Ancient Temples of India


Whenever I explore any part of India, I always try to visit old temples.I am not a very religious person but I like to peek into the grand history and culture of our beautiful country. I feel our ancestors spent generations building these beautiful temples.We can definitely spend a few hours to soak into their tranquility.I will keep on adding more to the list as and when I visit more such place

1) Kailasha Temple - ( Ellora - Maharashtra)

Kailasha temple is definitely one of the wonders of the ancient world. Carved out of single rock and drilled down from top to bottom this 8th-century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This rock-cut temple is the largest monolithic structure in the world and took only 2 decades to build. Around 200000 tons of rock was removed with just hammer and chisel.which is a daunting task even in this era with all the modern facilities. Temple walls are beautifully carved depicting many events of Ramayan and Mahabharata. Every corner of this temple tells a story - all you have to do is to sit and observe. Mughal ruler Aurangzeb tried to vandalize it with 1000 men for 3 years, but all he could do was minor damage here and there which speaks volumes about the craftsmanship of our ancestors. I visited it around sunset climbed the hill surrounding it and sat there wondering how that era must have been like, how many craftsmen might have worked day and night to finish it in just 20 years with zero precision of error. In its full glory when decorated with diyas it would definitely have been the most beautiful sights to witness. If there is only one temple in your wishlist to visit in India, it has to be this one.

Tip: A little climb to the top of the hill will give you a splendid view of the grandeur of this massive temple.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 1/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 2/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

2) Dilwara Group of Temple ( Mount Abu - Rajasthan)

Dilwara is a famous pilgrimage of the Jain community. There are five shrines within the huge complex dedicated to different gods. These temples are made of white marble and were built between the 11th to 13th centuries. One can witness intricately carved beautifully designs on ceilings, entrance, and pillars. You can get lost in each and every design especially the ones carved on ceilings. No camera or mobile phones are allowed inside the temple complex, this allows you to be present in the current moment and admire these beautiful monuments and experience-rich culture of Jainism.

3) Martand Sun Temple - (Kashmir)

This 8th-century temple is dedicated to the Sun god ( Martand means Sun in Sanskrit) and was built by ruler Lalitaditya of the Korkota Dynasty. The foundation of the temple complex was laid somewhere between 35- and 500 CE. It is known as the most elegant structures ever built in the world during that period due to its breathtaking architecture and grandeur. Constructed in limestone the entire temple complex is built on top of the plateau. Write H. Gotezi " The temple of Martand set the model for Kashmir Hindu Art in all the following centuries. Thus Lalitaditya must be regarded as the founder not only of the short-lived empire but also of six centuries of Kashmir Hindu Art." Muslim ruler Sikandar Butshikan destroyed it in the 15th century. It took his army 13 months to fully damage and destroy it, and in the end, his army left the temple burning for many days. It stood in ruins since then and even today one gets surprised over the art and skill of the builders by looking at its ruins. I visited Martand temple in 2009 and have lost all the photos from that trip, hopefully, soon I will get to visit Kashmir again.You can check the glory of this temple in this Bollywood song

4) Hampi group of temples

I have consolidated list of all the Hampi ruins and temples in this blog post -

5) Chennakeshava & Halebidu Temples ( Hassan - Karnataka )

Chennakesava temple is a Vishnu temple on the banks of river Kaveri while Halebidu Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Both of these temples are grandest examples of Hoysala architecture. These temples were built in the early 12th & 13th Centuries, during this period Belur was the capital of the Hoysala Kingdom until annexed by Allauddin Khilji. The Hoysala Dynasty ruled over three centuries from the 10-14th century and built many beautiful temples in Karnataka. These temples have vast complex and beautifully carved structures giving them an old-world charm. Walls are adorned with many important events from Mahabharat and Ramayan. It took 3 generations and around 100 years to build the Chennakeshava temple. Idols are carved so beautifully that they shine and almost look like grillwork.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 3/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 4/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 5/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

6) Shravanabelagola Temple ( Karnataka)

The Gomateshwara statue is a 57-foot high statue dedicated to the Lord Bahubali. Built around 983 A.D it is the world's largest monolithic statue. Chandragupta Maurya spent the last few years of his life here post converting to Jainism. Located on Vindhyagiri Hill one has to climb around 600+ stairs without shoes to reach the main temple. On August 5, 2007, the statue at Shravanabelagola was voted by the readers of Times of India as the first of the Seven Wonders of India.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 6/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 7/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

7) Jagdish Temple ( Udaipur- Rajasthan)

Built around 1651 Jagdish temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is an architectural marvel of Mewar dynasty, The temple is in the heart of the city close to most of the tourist places in Udaipur. The temple consists of beautiful carvings on the walls and ceilings and is raised on a tall terrace

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 8/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

8) Mahadev Temple Tambi Surla (Goa)

This 12th Century Shiva Temple is the oldest temple in Goa. One of the few temples which survived religious intolerance during Muslim & Portuguese attacks due to its remote location in the deep forest. If you want to explore something offbeat in Goa then you should definitely add this to your list.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 9/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 10/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

9) Ranakpur Temple ( Rajasthan)

Located in the lush green Aravali mountain range and built-in the 15th-century is this beautiful Jain temple. It was built using white marble and is one of the largest and most important temples of Jain culture. Walls and pillars are carved with intricate designs and is a masterpiece of architecture. Ranakpur is near Udaipur and can be easily covered in a day's trip from Udaipur. detailed post here

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 11/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 12/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

10) Samadeeshwara Temple (Rajasthan)

Temple is dedicated to lord shiva and was built by Raja Bhoja in 11th Century AD. Trimurti Shiva is enshrined in the sanctum and the interior and exterior of the temple are elaborately carved with many beautiful sculptures. On the backside of the temple is sacred Sunder Kund.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 13/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 14/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar

11) Lepakshi Temple ( Andhra Pradesh)

Lepakshi is famous for its temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, and Veerabhadra. During the exile of Lord Ram when Ravan was forcefully carrying Sita away to Lanka, Jatayu tried to protect Sita and was wounded in that fight. When Lord Rama reached the spot, he saw the bird and compassionately said "Le Pakshi" - 'rise bird'. The temple is also famous for the hanging pillars which are only suspended from the roof and don't touch the ground. Don't miss the massive Nandi statue a few meters away from the temple.

Photo of Ancient Temples of India 15/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar
Photo of Ancient Temples of India 16/16 by Shally Ashish Dhar