Though entertaining vivid culture, India beads into one whole when it comes to worshipping Lord Shiva. In the midst of finding spirituality in the lap of the divine, Indians, in their sheer piousness, had erected a number of Shiva temples in India. Honestly, these marvellous Shiva temples and the worship of Lord Shiva is no modern influence as his worship has been in existence since the Harappan age (Shiva Pashupati Seal) and continues to this day. And thankfully, this love for the divine has given us these most visited Shiva temples in India.
1. Kedarnath temple, Uttarakhand
If the summer has you wondering where to go to quench both your thirst for spirituality and wanderlust, then the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand is all that you need to visit. One of the most famous Shiva temples in India, Kedarnath is a part of the Char Dham yatra of Uttarakhand. The temple stands tall near the Mandakini River and is a place where Lord Shiva came to hide from the Pandavas so that the latter couldn’t find him as they were coming to him to apologise after the War of Kurukshetra.
2. Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi
Another most famous Shiva temple in India is the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. The temple is one among the 12 Jyotirlingas. It is a belief among people that one who takes his last breath at Kashi Vishwanath Temple finds moksha from the cycle of rebirth. Thereafter, he moves to the shelter of Vishwanath, who is the Lord of the world. This temple is a delight to visit on the occasion of Shivaratri.
3. Tungnath temple, Uttarakhand
Tungnath temple in Uttarakhand is the highest temple in India in terms of the elevation it sits at. The devotees take the famous Chandrashila trek every year to reach this temple. The journey to the temple is very delightful as it inundates one with the view of snow-capped peaks, greenery, and an adventure of a lifetime. Also, as you park at the temple at the end of the trek, you experience a phenomenal view smeared with piousness and greenery.
4. Kailashnath temple, Maharashtra
The 8th-century temples dedicated to Lord Shiva are a sheer example of art, hard work and dedication. Built in the time of Rashtrakutas out of the single stone, the whole stricture of 34 temples make one of the most popular Shiva temples in India. Every year, a number of devotees throng to Aurangabad in Maharashtra, to experience the fine craftsmanship that reeks off the walls of the Kailashnath Temple.
5. Amarnath Cave, Kashmir
The Amarnath Shiva temple finds its home in Kashmir at a whopping height of 3888m. The temple sits inside a giant cave and forms once a year due to icing. The Amarnath cave opens in summer, and it is when tourists get a glimpse of it. However, the most fun part of visiting this temple is the trek one has to take to the top, which requires commendable strength.
6. Mallikarjuna Swamy temple, Andhra Pradesh
Another most popular Shiva temple in India is Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This temple is also a part of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Though the temple was built by the rulers of the Satavahana dynasty in the 2nd century, however, modern additions were made by Vijayanagara Empire king, Harihara I. In the temple, devotees worship Lord Shiva in the form of Mallikarjun.
7. Lepakshi Temple, Karnataka
Though usally not counted among the Lord Shiva temples in India but Lepakshi temple in Karnataka is no less than an ancient marvel dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was a famous centre of trade and pilgrimage in the time of the Vijaynagar empire. As of now, the temple complex comprises three shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Veerbhadra and Lord Vishnu.
8. Omkareshwar temple, Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar Mandir sits along the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh. Interestingly, the temple is on an island that is OM in shape. This Lord Shiva temple is also a part of 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Lord Shiva or Lord Omkareshwar in the temple has three heads reflecting significant mythologies.
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9. Lingaraj temple, Odisha
Donning the Kalinga style of architecture, the Lingaraj temple is another shrine dedicated to Lord Harihara, who is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple was first built by the rulers of the Somavamsi dynasty. However, it was later modified and renovated by the rulers of the Ganga dynasty. The temple is currently the oldest temple of Odisha and one of the most famous Shiva temples in India.
10. Vadakkunnathan temple, Kerala
The Vadakkunnathan Temple in Kerala was one of the first temples to be built by Parshurama. The uniqueness of the temple is in the Lingam it houses. Devotees of Lord Shiva bring ghee as an offering to Lord Shiva in the temple. Due to this, the result is that today people see a mound of ghee in place of Linga in the temple. The ghee, however, is also given back to the devotees for consumption purposes.
11. Shrikhand Mahadev, Himachal Pradesh
The Shrikhand Mahadev temple sits at a height of 5227 metres above sea level. One has to take one of the most dangerous treks in the country to reach this temple. The trek, starting from Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, needs you to walk on a thin sheet of ice with deep valleys on both sides. However, when the fog in the vicinity subdues, you get to behold the beauty of the place from the top of the world. The temple, however, is a 75 feet Shivalingam at the end of the trek.
12. Bhojpur Shiva temple, Madhya Pradesh
The ancient popular shiva temple in India is the Bhojpur Shiva temple in Madhya Pradesh. The Shiva Lingam in the temple is made out of a single rock that has been carved beautifully. The temple is known to have one of the tallest Shiva Lingams – 7.5-metre. The temple dates back to the 11th century.
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13. Trimbakeshwar temple, Maharashtra
Another one among the 12 jyotirlingas sits in the Trimbakeshwar temple in Maharastra. The temple sits at the source of the river Godavari. The legends say that it was Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao who got the temple constructed to worship Lord Shiva. The most attractive feature of the temple is the black stone construction that makes it one of the famous shiva temples in India. The idol in the Shrine has three faces depicting Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Rudra.
14. Bhimashankar Temple, Maharashtra
Another of the famous Lord shiva temples in Maharashtra is the Bhimashankar Temple. The temple has an interesting story behind it. It sits on a place where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati killed the demon Tripurasur. The demon had used the powers offered by Shiva for wrongdoings and thus met a bad fate. To celebrate this victory of Shiva, the Bhimashankar temple was erected in the Nagara form of architecture.
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15. Bhagsunag temple, Himachal Pradesh
Sitting amidst the hills of the mesmerising Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh is the Bhagsunag temple. The temple has a cosy warm water pound in the centre for the devotees to enjoy. Also, the temple makes way for you to head to the Bhagsunag Waterfall, which is one of the most famous waterfalls of Himachal Pradesh. The water here is so chilly and the atmosphere so bliss with tall mountains on both sides of the valley.
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16. Nageshwar temple, Gujarat
Eye pleasing is the word for Nageshwar temple in Gujarat. The famous Shiva temple sits on the coast of Saurashtra and is one among the 12 jyotirlingas. The statue of Lord Shiva here is as tall as 25 metres high. The statue has a garden and a serene pond around it to allow the devotees to relax amidst the piousness of Shiva.
17. Yaganti temple, Andhra Pradesh
Yaganti, in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, also goes by the name Uma Maheshwara Temple. The temple marks its construction in the 15th century and was constructed by the first Vijayanagara King Harihara Bukka Rayalu. Along with the idol of Lord Shiva, the temple also houses the idol of Goddess Paravati. The two idols are cut out of a single stone. The double story temple also has a pond – Pushkarini – which looks heaven-sent.
18. Umananda temple, Assam
The Umananda Temple is a Shiva temple that sits on Peacock Island, in the middle of the river Brahmaputra somewhere in Guwahati. An intresting fact about Peacock Island is that it is the smallest inhabited riverine island in the world. The legends have it that Shiva used to meditate on this island but one day was interrupted by Kamadeva, and was therefore burnt to ashes by the fire of Shiva’s anger. Thereafter, the hillock got the name Bhasmacala.
19. Brihadeeswarar temple, Tamil Nadu
A UNESCO heritage site is the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Sitting on the bank of the river Kaveri, the temple was constructed by King Raja Raj Chola and is the reflection of the Dravidian form of architecture. This famous Shiva temple is known for Vimanam, which is the highest temple tower in the world. Dedicated to Lord Mahadev, this temple is one of the most visited Lord Shiva temples in India.
20. Naina Devi temple, Nainital
The Naina Devi temple sits on a hilltop in Bilaspur Distt at a height of 1219 m above sea level. The temple was built by Raja Bir Chand in the 8th century. It is dedicated to Devi Sati’s eyes. According to Hindu mythology, the temple is built on the exact spot where Goddess Sati’s eyes fell on the Earth after Lord Shiva carried her charred body after taking it out from the fire of the yagna that was performed by Sati’s father- Daksha.
21. Kotilingeshwara temple, Karnataka
This Kotilingeshwara temple in Karnataka is home to lakhs of Shiva Lingas. One of the most famous Shiva temples in India, devotees visit the Kotilingeshwara temple to behold the main 108 feet linga. This height of the linga makes it not only the tallest shiva linga in India but also the tallest in the world. One who visits this temple is to really experience bliss and a sense of relief that is an experience of the lifetime.
22. Vaidyanatheshwara Temple, Karanataka
Talakaud town, on the banks of river Cauvery, is famous for its sand dunes. It is a belief among the archaeologists that this site once had as many as 30 temples, which now lay buried inside the sand. However, the temple of Vaidyanatheshwara still stands tall oozing a rich past and heritage, the town is also quite famous among the devotees who come here for special worship at the Shiva temple. The origin of the town and the temple remains unknown but that doesn’t stop it from becoming one of the most popular Shiva temples in India.
23. Mukteshwar temple, Odhisha
Mukteswar Temple is one of the oldest Shiva temples in the world from 950-975 CE. From sea level, it perches at around 2312 metres high and is one of the eighteen most significant Shiva temples in India. Historians believe that the temple was built by the Somavashi King, Yayati I. According to legends, a demon attained Mukti after a magnificent battle between Lord Shiva and him. Following this, the temple has been graced by many Devtas and even the Pandavas.
24. Somnath temple, Gujarat
The Somnath Temple is one of the most popular Shiva temples in the Hindu religion. Located on the western coast of Gujarat, it is the first of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva, which stands as an important pilgrimage spot for many devotees. The temple also happens to sit on the ancient Triveni Sangam, which is the confluence of the rivers Kapili, Hiran and Saraswati. According to historians, the temple had been destroyed and rebuilt as many as seventeen times before the then Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel ordered the reconstruction and revival of the temple for the final time. This temple is an eternal shrine of perseverance and finds its name in several religious texts such as the Shreemad Bhagavat Gita, Rig-Veda and Shivpuran.
25. Bhadkeshwar Mahadev mandir, Gujarat
One of the oldest Shiva temples, Bhadkeshwar Mahadev Mandir was built about 5000 years ago in the Arabian Sea where, legends say, a Shivalinga manifested from the Arabain Sea itself. The most intriguing feature of this temple is the fact that during monsoons, it gets completely submerged in the sea every year. The temple list up during Mahashivaratri, where dozens of devotees congregate to celebrate this auspicious day. This temple is home to numerous (over 1300) Shivalingas along with various other religious relics.
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26. Rameshwaram temple, Tamil Nadu
Also known as the Ramanathaswamy Temple, this temple is located on Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu. Rameshwaram Temple is one of the many Shiva temples in India. It is one among the 12 Jyotirlinga temples and also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. Other than that, it boasts of the longest corridor among all Hindu temples in India. There are two lingams in the temple – Ramalingam and Shivalingam. Legends say that Lord Rama built the small lingam, present in the sanctum, from the sand as he wished to pray to Lord Shiva to absolve him of his sins. It is also worth knowing that this temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham sites as well.
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27. Shore Temple, Tamil Nadu
Located near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the Shore Temple overlooks the shore of the Bay of Bengal and hence the name “shore”. It was built around 700-728 AD and is the oldest structural stone temple in South India. As part of the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, UNESCO classified this temple as a “World Heritage Site” in the year 1984. According to historians, this temple had been used as a pivotal navigation landmark by European merchants who followed the route made by Marco Polo. This temple is also a part of the Hindu legend of the Seven Pagodas. It is believed that King Bali, King Prahlada’s grandson, had founded Mahabalipuram where the temple is located.
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28. Annamalaiyar temple, Tamil Nadu
Annamalaiyar or Arunachalesvara Temple, located at the foothold of the Arunachala hill in the bustling town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the most important temples to the Hindu sect of Saivism. It is also one of the tallest temples in India, with one of its towers boasting a height of 66 metres. According to one of the several legends surrounding the temple, Shiva appeared as a column of fire at the top of the Annamalai hills following Parvati’s penance for playfully closing her husband, Shiva’s eyes which resulted in the vanquishing of light and total darkness in the universe for several years.
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29. Tarkeshwar Mahadev temple, Uttarakhand
This temple sits in its namesake village that 36 km from the town of Lansdowne in Uttarakhand. It perches 2092 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest Shiv temples in India. It is believed to be one of the ancient holy sites which have been dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as Siddha Piths. Legend says that this is where Tarkasur, a demon, meditated and worshipped Lord Shiva to get the boon of immortality.
How many of these Shiva temples have you been to?
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