Travel & Places Asia Pacific

How to Find Sacred Temples in India

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      Visit south India. South Indian temples are alive with activity, inside and out. People swarm in varieties of pursuits, some that are readily recognizable as holy, others less so. You will see both religious pilgrims and vendors. Regardless of human comings and goings, every element of these temples is designed with a sacred purpose, including architecture, which diagrams human pursuit within to the center of the soul.

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      Visit Rameswaram, one of south India's most famous temples. Located in Tamil Nadu, Rameswaram is one of the 12 jyotirlingas, a shrine of light, of the god Shiva. Rameswaram is situated on 15 acres and is an outstanding example of ancient Dravidian architecture. According to Indian tradition, to attain liberation from rebirth (moksha), one must pilgrimage to Rameswaram.

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      Meditate in Rameswaram's 4,000-foot-long corridor---held to be to longest in the world---with its 4,000 carved granite pillars. Attend worship six times a day or attend during festival in the month of Aani, mid-June to mid-July. Bathe in the sacred springs with their legendary healing properties.

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      Visit the Cave Temples of south India, located in north Karnataka. Dating as far back as late sixth century A.D., called Badami, the temple caves are shrines to the god Vishnu and include a Jain (a non-Hindu sect) cave temple. Witness Nataraja (Dancing Shiva), with his 18 arms in 81 positions. The third and largest cave is a shrine to the god Vishnu and is surrounded by temples.

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      Journey to north India, where you will find completely different architecture. In north India, the shikharas, or crests of the temples, are conical and can be surrounded by smaller shikharas. Some temples in north India reflect their native regions.

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      Travel to Modhera, a village near Ahmedabad in north India. Over 1,000 years old, the Sun Temple at Modhera is a popular visitor attraction. A ruin, no worship is conducted here, but the temple's ancient grandeur still captivates. The Sun Temple has no shikhara and is named for the architecture that welcomes the rays of the sun, which illuminates ornate carvings. Cultural and arts events are regularly held at this sacred wonder.

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