North India is a traveler’s paradise. Verdant forests, great rivers and mighty mountains make it an ideal destination. To add to nature’s generosity, the people of the land also built several wonderful temples dedicated to many gods and goddesses. While South India is well known for its Shiva temples, North India has a mix of shrines dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Here’s a list of 5 famous temples in North India.
Located in the Himalayas at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet, the Kedarnath temple is one of the most well-known and revered temples in India. The deity is a linga, an aniconic form of Shiva. The temple made headlines around the world in June 2013, when unprecedented floods engulfed the whole valley, killing nearly 6000 people. The temple officially re-opened on May 4, this year.
Close to Kedarnath is the temple of Badrinath, dedicated to Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. Located at an altitude of over 10,000 feet, it is one of the four shrines that make up the Char Dham Yatra, an especially holy pilgrimage for Hindus. Though the shrine is closed during the winter months, it still sees a footfall of several hundred thousand visitors annually.
Mathura is not a temple, but a town in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Mathura makes it into this list because it has not one, but several well-known temples. Mathura is the birth place of Krishna, considered an avatar of Vishnu. According to Krishna’s life story, he was born in a prison cell in Mathura. The Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple is said to mark that exact spot.
The Banke Bihari temple in nearby Vrindavan is also special for Krishna devotees. The idol is half man and half woman, the right side being Krishna and the left, Radha, one of his foremost companions and devotees. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is also in the process of building what will become the world’s tallest temple at 700 feet.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Located in the city of Varanasi on the banks of the river Ganga, the Kashi Vishwanath temple is perhaps the most visited temple in the world. Though Varanasi contains thousands of temples, the Kashi Vishwanath temple is considered the most important. Over 3 million pilgrims visit the temple annually, hoping to receive the grace of the Vishwanath linga, representing Shiva.
Puri Jagannath Temple
The Puri Jagannath temple is located on the east coast of India, in the state of Odisha. Dedicated to Vishnu as “Jagannath” or Lord of the Universe, Puri Jagannath is unique for having a wooden image for a deity rather than a metal or stone one. The temple is also known for its “Rath Yatra” or Car Festival, during which the deity’s images are placed in three immense chariots almost 50 feet high, and taken from one temple to another. In fact, it was when the British in India first witnessed the yatra that they coined the term “juggernaut”, a corruption of the word Jagannath!