Uttar Pradesh is one of the largest states in the India and is also one of the famous pilgrimage centers. The state has been the cradle of our civilization, the archive of our spirituality and the container of our holiest wisdom slowly accumulated over millennia. It is fitting that the state will house some of the most revered sites with the most ardent of devotees.
Known for its glorious past, it is a special place for the Hindu religion as two Vishnu avatars, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna were born here. Besides, this, Varanasi, one of the oldest surviving cities in the world holds a special place in the hearts of Shaivites. Thus, devotees from across the world seek spiritual intervention at the many temples of this state. The most popular temple here is the Prem Mandir which is visited by thousands of devotees every day.
There are many other attractions all throughout Uttar Pradesh, but a trip here is incomplete without visiting the many temples present in the region. The sights of the majestic temple architecture, high clinging sound of the various temple bells and the intoxicating fragrances of incense sticks will make a temple tour here absolutely unforgettable.
The list throws light on some of the most venerated temples in Uttar Pradesh, which makes this state a deeply religiously site of India.
1. Ram Janmabhoomi Temple
Ayodhya is generally referred to as the birthplace of Shri Rama, there is actually a specific place in Ram Kot where he was born. It has been in existence from the very beginning of the human race and is it is believed that it was the center of the activities of the gods that were present on the earth many thousands of years ago.
Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu had been here and he ruled this kingdom from this town. It is also believed that this city was built by the gods and was known as Kosaldesa in the ancient times. The Janmabhoomi is the place where Lord Rama took birth and there is a small temple at this location that is dedicated to Lord Rama, it is known as Ram Janmabhoomi Temple. It is of great religious value to the Hindus and the Vaishnavites.
2. Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mandir
The Krishna Janambhoomi temple is an important site in the religious history of the Hindus as the temple allegedly stands on the exact site where Lord Krishna was born. Mathura, the birth city of Bhagwan Krishna is situated on the banks of river Yamuna and is approximately 145 km from the capital city Delhi. Mathura is renowned for being host to the most revered temple of Shri Krishna-the famous Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir. The temple is the place where lord is said to have been born thousands of years ago. Along with neighboring towns Govardhan, Nandgaon, and Vrindavan, the area is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus.
The pieces of history recovered from the complex are on display for the public in the museum that is located nearby. Apart from the Krishna temple, there are shrines of other Gods and Goddesses in the Krishna Janambhoomi premises.
According to historians, the prison cell, popularly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is said to be the place where Lord Krishna was born and the stone-walled cell is reminiscent of the cruelty of King Kansa. Many statues and sculptures of the bygone era were found on excavating the site and the prison cell was gradually turned into the present beautiful temple. Lakhs of devotees throng the temple during Janmashtami. The festivities and celebrations during the festival are famous all over India. Celebrations begin during midnight with the birth of Bhagwan.
3. Gorakhnath Math Temple
The saint Gorakhnath gave his name by the which the town of Gorakhpur is currently known as hence it is fitting that a temple should be erected in his honor. The Gorakhnath Math Temple is one of the most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been built at the spot where Saint Gorakhnath meditated. The main feature of the temple is the garb griha where saint Gorakhnath is portrayed as a manifestation of Lord Shiva. The pond next to the temple called Mansarovar is also a famous tourist site where visitors like to meditate or go for long boat rides.
4. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous and sacred temples in the heart of the oldest surviving city in the world, Varanasi. Although the temple does not allow followers of Semitic religions, even then, it is thronged by thousands of visitors, especially the foreigners to catch the glimpse of the temple.
The Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, Vishwanath of Visheshwara are enshrined in the temple. Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of Varanasi. It is believed that Varanasi is the place from where the first Jyotirlinga flared towards the heaven after breaking from the earth’s crust. Devotees are of the opinion that one who worships Lord Vishwanath attains happiness, all his desires, and ultimately liberation. Thus it has been visited by great saints like Ramakrishna Paramhans, Adi Shankaracharya, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Vivekananda, Gurunanak, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati and many other personalities. Even today, it is thronged by millions of devotees all through the year.
5. Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan
Banke means bent at three places and Bihari means Supreme Enjoyer. Banke Bihari Temple is one of the most significant temples in the whole of India. The deity of Banke Bihari was founded by Swami Haridas, the famous Hindu saint of the Nimbarka Sampradaya (one of the six Goswamis) at Nidhivan in the 16th century. This saint was believed to be one of the famous extant Gosvamis.
From the year 1864, when the temple was built, Banke Bihari is being worshipped here only. This is the only temple where Mangala Arati is not performed as Swami Haridas did not want to disturb the childlike Lord to disturbed early in the morning. For this reason, only, there are no bells in the temple either. Only once in a year, Mangala Arati is performed and that is the day after Janmashtami. While on Janmashtami, there is no darshan of the Lord as it is believed that He is still in His mother’s womb. Only when the clock strikes at the midnight, the Darshan is allowed. It is only on the Akshaya Tritiya, that the lotus feet of the Lord can be seen. As soon as a person enters the temple premises, the chant of ‘Radhe Radhe’ will be heard all over as the Lord loves of the name of ‘Radharani’.
6. Sarnath Temple
Sarnath, the world famous Buddhist site near Varanasi, is the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermons. Located at a distance of almost 8 km from the oldest city in India, Varanasi, the Sarnath Temple was built in the 3rd century BC. It is here where the Lord set in motion, ‘the Wheel of Law’. It is a site of high religious value for the Buddhists and invites thousands of devotees all through the year. Many stupas like the Dhamek Stupa (containing remains of Lord Buddha), Chowkhandi Stupa (where Lord Buddha met his five disciples, Ashoka Pillar) are embedded at the Sarnath Temple.
Among all the temples in North India, the Sarnath Temple is of high significance. It educates the visitors and worshipers about the history of this temple and the city Varanasi as well, in which it is situated. This well-known Buddhist temple gets thousands of visitors throughout the year who come from all over the globe.
7. Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Varanasi
Literally, the word ‘Sankat Mochan’ means ‘deliverer from troubles’. This temple was created by the Indian freedom fighter named Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya during the 1900s, who was the founder of Banaras Hindu University. An elaborate procession or ‘Shobha Yatra’ was arranged during ‘Hanuman Jayanti’, the birthday of Lord Hanuman from the Durga Mandir till the premises of the Sankat Mochan Temple.
A deity of Sankat Mochan Hanuman at the temple is located near the Benaras Hindu University in the southern part of Varanasi and the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is dedicated to the Lord Hanuman. Millions of people believe that if they visit the temple and offer prayers on regular basis then they will be relieved from all sorts of sankats, i.e. hindrances on the way of their progress. As per the Vedas, Lord Hanuman rescues and saves his devotees from the evil effects of the ‘Saturn’ and this is the reason why thousands of people line up to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman on Tuesdays and on Saturdays. Sindoor is applied on the deity by the devotees which is later put on their foreheads as the sacred Tilak. Ladoos are offered to the deity. Hanuman Chalisa, Sundar kand, and Kishkindha are recited by the devotees who visit this temple.
8. Tulsi Manas Temple, Varanasi
Engraved with cultural and historical importance, Tulsi Manas Temple is one of the most significant temples in Varanasi. The temple is famous due to the fact that famous Hindu epic Ramayana was composed here. It was built in 1964 and is dedicated to Lord Rama.
Previously, Ramayana was written in Sanskrit and due to this fact most of the people could not understand it. Goswami Tulsi Das translated the epic in Hindi as Ram Charit Manas at this particular spot and the complex philosophies of the Ramayana are described in sheer simplicity of words in the walls of the temple. The marble walls of the temple are inscribed with Dohas, Chaupayees, Chhandas, Shlokas along with paintings of the scenes from Ram Charita Manas. It is of great importance for the followers of Lord Vishnu.
9. Baldev Dauji Temple near Mathura
Located at almost 18 km south-east of Mathura, is the Baldev Dauji Temple where the presiding deity is Lord Balarama who is the brother of Lord Krishna. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in the country and the deity is believed to have been installed by Vajranabha in 1535 AD almost 5000 years ago.
The temple is of great religious value for the Hindus and, thus, is very popular too. Adjoining the Baldev Dauji Temple is Kshir Sagar which means the ‘Sea of Milk’. Gosain Gokul Nath had a vision that the Lord lay concealed in this Kund. Very soon, a search was made and the idol of Lord Balarama was found. Many times, attempts were made to shift the idol to Gokul but every time the carts broke down due to the reluctance of the Lord to change his abode. Thus, the shrine was erected right on the spot for His reception.
10. Bharat Mata Mandir, Varanasi
Bharat Mata Mandir, Varanasi is situated in Varanasi and is located very close to the ashram at Haridwar. The temple displays a magnificent standing statue of Bharat Mata which is made up of marble and was inaugurated in the 19th century by Mahatma Gandhi.
This temple is entirely dedicated to the human revelation of India popularly called the Bharat Mata in Hindi or Mother India in English. It was constructed by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1936. The Bharat Mata temple is situated in the premises of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. Inside the temple, there exists a beautiful statue of Bharat Mata which and portrays the land of undivided India.