Situated on the northern part of India at the foot hills Himalayas, Uttarakhand, also referred to as 'dev bhoomi' abounds with places of religious importance. There are numerous religious places in Uttarakhand including a number of temples dedicated to Hindu gods and goddesses. Owing to this fact, Uttarakhand also happens to be home to some of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites including the Char Dham Yatra consisting of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
The mountain ranges and the snow capped peaks are the homeland of various mythological stories. The holy rivers like Ganga and Yamuna that add life and vivacity to the state of rich historical and mythological tales. Uttarakhand is always named as the land of Hindu gods and goddesses. The temples, the old shrines and the tranquility and peace that resides makes the travelers rediscover their inner self.
The spirituality and the holiness that resides are so dissimilar from the busy materialistic city life. Uttarakhand and its religious places are ideal for relaxing and spending time in peace and tranquility. The rambling springs and the holiness that is believed have the power to cure all the difficulties and stress. Apart from innumerous number of temples and holy shrines, there are other historical structures like Laksman Jula and Rishikesh house are the sights of tourist attraction.
Top 10 Temples in Uttarakhand | Religious Places in Uttarakhand
Lying at an altitude of 3584 meters above the sea level, Kedarnath temple is one of the destinations of the most revered Chadham Yatra, Uttarakhand. Dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of the Lord. Hindu devotees visit the temple every year in huge numbers. It is believed that the Lord fulfills all the desires of his devotees. Originally, the temple was constructed by the Pandava of brothers. Today the temple that we see was built by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century during the course of revival of Hinduism. The samadhi of the sage lies just behind the temple. The entrance of the temple has a statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s divine bull. Around 223 km from Rishikesh, the temple is placed on the banks of River Mandakini and is amidst snow-covered mountains. Gaurikund, Gandhi Sarovar, Triyuginarayan, Vasuki Tal, Sonprayag, Agastyamuni Temple and Deoria Tal are some of the attractions around Kedarnath temple.
Though there are a few legends behind Kedarnath temple, the most popular one is about the Pandava brothers of Mahabharata. After emerging winners in Kurukshetra war and killing their Kaurava brothers, they came to Himalayas for penance and spotted Lord Shiva, from a distance who was trying to hide from them. The place where the Lord hid himself from the Pandavas, is known as Guptkashi. From here, they moved forward in Himalyas towards Gaurikund. One day, Nakul and Sahadev spotted a strange looking buffalo. Bheema realized that it was the Lord himself and ran after it. The buffalo was fast but Bheema managed to hold it with this mace. The buffalo hid its face in a crevice in earth and Bheema tried to pull it up from its tail. In due course, buffalo’s face went right to Nepal and its hind part was left in Kedar where today Kedarnath temple stands. The place where buffalo’s face showed up, Pashupati Nath temple in Nepal is built. At the place of the hind part, a triangle-shaped Jyoitrlinga appeared and the Lord appeared in front of the brother in the form of light and absolved their sins. The Pandavas constructed a temple here.
Opening months of Kedarnath temeple:
Kedarnath temple opens from the month Vaisakha to Ashwin, according to Hindu calendar. During the rest of the part of the year, there is heavy snowfall and the temple is virtually inaccessible. The temple opens in the end of the month April or the starting of May on the day of Akshaya Tritriya and generally remains open till the month of November on the day of Kartil Purnia or full moon. At the on-set of winters, Sri Kedareshwar’s idol from the temple is brought to Ukhimath. On the place of the idol, a ghee lamp, called Nanda Deep is lighted. At Kedarnath, Lord Shiva is worshipped as the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the ancient name of the region.
The temple is closed between 03:00 pm to 05:00 pm.
Badrinath Temple in Badrinath (Uttarakhand) is one of the great places particularly for Lord Vishnu devotees and other tourists. The temple and the town are counted one among the Chardham Yatra and hold great importance among Hindu community. Among all the four, Badrinath is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites.
Settled around 3133m above the sea level on the banks of river Alakhnanda in the Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, Badrinath temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu. The presiding deity inside the temple is of Lord Vishnu, a black stone statue (Saligram stone) around 3 ft tall, in the form of Badrinarayan. Legends say that the temple was originally put-up by Adi Shankaracharaya, but was later renovated several times.
With colorful entrance, also known as Singhdwar, the temple has three sections- Garbhgriha- the sanctum has idols of Lord Vishnu and other Hindu Gods, Darshan mandap- worship hall and Sabha mandap- convention hall.
According to Hindu legend, it was this place where Lord Vishnu sat for meditation, unaware of the cold weather. To protect him from cold weather, his consort Devi Lakshmi transformed into a Badri tree. Pleased by her devotion, Lord Vishnu named the place as Badrika Ashram.
In-addition, it is believed that Vishnu was chastised by a sage, when he saw Lakshmi massaging his feet. To perform austerity, Lord went to Badrinath meditating for long.
In fact, in today’s time also the presiding deity inside the temple is in ‘padmasana’ posture- meditative pose. Owing to such beliefs, the holy shrine is considered to be the most holy shrine on earth.
Due to bad weather conditions the temple remained closed during winter months. But for the convenience of devotees, from November to March the idols of the temple are shifted from Badrinath to Pandukeshwar in Chamoli district. Again from April, for the rest of the year the idols are transferred back to its original position.
Opening- Closing hours- 4:30am to 1:00pm / 4:00pm to 9:00pm
One of the four important parts of the Chota Char Dham Yatra, Gangotri is situated in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. It is the place where Goddess Ganga descended from the mighty locks of Lord Shiva. Gangotri Temple is the holy abode of the Goddess where she is revered by her devotees. The mighty river Ganga originates from Gaumukh, the holy place in the Gangotri glacier nearby. Gangotri temple is visited after seeking blessings at Yamunotri.
Opening and closing time
Akshaya Tritiya which falls in the month of April marks the opening of the Kapaat (Door) of the Gangotri Temple. However, the Kapaat (Door) closes with the onset of Diwali festival in the month of October/November.
Timings for the Worship, Darshan and other ceremonies are mentioned below
- Morning– 6:15 am to 2:00 pm
- Evening– 3:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Places to visit nearby the Gangotri Temple
Dodital– A mysterious lake lined with Oak, Deodar and rhododendrons forest. Lord Ganesha was born along the banks of this lake.
Uttarkashi – A picturesque place which is worth a visit
Kedar Tal– The pristine lake with amazing reflection of the Himalayan peaks.
Harsil – Harsil is a scenic offbeat place of Uttarakhand. The place lures adventure aficionados and nature lovers.
Gangnani – Known for its natural thermal springs, the spot is where people take a dip before proceeding to the Gangotri Temple.
Jalmagna Shivlinga– a Shivlinga which remains submerged in Gangotri during summer.
Gangotri Glacier– Origin point of River Bhagirathi, another name of River Ganga before merging with Alaknanda at Devprayag.
What is Gangotri famous for?
Trekking and Gangotri Temple are the center of attraction of Gangotri.
Located in Uttarakhand Yamunotri temple can be reached from Rishikesh, Dehradun or Haridwar. One of the four pilgrimage sites or Char Dham Yatra of India, Yamunotri dedicated to Goddess Yamuna is a shrine situated in the Garhwal Himalayas. Perched on the Bandar Poonch peak which is about 3.165 mts above sea level, the path way to the Yamunotri temple is very picturesque. Situated opposite to Gangotri, Yamunotri is the source of the river Yamuna which originates from the Champasar Glacier which is about 4,321 mts above sea level.
Yamunotri Temple is accessible by a six kilometer walk from a town called Hanuman Chatti and a four kilometer walk from Janki Chatti. Devotees travel the way on foot, palanquins or horses. The hike along the mountain range is truly beautiful since you will be encountering many cascading waterfalls. Maharani Gularia of Jaipur in the 19th century had originally built the Yamunotri Temple but due to earthquakes it was destroyed and a new temple was built in its place.
Ashrams and guesthouses around the temple serve as rest houses for visitors. Rituals are performed, offerings are made and sanctifies offerings are distributed by priests. Yamunotri has hot springs where devotees take a holy dip before entering the temple. Yamunotri finds a special place in Hindu mythology. Revered sage Asit Muni was supposed to reside here.
Traveling to the Northern part of India can be a very exhilarating experience. If you are an avid trekker and hiker you will enjoy the mountains, the beauty of the snow capped hills as well as the trail that leads to the Greater Himalayan peaks and the beautiful temples in Uttarakhand that lie nestled in its folds. In the yester years sages seeking God ventured to the Himalayas. Himalayas play a great part in Hindu mythology. It is often considered the abode of Gods. If you are planning a tour in Uttarakhand, visiting Gaurikund Temple can be an enchanting experience amidst the mountain ranges and the splendid sceneries around. Known for the various religious Places in Uttarakhand, the state is rightly named as the Devbhoomi.
Tourist attractions in Uttarakhand are in no dearth. Gaurikund is at an altitude of 1982 mts. above sea level. A distance of 5 kms from Son Prayag. On your way to Kedarnath, Gaurikund is the last bus station. On their way to Kedarnath, pilgrims take bath in the Hot Springs of Gaurikund. Gaurikund is also famous for the Gaurikund Temple. It is said Goddess Parvati had meditated here to attain Lord Shiva as her consort.
Gaurikund Temple has the idol of Goddess Parvati where devotees offer prayers. Gaurikund Temple is considered to be one of the important tourist attractions in Uttarakhand, specially visited by those on their way to Kedarnath, and thus is an important contributor to Uttarakhand Tourism.
Rudranath Temple, Gaurikund
Rudranath temple in Gaurikund is situated amidst the thick woods of Uttarakhand. The mountain formation in the area is strange and if looked at closely, resembles the face of Lord Shiva, and is thus known as 'Rudramukh'. The word 'Mukh' means face, and the word 'Rudra' refers to Lord Shiva. This place is situated at a height of 2,286 meters and is surrounded by pristine nature and mountainous flora. In this place Lord Shiva is worshipped as 'Neelkantha'. The idyllic ambience and the unspoilt nature make the place more pious and sacred for the devotees.
Not only the domestic tourists, but the international tourists too, will always find nirvana in the Himalayan ranges. The land and the spirituality associated with it make a perfect combination for the people who want to enjoy their holidays in Uttarakhand.
Apart from religious importance, this place holds mythological significance too. An old rusty sword is worshiped in Nandikund, which is believed to be the sword of Pandavas who left their mark in the place. Rudramukh is a perfect place to spend time in tranquility. The peace and the silence that fills the place will definitely help the devotees to identify a different dimension to life and can easily help to enlighten them in true sense.
Trekking to Rudrakund is always a matter of adventure and thrill. The route is not a very easy one and tourist should take help from a local guide, as they can help you reach the perfect destination. While trekking towards Rudranath, tourists will find various other temples, which proves Uttarakhand to be the 'abode of lords'. The nearest airport is Jollygrant which is connected by various domestic flights. Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun are the nearest rail heads. From the railway junction, tourists can hire taxis, jeeps or buses that are easily available. After reaching Gopeshwar, tourists have to trek for 15 kms to reach Rudranath. The Mandir committee guest house is available for the devotees who want to stay overnight at the place.
Madmaheshwar Temple in Kedarnath
Situated in Rudraprayag, the Madmaheshwar Temple is one of the Five Kedar Temples. There is a legendary connection of this place to the birth of Lord Shiva, According to mythical source the stomach of Lord Shiva emerged from here. So devotees throng the temple premise during Shiva Ratri and other festivals related to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is one of the holy Trinities; Lord Brahma is the creator, Lord Vishnu is the preserver and Lord Shiva is the Destroyer.
Lord Shiva is enshrined in Madmaheshwar Temple. The unique North Indian architecture is noticeable in the construction of this temple focusing on the legendary issues and stories of Kings and warriors. The glorious temple is surrounded by natural vegetation of unparalleled scenic elegance. This sanctified place reflects the spirit of religiosity in India, speaking much of its endless panoramic pilgrim spots and heritage points.
If you want to implore the spiritual vista of India and indulge in sacramental acts, no other place would be more suitable. For a pilgrim as well as a common man, Madmaheshwar Temple is an apt place.
Bagnath Temple in Bageshwar
The Himalayas offer you excellent scenic beauty. Often most sought after retreat for sages, keen to seek the path of God, Himalaya became a home to many. Visiting Bagnath Temple, Bageshwar can be an enchanting experience amidst the mountain ranges and the splendid sceneries around. Known for pilgrimage, Uttarakhand is rightly named as the abode of Gods. Hindu temples can be found at almost every fold as you take to the mountains of Uttarakhand.
Bageshwar is a small town with many religious legends. It is famous for an ancient Shiva temple. Bagheswar is situated at the meeting point of Gomti and Surya Rivers. Situated about 90 kms from Almora, Bageshwar is an important tourist spot. Famous for its Bagnath Temple, devotees flock here during the month of Shravan to worship the Lord who is remover of sorrows.
Bagnath temple is situated in the heart of the town. Lord Shiva is worshipped during Shivratri. Devotees all through out the country visit the temples during the festive season of the year. There are many important temples gracing the area such as the Bhairav temple, Dattatrey Maharaj, Ganga Mai temple, Hanuman temple, Durga temple, Kalika temple, Thingal Bhairav temple, Panchnam Junakhara and the Vaneswar temple.
Lakha Mandal Temple
Located in Dehradun Lakha Mandal Temple is the pride of Uttarakhand. An ancient temple, enshrining Lord Shiva, this is an apposite place for pilgrimage. For the worshippers of Shakti Cult, this temple is a dream destination. Generally Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are the embodiments of Shakti and they are supposed to relieve men from pains and pangs of daily existence.
Lakha Mandal Temple located in Dehradun, is a prime attraction for both a common man and a pilgrim alike. It is actually located 75 kilometers from Dehradun and 125 kilometers from Mussoorie in North India. Being one of the ancient temples it was constructed in North Indian Architectural style, ensouled by Lord Shiva. In order to obtain the blessings of Lord Shiva, a Hindu pilgrim travels here from remote places.
Encircled by the cerulean Himalayan peaks, Lakha Mandal Temple is conspicuous for its lofty tower. The graceful Yamuna River flowing in front of Lakha Mandal Temple seems to wash the feet of the presiding deity as it passes by.
History of the Lakha Mandal Temple in Uttarakhand:
The Lakha Mandal Temple is located 80 kilometers from Mussoorie-Yamunotri Road and has a strong legendary background. It is believed that the wicked son of blind king Dritarashtra conspired against the Pandavas and wished them to be burnt alive inside the Jatugriha, located here. But fortunately they were saved by the power of the Shakti and therefore a Shakti Temple had been constructed here to commemorate the sacred power of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
In the 8th Century, this Lakha Mandal Temple, Dehradun was constructed with numerous stone engraved figures, each with a mythological association. These embellish the decor of the Lakha Mandal Temple and display the richness of Indian Heritage as well. You can avail taxi service from Mussoorie and visit this temple, and whether you are a Shakti believer or nor, Lakha Mandal Temple in Dehradun would simply delight you.