Travel & Places Asia Pacific

Temple Tourism in India

    Considerations

    • The best way to approach a temple tour of India is to use the services of a reputable tour operator. Choose from a wide variety of all-inclusive standard or customized itineraries based on geographic region, architectural style or deity. Pay attention to advice regarding dress codes and customs for the various temples. The best time to go is in the cooler months from November to February. Foreign nationals are required to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate when traveling to India.

    Cave Temples

    • There are approximately 1,200 cave temples to tour in India. Experts believe that most were carved by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains between the fourth and the ninth centuries.

      Some of the most famous of these are on a small island close to Mumbai known as Elephanta. These caves are considered masterpieces of Hindu art that were carved in the seventh century.

      The 34 cave temples at Ellora in central India were carved out by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. Cave number 16 is the largest monolithic sculpture in the world

    World Heritage Sites

    • Approximately 20 temples at Khajuraho in Madya Pradesh were inscribed on the list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, citing their significance as great examples of Medieval Indian temple architecture. A tour of Khajuraho should include the evocative evening light and sound show.

      The Konark Sun Temple has been a World Heritage Site since 1984. The temple depicts the sun god Surya's chariot in architectural and sculptural grandeur. The prolific stone carvings covering the temple include giraffe, indicating trade with Africa in the 13th century.

    Modern Temples

    • One of the most visited edifices in the world is the Baha'i House of Worship in New Delhi, the Lotus Temple. This temple was built in 1986 and has welcomed more than 50 million visitors since. It is significant for its architectural innovation and for the fact that it is a non-denominational temple.

      The largest temple in the world is Akshardham Temple in East Delhi, dedicated in 2005. The temple was built in palatial style with pink sandstone and marble from Rajasthan. Not a single piece of steel was used in the construction.

    Most Sacred

    • The Hindu Tirupati/Tirumala Temple in the Palkonda Hills is considered the most sacred temple in the world by Hindus. It is also one of the few temples in India where non-Hindus are allowed into the inner sanctum.

      The Golden Temple in Punjab, dubbed "the most tangibly spiritual destination in the country" by Frommers is the holiest site in Sikhism. Tourists are permitted to join in an ancient ritual every evening. The temple is an impressive sight as it seems to float on the water that surrounds it.

      The Mahabodhi (Great Enlightenment) Temple in Bodhgaya is the most sacred site in Buddhism and one of the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in the world.

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