Temples of Uttarakhand are known for the great architectural beauty that they have. These temples also reflect the artistic excellence of the era gone by. Uttarakhand has some of the most beautiful temples, complimented by the magnificence of the place itself. Some of the more prominent temples of Uttarakhand are the following:
Surrounded by two mountain ranges, Nar and Narayan, Badrinath is known as the holiest place on earth. The Badrinath temple, situated here is the main complex where devotees seek blessings. Each year during the summers, many pilgrims from all over the country visit Badrinath temple as it remains closed due to snowfall during the winters.
The Badrinath temple is located at an altitude of 3,133 metres above sea level. The trek that leads up to the temple is quite a tough one but the journey ultimately pays off with a visit to the complex. The Badrinath temple has three sections, a Garbha Griha or the sanctum sanctorium wherein lies the main deity, a Darshan Mandap for puja and lastly, a Sabha Mandal for the devotees to assemble. In total, there are 15 idols in the complex.
The temple of Gangotri is dedicated to the Goddess Ganga and it is located on the banks of River Bhagirathi. This temple is about three hundred years old and was constructed by the Gorkhas. The commander of the Gorkhas, Amar Singh Thapa was responsible for its construction, back in the 18th century. This temple is open for the pilgrims from the month of October to May, while during the winters, because of heavy snowfall, it remains closed.
The main temple complex of the Gangotri was renovated in the early 20th century. It is made of white granite and it stands at about 20 feet tall.
The temple of Kedarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. This temple is located at an altitude of about 3,580 metres and is situated amidst some beautiful mountain peaks and green valleys. This temple is built of some large, equally cut grey colored slabs of stones and is more than a 1000 year old. The temple consists of a Garbha Griha where the conical rock is situated and a Mandapam for seating the pilgrims for the visitors.
Just outside the temple door, there is the idol of the famous Nandi Bull. However, as with most of the temples of Uttarakhand, the Kedarnath temple remains closed during the winters because of heavy snowfall.
Yamunotri is located at an altitude of 3,235 metres above sea level. The Yamunotri temple, which is one of the primary attractions of the place, is located here. This beautiful temple is situated close to the thermal springs and is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna. It was built back in the year 1839 by Tehri Naresh Sudarshan Shah. But, the temple has been damaged several times as this place is highly prone to earthquakes. It was rebuilt in the 19th century by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur. The temple has been reconstructed a number of times. It consists of an idol of Goddess Yamuna which is carved in black stone that is worshipped here.
The Rudranath temple is situated at Rudraprayag which is the meeting point of rivers Mandakini and Alaknanda. Lord Shiva is worshipped here. The temple is situated at an altitude of 2,286 metres above sea level and is reached after a long, not so easy, 18 kms. trek. One of the important features about this temple is that it is surrounded by lot of ponds and kunds, namely, Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund, etc.
Another temple, the temple of Anusuya Devi is also located very close to the Rudranath temple. Each year, pilgrims arrive in huge numbers at the Rudraprayag temple to pay homage to the dead since it is believed that the soul of the dead passes from Rudraprayag.
Naina Devi Temple
The Naina Devi temple is located above the Naina peak, at an altitude of 2,611 metres above sea level. According to legends, after Sati had burned herself alive, her husband Lord Shiva carried her corpse and started his tandava or the dance of death bringing destruction on Earth. Lord Vishnu had to stop him; so he unleashed his chakra and cut the body of the Sati in 51 pieces. Wherever the body parts of Sati fell, those places are worshipped and are called as Shakti Peeths. Her eyes fell at the place where the Naina Devi temple is located.
Mansa Devi Temple
The Mansa Devi temple is perhaps the most famous as well as the most visited temple of Haridwar. It is located on top of a hill called the Bilwa hill. It is an ancient temple and is one of the Siddhpeeths in Himalayas. It is believed that the naval and the heart of Sati fell here. To reach the temple, one can either take the ropeway or trek all the way up the shrine. No matter which way the traveler takes, it is enjoyable nonetheless.
The Madmaheshwar temple is located in the Rudraprayag district and is one of the five Kedar temples. According to legends, it is one of the five places where the parts of Shiva fell. It is believed that that the place where the Madmaheshwar temple is situated, Lord Shiva's stomach had emerged.
This temple is located at an altitude of 3,289 metres above sea level. It is a classic example of North Indian style of architecture. The temple is surrounded on all sides by beautiful architecture all around. The water here at Madmaheshwar is considered so pure and sanctified that even a few drops are more than enough for baptising someone.
Har Ki Pauri
Though not a temple in pure sense, it is one of the most famous ghats where people come to take a dip in the holy Ganga. This is also considered as one of the most auspicious places and lakhs of pilgrims, each year come to pay their homage. Har Ki Pauri was built by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother Bhatnhari. The best time to visit Har Ki Pauri is during the evening aarti, when the water shimmers with the beautiful reflections of lamps floating around in the water.
Gauri Kund temple is located at a height of 6,500 metres above sea level, enroute to Kedarnath. This place also serves as the base camp for trekking to Kedarnath. It is believed that at this place, Goddess Parvathi carried her yogic practices to pacify Lord Shiva. Since Goddess Parvathi's other name is Gauri, hence, this place came to be known as Gauri Kund.
Chandi Devi Temple
The Chandi Devi temple is one of the most popular shaktipeeth of Haridwar. The temple is located on Neel Parvat, on the opposite bank of Haridwar. It was built in the year 1929 by King of Kashmir, Suchat Singh. According to various legends, the army chiefs of the kings of demons were killed here. The main image located here was established by Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century AD. There are two ways by which one can visit the temple - either through the ropeway or by trekking.
The Baijnath temple is an important temple, both from the historical as well as pilgrimage point of view. This 12th century temple is dedicated to SivaVaidyanatha. SivaVaidyanatha means the Lord of Physicans. The temple consists of some of the most beautiful work of art, carved on stones. This temple reminds one of the great mythologies of India. It is believed that Lord Shiva married Parvati at the confluence of River Ganga and Gomti.