India is famous for its majestic architecture often heavily adorned with gold and detail unbeknown to many. These temples are grand places of worship and respect, with carvings, statues and awe-inspiring art within them. With shimmering gold and crisp white colours, detailed engravings and statues streaming up into the sky, the sheer size and the detail of the temples of India leaves visitors gasping for more. As I gear up to conquer my next area of the world, let me share with you some of my most wanted go to experiences in India
Down to it’s very last detail, the Shirdi Temple is extravagantly covered with gold from top to bottom. The temple is located 270km’s from Mumbai and every year thousands of people make pilgrimages to this temple to celebrate the teachings and life of Sai Baba. Sai Baba, a saint, was said to bring god-like miracles to the men who seeked him. He was uniform in religion, he helped whom ever asked, and he lived his message through the essence of his being.
Hundreds of people arrive to the Samadhi Mandir (Shirdi Temple) everyday to worship at the marble tomb of Sai Baba. Within the temple are the places where Sai Baba spent much of his time, both the mosque, and the ’Shrine at the Khandoba Temple’. All of Sai Baba’s majesty lives within the Shirdi Temple area. Today many people seek to visit the Shirdi Temple for its wish fulfilment and healing powers. Before his demise Sai Baba of Shirdi promised to live in the tomb and to bless all devotees who chose to visit the temple.
Tirupati Balaji Temple
The Tirupati Balaji Temple is the most visited temple in India. Due to the 40 million devotees that visit this temple every year it also hosts the richest god’s as a result of frequent donation from those seeking religious security. It is said that several dynasties and Kings have competed with each other to visit the shrine and bring it donations. Between the money, the gold and even the hair of devotees, this temple exudes importance to the people of not only this area but all over India. This temple observes the philosophy of equality and forbids the sacrifice of animals.
The temple is said to have been standing for ages. It is a beautiful example of Dravidian style architecture, typical of India. There is a gilded cupola over the main shrine and the shrine has 3 enclosures. One with a banner post and the others with carefully carved statues, including that of Kings and their ministers. The idol of Balaji lays in the middle of the temple.
Known as ‘the Great Awakening Temple’, Mahabodhi Temple is not only a UNESCO heritage site, but also marks the location from where Buddha was said to have attained enlightenment. This temple resides in Bodh Gaya. It is said that Siddhartha Gautama, around 589 BCE, saw the suffering of the world and wished to end it. After sitting and meditating under a Bodhi Tree for three days and three nights, the Buddha attained the answers which he was seeking. The Buddha spent the remaining seven weeks at seven different locations in the vicinity considering his experience. These seven spots and their traditions are marked in the architecture of the temple today.
Once again this temple reaches high into the sky and contains a descendent of the Bodhi Tree within it. The temple is made from brick and is one of the oldest standing brick structures in India. The temple reaches 180 feet into the sky and the central tower is surrounded by four smaller versions. The towers are surrounded by detailed railings made of both (older) sandstone, and (more recent) granite, depicting two eras of the Mahabodi experience. Once again this temple is a fine example of art and architecture within Indian construction and should not be missed by visitors today.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most famous Hindu temples in India. It is situated on the western bank of the holy Ganges River and is one of the ‘twelve’ holiest Shiva temples in India. The history of this place of worship is rather tumultuous having been destroyed and recreated throughout history. The current site was rebuilt in 1780 for the last time, is now managed by the Uttar Pradesh government, and is once again a location for respect and prayer.
The temple consists of a series of smaller shrines located in a small lane called the Vishwantha Galli. The structure of the temple is composed of three parts, a spire on the temple of Lord Vishwantha, gold domes, and a second gold spire which carries a trident on its top. The domes and spires reach up to 50 feet and are made from solid gold. The temple receives about 3000 visitors per day, and occasionally up to 1,000,000 as it’s importance is explained by it’s devotees.
Vaishno Devi Temple
The second most visited Hindu Temple in India, Vaishno Devi Temple is situated high upon the top of a hill and appears to be truly engulfed by nature. It is believed that Mata Vaishno Devi observed the ‘Navratri’ (Hindu Festival) to pray for the victory of the God Rama against the demon King Rivana. It is due to Rama’s blessings that Vaishno Devi received immortality and now attracts thousands of pilgrims to the temple throughout the year.
The temple is seemingly built into the side of the mountains and spreads itself from 4,800 ft in altitude to 6,700 ft. As one could imagine, it is grand. With well thought out detailed architecture, sculpture, carvings and art within the temple and it’s structure, this temple is definitely a place to visit…and do not forget about the spectacular view.