The Kailasha or Kailashanatha temple is the largest monolithic rock-cut structure in the world located in cave 16 of Ellora Caves in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Carved out of single basalt rock from Charanandri Hills, it is one of the exceptional temples of India owing to its massive size, amazing architecture and mind-boggling carvings. With its intricate designs on panels, monolithic pillars and statues of animals and deities, Kailasa Temple is an engineering marvel perfect for history and architecture lovers.
Believed to have been constructed in the 7th century A.D by the Cholas, Adi Kumbeshwara Temple is one of the grandest and the oldest Shiva temple in the town. The temple has a magnificent architecture with the trademark style of the Cholas. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a unique Shiva lingam.
Built during the 7th century, Shore Temple is one of the oldest South Indian temples constructed in the Dravidian style and depicts the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty. The work of the temple has been listed amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. It is located in Mahabalipuram and is one of the most photographed monuments in India situated on the shores of Bay of Bengal.
Dwarkadhish Temple also known as the Jagat Mandir, is a Chalukya styled architecture, dedicated to Lord Krishna. The town of Dwarka has its history dated back to the Kingdom of Dwaraka in Mahabharata. The five storied main shrine is grand and marvelous in itself constructed of limestone and sand. The 2200-year-old architecture, is believed to be built by Vajranabha, who constructed it over the land reclaimed from the sea by Lord Krishna.
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The Cave Temples of Badami consist of four separate temples, each holding intricate carvings and depictions. These carvings depict Shiva and Vishnu in various avatars in the first 3 temples, representing the Brahmanical style. The fourth temple is dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras.
Situated on the northeastern corner of Puri, Konark Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the prime tourist attractions of Odisha. Built in the form of a giant rath or chariot of the Sun God, it depicts the chariot being pulled by a set of seven horses, four on the left side and three on the right. It has three deities dedicated to the Sun God on three different sides of the temple which catch the direct rays of sun in the morning, afternoon and evening. There is also a dedicated archaeological museum inside the temple complex.
Located in the suburbs of Halasuru (Ulsoor) in Bangalore, Halasuru Someshwara Temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Dating back to the Chola period, the temple is the oldest in all of Bangalore. Built in around the 12th and the 13th centuries by the Hoysalas, the temple is now managed and maintained by the Endowment Department of the Karnataka government. However, major modifications and additions to the temple were made during the Vijayanagar empire. Besides the several other notable features of the temple, the most fascinating are the elaborate sculptures of Ravana holding the Kailash Parvat to please Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura (a demon), scenes from the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati, images of the Saptarishis etc.
Located in the town of Darasuram near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, Airavatesvara Temple is a revered Hindu temple and a UNESCO world heritage site. Part of the popular trio known as the Great Living Chola Temple along with Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur and the Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Airavatesvara Temple was built by the Chola King Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE. Presided by the Hindu God Lord Shiva, the temple is amongst the eighteen medieval era Hindu temples in the Kumbakonam area. The shrine displays the Vaishnavism and Shaktism legs of Hinduism, and the traditional Nayanars- the Bhakti saints of Shaivism.
The biggest attraction of Thanjavur - The Brahadeshwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple. Built during the reign of the Great Chola emperor, Raja Raja Chola, this temple is an architectural marvel. Protected by deep trenches on either sides and the Grand Anaicut River running through another, this temple is a favorite among the pilgrims. The shrine itself is a 216 feet structure. The sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance.
One of the temples that have stood here for the longest of times, the Lad Khan Temple is one of the oldest in Aihole. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is named after a Muslim Prince who resided here for a while. With the arts and sciences of constructing temples, not as evolved during the time this temple was built, as they were later, the Chalukyas built the temple in a Panchayat Hall style.
The Lingaraj Temple is an ancient temple situated in the city of Bhubaneswar and is the largest one situated in the city. Dedicated to Lord Shiva as the name suggests, the temple was built in the 7th century by the King Jajati Keshari. It is highly revered because of the fact that the Linga here, which is the phallic form of Lord Shiva, is believed to have appeared naturally. It rises to a massive height of 8 inches above the floor level and is about 8 feet in diameter as well.
Sri Venkateshwara Temple is the most revered and celebrated temple of the temple town of Tirupati having tourists and pilgrims flooding in all year long. Comprising of various complexes inside the premise, the temple is known for its Vishesh Puja, held from 5:30 am till 6:30 am everyday. With the most busy months being September-October due to the Brahmostava festival, this temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, and dates back to the 12th century. This is one of the holiest and the wealthiest temples in the world and millions of devotees flock here to pay their reverence.
Constructed around 806 A.D. by Rathnavalli of Bana Dynasty in the Dravidian style, this temple is known for its ancient Architecture. This temple is located in the Nandi Village and is a good place for the history and architecture enthusiasts. Other such temples in the area are the Yoganandishwara temple and the Sri. Arunachaleswara temple
Badrinath Temple or the Badrinarayan Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage yatras. It finds its mention in the 108 Divya Desams devoted to Lord Vishnu in India. Situated at the height of 10,279 feet, the temple is surrounded by lofty snow-clad Himalayas with Alaknanda River flowing by. Believed to be originally established by the saint, Adi Shankaracharya, the black stone idol of Lord Vishnu is 1m tall and is considered to be one of the 8 swayam vyakta kshetras or self-manifested statues of Vishnu. The religious importance and purity of Badrinath Temple allures scores of devotees.
Located in the sacred town of Puri, the Jagannath Temple or the pride of India was built in the 11th century by King Indradyumna. This glorious temple is the abode of Lord Jagannath who is a form of Lord Vishnu. It is the most revered pilgrimage site for Hindus and is included in the pious Char Dham Yatra with Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram. Apart from the main shrine that rises high, many minor temples within the complex will make you feel like you have entered God's home itself.
Situated on the western bank of holy river Ganga in Varanasi, Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The main deity of Kashi Vishwanath Temple is Lord Shiva, also known as Vishwanatha or Vishweshwarar meaning 'the ruler of the universe'. The city of Varanasi, the cultural capital of India, is thus known as the city of Lord Shiva. The temple has 800 kg of gold plating on its tower.
Ambarnath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built in 1060. The temple complex has a stark resemblance to the Dilwara Temples located in Mount Abu. The stunning architecture of the temple complex is a treat to the eyes. The annual festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the temple.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a beautifully carved temple complex, is located in Srirangapatna in the south-western state of Karnataka, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha who is considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion. The temple complex brightens up as the sun rises and the vibe is so divine one cannot explain but only experience here. Pause and notice the exotic carvings on the gopuram before you enter the temple. The complex is surrounded by the beautiful River Kaveri which adds to the beauty of the temple. The ghats of the river are frequented for taking a dip before entering the holy temple complex.
Jagatpita Brahma Mandir or the Brahma Temple located in Pushkar, Rajasthan is the most famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Brahma who is considered as the creator of Universe. Being the only temple dedicated to Brahma in India, it attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year. The small town of Pushkar seems holy because of the presence of Brahma Temple. It also finds its mention in the prominent ten religious places of the world and the five sacred pilgrimages for Hindus in India.
Known For : Kedarnath Temple Vasuki Tal Shankaracharya Samadhi
Kedarnath is one of the most sacred Hindu temples as it is a part of Chhota Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The temple is the highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Lord Shiva. This abode of Lord Shiva can only be reached from Gaurikund through a trek and remains closed for the six months of winters due to heavy snowfall. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva, the protector, and the destroyer, and its believed that a journey to this sacred land opens up doorways to "Moksha" or salvation.
Best Time: May to June, September to October
The historic Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Built sometime between the year 1623 and 1655, the wonderful architecture of the place is renowned globally. Meenakshi Temple is primarily dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her spouse, Shiva. What makes this temple different from the others is the fact that both God and Goddess are worshipped together.
Southern India is well-known for its cultural heritage, and the Kamakshi Amman Temple represents an important gem from the past. Set in the midst of Kanchipuram, also known as the City of Temples, this place of worship is home to the divine Goddess Kamakshi, who is believed to be an incarnation of Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and strength. Visitors claim to experience a formidable energy in the air that can only be felt in the presence of the deity. This makes the shrine a popular destination for devotees and culture buffs.
The Chamundeshwari Temple is a traditional Hindu temple located on the eastern edge of Mysore at the height of 1000ft on the Chamundi hills. Dedicated to and named after goddess Durga, the temple also has statues of Nandi and Mahishasura, the demon. Being one of the oldest temples in the palace city of Mysore, the temple is a must-visit attraction for the travellers. The Chamundeshwari Temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha and is one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas.
The Someshwara Temple in Kolar, Karnataka is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is an ornate, 14th century temple of national importance. The Dravidian style constructions is noted here specially through the tall, detailed brick and stucco structure that is placed over the entrance to the temple. This is known to be a richer, more detailed version of the Someswar temple in Bengaluru. The temple is carefully, exquisitely carved and is embellished with decorative mouldings of important symbols and animals.
The Mundeshwari Devi Temple lies within the Kaimur district of Bihar. It is an ancient temple dedicated to worshipping the eternal duo of Shiva-Parvati. It is considered as one of the oldest temples in India, perhaps being as old as 625 CE. Built of stone, the temple architecture follows a rare octagonal plan. The main deities in the temple are Devi Mundeshwari and the four-faced Shiva linga. It also hosts murtis of Ganesha, Surya and Vishnu. It has been an official subject of archaeological study for some time now, dating certain inscriptions to 635 CE.
The Nandeeshwara Temple is a small temple in Malleshwaram, Bengaluru. It is also known as the Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra. The main focus of this temple is the unique stone Nandi which faces the southern direction. Said to have been built a little after 1882 AD, it is closelt associated to the constructions of Sankey Tank. A shrine for Lord Ganesha is also present here. A downward stream from the tank was found to flow to this Kalyani (Stepped Tank) and water the garden here.
So, how did you feel about this hand-picked list of sacred 1000 years old temples in India? Also, do share your experience with these amazing temples in the comment section below.