India's eclectic temples, representing many different religions, are scattered all over the country.
- The state of Tamil Nadu is particularly well known for its towering and intricate temples, which reflect the ancient Dravidian culture. The most impressive ones can be found in Chennai (Kapaleeswarar Temple), Madurai (Meenakshi Temple), Rameswaram (Ramanathaswamy Temple), Thanjavur/Tanjore (Brihadeeswara Temple), and Tiruchirappalli (Rock Fort Temple and Srirangam). However, if you only see one south Indian temple, the Meenakshi Temple should be it. Find out more about the top 5 places to see magnificent south Indian temples.
- Orissa, also on the east coast, is another important state on India's temple trail. Bhubaneshwar, the capital, offers a myriad of Hindu temples. Puri, a holy Hindu pilgrimage place, has the Jagannath Temple, famous for the Rath Yatra festival. The Sun Temple in Konark, with its covering of erotic sculptures and stunning architecture, is the most famous one though. It's made out of stone in the shape of a colossal chariot, with 24 wheels and seven horses. Find out more about the top attractions in Orissa.
- Another famous temple complex that's filled with erotic sculptures and architectural prowess is the one at Khajuraho, in Madhya Pradesh. Nearby Orchha also has some impressive old temples and palaces.
- Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, is another of India's important holy cities and top spiritual destinations. Often referred to as the city of temples, you'll find a temple at the intersection of almost every road in there. Don't miss the sacred Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
- The Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain, in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, is an important pilgramage place for Hindus as it's said to be one of the 12 Jyotirlingams (most sacred abodes of Shiva). It's also regarded as one of the top 10 Tantra temples of India, and has the only Bhasm-Aarti (ash ritual) of its kind in the world.
- Over the other side of the country, the Golden Temple in Amritsar dazzles with its magnificence. This temple belongs to the Sikh religion, and incredibly is plated in real gold. It looks particularly alluring at night when it's lit up.
- In Rajasthan, look out for the divine marble Jain temples.
- The temples of Kerala are known for their exotic temple festivals, featuring elephants. The biggest one is at Vadakkumnathan Temple in Thrissur.
Note that many important Hindu temples are very strict about who they let in. Even if you are Hindu, but have been living abroad and look and sound like a foreigner, you may be denied entry if you can't prove you're Hindu.