple, Gaya
This temple complex was built in the 3rd century by Emperor Ashoka. This holy site is believed to be the one where Lord Buddha obtained Enlightenment. The temple complex at Bodhgaya, consists of the Grand Temple which happens to be 50 metres high, the sacred Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment and six other places related to the attaining of Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment. The complex also possesses many “Stupas” guarded by several circular boundaries. Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this temple built entirely out of brick happens to be of immense religious and archaeological significance and hence is visited by people from all over the world.
6. SiddhiVinayak Temple, Mumbai
Located in the city of Mumbai, this temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the God who abolishes all obstacles, was established in the year 1801. On entering the temple, one will notice that the roof of the temple on the inside is gold-plated and there are eight images of Lord Ganesha carved on its wooden doors.The temple houses a statue of Lord Ganesha who is flanked on either side by Goddesses Siddhi and Riddhi who symbolize wealth and prosperity. According to the customs related to Hinduism, Lord Ganapati should be invoked before the commencement of any important work or project to achieve success in that particular activity and hence this temple is of immense significance to the pious Hindus.
5. Ajmer Sharif Dargah
It is one of the most famous and holy pilgrimage sites for all the Muslims from all over the world. This Mosque was built in the memory of saint Moinuddin Chisti, whose tomb is placed inside the Mosque. People from all over the world irrespective of their religion, caste and creed visit this Mosque to have their prayers answered and wishes fulfilled. Offerings are made in the form of flowers, cloth and perfumes to the saint. Inside the premises various monuments and mosques built by the great kings of the Mughal era can be found.
4. Golden Temple, Amritsar
The holiest pilgrimage site for the Sikhs in India, this temple is known all over the world for its brilliant architecture. A fusion of Mughal as well as Hindu architectural styles, the Golden Temple actually happens to be only a part of the enormous Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara Complex. The four doors of the temple opening in the four directions-north, south, east and west allow entry to people from all faith and religions to seek peace of mind and blessings from the Almighty. The Golden Temple has two levels- a lower level encased in marble and an upper level enveloped in gold with intricate carvings upon it. The waters of the Holy Lake in front of the temple are believed to have miraculous powers and a dip in the waters of that lake is believed to cure serious ailments.
3. Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi
This temple in Shirdi has been built in the memory of the great saint Sai Baba whose divine teachings released many from the sufferings of life and provided them with spiritual freedom. Regarded as an incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, strangely enough, Saint Sai Baba is revered equally by Hindus and Muslims. Built over an area of 200 sq km, this temple has more than 20,000 devotees visiting it every day, seeking peace of mind. The festivals of Gurupurnima and Ramnavami are celebrated with great pomp and magnificence each year.
2. Tirupati Balaji Temple, Tirumala
This temple was constructed in the memory of Lord Venkateshwara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who trod the earth in the Kali Yuga. It was built following the Dravidian architectural style in the hill station of Tirumala. The temple houses more than 100000 devotees each day and this number escalates to more than 30 million on special occasions. The festival of Brahmotsav is celebrated here with great pomp and grandeur which continues over a period of 9 nine days every year. All round the year huge donations are made to the temple by the followers in the name of the Lord, making it one of the wealthiest temples in the world.
1. Vaishno Devi temple, Jammu
Vaishno Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Shakti is looked upon as the “Holy Mother” in India by her followers and is worshipped with great devotion, fondness and reverence. Situated at an altitude of above 5000 ft at a mountain near the town of Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, it is immensely difficult to reach the temple. One has to has to trek for about 12 kilometres in extreme weather conditions to get a glimpse of the mother Goddess- it is an immensely arduous journey, which, not everyone can complete. The temple is situated in a cave and one finds the mother Goddess in the form of three rocks there. Every year a huge number of pilgrims cover this perilous journey to seek the blessings of Vaishno Devi and have their prayers answered, making it one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for the Hindus.
The innumerable temples dedicated to different faiths in India conform to the saying that the people of India are liberal and tolerant and India is indeed a country which exemplifies “Unity in diversity”.