Popular ancient Temples of Shree Vishnu & its Avatars
During medieval period, Adi Shankaraacharya, Sri Ramanujacharaya, Sri Nimbarkacharaya and Sri Madhvacharaya were conferred title of Jagat guru as they defeated all others based on knowledge and logic. Jagat gurus re-established the Sanatan Dharma and established glory of various temples across India.
Thousands of temples all over India are dedicated to Shree Vishnu and his avatars, Shree Rama, Shree Krishna & Shree Narasimha.
Adi Shankaracharya during his travels across the length and breadth of India established (about 700 AD) in four different corners of India places of pilgrimage viz. Puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka and Badrinath and maths (ashrams at Sringeri, Sarda math – at Dwarka, Jyotir math – at Badrinath and Goverdhan math - Puri), school of Hinduism, to unify the scattered and diverse groups of Sannyasis and preserving four vedas.
Jagatguru Ramanujacharya consecrated Shree Govindrajaswamy Temple, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh in the year 1130 AD. Shri Gopal Singhji Bhati chief of Khejarli and Shri Sheoji founded Nimbark Peeth and temple of Sarweshwar Prabhu on behest of Jagatguru Nimarkacharya at Salemabad, Ajmer. Jagadguru Shri Madhwacharya, in the 13th century founded Shree Krishna Temple in Udupi, Karnataka. Shree Dwarkadhish temple (Mathura, UP) management is under the followers of Vallabhacharya.
Bankey Bihari Temple in Vrindavan, UP was established by Swami Haridas, guru of the famous singer Tansen.
Details of locations of select popular temples of Shree Vishnu and its avatars, construction done by, its significance and popular events are mentioned hereinafter.
Pictures pasted below:
1. Row L to R - First two pictures of Shree Badrinarayan Temple; Uttrakhand; Bankey Bihari Temple
2. Row L to R - Chennakesawa, Belur; Shree Ranchodrai Temple, Dakor, Gujarat;
Dwarkadhish Krishna Temple, Dwarka Gujarat
3. Row L to R - Dwarkadhish Krishna Temple, Dwarka Gujarat; Shree Govindrajswamy Temple, Tirupati AP;
Shree Krisanjanambhoomi, Mathura
4. Row L to R - Shree Krishna Temple Udup, Karnataka; Lord Ayyappan Temple, Sabrimala, Kerala;
Shree Dwarkadhish Temple, Mathura, UP
5. Row L to R - Shree Rangnathswamy Temple, Mysore, Karnataka; Shree Parthasarthi Temple, Chennai TN;
Shree Jagannath Puri, Orissa
6. Row L to R - Shri Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu; 2 & 3 - Shabrimala, Kerala
7. Row L to R - Shabrimala, Kerala; Shree Narasimha Temple, Nalgonda, Telangana;
Shree Ram janambhoomi, Ayodhaya, UP
8. Row L to R - Shree Krishna Temple Shamlaji, Gujarat; Shri Nathdwara, Rajasthan;
Shri Ram Temple Thiruporiyar, Kerala
9. Row L to R - All three pictures of Tirupati Balaji Temple at Tirumala, AP
10 Row L to R - Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trivandrum, Kerala; Shree Guruvayur Krishna Temple, Kerala
Shankaracharya: Details of Char Dhams are as under:
1.Shree Badrinarayan Temple, the Northern Dham, Uttrakhand:
Location: North at Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district, Uttrakhand along the banks of Alaknanda River at an elevation of 3,133 m (10,279 ft) above the mean sea level.
Constructed by: Vedic scriptures talk about the presiding deity as Badrinath. This indicates that the temple was in existence as early as the Vedic period (c. 1750-500 BC).
Principal Deity: The presiding deity of this temple is Vishnu, in the form of Badrinarayan or Badrinath. The image of the Lord worshipped in the temple is 1m tall and is made of black stone statue. The Badrinath Temple has three main structures, namely, the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), the Darshan Mandap (Hall of Worship) and the Sabha Mandap (Convention Hall).
Significance: According to the Bhagavata Purana, “in Badrikashram the Personality of Godhead (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nar and Narayana. The Mahabharata revered the holy place as the one which can give salvation to devotees arriving close to it. The temple closes for winter on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami or Dusshera. On this day, an Akhanda Jyoti (lamp) is lit. It is filled with an amount of ghee that will last for six whole months. Special pujas are performed by the purohit, before the closure. The idol of Badrinath is transferred to the Narasimha temple at Jyotirmath, which is located about 60km away from this temple. The Badrinarayan temple is then opened only around April, on the auspicious Vasant Panchami day. Pilgrims flock the temple on this day, to witness the burning of the Akhanda Jyoti.
2. Shree Dwarkadhish Temple, the Western Dham, Gujarat:
Located: Dwarka is located in west on the right bank of the Gomti River, Dwarka, Gujarat.
Constructed by: The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Originally, it is believed to be built by Vajranabh, the great grandson of Lord Krishna, more than 2500 years ago. The imposing five-storied Dwarkadhish temple, which is constructed of limestone, is built with the support of 72 pillars. Rising to a height of 78.3 meters, the spire dominates the entire skyline of the city. An eighty-four foot long pataka or flag, adorned with the sun and the moon, ornaments the dome of the temple.
Significance: The city is the celebrated as the Kingdom of Lord Krishna The Dwarkadhish Temple is the most revered Krishna temple in India.
3. Shree Jagannath Puri, the Eastern Dham, Orissa:
Location: Puri is located in East near Bay of Bengal, near Bhubneshwar, the capital of Orissa.
Constructed by: It is believed that the construction of the Jagannath temple was initiated during the reign of Anantavarman Chodaganga, the ruler of Kalinga (1078 - 1148 CE). The Oriya ruler Ananga Bhima Deva took over and rebuilt it in its present state in the year 1174 CE.
The temple complex stretches over 400,000 square feet and is entirely surrounded by a 20-foot high, fortified wall, called the Meghanada Pacheri, yet another wall, called Kurma Bedha, surrounds the main temple. This whole complex contains at least 120 temples and shrines. The temple has 4 distinct structures, namely:
Vimana or the Garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), which houses the deities on the Ratnavedi; Mukhashala or the frontal porch; Nata mandir/Natamandapa or Jagamohan, the dancing hall and Bhoga Mandapa, the hall for the offerings.
The Nila Chakra (Blue Discus) is mounted on the top shikhar or peak of the temple. Every day, a Patita Pavana (flag) is hoisted on this structure.
Significance: Puri has Lord Jagannath (Krishna) temple. It is the only place where Goddess Subhadra, the sister of Lord Jagannath and Lord Balbhadra are also worshiped.
Most Popular Event: The most famous festival observed at the temple is the Rath Yatra when all the deities are taken on a ride on temple chariots. The event attracts millions of devotees and tourists. The idols of deities are built using a particular kind of wood called the Daru Brahma which is found by the leading temple priest once in every 12 years.
4. Rameshwaram, the Southern Dham, Tamil Nadu:
Location: Rameswaram is located in south on the tip of the Indian Penisula, Rameswaram,Tamil Nadu.
Constructed by: Shri Ram built a setu (Ramsetu) here to reach Lanka, where Ravana has kept his wife Goddess Sita after the abduction.
Significance: Ramanathaswamy, in the form of the Shivalingam, is the main deity of the temple. There are two lingams inside the sanctum - one built by Goddess Sita (which is the primary deity) and the other one, which was brought by Hanuman from Mount Kailas. This second lingam is known as the Vishwalingam. Rama is believed to have instructed that the Vishwalingam be worshipped first, since Hanuman had taken all the trouble to bring it from Kailas. This tradition of worshipping the lingam first, continues to date. The place also homes an enormous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Ramanatha Swamy Temple. The temple enshrines one of the twelve majestic Jyotirlingas.
Shree Govindrajaswamy Temple, Tirupati,Andhra Pradesh
Location: It is located in Tirupati, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
Constructed by: The temple was built during 12 century and was consecrated in the year 1130 AD by Saint Ramanujacharya.
Significance: The deity is in reclining yoga nidra posture, facing east, by keeping right hand under his head and left hand straight over his body.
Most Popular Event: Some of these festivals are Vaisakha Festival (Annual Brahmotsavam), Float Festival, Goda parinayam, Adhyanotsavam, Thiruvadipuram, Pushpayagam, etc.
Shree Krishna Temple, Udupi, Karnataka:
Location: Udupi, near Mangalore, Karnataka.
Constructed by: The Krishna Matha was founded by the Vaishnavite saint Jagadguru Shri Madhwacharya in the 13th century.
Significance: The daily sevas (offerings to god) and administration of the Krishna Mutt are managed by the Ashta Mathas (eight monasteries).
Most Popular Event: Festivals like Makara Sankranthi, Ratha Sapthami, Madhva Navami, Hanuman Jayanthi, Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Navarathi Mahotsava, Madhva Jayanti (Vijaya Dashami), Naraka Chathurdashi, Deepavali, Geetha Jayanthi etc. are celebrated very grandly by Paryaya Mutt every year.
Dwarkadhish Temple, Mathura, UP:
Location:This Temple is about 3.5 km from city main railway station Mathura Junction.
Constructed by: This is a major and famous Hindu shrine, and its current structure was built up by Seth Gokul Das Parikh, the treasurer of then Gwalior State(Scindia) in 1814, having Rajasthani style of entrance.
Significance: The temple management is under the followers of Vallabhacharya.
Most Popular Event: A Hindola festival is celebrated in the rainy month of Shravan (Occurring in July/August)
Most Popular Vishnu Temples:
1. Tirupati Balaji, Andhra Pradesh:
Location: Tirupati Balaji temple is located in the hill town of Tirumala at Tirupati in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
Constructed by: According to some evidence the history of the temple dates back almost 2000 years. In ancient times, a queen called Samavai, belonging to the Pallava dynasty (614 AD) is said to have consecrated the first silver image here. The temple is also mentioned in Sangam poetry (500 BC – 2000 AD). Pallavas king of Thondaimandalam (Kanchipuram) chiefly contributed to building the temple. Krishnadevaraya is also said to have made several endowments to the temple. The Pallavas of Kanchipuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Tanjore (10th century), and Vijayanagara pradhans (14th and 15th centuries) were committed devotees of Lord Venkateswara.
Significance: The Temple is dedicated to Sri Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu. It is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average). Adi Sankaracharya came to Tirumala and placed Sri Chakra at the lotus feet of Lord Venkateshwara and sung the famous song -Bhaja Govindam.
Most Popular Event: Annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.
2. Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala:
Location: The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple is situated in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala.
Constructed by: The temple has mention in epics and purans. The origin of temple is not known. In the year 1050 AD , the temple was reconstructed by the then ruler and again in 1729 by great ruler Marthanda Verma, king of Travancore.
Significance: The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the most famous temples of India.
Most Popular Event: The most attractive festival of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is the Laksha deepam when one lakh oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The festival is celebrated once in six years and in preparation for the festival, chanting and prayers and recitation of the three Vedas is done for 56 days.
3.Shree Parthasarthi Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Location: It is located at Triplicane, Chennai, India.
Constructed by: It was originally built by the Pallavas in the 8th century by king Narasimhavarman. Subsequently, it was expanded by Cholas and later by the Vijayanagara kings in the 15th century. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Venkata Krishnaswami (Parthasarathi). He is standing in the company of Devi Rukmini, Satyaki, Balarama (His brother), Pradyumna (His son) and Aniruddha (His grandson). This rare combination of Sri Krishna's family is revered as the Pancha Veeras. The processional deity of Sri Parthasarathi is enshrined separately.
Significance: The temple has icons of five forms of Vishnu: Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha and Krishna. The Parthasarathy Temple is an 8th-century Hindu Vaishnavite temple dedicated to the god Krishna, The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil literature canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries and is classified as among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The name 'Parthasarathy', in Sanskrit, means the 'charioteer of Arjuna', referring to Krishna's role as a charioteer to Arjuna in the epic Mahabaratha.
Most popular event: Theppam (Float) festival, also known Teppothsavam (= Theppam + utsavam), this pictorial and colourful festival takes place on 7 days in the Tamil month of masi, 3 days for Lord Parthasarathy, one each for Sri Narasimhar, Sri Ranganathar, Sri Ramar and Sri Gajendra Varadhar. The seven-day event attracts a large number of devotees and onlookers from different parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu.
Popular Shree Rama Temples
Location: Ayothaya, UP
Constructed by: Hindu tradition maintains that a temple existed at the site in historical times. In 1528, a Mosque was built at the site by the Mughal general Mir Baqi, and named the “Babri Masjid” in honour of the Mughal Emperor Babur. In 1949 an idol of Rama was placed inside the mosque. In 2003, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted excavations of the site on court orders. The ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th-century temple under the mosque.
Significance: Ram Janmabhoomi is the name given to the site that many Hindus believe to be the birthplace of Rama, the 7th avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.
2. Thiruporiyar, Shree Rama Temple, Kerala
Location:It is situatedin Triprayar in Thrissur istrict of Kerala state in India. The temple is situated on the bank of river Theevra.
Constructed by: Local ruler Vakkayil Kaimal constructed a temple at Triprayar and installed the idol. Triprayar temple is rich in wood carvings. The sreekovil is circular in shape with a copper covered conical roof and is surmounted by a golden Thazhikakkudam.
Significance: The deity is Shree Rama and with four arms with bearing a conch, a disc, a bow and a garland. It is believed that the idol of Lord Rama was initially worshipped by Lord Krishna at Dwaraka. After the swargarohana of Lord Krishna the idol was immnesed in the sea. Later some fisher men got the idol from the sea near Chettuva region of Kerala and the
Popular Shree Krishna Temples
Location: Shri Bankey Bihari Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, in the holy city of Vrindavan in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated near Shri RadhaVallabh Temple.
Constructed by: It was built in 1860 AD and is a classic example of Rajasthani architecture. It was rebuilt in 1921 by the disciples of Swami Haridas ji.
Significance: ‘Banke’ means bent at three angles, referring to the image of Krishna playing the flute: where his right knee is bent across the left knee, right hand is bent to hold the flute, and the head is titled slightly. Bankey Bihari Temple was established by Swami Haridas, guru of the famous singer Tansen. Once on the request of his disciples Swami Haridas ji sang the following verse in Nidhivan in Vrindavan
" Mai ri sahaj jori pragat bhai ju rang ki gaur syam ghan damini jaisen. Pratham hun ahuti ab hun aagen hun rahihai na tarihai taisain.. Ang ang ki ujraii sugharaii chaturaii sunderta aisain.. Shri Haridas ke swami syama kunjbihari sam vais vaisain.."
On singing the verse, the Celestial couple Shyama-Shyam (Radha Krishna) appeared in front of him and his devotees. On the request of Shri Swami ji the couple merged into one and the idol of Banke bihari appeared there (the same idol seen in the temple). The idol was established in Nidhivan.
The image of Bihariji installed in Shri Bankey Bihari Mandir, is the one granted to Swami Haridas by the celestial couple Shyama-Shyam themselves. Submitting to the desire of devotees, The Lord appeared in person with his divine consort and left back a black charming image before disappearing. The curtain before the Deities is not left open like at other temples. Every few minutes, the curtain is pulled shut and then opened again. It is said that the brilliant eyes of Shri Bankey Bihari will make one unconscious if seen for too long a stretch.
Most Popular Event: During Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival of Lord Krishna, there are a number of silver-plated and some solid silver ornamented swings, which are shown at this time. The main day of Jhulan Yatra is the third day of the waxing moon, at which time Shri Bankey Bihari is placed on a golden swing (hindola).
Location: It is a Hindu temple in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. It is situated next to Kesava Deo Temple and the Shahi Eid Gah Mosque.
Constructed by: From the analysis of Archaeological research and the different writings of foreign tourists, it is evident that huge temples were built from time to time at this place. The evidence show that Brajanabh the great grand son of Krishna, has built first temple at the prison of Kans where the Bhagwan Krishna was divinely born.
Significance: The temple is built around the prison cell where Krishna is said to have been born.
Location: It is Located in Aravalli hills, on the banks of the Banas River in Rajsamand District, just 48 km north-east of Udaipur in Rajasthan,
Constructed by: Shrinathji temple is a havelli, built by Goswami priests in 1672.
Significance: The deity of Shrinathji, a 14th-century, 7-year-old "infant" incarnation of Krishna. The deity was originally worshiped at Jaitipura Mathura and was shifted in the 1672 to protect it from the Mughal rular Aurangzeb after being retained at Agra for almost six months. Literally, Nathdwara means ‘Gateway to Shrinathji. Nathdwara is a significant Vaishnavite shrine pertaining to the Pushti Marg or the Vallabh Sampradaya. Vitthal Nathji, son of Vallabhacharya institutionalised the worship of Shrinathji at Nathdwara.
Most Popular Event: Devotees throng to the shrine in large numbers during occasions of Janmashtami and other festivals, like Holi and Diwali.
Location: It is located in Kheda district in Gujarat.
Constructed by: The present temple was constructed by Shri Gopalrao Jagannath Tambwekar in 1772 A.D. at the cost of rupees one lakh.
Significance: Sharad Purnima, which comes after end of Navratra, is the day believed on which lord Krishna came to Dakor as ranchodrai with his great devotee known as Bodana. Lord comes to Dakor to fulfil the promise that he will come to Dakor with Bodana.
Most Popular Event: Sharad Purnima, among other hindu festivals.
Location: It is located in Rudardi,Dist. Sabarkantha, Gujarat.
Constructed by: The temple was built probably in 11th century in Chaulukya style and renovated at least 500 years ago.
Most Popular Event: The Shamlaji Melo, also called the Kartik Purnima fair is held in the month of November.
6. The Guruvayoor Shree Krishna Temple, Kerala:
Location: The Guruvayoor Sri Krishna Temple is situated in the Guruvayur town in Kerala.
Constructed by: The idol of the deity at the Guruvayoor Temple is made of stone called black antimony and is believed to have magnetic and medicinal properties.
Significance: Guruvayoor Temple is India's 3rd largest temple in terms of number of pilgrims attracting more than 7 millions devotees annually. The presiding deity is Shree Krishna, incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology says the Lord Krishna used to worship an idol of Lord Vishnu in Dwarka. However Krishna knew that, soon after he leaves this material world to his Vaikunta Dhama, his palace island would wash into seas. He instructed the Deva Guru (Heavenly Saint) Brihaspati and Vayu Deva (Wind God) to take his favourite idol, once Dwarka gets submerged and place it in some other place, where devotees can worship. As instructed by Lord, Guru and Vayu took away the idol, when Dwarka was sinking and was hunting a place to the idol. Soon they would a sacred place where they wished to place the idol. However a Shiva temple existed in that area, making it difficult to place the idol nearby. Soon on Guru's invocation, Lord Shiva appeared and agreed to move his temple from the sacred place, to install the divine idol. As Guru and Vayu placed the idol and erected a temple in its honour, the place came to known as Guruvayur and the deity came to be knew as Guruvayoorappan.
Most Popular Event:
There is a strict dress code for people who wish to enter the Guruvayoor Temple. Men are to wear mundu and remain bare backed. Women can wear saris, salwar kameez or long skirts.
Shree Narasimha Temple
Shree Lakshmi Narasimha,(also known as Yadagirigutta),Nalgonda Telangana:
Location: It is situated on a hillock in Yadagirigutta of Yadadri Bhuvanagiri district of the Indian state of Telangana.
Significance: The temple is an abode of Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Yadagiri is named after a sage named Yadava who performed heavy austerities to Lord Vishnu as Narasimha. Being please with him the lord gave him darshan in three forms: Jwala Narasimha, Gandabheranda Narasimha and Yogananda Narasimha.
Most Popular Event: Lord Narasimha birthday is celebrated yearly on 28th of April.
Chennakeshava Temple, Belur
Location: It is located in Belur, Hasan district, Karnataka.
Constructed by: It was built on the banks of the River Yagachi by Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana. The temple is remarkable for its architecture, sculptures, reliefs, friezes as well its iconography, inscriptions and history. The temple artwork depicts scenes of secular life in the 12th century, dancers and musicians, as well as a pictorial narration of Hindu texts such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas through numerous friezes
Significance: The deity Chennakeshava is believed to be another form of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu.
Lord Ayyappan Temple, Sabarimala
Location: It is located at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the Western Ghat mountain ranges of Pathanamthitta District, Perunad grama panchayat in Kerala.
Constructed by: The temple was rebuilt after a fire in 1950.
Significance: Sri Ayyappan is a synthetic deity, the son of Shiva and Mohini – the female avatar of Vishnu.
The devotees are expected to follow a Vratham (41-day austerity period) prior to the pilgrimage. This begins with wearing of a special Mala (a chain made of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads is commonly used. During the 41 days of Vratham, the devotee who has taken the vow, is required to strictly follow the rules that include follow only a lacto-vegetarianism diet, follow celibacy, follow teetotalism, not use any profanity and have to control the anger, allow the hair and nails to grow without cutting. They must try their maximum to help others, and see everything around them as lord Ayyappa. Women of age above 50 and below 10 are only permitted visit to the temple.
Most popular Event: The temple is open for worship only during the days of Mandalapooja (approximately 15 November to 26 December), Makaravilakkuor "Makara Sankranti" (14 January) and Maha Vishuva Sankranti (14 April), and the first five days of each Malayalam month.