India has several thousand temples spread across its landscape. While many are recent constructions, there are many quite ancient temples that also display an outstanding quality of architecture and design. Let’s take a look at three such temples in North India.
Located in the Himalayan mountain range at an altitude of over 10,000 feet, the temple is established for the deity Vishnu, the preserver in the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The current temple structure is a thousand years old and was built upon an older temple. The sacred site is so old that it is even mentioned in the Chanakya Niti, a 2000-year-old treatise written by an Indian monk named Kautilya.
The current was set up by the famous teacher and scholar, Adi Shankaracharya. Legend says that he walked from Kerala in south India, all the way to the Badrinath temple, a journey of 2000 miles. The temple is also famous for the hot water springs nearby, where visitors can take a refreshing dip in hot water, a boon in these cold climes.
Konark Sun Temple
Located in the eastern state of Orissa, the Konark Sun temple was built in the thirteenth century to a design that resembled an immense solar chariot with twelve pairs of beautifully ornamented wheels, with seven stone, rearing horses pulling the entire ensemble. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the best examples of North Indian temple architecture.
It stands 68 meters high, and the main hall is a square, 30 meters on each side. Within this hall, three beautiful images of the Sun god are carved out on the walls, which are regarded as shrines themselves. Two smaller temples – one for the goddess Mayadevi, and the other for Vishnu – are also present within the precincts of the Konark Sun temple. The temple is open from sunrise to sunset, and visitors can access it after paying a nominal fee.
Khajuraho is a small town about 350 miles from India’s capital city Delhi. It shot to prominence in the 1980s when photos of the group of temples near the town were published in magazines around the world. Today, the one-thousand-year-old Khajuraho temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and regarded as representing the finest of Indian art.
Only 20 temples remain today, and their exteriors are covered with finely sculpted images depicting various aspects of everyday life. The sculptors of this era left no subject untouched, and several sculptures also depict sexuality and eroticism. Guides are always available in Khajuraho, however you will have to bargain hard. If you are not in the mood to be shown around.
India is a popular destination for tourists, and consequently, airline tickets and hotel accommodation can be expensive during peak seasons. If you are looking to cut costs, consider planning ahead and doing some research to find the best deals.