India is a land of mystery. The centuries-old tradition of Hinduism has ensured that India is teeming with temples. Some of these are not what you might expect. Can you imagine worshipping at the shrine of a rat? Perhaps to many tourists, this is unthinkable. However, any journey to India reveals a wealth of surprises. Deep in religious mysticism, the temples of India have to be seen to be believed. Here we have compiled a list of the top ten most curious temples in India for tourists. Hopefully this will encourage you to book a trip to the land of spice very soon!
Chinese Kali Temple in Kolkata
This temple reveres the goddess of destruction, Kali. Worshipping this goddess herself is not unheard of. However, this temple is a little different. The altar of gifts is often laden with Chinese food, from noodles to dim sum. The reason for this is that the temple is located in Chinatown, with a large population of Chinese immigrants. The most unusual aspect of this temple is that traditionally Chinese do not affiliate themselves with Indian religions. However, here we have a little piece of curiosity in the big city.
Kali Singh Temple, Uttar Pradesh
This is a temple entirely devoted to cattle. Cattle are prized in India and so it is not bizarre to think there are temples dedicated solely to the animal. Devotees travel from all over the region to leave gifts and say prayers for the animal. They often leave food and make milk products within the temple itself.
Sinking Shiva, Varanasi
This temple is currently abandoned, due to safety reasons. However, in the past it was well-known as a religious site. It was built next to the river banks, but as the river grew, the temple eventually began to submerge. It is unique to India and a great photo opportunity.
Disappearing Temple of Vadodara
Much like the previous temple, this religious site was built close to water. It stands in the Arabian Sea and can only be seen at low tide. Take care not to be there when the tide comes in! It is still used by the people of the town, and is a curious example of India´s culture.
The Bullet Baba, Jodhpur
This is one of the most interesting religious sites in all of India. This temple is focused on the worship of an old motorcycle, the Bullet. People regularly offer the shrine liquour and food. It has become a talisman of road safety, a kind of St. Christopher for travellors.
This temple is closer to what we would associate with religious sites in India. However, it was built in 2005 and is entirely modern. It has well over 200 pillars and 20,000 idol sculptures, which were all made by hand by local artisans. It is regularly attracts tourists and is a highlight of any trip to India.
Belur Math, Kolkata
This temple is unique not only to India, but to most of the world. It combines Hindu, Christian and Islamic architecture in one building. The purpose is to highlight unity of religion and is truly breathtaking.
Karni Mata, Deshnok
This temple is not for the fainthearted. The subject here is the worship of rats. Locals believe that the animals are reincarnations of the goddess Karni and her children. Rats are common here, and are treated as sacred.
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Andhra Pradesh
This temple is among one of the most visited in the world. It is also notorious for being the richest in India. Visitors regularly make offerings to the god of prosperity Venketeshwara in the hope to gain riches. It is equally popular among locals and is often packed with devotees receiving blessings.
Guruvayur Shree, Kerala
This temple is considered to be Vishnu´s residence on Earth. It dates back hundreds of centuries and is a fine example of traditional Indian architecture. This temple is one of the holiest and most famous in India. In fact, the idol of Krishna is considered to be the best in the world. You can also feed the temple elephants here, which makes for an interesting experience.
Travelling further afield in India
This is just a short list of the many curious temples in India. There are hundreds more and it would take a lifetime to see them all. From the Hindu complexes of Tamil Nadu to temples made famous by celebrities in Maharashtra, there is something to satisfy any curiosity. Touring the temples of India is a wonderful way to experience this intriguing country. Glimpsing into the past is also a glimpse into the exciting future of a sub-continent whose star is rising quickly.