Did you know that the state of Karnataka is blessed with more than 34,000 remarkable temples? Its temples attract tourists from all around the world and serve as a beautiful connection to its diverse history and culture. Touring through the hundreds of temples here, of which a thousand can be found in Bangalore itself, is a rejuvenating experience. These sacrosanct structures not only provide a place for solace for the soul but are also fascinating from an architectural point of view.
1. Durga Temple, Aihole
The Durga Temple, situated in Aihole (the cradle of Hindu rock architecture), was built by the Chalukyas somewhere around the late 7th century. This temple is renowned for its beauty and elaborate carvings which have been preserved throughout centuries. This temple derives its name from the word ‘Durgadagudi’ which means ‘temple near the fort’. Dedicated to Vishnu, this temples’ architectural standouts include the columns which are admirably carved at the entrance, the curved shikhara, and the pillared corridor that forms an eloquent envelope around the shrine.
2. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Considered to be one of the oldest temples in the entire country, the Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and forms an integral part of the history of Hampi. This temple blossoms in the ruins of Hampi and prospers like a lotus. The shrine is surrounded by a courtyard as well as a monastery. This temple has a strong base as it is built from brick and mortar. As the centuries have passed, various additions have been made to this everlasting temple.
3. Chennakesava Temple, Hoysala
An exemplary form of the Hoysala style of architecture, this temple is situated in Somnathpura, a mere 36 kilometers away from the city of Mysore. This landmark is nothing less than an architectural wonder for anyone visiting here would remain in awe of its designs such as intricate carving, sculptures, and pillars. This temple’s construction was completed during the rule of king Narsimha III and now is maintained by the ASI aka the Archaeological Survey of India.
4. Vitthala Temple, Hampi
Near the banks of the river, Tungabhadra can be found a structure that can only be described as incomparable. Considered to be one of the largest temples in Hampi, it forms a major tourist attraction of the city. It is especially infamous for the stone chariot whose beauty remains unmatched as well the 56 musical pillars (referred to as the SaReGaMa pillars) which when tapped will produce a musical note. This temple derives its name from Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
5. Mookambika Temple, Kollur
This noteworthy temple is dedicated to Mookambika Devi. Early morning, a dip in the holy water flowing down the Kodachadri hills will refresh you. It is speculated to have been constructed by Adi Shankara. This temple influences the fields of craft and education, with the Goddess also being worshipped as the Goddess of Speech and Letters. Integrated on the left side of the sculpture of Mookambika is Mahakali, Mahalaxmi, MahaSaraswati and on the right side, Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu.
6. Manjunatha Temple, Dharmasthala
Situated in the temple town of Dharmasthala, it is one of the most infamous temples of Karnataka. This stunning structure is dedicated to Hindu God, Manjunatha (Shiva). This temple is one of a kind which apart from Shiva, possesses idols of other deities as well. This temple, after all these years, still follows old norms and customs such as everyone entering inside must be dressed in traditional attire. This ancient temple is 800 years old and has managed to maintain its true glory.
7. Murudeshwara Temple
The Murudeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is renowned for the second-highest statue of Lord Shiva and it can be seen from far away as well, providing solace to people passing by. It took 2 years to build this 123 feet statue. This temple reflects the beautiful architecture of the Vijayanagara Empire. Being situated on the hill attached to Murudeshwara beach of Konkan coastline, it possesses a mesmerizing view of the Western Ghats which is a must-capture, so don’t forget to bring a camera.
8. Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna
This legendary Mahabaleshwar Temple at Gokarna that has received citations in the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana is dedicated to Lord Shiva also. The Kashi of South India, this temple has an Atma Linga at the top of the shrine which is there to greet devotees as they are entering the temple. It is among the seven temples of salvation in Karnataka. This temple is a sight to see during Maha Shivratri where it just comes alive with the rush of pilgrims.
9. Badami Temple
The Badami Cave Temples attract tourists from all over the country who come here to marvel at the sandstone-carved temples near the lake Agastya. There are four temples here, three of which are dedicated to Hindu gods namely Vishnu and Nataraja. The fourth temple there is dedicated to Lord Mahavira. The city of Badami, a Chalukya Capital, has even been declared a heritage site by the government largely because of these temples.
10. Vidyashankara Temple, Shringeri
Situated in the pious town of Shringeri, it is a perfect amalgamation of the Hoysala, Chalukya, and South Indian styles of architecture. It is a Shaivite temple that stands near the river Tunga. The temple consists of twelve beautifully carved and ornamented pillars that are a symbolization of the twelve zodiac signs. The intricate carvings around the temple, all portray a tale from the Puranas. This temple possesses five shrines with the chief one being Shiva Linga.
Well, ready to buy a ticket to Karnataka to marvel at their extraordinary temples? It was best put by Jean A. Stevens, “It is in the temple that we remember who we really are and see with clarity who we really can become.” A temple is a place that helps you connect with God and it is a place where the moment you enter all your problems and everything wrong in the world goes away and you are filled with a calming sense of peace and tranquility. A temple is, after all, your sanctuary.