Presently, there are 591 temples in the North-Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. All these temples in Himachal Pradesh are dedicated to various forms of Hindu gods and goddesses. Some of these temples also belong to local mountain gods known as ‘Devtas’. Some festivals and events are dedicated to the worship of these mountain gods.
Devotees from all over India and from foreign countries visit these temples to pay their respect. Annual pilgrimages to these temples are organized for the people who visit the important temples significant to their faith. Most of the temples in Himachal Pradesh belong to the Hindu deities Shiva and Shakti. Goddess Shakti has been depicted through various goddess forms. Some of the most visited temples in Himachal Pradesh belong to some of the incarnations/forms of Goddess Shakti.
There are some Shiva temples in Himachal Pradesh along with some temples which are in the state of Uttarakhand as well. Shaktipeeth is the trail of temples which are dedicated to Goddess Shakti. According to the folklore, Shakti gave herself up to the sacrificial fire. Her body was carried by Shiva to the mountains. Her body was cut in 51 pieces and every body part was buried in 51 different places. This trail of 51 temples is known as the Shaktipeeth. There are temples built on these 51 locations dedicated to the various forms of Goddess Shakti.
It is quite challenging to choose the best temples in Himachal Pradesh and rate them based on some criteria. The criteria are not quite clear since many people find certain temples more important than the others. Usually, the famous temples in Himachal Pradesh are considered the best because of the reason that they are famous. Such temples have days marked on the Hindu calendar with their respective festivals associated with them.
Himachal Pradesh is full of historical and ancient temples spread throughout the state. Although, not many of these have festivals associated with them they still are visited by hundreds of people every year. There are many tour operators who offer the best Himachal tour packages for the pilgrims who wish to visit these temples.
10 Most Famous Temples In Himachal
These would include historical temples, ancient temples, and temples for the pilgrims. We will try to keep the list balanced for all travelers. Following are the temples in Himachal Pradesh which we consider to be important to the devotees and the tourists alike. For this list, we are listing down only the temples dedicated to the Hindu Faith. There are many places of worship such as Churches &Gurudwaras are spread throughout the land of Himachal Pradesh. However, these places need a list of their own.
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Chaurasi Temple complex in Bharmour, Chamba (image source: Wikimedia Commons)
1. Hidimba Temple
This temple is quite popular and it attracts devotees and tourists in large numbers. This temple is visited by foreign tourists as well. Surrounded by nature, the location is ideal to experience the beauty of a Manali forest.
The temple was constructed in the year 1553 and is dedicated to the goddess called ‘Hidimba’ also known as Hidimbi. According to the ancient epic of Mahabharata, Hidimba was the wife of the warrior called Bheema. The locals believe that the goddess Hidimba is protecting their valley from calamities and destruction.
Suggested Read: Hidimba Devi Temple
The architecture of the temple is unique as it is built over a cave where the goddess is believed to reside. Another unique thing about the temple is the fact there is no idol of the goddess Hidimba. People worship a footprint imprinted on a slab of rock which is believed to be imprinted by the goddess herself.
Manali is one of the most famous destinations during the summer season. The best time to visit the Hidimba temple is in the summer months of June, July, and August.
2. Vashisht Temple
Vashisht Temple( Image Source-Wikimedia Common)
This is another very important temple dedicated to the Hindu tradition. The temple is located in Manali and is said to be 4000 years old. The temple is dedicated to one of the ancient Vedic saints by the name Vashisht. The saint is believed to have used this place for his meditation.
The locals believe this temple to be holy because of the hot springs in the temple which are considered to have healing properties. The local people believe that many diseases can be healed by the water of these hot springs.
This ancient temple attracts tourists and devotees who engage in taking bath in these hot springs. The hot springs are available for the public and everyone is allowed to take a dip.
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3. Jawalamukhi Temple
Jwalamukhi Temple (Image Source- Wikimedia Common)
This temple is part of the Shaktipeeth trail. This temple is a Goddess temple dedicated to one of the forms of Shakti. According to Hindu mythology, the tongue of the goddess is believed to have fallen on the ground and made this site sacred. In the year 1815, the ruling king of Kangra during this time, ordered the construction of this temple. This temple is located in the district of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. It can be located around 55 kilometers from the city of Dharamsala.
Every year devotees from all over India in thousands visit this temple. This inflow of devotees happen during the ‘Navratra’ time. This is when 9 forms of the goddess is worshipped, this time lasts for 9 days. During this significant astrological time in the Hindu calendar, this is one most visited temples in Himachal Pradesh.
The most unique thing about this temple is the appearance of the blue flames appearing from within the cave system. This is the only phenomenon the devotees worship as there is no other idol of the goddess in the temple.
4. Jakhoo Temple
This temple is dedicated to the god Hanuman. Hanuman is a very important character in the Hindu epic of Ramayana. According to mythology, Hanuman is believed to have rested at this location during one of his quests.
Jakhoo temple is a popular destination for tourists and devotees. Most tourists find the journey to this temple very pleasant. This is because the temple is situated at the height of 8000 feet above sea level. During the summer season, people from all over India visit this temple.
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The statue of Lord Hanuman which is around 108 feet tall is the idol that is worshipped in this temple. This makes it a landmark for the location. This temple is considered to be the most famous tourist attraction.
5. Baba Balaknath Temple
Baba Balak Nath Temple (Image Source-Wikimedia Common)
This temple is built around a cave and is dedicated to the sage Siddh Baba Balak Nath. He was a yogi of a particular sect within Hinduism. He is believed to be a reincarnation of Lord Shiva himself.
The temple is situated in the district of Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh. The idol of the Baba Balak Nath has been placed in the temple for worship.
The unique thing about this temple is that the entry of women is not allowed. Many have questioned this practice but it is very difficult to understand and explain the real reasons for this. Some people believe that this temple is an occult temple and entry of women and affect them negatively.
During the Navratri season, the temple is full of devotees who visit to pay their respects. This temple is an important site for the yogis of the Nath tradition. In this tradition, the serious spiritual practice of meditation is done. Nath Yogis have a distinctive feature of piercing their ears and putting a ring through it. These yogis are dedicated to ascending spiritually through various practices that are unknown to the public. Nothing has been written down about these Yogic practices, the knowledge is believed to be transferred to the student verbally or psychically. Nath yogic sect is only available to the most serious and devoted students who are ready to renounce everything for their spiritual development. Baba Balak Nath is the yogi who was part of this Nath tradition.
6. SankatMochan Temple
This Hanuman temple is a very famous temple where devotees visit in thousands from all over India. The temple is the situation on the Shimla-Kalka highway and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Hanuman.
SankatMochal Temple was commission by the saint Neem Karoli Baba. Neem Karoli Baba is known to be an enlightened being and he got worldwide recognition after many famous international figures became his devotees. Steve Jobs was also one of the people who was inspired by Neem Karoli Baba. Krishna Das and Ram Dass are two famous Americans who devoted themselves to Baba Neem Karoli.
Devotees visit this temple and believe that they will find healing at this place. The number of people visiting this temple has been increasing every year.
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7. Chaurasi Temple
This temple is located in the beautiful land of Bharmour in the district of Chamba in Himachal Pradesh. This temple complex is known to be approximately 1400 years old. This temple is revered by all the people in the town of Bharmour.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the temple complex includes 84 shrines constructed around the perimeter of the complex. The word ‘Chaurasi’ means 84 in India. According to the beliefs, there is 84 lakh (8.4 million) different species that the soul’s journey goes through. The local people believe that devotion to this temple will help them in their spiritual development and also to escape the wheel of birth and death. This state is known as ‘Moksha’ or enlightenment.
Bharmour is a place with immense scenic beauty to behold. Each of the 84 shrines in the temple complex is dedicated to the 84 ‘Mahasiddhas’. These yogis are known to be the ascended masters who have perfected the practice of Yoga to have reached enlightenment.
The land is considered sacred by the pilgrims and they visit the temple every year to pay tribute to the 84 Mahasiddhas.
8. Naina Devi Temple
This goddess temple is dedicated to the eyes of the Goddess Shakti. As part of the Shaktipeeth Temple trail, this temple is religiously significant to the Hindu devotees.
During the Navratri season, thousands of devotees visit this temple every year. The temple is located in the Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. There is an idol in the temple with 2 golden eyes that are worshipped by the devotees.
The temple is considered to be a spiritual site for many pilgrims. More devotees are found in the temple instead of regular tourists.
9. Bijli Mahadev Temple
Bijli Mahadev(Image Source-Wikimedia Common)
This Shiva temple is located in the district of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh. The temple can be reached by trekking for about 10 kilometers. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful view of the forests and villages.
The construction of this temple is a wooden construction. The interesting fact about this temple is that every year the lighting falls on the ‘Trishul’ which is a 60 feet tall trident installed on the ground. Whenever the lightning falls on this trident, the ‘Shivalinga’ is consecrated by the priests. Shivalinga is a phallic symbol representing the masculine energy of the universe and also it represents Shiva.
The natural phenomenon of this ice structure appearing inside the temple sanctum is what attracts tourists and devotees alike. The local belief is that Lord Shiva saves humanity by taking on their burden on himself.
10. Bhimakali Temple
Bhimakali Temple(Image Source-Wikimedia Commons)
This temple is the goddess temple and another important site on the Shaktipeeth trail. According to mythology, ears belonging to the Goddess Shakti’s body fell on this place. This temple is considered to be a sacred site for Hindu pilgrims and is located in the town of Sarahan in Himachal Pradesh.
Also Read: Bhimakali Temple
The temple has a unique wooden architecture with various wooden carvings on its walls. The picturesque beauty of the mountains in the background makes this temple a popular tourist attraction as well. The winter season is considered to be the best time to visit this temple. Also because of the Navratri season, many pilgrims visit this temple in the winters.
The temple is believed to be around 800 years old and is dedicated to the goddess Bhimakali. This temple contains a statue of the Goddess and according to the legend, the left ear of the Shakti fell on this site. Hence, this temple is considered sacred by many people of the Hindu faith. The Goddess Bhimakali is another form of Shakti and is believed to be known as the goddess of health and fertility.
One of the most popular Hindu festivals of Dusshera is celebrated in this temple with grand festivities and rituals.
The above-mentioned list of 10 temples in Himachal Pradesh is a balanced list of temples that can be visited by both tourists and devotees. Many other temples are worth visiting during your vacations and religious pilgrimage.
However, one has to identify the motivation behind visiting these sites. People traveling due to religious reasons will have different priorities compared to regular travelers.