Temples of Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand is the 27th State of India and is popularly called as Devbhoomi, the land of Gods and Goddess. The Uttarakhand Temples are widely popular and are considered to be most sacred of all.Literally in every corner of Uttarakhand there is a temple. Visitors are bound to get enthralled by the continuous ringing of temple bells in Uttarakhand. Of the most famous temples in Uttarakhand are the Badrinath Temple, Gangotri Temple, Yamunotri Temple and the Kedarnath Temple; collectively these four temples in Uttarakhand are called as Char Dham and are treated as the most important and sacred pilgrimage destinations by Hindu devotees.
Badrinath area is referred to as Badari or Badarikaashram in Hindu scriptures. Badrinath is a holy town in Chamoli district. It is a place sacred toLord Vishnu, particularly in Vishnu’s dual form of Nara-Narayana. Badrinath Temple,sometimes called Badrinarayan Temple, is situated along the Alaknanda River. The temple is open only six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), due to extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The main deity worshipped in the temple is a one meter tall statue of Lord Vishnu as Lord Badrinarayan, made of black stone. Badrinath was established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankar in the ninth century. Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area, and nath means “Lord of”.
Baleshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated within the city of Champawat in Uttarakhand. Built by the rulers of the Chand dynasty, Baleshwar Temple is a marvelous symbol of stone carving. There are two other temples in the compound of Baleshwar, one dedicated to Ratneshwar and other to Champawati Durg.
Chandi Devi Temple, Haridwar is dedicated to Goddess Chandi Devi. Chandi Devi Temple is highly respected by devotees as a Siddh Peetha which is a place of worship where desires get fulfilled.
Surkanda Devi is a Hindu temple situated close to the small resort hamlet of Dhanaulti in Tehri District.
Hemkund (Snow Lake) Sahib Hemkund is situated at an altitude of 4,329m, surrounded by seven huge snow covered mountains, which are collectively called Hemkund Parvat. Close to the lake is a sacred Sri Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara dedicated to Guru Govind Singh (the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs) who meditated on the very banks of this lake.
The Hemkund Lake is also known as Lok Pal Lake (named after Laxman Temple) located on the bank of the lake.
Kalpeshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the picturesque Urgam Valley in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand . It is the fifth temple of the Panch Kedars (five temples of Lord Shiva) and is the only temple out of five that is accessible throughout the year.
At Kalpeshwarm, the matted hair or jata of Lord Shiva are the object of worship and because of this, it is also called Jatadhari and Jateshwar. It is situated in the picturesque Urgam Valley in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Kedarnath Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located at the top of the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini River in Kedarnath. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April to start of November. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region. The temple is believed to have been built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Sankaracharya and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. The temple is also one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Himalayas.
Madhyamaheshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at the base of Chaukhamba peak in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is the fourth temple of the Panch Kedars (five temples of Lord Shiva). The middle (madhya) or belly part or navel (nabhi) of the bull, considered a divine form of Shiva, is worshipped at this temple, believed to be built by the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Mansa Devi Temple, Haridwar is dedicated to Goddess Mansa in the holy city of Haridwar . The temple is known for being the holy abode of Mansa, a form of Shakti and is said to have emerged from the mind of the sage Kashyap. Devotees who want their wishes to be fulfilled by Mansa tie threads to the branches of a tree located in the temple. Once their wishes are fulfilled, people come back again to the temple to untie the thread from the tree.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Neelkanth (Lord Shiva). The temple is located about 32 km from Rishikesh in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. This is the place where Lord Shiva consumed poison which originated during Samudra Manthan between Dev and Asur. Because of the poison, the throat of Lord Shiva turned blue and that is why he is called Neelkanth.
Rudranath is dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in the Garhwal Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand. It is the third temple to be visited in the Panch Kedar pilgrimage.
Surkanda Devi Temple is dedicated to Sati-wife of Lord Shiva. According to the legend, Sati gave up her life in the argument with her father, as Prajapati Daksha was not ready to accept Shiva as her daughter’s husband. It is said that Lord Shiva brought Sati’s dead body, on his trishul to this place from Haridwar. Because Lord Shiva was dancing furiously with the dead body of his wife, Lord Vishnu started cutting the body parts of Sati with his Sudarshan Chakra. The head of Sati fell at this place and hence the place got the name Surkanda. The top of this temple provides an awe-inspiring, 360 degree view of the area.
Tungnath is located in the mountain range of Tunganath in the Chamoli district of Tehri Garhwal. The Tungnath Temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to be 1,000 years old and is the second in the visiting order of the Panch Kedars. It is the second temple of the Panch Kedars (five temples of Lord Shiva). At Tungnath, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Arm.
Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 metres (10,797 ft) in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and has a black marble idol of the Goddess. The original temple was built by Maharani Guleria of Jaipur in the 19th century.
Gangotri Temple: Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the Goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage circuit. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Gurkha general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri.
Maya Devi Temple, Haridwar dedicated to Goddess Maya in the holy city of Haridwar. It is believed that the heart and navel of Goddess Sati fell in the region where the temple stands today and thus it is sometimes referred to as a Shakti Peetha. Goddess Maya is the Adhisthatri deity of Haridwar. She is a three-headed and four-armed deity who is believed to be an incarnation of Shakti.
Besides these the other holy places which a person can visit in Uttarakhand are: Bagnath Temple, Chandrabadani Devi,Chota Char Dham, Daksheswara Mahadev Temple, Dhari Devi,Garjiya Devi Temple,Ghorakhal,Golu Devata, Gopinath Mandir,Guptakashi, Jageshwar,Koteshwar Mahadev, Mahasu Devta Temple, Moteshwar Mahadev, Panch Kedar, Panch Pryag,Rudreshwar Mahadev Temple and Triyuginarayan Temple, etc.
(With inputs from Uttarakhand Tourism)