Belief is the one single phenomenon that makes the human civilization work and this belief has given birth to ‘Religion’, a string that binds up millions of people into one single thread. In India, a country with its varied cultures, landscapes, seasons and colors, religion is not just a trait of a particular sect but offers a window to the soul of the country. The scattering of temples in India depicts that every believer has a place here to answer the higher calling and to walk on the way to salvation.
A country with its thousands of year old existence, India is the melting pot of several religions giving birth to one single nation that believes in humanity and togetherness. Not only in India, but in entire Asia continent, diverse beliefs have given birth to various temples which are in themselves a glorious representation of the time when these were constructed. The masterpieces of art and architecture, these temples are certainly the representative of the glorious past and sublime present of the continent. The following are the list of top ten most important temples of Asia scattered throughout this wonderful and mysterious continent:
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Built in the Khmer architectural style, the 12th century Angkor Wat in Cambodia is certainly a sight to behold. UNESCO declared Angkor Wat a world heritage site and it thought to be the largest religious monument of the world.
Originally this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, but later on it was converted into a Buddhist Temple. The Hindu mythology seems to come alive with various stories, scenes and descriptions of hells and heavens curved on the rocky temple walls.
The temple features outer enclosure with a surrounding wall of 1024 by 802 m and 4.5 m high. The section is also surrounded by a moat 190 m wide and an apron open ground of 30 m. The complex also includes the central structure with 3 rectangular galleries rising towards the central tower; each gallery is higher than the previous. The temple is also decorated with depictions of devatas and apsaras. According to the present research inventory, there are more than 1,796 depictions.
Sun Temple, Gujarat, India
The believers of Hinduism find every object to be the embodiment of the Almighty; the Sun Temple in Gujarat, India is dedicated to the Sun God who is believed to be the operator of the life cycle on earth. Moreover, during the third week of January every year, Modhera Dance Festival is also organized here.
King Bhimdev of Solanki dynasty constructed the temple in the 11th century AD in the most tasteful manner. The 12 different postures of the Sun God along with eight Dikpals have been curved in the outer walls of the temple.
The unique architecture of the temple is one factor that leaves the spectators spellbound. There are three separate, axially aligned and integrated components, namely Surya Kund, Guda Mandap and Sabha Mandap that make the temple complex. The temple exterior is also embellished with 12 different postures of Adityas – Sun God along with eight Dikpals, Samundramanthan, Lord Vishwakarma, Agnidev, Varundev, Mata Saraswati, and Ganesh.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, India
Beautifully colored in different shades and hues, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. According to the legends, once a sage, while resting on Srirangam on his way to some other place, put down a statue of Vishnu reclining on a great serpent.
After sometime when he was about to resume his journey he discovered that the statue wasn’t moving and thus he built a small temple to give shelter to the idol of Lord Vishnu. Over the years the temple has grown in size and now has become one of the most attractive pilgrimage destinations in the country.
This revered temple is enclosed by 7 concentric walls, which are termed as Mathil Suvar or Prakarams (outer courtyard). The total length of the wall is of over six miles or 32,592 ft. The temple complex also consists of 39 pavilions, 21 gopurams (towers), 50 shrines, several small water bodies and Ayiram Kaal Mandapam (a hall of 1000 pillars). The temple is also acclaimed as one of the fine specimen of Dravidian architectural style.
Know about some popular cultural tours of India which define the ancient India.
Chennakesava Temple, Belur, India
Along with a sacred reside of Lord Vishnu, Chennakesava Temple in Belur is a feast for the lovers of art and architecture. The city of Belur is dotted with marvelous temples built during the rule of Hoysala dynasty which turn it to be a favorite destination for the tourists.
The temple complex has also been proposed to get enlisted amidst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Chloritic Schist, commonly known as the potstone or soapstone, has been used in the construction of the temple. The simple Hoysala plan and extraordinary detailing leave the onlooker spellbound.
Moreover, the temple is also one of the finest specimens of pure Dravidian architecture in India. The temple is also located at a distance of 40 km and 220 km from Hassan city and Bangalore respectively.
Katas Raj Temple, Chakwal, Pakistan
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Katas Raj Temple in Pakistan is as old as time, speaking of its existence even before the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandava brothers have spent a substantial part of their exile in this place only.
Though many parts of the temple are being deformed by the sands of time, but it still gives a shelter to the spiritual peace seekers. As the temple has gone into a bad state, the central government proposed for restoration of the temple and procuring the idols of Hindu Gods from neighboring countries such as India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The government also considered the temple for nomination as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple complex includes the Satgraha – a group of seven ancient temples, a few medieval temples, Havelis, ruins of a Buddhist Stupa, and some recently built temples. All these are regarded as holy according to the Hindu beliefs.
Chausath Yogini Temple, Jabalpur, India
Located atop a hill in Bedaghat, the Chausath Yogini Temple in Jabalpur is a certainly a place worth visiting. The surrounding landscape of the temple brings more charisma to the beauty of this century old sacred place of worship. Alike the various other parts of India, this temple and its surrounding area also will tell you many folklores about its creation and establishment.
Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, India
A part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the most celebrated temples in the country considered from the architectural point of view. The 16 feet long and 13 feet high statue of Nandi, carved out of one single rock is placed just at the entrance of the shrine.
With a thirteen storied tower, this sight to behold temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the trinity gods of Hindu mythology. The temple is also acclaimed as the achievements of the Chola in terms of architecture, painting, sculpture, and bronze casting.
The construction of the temple was done following the ancient texts known as Agamas and Vaastu Shastras. A measure of 1 3/8-inch, referred as an angula (24 units equaling 33 inches called a muzam, kishku, or hasta), was also considered during the construction. The complex features the main temple and idols of deities for “Ashta-dikpaalakas” (Guardians of the directions) –Agni, Indra, YamaVaru?a, , Nir?ti, Kubera, V?yu, and ???na. The complex also includes the adjoining structure, which includes a portico – a barrel vaulted gorpuram with about 400 pillars enclosed by a high-rising wall.
You can get information about other pilgrimage destinations in India at http://www.indiapilgrimtours.com/
Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, India
In the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Orchha is a small place still glorified for its temples. This secluded region of the country houses several temples and temple fleet each of which depict a uniqueness of its own. The surrounding vegetation and the floating river offer a tranquil touch in the place of Orchha.
The Chaturbhuj Temple is one of the revered temples and visited by throngs of travelers. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is rightly names as Chaturbhuj which when translated means “one with four arms”. The temple was build during the 17th century, and the outer wall of the temple is ornamented with symbols of lotus flower.
Amarnath Cave, Srinagar, India
It is said that nothing can stop the utter determination of humankind and the pilgrimage tour to Amarnath Cave in Srinagar proves this saying quite well. Every year pilgrims walk through the craggy ways of the Srinagar valley to reach the holy, sacred cave of Amarnath.
Every year, religious yatras are organized during the months of shraavana (July-August). During winters, the route is closed due to heavy snow. Pilgrims can trek to the shrine or may also opt for the heli service now available through various travel agents and operators.
Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
Golden Temple is the popular name for Harmandir Sahib. Symbolizing infinite freedom and spiritual independence, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the most celebrated Sikh pilgrimage destinations. The tranquil lake nearby this Sikh shrine attracted even Lord Buddha to choose it as his meditation place.
Covered in precious stone, marbles and gold, the temple is also one of the best tourist destinations in the city of Amritsar. The sikh temple is one of the finest specimen of Sikh architecture in India. Beautiful artwork and other adjoining structures in the temple complex mesmerize the visitors.
Above the sacred destination for the believers of a particular religion, the temples in Asia or precisely in India offers the travelers an insight view of the cultures, customs and traditions of the country. Belonging to various periods, these temples are a mirror of the yore when these were constructed.