Himachal Pradesh is called ‘Dev Bhoomi’ or ‘Land of the Gods’ and it is not without reason. Himachal Pradesh is replete with legends and myths about gods and goddesses. Every district and every town has its own temples that have a colourful history and story behind it. Perched high atop the mountains and with its pristine beauty, it is no wonder if Himachal Pradesh is a place that is loved even by the gods. Here is a list of some of the most famous temples in Himachal Pradesh. Visit each of these locations and you will understand why exactly this place is referred to as the abode of Gods.
1. Sankat Mochan Temple
Sankat Mochan Temple in Himachal Pradesh is located on the Kalka-Shimla Highway and is one of the most popular temples in Himachal and in Shimla. Sankat Mochan is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and thousands of people from India visit this temple to offer their prayers. The temple is commissioned by Baba Neem Karoli. Once a small shrine it is now a three-storied building. The building of this temple is used for marriage ceremonies and for other purposes as well as feeding the poor, which is known as Langar. Along with this Sankat Mochan Temple also has an Ayurvedic clinic as well. Devotees make a visit to the clinic to heal various health concerns.
Sankat Mochan Temple is just 11 kilometers away from the railway station and the best time to visit this temple is on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Around 1000 of visitors come to the Sankat Mochan Temple on these two days.
2. Tara Devi Temple
Tara Devi is one of the oldest temples in Shimla and one of the important religious sites in Himachal Pradesh. This temple is 250 years old. It is located on the Kalka-Shimla Highway near Shogi and is 15 kilometres away from Shimla town. According to people, Tara Devi was actually the Kull Devi, which is the family deity of the Sen Dynasty. Tara Devi came from the eastern state of Bengal. Legends say that this temple was commissioned by Bhupendra Sen. He ordered for a Maa Tara Devi Temple near the present-day temple on 50 bigha of land. Later the temple was shifted to a hilltop by Raja Balbir Sen. The hilltop was known as Parvat, the intention behind shifting the temple to a hilltop was to let Maa Tara spread her blessings on everyone and on everything.
The best time to visit Tara Devi Temple is during Shardiya Navratas particularly on Ashtami, which happens on an annual basis.
3. Jakhoo Temple
Another popular temple in Himachal Pradesh is the Jakhoo Temple. It is at a height of 8000-feet from the sea level in Shimla and has a huge Hanuman Temple. The statue of Lord Hanuman is an important landmark here. According to legend, this was one of the spots where Lord Hanuman stopped for a while when he was on a mission to collect Sanjeevni herb to save injured Lord Lakshmana. Another legend about this spot is that Lord Hanuman met a sage named Yaaku here who guided Lord Hanuman about the Sanjeevni herb. If you go by legends, it is also said that the construction of the Jakhoo Temple was commissioned by Saage Yaaku. This temple is home to a 108-feet tall Lord Hanuman statue, and this is the main reason why people come here in thousands to visit the famed Jakhoo Temple.
Jakhoo Temple is among the top five must-visit places in Shimla. The temple remains open from 5:00 am to 12:00 pm and again from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. It is 45 minutes away from Mall road. There is no such specific best time to visit Jakhoo Temple.
4. Hidimba Temple
One of the most famous temples to visit in Manali is the Hidimba Temple. In fact, this temple is also a popular tourist attraction for international and national tourists. It is famous for photography, pristine natural beauty, and religious institutions. Here’s why people visit the Hidimba Temple, Hidimba Devi, who is the wife of Bheema and the revered mother of Ghatotkachh, is said to be protecting the valley. It is also said that she appears when people need her and saves her children from calamities. Surrounded by a thick forest, Hidimba Temple is built around a cave. Apart from the religious connotations, people also visit this temple for its architectural beauty.
The best time to visit Hidimba Temple is from August to July when the climate is pleasant. It is just 2 kilometres away from the Joginder Nagar Railway Station. Hidimba Temple was built by Maharaja Bahadur Singh in the year 1553 and celebrates the Saroohni Annual Mela. You will not see any idol inside the temple, however, there is a footprint on a stone slab, which is worshipped.
5. Maa Sharvari Temple
Maa Sharvari Temple, which is dedicated to Maa Sharvari is another important temple of Manali and a famous religious site in Himachal Pradesh. She is often recognized as the incarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple is only 5 kilometers away from Manali and lies on the banks of river Beas. You can easily visit Maa Sharvari Temple by hiring a private cab. She is the deity who was worshipped by the Kullu Kings.
The best time to visit Maa Sharvari Temple is during the festival of Dussehra. This is the time when the idol of Maa Sharvari is taken out to Kullu to meet God Raghunath Ji in an auspicious and grand procession. It will take around 1 to 2 hours to completely explore the temple. Maa Sharvari Temple remains open from 5:00 am to 12:00 pm and again from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm for visitors.
6. Vashisht Temple
Vashisht Temple in Himachal Pradesh is famous for its natural hot springs or sulphur springs. This temple is said to be dedicated to sage Vashisht who came here to meditate. This temple provides separate bathing zones both for men and women. People believe that the natural springs here have strong healing properties and can heal ailments and medical problems. Another important fact about this temple is that it is around 4000 years old. Even when it is extremely cold, you get to enjoy a nice and warm bath in nature’s very own natural hot spring.
Vashisht Temple is only 3.5 kilometres away from the Manali Bus stop and remains open from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. For baths, you can come here between 7:00 am to 1:00 pm and again from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm every day.
7. Naina Devi Ji
Naina Devi Ji Temple is one of the most prominent temples near Bilaspur. Although the temple is 70 kilometres away from Bilaspur, people often come to the temple to offer their prayers on a daily basis. Naina Devi is said to be an incarnation of almighty Goddess Durga. It is said that in order to pacify Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu cut Maa Durga (Sati) into 50 pieces and one of her eyes fell here and this is the exact place where the shrine of Naina Devi Ji was built. Raja Bir Chand is said to be the one who built Naina Devi Ji Temple way back in the 8-century.
Naina Devi Temple is among the 51 siddha peethas of India and is a major religious site both for Hindus and Sikhs. The best time to visit this temple is from April to October and the temple remains open from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm.
8. Vyas Gufa
One of the oldest temples in Bilaspur is the Vyas Gufa, which is visited by thousands of tourists from all over India every year. It is said that Sage Vyas mediated here for many years and he was the same sage who wrote the epic Mahabharata. Situated on the banks of River Satluj and between the old and the new town of Bilaspur lies the amalgamated Vyas Gufa. According to another legend, the town got its name Vyaspur after the holy sage Vyas, which is now known as Bilaspur. This temple is at a height of 610 metres above sea level.
The best time to visit Vyas Gufa is from October to March, as the temperature during this time remains pleasant. You can come here anytime of the day.
9. Narvadeshwar Temple
Narvedeshwar Temple is in the district of Hamirpur. This temple was built by Rani Prasanna Devi and is situated in Tira Sujanpur. Rani Prasanna Devi was the wife of King Sansar Chand. Narvedeshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and you will see numerous murals and paintings in the temple and this is what makes this shrine a must visit place in Himachal. The temple was built in 1802. The complex also has small temples dedicated to Goddess Durga, Lord Lakshminarayna, and Lord Ganesha.
The best time to visit Narvadeshwar Temple is from October to March and is around 24 kilometres away from the main town of Hamirpur.
10. Baba Balaknath Temple
The Baba Balaknath Temple is one of the most famous temples in Himachal Pradesh. It is a cave temple carved out of rock. Although the entry of females is restricted here, devotees throng the temple during the Holi festival when a fair is organized there.
The best time to visit this temple is between October and April. It is a distance of about 45 kilometers from Hamirpur.
11. Bhootnath Temple
Arguably the most famous temple in Mandi, the Bhootnath Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is famous for the Mahashivratri fair that takes places here, which is celebrated with much pomp and splendour. Shivratri is the best time to visit the Bhootnath temple and it is common to find throngs of visitors in this temple during this time who come here to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to have been set up by Raja Ajber Sen in 1527.
12. Jwala Devi Temple
There are 51 Shaktipeethas in India and Jwala Devi Temple in Kangra district is one among them. The temple is in the village of Jwalamukhi in the Kangra district and the site of the temple is the place where the tongue of Sati is supposed to have fallen. According to legend, a shepherd saw a raging fire on top of a hill and he went and told the king about this. The king went to the spot and saw the Goddess Jwala Devi there. He then decided to build a temple at the spot. It is believed that if you visit the Jwala Devi Temple your wishes will be fulfilled. An offering of coconut is mandatory here.
13. Chintpurni Temple
This is another Shaktipeetha where the Goddess Chinnamastika is worshipped. She is believed to be a headless goddess as she beheaded herself and offered her blood to her two companions. The Goddess is thus regarded as a standard of self-sacrifice who could do anything for people that she loved. Devotees visit this temple in the hopes of getting their wishes fulfilled. The temple is located in Una district and the best time to visit this temple is between October and March.
14. Chamunda Devi Temple
Chamunda Devi is regarded as a mother goddess in Himachal and thus receives high regard in the state. According to legend, around 400 hundred years ago, a priest and the King of Kangra prayed to the goddess to let them shift the temple to a more accessible location, which the goddess agreed to. The Goddess appeared in the dream of the king and told him where to relocate the temple. She also told him that he would find an idol buried at the spot, which he had to set up as the presiding deity in the new temple. Accordingly, the religious site is now an easily accessible location and visited by many devotees.
The Chamunda Temple is situated 10 kilometers from Palampur in the district of Kangra and the site is also known for its scenic beauty.
15. Bhimakali Temple
Another Shaktipeetha the Bhimkali Temple is an important landmark of Sarahan town. This temple is completely made out of wood and has beautiful snow-clad mountain peaks in its backdrop. According to a legend, the ear of Goddess Sati fell at the spot where the temple stands today. The intricate wood carvings in the interior and exterior of the temple capture the attention of every devotee that visits the temple.
The temple is at a distance of 180 kilometers from Shimla and the best time to visit the temple is between October and March.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the temples in Himachal Pradesh but this is an overview of the important temples among all other best places to visit in Himachal Pradesh. Visit these and you will definitely get a sense of how much divinity and spirituality is engrained in the lives of people in Himachal Pradesh.