Himachal Pradesh is often dubbed Dev Bhoomi or the Land of the Gods. Himachal is nothing but a slice of heaven on earth and there is indeed no doubt that even gods can fall for it. Said to be the abode of many celestial beings, Himachal has a very rich mythological past. No wonder we can see hundreds of temples often swarmed by massive number of devotees from all corners of the world here. Undoubtedly, there are a number of reasons to visit Himachal, yet temples are amongst the prime ones. These sacred shrines, which narrate many an interesting tales, are a very important part of Himachal Pradesh tourism as well.
Here are some of the most famous temples in Himachal Pradesh that would truly prove why this state deserves to be called the Land of Gods:
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A very popular temple in Shimla, Sankat Mochan temple is situated on Kalka-Shimla highway. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and was commissioned by Baba Neem Karoli. Initially the temple was a small shrine but today it is a three-storied building, which is used for many purposes like feeding the poor (Langar) and conducting marriage ceremonies. There is also an Ayurvedic clinic to address the health concerns of the devotees.
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Tara Devi is a 250 years old temple in Shimla. The temple is situated about 15kms from the town of Shimla on Kalka-Shimla Highway near Shoghi. It is believed that Tara Devi was the Kull Devi (Family Deity) of Sen Dynasty, who came from the eastern state of Bengal. According to legends, the temple was commissioned by Bhupendra Sen, who ordered to build a temple for Maa Tara Devi on 50 Bhiga land near the present-day temple. Later, his descendant Raja Balbir Sen shifted the temple to a hill top called Tara Parvat (where it is present till date) with the intention of denoting that the Goddess looks at everyone and everything. The best time to visit Tara Devi temple is at Ashtami during Shardiya Navratras held annually. During this time a fair is also held in the temple complex of which wrestling is an important tradition.
Jakhoo Temple is one of the most popular temples in Shimla. It is situated at a height of 8500ft and its tall Hanuman statue makes an important landmark of the town. Legend has it that Jakhoo Mountain is one of the places, where Lord Hanuman stopped, while he was on the mission of collecting Sanjeevni herb for an injured Lakshamana. As per another legend, Lord Hanuman met Yaaku, a sage on this mount who briefed him about the Sanjeevni herb. It is also believed that Yaaku sage was the one who commissioned the construction of this temple. The temple has a 108ft high statue of Lord Hanuman, which is indeed a major attraction in Shimla.
Other Temples in Shimla: Hatkoti Temple (104kms), Kali Bari
Hidimba is the most popular temple in Manali; it is in fact the most famous tourist attraction here as well. Dedicated to Hidimba Devi (the wife of Bhima), this temple is built around a cave amidst a thick forest. In this temple, devotees come to worship Hidimba Devi, who once meditated, prayed and did penance here. The temple catches the eye of the tourists due to its excellent architecture. The intricate wooden carving and the 24m tall tower above the sanctuary is the main attraction here.
It is an important temple in Manali as it is dedicated to Maa Sharvari, who is reckoned to be the Kuldevi (Family deity) of Kullu rulers. Maa Sharvari is recognized as the manifestation of Goddess Durga. The temple is situated about 5kms from Manali on the left bank of the Beas River. The best time to visit this temple is during the Dusshera festival, when the deity is carried to Kullu to meet Lord Raghunathji.
The Vashisht Temple is famed for its natural sulphur spring. The temple is situated about 3kms from Manali in a village called Vashisht. The temple is dedicated to sage Vashisht, who is believed to have meditated here. In the temple separate bath areas are provided for men and women to get benefits of the medicinal properties of the natural spring.
Other Temples in Manali: Gauri Shankar Temple, Krishna Temple, Manu Temple
Naina Devi temple is a prominent temple in Bilaspur. The temple is situated about 70kms from Bilaspur and is dedicated to Naina Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. According to legends, this sacred shrine is built in a place where one eye of Sati (Durga) fell when Lord Vishnu cut her body into 51 pieces in order to pacify an angry Lord Shiva. The temple is said to have been built by Raja Bir Chand in the 8th century. It is perched upon a hillock, which is now connected by a ropeway.
In Bilaspur, a temple is dedicated Baba Nahar Singh (a highly revered saint) and one will always find the temple thronged by a sizable population of devotees. A legend has it that Baba Nahar Singh was worshipped in Naggar and when Raja Deep Chand married princess of Kullu and brought her to his estate, she became unconsciousness many a times. After much discussion, the learned people came to the conclusion that the princess must have been accompanied by the spirit of Baba Nahar Singh. Thus, Raja Deep Chand was asked to build a temple for Baba Nahar Singh, where he can be worshipped. The temple was established in Dholra and it houses Kharaun (sandals) of baba. Baba in Bilaspur is also referred to as ‘Bajia’, ‘Peepal Wala’, ‘Dalian Wala’ and is known as an Apparent (Pratyaksh) God.
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Vyas Gufa is believed to be the oldest temple in Bilaspur. The cave temple is situated on the bank of River Satluj between the old and new town of Bilaspur. As per legends, it is said that Rishi Vyas (Mahabharata) did penance in this temple. According to another belief it is also believed that the town was named after Vyas and was initially called Vyaspur. Thus, this temple in Bilaspur holds lot of religious importance.
Other Temples in Bilaspur: Badol Devi, Baba Basandi, Baba Bangali, Gugga Gehrwin, Hari Devi, Lakshmi Narayan Temple, Mandir Jalapa Mai Sangirathi, Markandeya Ji, Naras Devi, Shivalaya Bachhretu, Shitla Mandir Jangla (Gehrwin)
Narvadeshwar Temple is amongst the most famous temples in Hamirpur district. This sacred shrine is situated in Tira Sujanpur and was built by Rani Prasanna Devi, the wife of Maharaja Sansar Chand in 1802. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. The paintings and murals in this temple is what makes this shrine a must see in Himachal Pradesh. Since, Maharaja Sansar Chand was amongst the greatest patrons of painting, some of the finest paintings can be seen here. The Bhitti style of architecture also adds to the charm of this temple.
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Bil Kaleshwar is a 400 year old temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated on Nadaun-Sujanpur road, at the confluence of River Beas and Kunhad. Legends have it that the construction of this temple was initiated by the Pandavas of Mahabharta; however, they could not complete the temple. Therefore, in later years, a king from the Katoch dynasty completed the temple. For devotees in Himachal, this place is equivalent to Haridwar, which means if someone is unable to go to Haridwar, he can immerse the mortal remains of the family members here.
Baba Balaknath is amongst the most famous temples of Himachal Pradesh. The temple is situated in Chakmoh district about 45kms from Hamirpur. It is a cave temple that has been carved of a rock. The cave is reckoned to be the abode of Baba Balaknath. A sizable population of devotees throngs this temple: however, the entry of females is restricted here. The best time to visit this temple is during the Holi festival, when a fair is organized here.
Other Temples in Hamirpur: Murali Manohar Mandir, Tauni Devi Temple, Awah Devi Temple, Gasota Mahadev Temple, Jhanyari Devi Temple, Kalanjari Devi Temple
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An important temple in Kinnaur, Chandika Temple is situated in Kothi in Sairag. This temple is dedicated to Chandika, who is revered as the most powerful deity in Kinnaur. In the temple, the golden idol of Chandika is swung on a palanquin by four devotees who constantly dance. The temple is also known for its rich wooden architecture and silver plated doors. It is believed that Chandika was the eldest daughter of the demon devta Banaasur, who ruled Kinnaur. According to legends, Chandika was rulingSairag; however Thakur of Chini had taken Sairag into his possession with the help of a demon. Chandika killed the demon with the help of a cunning female relative and her brother Chagaon Maheshwar.
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There are three Mathi temples, out of which the most prominent one is at Chitkul. Chitkul is the last village of India and is situated on the India-China border at an altitude of 3500m. The Mathi Temple in Chitkul is believed to be 500 years old and is built of wood. Legend has it that the Devi completed an arduous journey from Brindavan to Chitkul. After deploying her nephews and husband as guards ofvarious regions in Himachal Pradesh, the Devi finally decided to settle in Chitkul. It is also believed that after her arrival, the village started to prosper and this made her an important deity here.
Other Temples in Kinnaur: Maheshwar Temple, Chango Temples, Durga Temple, Charang Temple
This temple is the most famous temple in Mandi as well as Himachal Pradesh. Bhootnath Temple was established by Raja Ajber Sen in 1527. The temple is known for its Mahashivratri fair, which is celebrated here with much pomp and show. It is believed that Raja Madhav Rao used to visit this temple before starting the Shivratri procession each year. Shivratri is the best time to visit Bhootnath temple, as people from all corners of India trickle in here to seek the blessing of Lord Shiva.
Triloknath is one of the oldest temples in Mandi, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple was built by Sultan Devi, the wife of Raja Ajber Sen in 1520. The temple is famed for its three-faced image of Shiva. The shrine is situated on Mandi-Pathankot highway about one kilometer away from the new Mandi town.
Panch Vakreta is a popular Shiva temple in Mandi. The temple is situated at the confluence of the Beas and Suketi rivers. The sacred shrine is known for the five-faced image of Lord Shiva. The architecture of the temple is done in Shikhara style and it has been recognized by Archeological Survey of India as a national heritage monument.
Other Temples in Mandi: Mahamritunjya Temple, Tarna Mata Temple, Ganpati Temple, Bhima Kaali Temple, Magru Mahadev in Chhatri, Mahun Nag, Mamleshwar Mahadev, Kamaksha Devi, Balak Rupi, Naina Devi
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Amongst the 51 Shaktipeethas, Jwala Devi temple happens to be an important temple in Himachal Pradesh. Jwalamukhi is a village in Kangra district, which is believed to be the place where the tongue of Sati fell. According to a legend, a shepherd while herding his cattle in the forest saw a continuously blazing fire from a mountain. He then went and told the king about the incident; the King believed the shepherd visited the place and had a Darshan of Goddess here. He then built a temple in this place, later; Raja Bhumi Chand constructed a proper temple here. It is believed that Jwala Devi fulfills the wishes of all those who visit here. Offering coconut here is mandatory.
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Another important Shaktipeethas in Himachal Pradesh, Chintapurni Temple is situated in the Una district. According to mythology, it is the same place where the forehead of Sati fell. In Chintpurni temple, Goddess Chinnamastika is worshipped. She is also known as the Headless Goddess, as it is believed that the Goddess beheaded herself and offered her blood to here two companions (Jaya and Vijaya Yoginis) Therefore, the Goddess is the symbol of self-sacrifice, who can do anything to serve her beloved. Till today, devotees visit this temple in hope of getting their wishes fulfilled.
Chamunda Temple is situated 10kms from Palampur in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. For people of Himachal, Chamunda Devi is the mother goddess and is held high, thus this temple is of utmost importance in the state. The story behind this temple is that about 400 years ago a Brahmin priest and the King of Kangra prayed to Chamunda Devi to allow them to shift the temple to a place that is more accessible, which the goddess agreed to. The Devi appeared in the dream of the King and told him where to relocate the temple. She instructed him about finding an idol buried in the ground, which shall be consecrated as the presiding deity in the new temple. This sacred shrine is now at an easily accessible destination, which is also known for its scenic beauty.
Bhimkali Temple holds importance as one of the 51 Shaktipeethas. According to legends, it is the place where an ear of Sati fell. The temple is situated in Sarahan, which is at a distance of about 180kms from Shimla. Bhimkali temple is a important landmark of Sarahan town. This wooden temple has a scenic background with lofty snow-clad mountains. The architecture of the temple and the intricate wood carvings are also worth praising.
Other Popular Spiritual Tourism Places in Himachal: