India is by and large a god-fearing country. Extremely rich and diverse in culture, history and traditions; India is dotted with temples and shrines. There are about 33 crore gods and goddesses in India; it would be quite impossible for each of these deities to have a temple to their name. Some of these temples are not just places of worship, they also happen to be major tourist attractions for their unique architecture and the legends associated with them. However, India is also a land of twisted folk tales and this has resulted in some very unusual temples. Here is a list of unique temples in India with super interesting back-stories.
Bharat Mata Temple
Built before the partition of India, the Bharat Mata temple in Varanasi is famous for the map of undivided India carved out of marble. This map of India is worshipped to this day. It does not have the usual idols of Gods or Goddess but instead, houses a representation of ‘Bharat Mata’ The temple dates back to a time when India was fighting for her independence and reminds us that the idea of ‘the nation’ is not an a priori but something that had to be actively constructed and entrenched within the popular imagination. Head out to explore the temple by booking a cab from Savaari.
Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple
It’s practically impossible to turn ghee into butter, but not in this temple. Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple built on the Shivagange hills in Bengaluru is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple supposedly witnesses a phenomenon wherein the priest applies ghee that is offered by the devotees on the Shiva Lingam, only to see it turn into butter. Sri Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple timings are divided into two batches. The first batch starts at 6 AM to 12.30 PM. The second batch starts from 5 PM to 8 PM. Gavi Gangadhareshwara also boasts incredible planning and architecture. On Makar Sankranti, the sunlight passes through the arc between Nandi’s horns and falls directly upon the lingam, illuminating the interior idol.
Faith is built upon that which defies reason. Located in Tirukalukundram (also known as Thirukazhukundram), Tamil Nadu, the Vedagiriswar temple consists of two structures, one at the foothills and the other at the summit of the hill. Legend has it that two sages transformed into eagles and became the guardians of the deity worshipped in this temple. Eagles routinely fly over the temple grounds and locals have observed that they are vegetarian and only eat the sweet rice offered by the priest.
Chinese Kali Temple
A huge Chinese settlement resides in the city of joy, Kolkata. Tangra is popularly known as mini-China in Kolkata with residents calling it their home since independence. This famous Chinese Kali temple in Kolkata is dedicated to Goddess Kali who is offered noodles, chopsuey and fried rice. For a hassle-free travel experience, book your Kolkata taxi here to explore the Chinese Kali Temple and do not miss out on the Chinese prasad.
Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurudwara
What is particularly interesting about this gurudwara in Jalandhar is that devotees come here with a very specific objective. They offer toy planes to the Gurudwara in the hope of getting their prayers of settling abroad answered. Such is the craze for immigration in Punjab! Book a cab from Amritsar to get to the temple.
Sonia Gandhi Temple
A temple dedicated to a politician? We are not really surprised. If we can have temples that worship Khushboo and Rajnikanth, then why not Sonia Gandhi? Greatly moved by Sonia Gandhi’s support in creating the new state of Telangana, the Congress leaders of the new district dedicated a temple to her. The main attraction of the temple is the idol of Soniaji.
Bullet Baba Temple
Absolutely one of its kind, the deity in this temple is a Royal Enfield Bullet. This temple has a unique backstory which is also rather tragic. In 1988, Om Singh Rathore was riding a bullet when he met with an accident on the Poli-Jodhpur Highway, near Chotila village. While Om Singh passed away immediately, his motorbike fell into a ditch. The police, after investigating the site, brought the bullet to the station, but the bike went missing and returned to the accident spot. Even after repeated attempts by the police, the bike always returned to the same ditch. This made villagers believe that the spirit of Om Singh Rathore lived on in the bike and they constructed a temple at the site. Bullet temple is frequently visited by people who wish to seek blessings for a safe journey. Quite ironic right? To get to the temple, try Savaari’s car hire in Ahmedabad.
Kal Bhairav Nath Temple
It is hard to imagine a temple serving wine and other alcoholic drinks as prasad. Temples tend to be strictly spaces of sanctity and purity. However, a temple in Varanasi offers alcohol to the deity and distributes liquor to the devotees too. Outside the temple, vendors sell baskets of offerings, containing coconuts, flowers and a bottle of liquor. It is said that the lip slit on the idol does not have any cavity and yet it is a miracle that the liquor is swallowed by the idol. Whether this is superstition or a real miracle, we can never know!
Jwala Ji Mata Temple
The temple houses 7 natural flames that have been burning inside its premises since time immemorial. There are no conclusive explanations yet as to why these flames burn constantly and what the source of these flames is. One possible explanation could be that there is an untapped reserve of natural gas that has been feeding the flame for centuries. However, scientific investigation has not yielded anything conclusive, one way or another. To this day, the eternal flame burns without an answer or explanation in Himachal Pradesh.
Karni Mata Temple
India can be a strange country to an outsider, especially considering we Indians dedicating temples to cows, snakes, rats etc. One such temple is in Bikaner, Rajasthan. The Karni Mata Temple is home to about 20,000 happy rats who are fed by the devotees who come to seek blessings. Legend has it that Karni Mata’s stepson drowned in Kapil Sarovar. In spite of begging Yama (the god of death) to give her son back, Karni Mata’s prayers remained unanswered. Eventually, Yama capitulated and agreed to Karni Mata’s wishes. However, as always, this came with a caveat- all her children including the stepson would be born as rats. Rats freely roam in the compound of the temple and are considered very auspicious. Get a taxi service in Jaipur to help you get to the temple.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Tell us which one caught your attention the most!