No less than 6,000 temples infest the area in this comparatively small state. A large majority of the people here are Hindus. Buddhism also has a lot of influence in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Amongst the various pilgrimage centres the most remarkable temple around Kullu valley is Bijli Mahadev. The temple is built of large blocks of stone without the use of cement and its stupendous 65-ft (20-metre) flagstaff is reputed to attract lightning, which, according to the local legend, is an expression of divine blessing. Every time the flagstaff is struck by lightning, the Shiva linga (Phallic Symbol) inside the temple is shattered. It is put back together each time by the priest and covered with sattoo which is a paste of roasted gram and wheat powder and butter. The image is thus restored and stands intact till the next lightning struck the flagstaff again.
Bajreshwari Devi Temple
Bajreshwari Devi Temple is just outside the town of Kangra is the temple out-and-out committed to the devotion of Bajreshwari Devi which was known once for its legendary wealth and as an obvious result it was a subject to successive depredations by invaders from the north. Destroyed completely in 1905 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 1920 and continues to be a face of continued rampant tourism thronged by them during Navaratri.
The ancient Baijnath Temple is particularly beautiful. Built of stone in the 9th century AD, in the shikhara style, it is a fine blend of sculpture and architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Baijnath is close to Palampur and Kangra. The style in which the temple is constructed is Orissan style that is entirely different from Himachali one. The ancient Baijnath Temple is constructed in the Shikhara style and is located within a well-maintained complex of gardens, lawns and pathways in a single walled courtyard. There are exquisitely carved floral and images of deities in the outside of the temple.
Jwalamukhi Temple is not too far from Kangra and this is a popular place of pilgrimage. An eternally burning flame that remains as it is from a hollow rock in the sanctum is considered the manifestation of the goddess Devi. During March-April and September-October every year, colourful fairs are held during the Navratri celebration. Jwalamukhi temple is 30 km. from Kangra.
Chamunda Devi Temple
Chamunda Devi Temple is a sacred Dharamsala (Kangra) is the famous temple dedicated to Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla forest.
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Laxmi Narayan Temple of Chamba is of great archaeological importance. Six stone temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu with tall shikaras, finely carved, date from the 8th century AD. The Lakshmi Narayan Temple is the oldest in this group. Other temples around Chamba town include, those dedicated to Hari Rai, Champavati, Bansigopal, Ram Chandra, Brijeshwari, Chamunda, Narsingh, and Yogi Charpat Nath.
Chaurasi Temple belongs to 9th century temples at Bharmaur are among the most important early Hindu temples in the Chamba Valley. According to legend, 84 (chaurasi) yogis's visited Bharmaur, capital of King Sahil Varma. They were so pleased with the king's humility and hospitality that they blessed him with ten sons and a daughter, Champavati. A cluster of shrines commemorates that visit. The temple square is the Centre of all activities in the little town of Bharmaur and the Lakshmi, Ganesh, Manimahesh and Narsing temples, the main shrines, are splendidly set off by the dramatic mountain scene.
Chattari Temple is not far from Bharmaur (Chamba) is the Chattari Temple with early examples of carved wood and an 8th century brass image of Shakti. The Manimahesh Lake, high up in the mountains near Bharmaur, is an important place of pilgrimage. The solitary Manimahesh Kailash Peak- the legendary abode of Shiva is reflected in its still waters. A little temple in the shikhara style with an exquisite brass image of Lakshmi Devi as Mahishasuramardini stands near-by. Every year, following Janmashtami, the annual Manimahesh Yatra is undertaken. The pilgrimage starts from Chamba from the Lakshaminarayan Temple and devotees wend their way up the arduous track from Bharmaur to take a sacred dip in the waters of the lake. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has declared it as a state-level pilgrimage to Manimahesh Lake. According to Hindu mythological legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva created Manimahesh after he married Goddess Parvati, who is worshipped as Mata Girja. There are many mythological stories narrated linking Lord Shiva and his show of displeasure through acts of avalanches and blizzards that occur in the region.
Mandi has a picturesque group of ancient stone temples with tall vimanas, splendidly located below the town on the banks of the foaming river. The Tarna Devi Temple located at Mandi is a new shrine up on a hill that overlooks the town and valley.
Prashar Temple built in the 14th century, is a shrine where the rulers of Mandi once worshipped and paid their homage. The pagoda-style temple stands in the little green hollow around the Prashar Lake, above the town of Pandoh. The views of the mountains are spectacular.
Shikari Devi Temple
It is possible to trek up to Shikari Devi from Janjheli and Karsog (Mandi). Through woods of assorted trees and shrubs - which include several medicinal herbs - two separate trek routes lead up to this ancient shrine located at the crown of the hill. Hunters in the area once prayed to the Goddess for success in their hunt - and here, perhaps, lies the origin of the name 'Shikari Devi'. The Goddess is worshipped in the form of a stone image. Interestingly, the temple which is said to have been in existence since the time of the Pandavas, has no roof - for local legend has it, that all attempts to build one have been unsuccessful.
Hanogi Ma and Koyla Ma Temple
Hanogi Maa and Koyla Maa Temple are on the way from Mandi to Kullu near Pandoh and Koyla Maa temple near Sunder Nagar in Mandi district.
Raghunathji Temple was built in 1651 by the Raja of Kullu, the temple has an image of Raghunathji that was brought from Ayodhya. During the Kullu Dussehra, all the temples in the area send their deities to pay homage to Raghunathji at Kullu.
Dhoongri Temple is a four tiered pagoda, embellished in finely carved wood, stands sheltered in grove of tall deodar at Manali (Kullu). It is dedicated to Hadimba Devi, wife of the third Pandava, Bhima.
Bhimakali Temple is a marvellous example of hill architecture; the temple complex at Sarahan Bhimakali Temple is set against the incredibly beautiful backdrop of high ranges and forested slopes. Built in a mixture of the Hindu and Budhist styles, it was the temple of Bushair rulers of Rampur (Shimla). The palaces of the royal family are adjacent to the temple. From Sarahan there is a view of the Srikhand Peak, revered as the home of Goddess Lakshmi.
Hatkoti Temple lies along the Pabbar River; 104 km from Shimla thrives to be the temple that is dedicated to Goddess Durga and Shiva. The gods are said to have fought a pitched battled at this spot. Jakhu and Sankat Mochan are two temples close to Shimla have commanding views of the hills.
Naina Devi Temple
Naina Devi Temple is placed on a hill, close to Bilaspur and Kiratpur (34 km), is famous shrine of Naina Devi. A colourful fair, the Shravana Astami Mela is held in July-August. Chintpurni is a winding road that goes up to the temple dedicated to Bhagwati Chinmastika or Chinpurni-the goddess who grants all wishes. A popular place of pilgrimage, Chintpurni is about 75 km from the town of Una and 100 km from Jalandhar.
(Last Updated on : 19-09-2013)
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