India’s top temple destinations


India has hundreds of temple towns that attract huge crowds of devotees each year and visiting temples is often a major part of various family trips and vacations. Some of us may not be fans of temple visits but each family will have a few who believe in god and will be eager to visit famous temples and seek blessings of the lord.


In this post, I am compiling a list of top 10 temple towns in India. Do tell me in comments about your favourite one.

1. Tirupathi: The richest temple in India (based on devotee donations), located on the hills of Tirumala, attracts an average of 1 lakh visitors every single day (on special occasions the count exceeds 5 times the average). The waiting time for devotees in general queue can run into several hours and one gets to see Lord Venkateshwara for a second or two, whereas for those who can pay more, VIP darshan is available.

Tirupathi is 150 kms from Chennai and now under UDAN scheme, has its own airport with spicejet and few airlines operating direct flights to Tirupathi from Delhi, Hyderabad etc.

If you’re visiting Tirupathi, do not miss to explore Talakona waterfalls (50kms from Tirupathi and Chandragiri fort.

2. Ayyappa Swamy at Shabarimala: Kerala’s Lord Ayyappa has devotees all over the country, who visit Shabarimala every year, following a strict ritual of fast, bhajans and staying away from various pleasures of life. Located near the scenic hills of Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, Shabarimala gets close to 100 million visitors per year.

Sabarimala is 175 kms from state capital Tiruvananthapuram. A visit to Sabarimala can be clubbed with visiting Periyar Tiger Reserve and various other attractions in god’s own country. But be aware of certain restrictions enforced on female devotees at the Shabarimala

3. Ananta Padmanabha temple, Tiruvananthapuram- another popular and rich temple believed to have tons of gold in its basement, Ananta Padmanabha temple is a must visit when in Kerala. Keep in mind its stringent dress code.

When in Tiruvanananthapuram, do visit Varkala beach and Kollam.

4. Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple:

Located in the temple town of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi  temple complex has 14 magnificent towers. Security at the temple was upgraded recently- no cameras are allowed. When in Madurai, also try to visit Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. For maximum experience, plan your visit during the annual Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival.

5. Kollur Mookambika temple, Karnataka

This small temple located on the foot of Kodachadri hills attracts pilgrims from far away places like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Mookambika temple offers free lunch to the devotees. When visiting Kollur, do spare half a day to visit Kodachadri hills.

6. Bruhadeeshwara temple, Tanjavur
Tanjavur’s Big temple is a visual delight. Story of how its constructed is an inspiring one to hear. Build by Raja Raja Chola way back in 1003 AD, this temple signifies the prosperity and skill levels of Chola empire.

7. Kapaleeshwar temple, Mylaore, Chennai
Kapaleeshwar temple in Chennai’s Mylapore is easily the most popular temple in Chennai city. Visitors to Chennai never miss Kapaleeshwar temple or Kovil as it is known in Tamil.

Ramakshrina Matt, Marina Beach and Santhome church are fairly close to the popular Mylapore temple.

8. Shirdi Sai Baba temple

Managed by Shri Saibababa Sansthan trust, the Sai baba temple in Shirdi, Maharashtra attracts significant volume of disciples. Lots of devotees can often be seen walking (some of them barefoot) hundreds of kilo meters to reach Shirdi.

Check here for hotels in Shirdi. Nasik and Aurangabad are often explored along with a visit to Shirdi.

9. Srikrishna temple, Udupi, Karnataka

Udupi’s Srikrishna temple is a famous one in the region. Legend has it that lord Krishna turned 180 degrees to give darshan to a devotee named Kananadasa who wasn’t allowed to enter temple by the temple officials. Udupi temple is managed by a group of 8  matts. Udupi Paryaya Utsav, held once every two years is a grand ritual during which management of temple changes hands from one matt to another.

10. Kamakshi Amman temple, Kancheepuram

Kancheepuram is a temple town also popular for its sarees, located some 60 kms from state capital Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Here Parvati devi (Kamakshi) is seated in yogic position. (Typical position for god and goddess is the standing position in most other temples). Kancheepuram is also birth place of Adi Shankaracharya, a popular scholar and saint.

Next time when you’re exploring  India, do visit these temples, for their historical significance, marvellous architecture and the divine peace and comfort they offer.

12 comments:

  1. This is a nice list. However, I was expecting to see some prominent temples like Kedarnath, Badrinath, Somnath, Dwarkadhish, Jagannathpuri in it as well.

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    1. Yes, you are right-will try to update or do a separate post for North Indian temples in future

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  2. temples shouldnt be part of "holidays and vacations" ,this whole bandwagon of visiting a temple as part of a leisure activity doesnt make much sense.You go to a temple because you want to find peace and from a urge within to submit yourself ,these days it has become more of a tourist place ruining the experience for genuine spiritual people .

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. yes, lots of commercialization...

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