Top 9 Most Visited Lord Shiva Temples In India

Lord Shiva, one of the three principal deities of Hinduism, is part of a divine trio alongside Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, collectively known as the Trinity. Together, they orchestrate an infinite cycle encompassing the creation, operation, and destruction of the entire universe. Among these three deities, Lord Shiva, as the god of destruction, bears the responsibility for both the destruction and subsequent rebirth of the cosmos.

This perpetual cycle of cosmic birth and rebirth stands as a fundamental tenet of Hinduism, where the inevitability of destruction permeates every facet of existence, from the lives of living beings to celestial bodies and the entire universe as a whole. For the emergence of new creation to flourish, everything that physically exists in the universe must undergo dissolution.

As the supreme lord of destruction, Shiva garners devotion from millions of worshippers worldwide. Ancient Hindu scriptures affirm his status as the only eternal entity, persisting even when all of creation comes to a halt.

Therefore, it is unnecessary to emphasize that Lord Shiva constitutes an inseparable element of the entire Hindu belief system. The proliferation of Shiva temples across the country serves as a compelling testament to this enduring devotion.

In this post, we present a compilation of the top 12 most visited Shiva temples that annually draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from every corner of the world.

Kedarnath Temple: A Himalayan Sanctuary

Perched amid the Garhwal Himalayan range, along the banks of the Mandakini river in Uttarakhand, the Kedarnath Temple emerges as a sacred jewel. However, its doors are open to pilgrims for only six months each year, from April to November. The temple’s daily rituals commence at 7 a.m., drawing to a close between 3 and 5 p.m. The evening aarti, a mesmerizing ritual, commences at 6:30 p.m., concluding with the temple’s final closing at 8:30 p.m.

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Legend whispers that this hallowed sanctuary was first constructed by the Pandavas of the Mahabharata, nearly 5,000 years ago. But it was the eminent Adi Shankaracharya who undertook its restoration in the 7th century, breathing life into this age-old edifice. Kedarnath Temple stands proud as one of the twelve revered Jyotirlingas in India, a manifestation of Lord Shiva’s divine splendor.

Somnath Temple: The Eternal Beacon of Gujarat

Nestled in the western Indian state of Gujarat, the Somnath Temple, also known as the Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple, extends a warm welcome to people of all races and castes. Each day, the temple’s portals swing open at 6 a.m., resonating with morning prayers at 7 a.m. The day culminates with the evening aarti at 7:30 p.m., and the temple is cloaked in silence as its gates close at 10 p.m.

Somnath Temple derives its name from the moon, as Shiva, in one of his many avatars, is also known as Somnath, signifying the “Lord of the Moon.”

This revered shrine finds its place in history as the hallowed ground where Lord Krishna is believed to have concluded his earthly journey, ascending to his divine abode, Vaikuntha Dham. However, the temple’s resilience was tested when Mahmud Ghazni, during his 16th invasion of India in 1025, sought to plunder its immeasurable wealth.

Omkareshwar Temple: Embracing Divine Serenity

Nestled in the Khandwa district of Madhya Pradesh, the Omkareshwar Temple extends a unique and serene pilgrimage experience, free from the constraints of an entrance fee. It graciously welcomes visitors throughout the month, with two daily intervals: 5 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Legend weaves a story of the temple’s linga, believed to have been transported from Kashi, the city of Lord Shiva. The temple, constructed in the 19th century by King Ling II of the Kodagu kingdom, stands as a testament to devotion and craftsmanship.

Kashi Vishwanath Mandir: The Legacy of Varanasi

Nestled on the western banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh lies the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, where the divine is celebrated with fervor. The temple’s doors are ajar from 2 a.m. to 11 p.m., orchestrating five daily aartis and rituals that resonate with the rhythms of devotion.

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Despite being situated in Varanasi, the city once known as Kashi, the temple proudly upholds the legacy of its ancient name. Hindus hold a steadfast belief that those who draw their last breath in this sacred city, where cremation rites are performed on the banks of the holy river, break free from the cycle of endless rebirth, attaining ultimate salvation. Kashi Vishwanath Temple stands tall among the twelve established Jyotirlingas in India.

Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple: A Confluence of Faith

Nestled on the banks of the Krishna River in Andhra Pradesh, the Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple extends its divine embrace from 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Its history traces back to the Hoysala Empire, specifically during the reign of Narsingh II in 1234 AD.

This strategic location celebrates the convergence of Shaivism and Shaktism traditions. Revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and one of the eighteen Shakti Peethas in India, the temple resonates with devotees’ worship of Lord Shiva in his Mallikarjun and Goddess Parvati in her Bhadrakali forms.

Mahakaleshwar Mandir: The Heartbeat of Ujjain

Nestled in the city of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, the Mahakaleshwar Temple opens its doors daily from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Devotees are encouraged to partake in a medley of rituals throughout the day, from morning to noon and evening aartis.

Mahakaleshwar, a formidable aspect of Lord Shiva, reigns as the temple’s chief deity, bestowing the temple with its name. This revered shrine is among the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, a testament to its spiritual eminence.

In ancient times, ashes for rituals were derived from funeral pyres, but in the modern era, they are crafted from dung, signifying the temple’s timeless adaptability.

Kailashnath Temple: A Testament to Timelessness

Nestled near Aurangabad, Maharashtra, the Kailashnath Temple stands as an enduring testament to Rashtrakuta architecture. Unlike many other sacred sites, this temple complex welcomes all without an entrance fee. It gracefully opens its gates in two shifts each day, from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The astonishing marvel of the Kailashnath Temple lies in its construction—a mammoth endeavor that involved carving and sculpting an entire hill rock from its summit to its base. This monumental feat was accomplished during the reign of King Krishna I, spanning the years 756 to 773 AD, within the Rashtrakuta Empire.

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Yet, the true wonder of Kailashnath Temple transcends its architectural grandeur. Legend whispers that this sacred sanctuary possesses an invincible quality; it cannot be destroyed.

Even Aurangzeb, a Mughal ruler who sought to obliterate thousands of Hindu temples across India, dispatched about a thousand men in 1682 to dismantle this temple. However, their efforts, spanning three grueling years, met with failure—a testament to the temple’s enduring spirit.

Amarnath Temple: A Journey to the Heart of the Himalayas

Nestled in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir lies the Amarnath Temple, enshrined within a hallowed cave known as Lord Amarnath. The temple beckons pilgrims from June to September, coinciding with the revered Amarnath Yatra—the annual pilgrimage.

The sacred sanctum of the Amarnath Temple cradles the presiding Shiva Linga, which remains veiled in natural snow throughout the year, except for a brief respite during summer.

Legend weaves a tale of sage Vrgu, the first to discover and christen this ancient cave. As a result, the Amarnath Cave is believed to be around five thousand years old, making it one of the world’s oldest sacred caverns.

This time-honored grotto finds mention in several ancient Hindu texts, including the Amarnath Mahatmya, the Anita Sanhita, and the Nilamata Purana, etching its significance into the annals of time.

Tarakeshwar Temple: A Beacon of Devotion in West Bengal

Nestled within the state of West Bengal, the Tarakeswar Temple radiates ancient devotion to Lord Shiva. Millions of pilgrims make their way to this revered shrine each year. Unlike some temples, Tarakeswar Temple stands open to all, with no entrance fee. Devotees can partake in the temple’s rituals, which unfold twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening.

This temple, believed to have been erected in 1729 by King Varmalla II, occupies a prominent place among West Bengal’s most renowned shrines. Its storied history and timeless resonance make it a place of spiritual solace for all who seek it.

In this spiritual journey across India, we’ve glimpsed into the rich tapestry of devotion to Lord Shiva. From the Himalayan heights to the heart of ancient caves, these sacred abodes stand as living testaments to the enduring faith and reverence of countless devotees who find solace in their hallowed precincts.

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Shiba Prasad

Shiba Prasad

I've been captivated by India's ancient history and Vedic culture. What began as a hobby, reading books on Hinduism, has now turned into my full-time commitment, researching and writing for this blog. When not working, I enjoy spending time with friends.

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