The Temples of Gangetic Plains  

Popular Hindu faith considers the mighty Himalayas to be the home of the Gods. Abounding in natural beauty, the Himalayan region in India is full of places of worship, dating back to ancient times. Numerous legends associated with the great epics of India are associated with these shrines. The following is a brief pointer to some of the temples in the region.  

The following list is a pointer to the numerous Temples of gangetic Plains.   

Ayodhya

Description Ayodhya is considered to be one of the 7 Muktistalams of India. Ayodhya is believed to be a component of Vaikuntham, given to Manu by Vishnu, and installed on the banks of the Sarayu. Ayodhya is very closely associated with the story of Rama (as told in the timeless Indian epic Ramayana). Ayodhya is located in Uttar Pradesh and is visited by thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.

The Tamil Alwars have mentioned Ayodhya in their works; Nammalwar, Tirumangaialwar and Tondaradippodialwar in one poem each; while Periyalwar and Kulasekharalwar have six and four poems each, mentioning Ayodhya. The Ramayana dates way back in time. The Alwars lived in the latter half of the first millenium CE. 

The Ammaji Temple is a temple built embracing South Indian architecture, at a much later date, at Ayodhya, on the banks of the Sarayu river. Ranganathar and Rama are enshrined here. Rama is enshrined in a seated posture facing North. Worship services are conducted here by South Indian Sree Vaishnava priests. 

There are several temples and shrines related to Rama Sita Lakshmana and Hanuman in the ancient town of Ayodhya. 

Benares (Varanasi)

Benares (Varanasi) - Kaasi is considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimage sites in India. It is considered home to Shiva - Visweswara. Benares is also known as Kaasi because it is beleived that Supreme brilliance shines there, and lights the way to salvation (Kas - to shine). Varanasi is located between two rivers Varana and Asi, and hence the name Varanasi.   

This place is said to give the greatest delight to God and hence the name Anandakanana; the five elements lie in this great cremation ground as will all dead bodies at the time of the final deluge and hence the name Mahasmasaanam.

Benares has been a pilgrimage center since time immemorial. It is believed that the fifth head of Bhrama which clung to Shiva's palms came unstuck only after he reached Varanasi. Varanasi has been mentioned in the Tamil Tevaram hymns of the first millennium CE. Kasi is mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures such as the Bhramanas, Upanishads, Kavyas and Puranas. It is the oldest center of learning, and is vibrant with centuries of tradition.

Haridwar

The temple of Chandi Devi atop the Neel Parvat on the other bank of river Ganga was constructed in 1929 AD by the King of Kashmir – Suchat Singh. The temple is a 3 km trek from Chandi Ghat. Legend has it that Chanda-Munda the army chief of the local demon king, Shumbha-Nishumbha, was killed by Goddess Chandi here after which the place got the name Chandi Devi. It is believed that the main statue was established by the Adi Sankaracharya in 8th Century AD. Chandi Devi Temple is now accessible by a ropeway also, which starts near Gauri Shanker Temple. 

Bharat Mata Temple

This is one of the important temples of Haridwar. It has eight stories in which the images of cities, heroes and great men are installed. 

Shanti Kunj

It is the famous ashram of Gayatri. Followers and pilgrims from far and wide converge here for yoga and natural cures.  

Maya Devi Temple

It is an ancient temple of Maya Devi the Adhishtkatri deity of Haridwar, known as one of the Siddhapeethas. It is believed that the heart and navel of goddess Sati had fallen at this ancient saktipeeth, located to the east of Har-ki-Pauri.  

Har-Ki-Pauri

Har-Ki-Pauri – the sacred Ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in memory of his brother Bhartrihari. It is believed that Bhartihari eventually came to Haridwar to meditate by the banks of the holy Ganga. When he died, his brother constructed the Ghat in his name which later came to be known as Har-Ki-Pauri. This sacred bathing ghat is also known as Brahmakund. The reflection of golden hues of floral diyas in the river Ganga is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga Arti Ceremony. It is the most important ghat on the river Ganga, where a holy dip is a must for every devotee. 

Bodhgaya 

Gaya is located at a distance of 105 km from Patna in the state of Bihar. Buddha Gaya is located 7 miles south of Gaya and is one of the well visited Buddhist pilgrimage centers of the Indian subcontinent.  

There are four sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centers in the Indian subcontinent. The first of these is the birthplace of Buddha at Lumbinivana, east of Kapilavastu. The second most sacred place of pilgrimage is Buddha Gaya where he attained enlightenment. The third most sacred pilgrimage center for Buddhists is Sarnath or Isipatan where Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the fourth is Kushinara or Kashia in Uttar Pradesh, where he finally gave up his mortal self.

The Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment is considered to be the among the oldest and the most venerated tree in the world. This tree is said to be a descendant of the original tree, a branch of which was transplanted at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka during the period of Emperor Ashoka the great. It is believed that Emperor Ashoka's Guru Upagupta led him to various holy sites in the Buddhist tradition, including this tree at Gaya.

Mathura and Brindavan

Description Mathura and Brindavan in Uttar Pradesh are intimately connected with the life of Krishna and are considered to be amongst the holiest of pilgrimage sites of the Hindus. The Gopas shifted to Brindavan following several calamities at Gokul. Brindavan was a lush site, on the banks of the river Yamuna. 

Legend has it that Shatrugna, brother of Rama, vanquished the demon Lavanasuran, and built the picturesque city of Mathura on the banks of the Yamuna river. Govardhan hill is located 26 km from Mathura while Brindavan is at a distance of 10 km from Mathura. Mathura has been mentioned by Ptolemy and by the Chinese traveller Hyuen Tsang (7th century CE). Mathura was once a Buddhist center. 

Sarnath

This is one of the most famous Buddhist centers of India and is located 6 km north of Hindu pilgrimage center Benares - in Uttar Pradesh, near the highway to Ghazipur. 

There are four sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centers in the Indian subcontinent. The first of these is the birthplace of Buddha at Lumbinivana, east of Kapilavastu. The second most sacred place of pilgrimage is Buddha Gaya where he attained enlightenment. The third most sacred pilgrimage center for Buddhists is Sarnath or Isipatan where Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the fourth is Kushinara or Kashia in Uttar Pradesh, where he finally gave up his mortal self.

The earliest remains here at Sarnath are from the Mauryan period ascribed to Emperor Ashoka the great. The Lion Capital is the national emblem of India. The Dharmarajika Stupa was built by Ashoka, and it was expanded and enlarged several times upto the 12th century CE. The structures here were destroyed by repeated invasions - and by gradual neglect - and what are seen today are the results of repeated reconstruction efforts.

The Dhamekh stupa is a cylindrical tower, 143 feet high, and 93 feet high. The stones in each layer were bound together by iron clamps. This tower dates back to the Gupta period. 

The Chinese traveller Hsuen Tsang who visited India in the 7th century CE, speaks of the glory of Sarnath and of the structures that existed then. 

Deoghar (Bihar) 

Deoghar (Devagriha), or the abode of the Gods, is the headquarters of the Sub- division of the same name in the district of Santhal Parganas, and is located four miles to the south-east of Jasidih Junction on the main line of the Eastern Railway from Howrah to Delhi. There is a small branch line of the same railway from Jasidih to Deoghar.

Deoghar has a picturesque location. To the north of -the town there is a wood called Data Jungle after a fakir; to the north-west is a low wooded hill called Nandan Pahar; and to the east about 10 miles away there is a low range of hills known as Tiur or Trikutaparvata.There are a number of small hills to the south-east, south and southwest. There are two rivulets Yamunajor and Dharua near the town. The countryside around Deoghar has an attractive set-up with undulations, water courses and small hills. Deoghar or Devagriha has a large number of temples within the circumference of a few miles. The temple of Baidyanath or Shiva is the most important of all the temples and attracts a large number of pilgrims all the year round. 

Badrinath

Badrinath is considered the holiest of the four main shrines of Uttarakhand. The town, situated on the left bank of the Alaknanda, is equidistant from the twin mountains of Nara and Narayan. Badrinath is on the itinerary of every devout Hindu. The place is also known as Badri Van after the forest of Badri trees which grow here.

The present temple was built about two centuries ago by the kings of Garhwal. The principal idol in the temple is of black stone and represents Vishnu seated in a meditative pose, and flanked by Nara-Narayan. Badrinath is also known as Vishal Badri and is one of the Panch Badris.   

Some of the places of worship
Temples of Tamil Nadu
Temples of Karnataka
Temples of Orissa
Temples of Maharashtra
Temples of Kerala
Temples of Andhra Pradesh
Temples of Madhya Pradesh
Temples of the Gangetic Plains