Hinduism is generally regarded as the world’s oldest organized religion. Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic religions. They recognize a single deity and view other Gods and Goddesses as manifestations or aspects of that supreme God. Henotheistic and polytheistic religions have traditionally been among the world’s most religiously tolerant faiths. Here we present you some of the sacred Hindu temples and religious centers in the world.
Pashupatinath, or Pashupati, is a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, a village 3 km northwest of Kathmandu. Regarded as one of the four sacred Hindu temples in the world the shrine of Pashupatinath is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built in the 17th century the temple glitters in gold and silver. The two storied, pagoda styled temple features roofs made of gold plates and four entrances at four directions of silver, portraying artistic works of highly skilled craftsmen. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come to pay homage to this temple that is also known as ‘The Temple of Living Beings’.
Muktinath is a sacred place both for Hindus and Buddhists located in Muktinath Valley at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of Thorong La mountain pass Mustang district, Nepal. The Hindus call the sacred place Mukti Kshetra, which literally means the “place of salvation”. Mainly the temple is a predominant SriVaishnava origin and worshipped by Buddhists. The main shrine of Muktinath is a pagoda – shaped temple dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. The statue is of gold and is tall enough to compare with a man.
This Sanskrit name Muktinath itself has religious overtone and a sort of emotional ring to it for the devout Hindus. This words separation two word Mukti & Nath. Mukti means Salvation and Nath mean god and Nirvana so It holds great significance for all spiritual people in the south Asian sub continent. Muktinath (the provider of salvation) has been one such holy site, where thousands of devotees flock for attaining the much sought after moksha (freedom) from the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Budhanilkantha Temple is located at the base of Shivapuri Hill within the Kathmandu valley on the northern side. It is also known as mystical Budhanilkantha temple or Narayanthan temple.Budhanilkantha literally means “Old Blue Throat”. The deity is about thousand years old. Lord Vishnu is about five meters (Seventeen fits) long and lying in a thirteen meter (forty-three fits) long tank as if floating with his legs crossed with his sleeping body resting on the coils of Ananta and his 11 hooded head.His four hands hold the four symbols of Vishnu, the Shankha as the conch shell, Chakra as disc, Gadha as club and Padma as the lotus flower. It is believed that the deity was carved in the seventh or eighth century during the Licchavi period.
Prambanan is a Hindu temple in Central Java, Indonesia. The temple was built in 850 CE and is composed of 8 main shrines and 250 surrounding smaller ones. Nearly all the walls of the temple are covered in exquisite bas relief carvings, which narrate stories of Vishnu’s incarnations, adventures of Hanuman the Monkey King, the Ramayana epic and other legends. Though not the biggest temple in Indonesia (Borobudur is larger – see below), Prambanan makes up in beauty and grace for what it lacks in size.
The Temple of Srirangam (Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple) in the Indian city of Tiruchirapalli (or Trichy), is the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world (Angkor Wat is the largest of all temple, but it is currently non-functioning as a temple – see below).The temple is dedicated to Vishnu, one of three Gods in Hinduism. Legend has it that a long time ago, a sage rested and put down a statue of Vishnu reclining on a great serpent. When he was ready to resume his journey, he discovered that the statue couldn’t be moved, so a small temple was built over it. Over centuries, the temple “grew” as larger ones were built over the existing buildings.
The temple complex is massive: it encompasses an area of over 150 acres (63 hectares) with seven concentric walls, the outermost being about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long! The walls demarcate enclosures within enclosures, each more sacred than the next, with the inner-most enclosure is forbidden to non-Hindus.
Shaivism also was known as Shaivam (lit. “Associated with Shiva”), is one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being. Followers of Shaivism, called “Shaivas,” and also “Saivas” or “Shaivites,” believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The temple is designed to dissolve the boundaries between man and the divine. Not merely his abode, the temple ‘is’ God. God and therefore by implication the whole universe is identified with the temple’s design and actual fabric. The ground plan is perhaps the best example. The Vastu Shastras describe it as a symbolic, miniature representation of the cosmos. It is based on a strict grid made up of squares and equilateral triangles which are imbued with deep religious significance.