Delhi which was first formed around 1450 BC, at the site of the Old Fort, as the royal fortress of Indraprastha, the capital of Pandavas houses a number of temples. Some of them are as follows:
The Akshardham Temple near Nizamuddin Bridge is one of the most recently built temples in Delhi. Constructed by the Bochasanvasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), is devoted to Swaminarayan. It is situated on the banks of the River Yamuna. Delhi Akshar Dham Mandir was inaugurated in the presence of President APJ Abdul Kalam. It is spread over an area of 100 acres and took about two years to complete. Akshardhaam Temple of New Delhi is built in an architectural style similar to that of the Akshardham Temple of Gandhinagar in Gujarat. It’s construction is based on the ancient Sthaapatya shastras and it is built without steel, entirely out of sandstone and marble. There are 20,000 statues inside Akshar Dham Mandir of India’s great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personas. Other features of the Akshardham Temple are an IMAX theatre, a Swaminarayan temple, and an elaborate musical fountain. The main shrine of the New Delhi Akshardhaam temple houses the statue of Lord Swaminarayan. There is an Akshardham Temple Monument to World Peace inside the temple complex.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir is situated to the west of Connaught Place in Delhi. Constructed by Raja Baldev Das in the year 1938, it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. Also known by the name of Birla Mandir of New Delhi. The temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. But, he kept a condition that he will inaugurate the temple only if the people from all castes, especially untouchables, would be able to gain entry inside it. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Narayan and Goddess Lakshmi, while the smaller ones are of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman and Goddess Durga. Numerous Hindu symbols and quotes from the Gita and the Upanishads ornament the temple walls.The festival of Janmashtami, the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, lends an enhanced significance to the temple.
Chattarpur Mandir is sited at a distance of approximately 4 km from the famous Qutab Minar in the Mehrauli area of Delhi. A beautiful monument, the Chatarpur temple of Delhi is built in both the South Indian as well as North Indian style of architecture. The main shrine of the Delhi Chattarpur Mandir is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is built in the South Indian style. There are a number of other shrines also in the temple complex, dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. It is believed if you tie a thread on a tree situated inside the grounds of the temple, your wishes will get fulfilled. But, after the wishes are granted, you need to come back to untie the thread.
Gauri Shankar Temple is a Hindu temple situated in the Old Delhi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses an approximately 800-year old brown lingam, made up of phallus stone. The Lingam is encircled by snakes and represents a “cosmic pillar, the center of universe, the life itself”.There are bejewelled statues of Gauri (Goddess Parvati) and Shankar (Lord Shiva), standing beneath the silver canopy, inside the main shrine. Along with these idols, are the idols of their sons, Ganesh (the elephant headed God) and Kartik, (the God of war). One of the highlights of the temple is a marble chair of Bhagat Swaroup Bramachari. He was a Hindu saint who spent more than 50 years in the temple.
Many legends are associated with the temple. One of them is that one day, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered that the temple bells would not be rung. From that day onwards to the next three days, he kept hearing the ringing of the bells in his ears. Finally, he relented and took back his orders.
Hanuman Mandir is situated at the Baba Kharak Singh Marg near Connaught Place. One of the oldest Hanuman temples in the country, it was built by Maharaja Jai Singh in the year 1724. One of the highlights of the temple is the 24-hour chanting of the mantra ‘Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’, since August 1, 1964. This continuous chanting has even secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.The main Dwar (gate) of the Hanuman Mandir is adorned with embossed artwork that depicts the great epic “Ramayana” completely.
Iskcon Temple is situated at Hari Krishna Hill, near East of Kailash. Built by the Hare-Rama Hare-Krishna cult, the temple dates back to the year 1998. New Delhi Iskon Temple is one of the 40 temples in India built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon). Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the temple is one of the biggest temple complexes in India.
Kali Bari Mandir is dedicated to Goddess Kali Mata. It is a small temple and quite unpretentious in its design. The Kalibari Temple of New Delhi holds special significance for the Bengalis in the city, especially at the time of Durga Puja, held every October. Devotees coming to the Kali Bari Mandir tie a red thread around the bark of the tree while making a wish. If the wish gets fulfilled, they come back to the temple to untie the thread. An amazing fact about the temple is that here, liquor is offered to the Goddess.
Kalkaji Temple is situated beyond the commercial complex of Nehru Place in Delhi. This domed twelve-sided temple is devoted to Goddess Kalka Devi. The oldest section of the Kalka Ji Mandir of New Delhi dates back to the year 1764-1771, when the Marathas were in power. However, some renovation and additions were carried out in the mid-19th century.A 12-sided structure, Kalkaji Temple has been constructed completely out of marble and black pumice stones.
Lotus Temple located at Nehru Place is architecturally one of the most splendid temples of India. Lotus Temple is called so because it is built in the shape of a Lotus flower. The temple got completed in the year 1986 and rises to a height of more than 40 m. Twenty-seven giant lotus petals of white marble spring out from nine pools and walkways of the temple. These walkways represent the nine unifying spiritual paths of the Baha’i faith.
Sheetla Devi Temple is situated at Gurgaon village, a suburb of Gurgaon, in the State of Haryana. The temple, standing near a pond, is dedicated to Mata Sheetla Devi. Sheetala Mata Mandir of Delhi is at times referred to as a “Shakti Peeth” and is considered as one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimages. Sheetla Devi Mandir is also a favoured place amongst the devotees for the purpose of the “mundan” (shaving off the heads) ceremony of their children.
Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir is situated opposite the Red Fort in Delhi. Dating back to the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, it is considered as the oldest temple of the city. Originally, Delhi Shri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir was built in 1658 AD. The sanctum sanctorum is dedicated to Lord Parshvanath, the twenty-third Jain tirthankara.One of the unique features of the temple is a medical centre for birds situated inside the temple premises. Known as the Birds’ Charity Hospital, this centre is based on Lord Mahavira’s message of —‘Live and let Live.
Deities of a temple are offered prasad in the form of sweets, but it comes as an extreme surprise to know that this temple has a tradition of offering alcohol to the holy deity—Lord Bhairon. The temple lies in the backyard of Purana Quila and was built by Pandavas.
(With inputs from Delhi Tourism)