Famous Temples and Spiritual Places in Gujarat

Somnath Mandir, Gir Somnath
Deity: Lord Shiva

The Somnath Temple located in Prabhas Patan near Junagadh in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, is believed to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of Gujarat. Reconstructed several times in the past after repeated destruction by several Muslim invaders and rulers, the present temple was reconstructed and completed in May 1951. The reconstruction was started under the orders of the Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel and completed after his death.

The site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage destinatiom from ancient times on account of being a triveni sangam (the confluence of three rivers: Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati). Soma, the Moon god, is believed to have lost his lustre due to a curse, and he bathed in the Sarasvati River at this site to regain it. The name of the town Prabhas, meaning lustre, as well as the alternative names Someshvar and Somnath (“the lord of the moon” or “the moon god”) arise from this tradition.

Dwarkadhish Mandir, Devbhoomi Dwarka
Deity: Lord Krishna

The Dwarkadhish Temple, also known as the Jagat Mandir, is a temple dedicated to the Lord Krishna, who is worshiped here by the name Dwarkadhish, or ‘King of Dwarka’. The kingdom of Dwarka was built on a piece of land by Krishna that was reclaimed from the sea. The main shrine of the five storied building, supported by 72 pillars, is known as Jagat Mandir or Nija Mandir.

According to ancient stories, the original temple was believed to have been built by Krishna’s grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Krishna’s residential place). The original structure was destroyed by Mahmud Begada in 1472, and subsequently rebuilt in the 15th-16th century. The temple became part of the Char Dham pilgrimage considered sacred in India. The other three being comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath and Puri. Archaeological findings suggest it to be 2,000 – 2,200 years old.

Ambaji Temple, Banas Kantha
Deity: Devi Ambaji Mata (Goddess Parvati)

Ambaji is an important Temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji Temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Ambaji Mata temple is a major Shakti Peeth of India. The Temple is situated at a distance of approximately 65 kilometres from Palanpur, 45 kilometres from Mount Abu, and 185 kilometres from Ahmedabad. In the holy Temple of “Arasuri Ambaji”, there is no image or statue of goddess. The holy “Shree Visa Yantra” is worshiped as the main deity. No one can see the Yantra with naked eye. The photography of the Yantra is prohibited.

As per the ancient stories, Devi Sati grew up in the house of her father Prajapati Daksha. Once her father insulted Lord Shiva and unable to accept this, she killed herself. When Lord Shiva heard of Sati’s (his wife) death he picked her corpse on his shoulder and started Tandav (divine dance for destruction). In order to stop him from destroying the world Lord Vishnu divided the corpse of Sati into 51 parts with his Chakra. Ambaji Temple is the place where “Heart” of Devi Sati is believed to has fallen.

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga, Devbhoomi Dwarka
Deity: Lord Shiva

Nageshvara is one of the Temples mentioned in the Shiva Purana and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. A narrative in the Shiva Purana about the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga tells of a demon named Daaruka, who attacked a Shiva devotee named Supriya and imprisoned him along with many others in his city of Darukavana, a city under the sea inhabited by sea snakes and demons. At the urgent exhortations of Supriya, the prisoners started to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and immediately thereafter Lord Shiva appeared and the demon was vanquished, later residing there in the form of a Jyotirlinga.

The Jyotirlinga is the supreme indivisible reality from which Shiva appears. It was believed that there were originally sixty-four jyotirlingas. Twelve are considered to be especially auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve sites takes the name of the presiding deity and each is considered a separate manifestation of Lord Shiva.

Surya Mandir (Sun Temple), Mehsana
Deity: Lord Surya

The Sun Temple is located at Modhera village of Mehsana district and dedicated to the solar deity Surya (The Sun). The temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati. It was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Chaulukya dynasty. No worship is offered now and the temple is protected monument maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. The temple complex has three components: Gudhamandapa (the shrine hall), Sabhamandapa (the assembly hall) and Kunda (the water reservoir). The halls have intricately carved exterior and pillars. The reservoir has steps to reach the bottom and numerous small shrines.

Swaminarayan Akshardham, Gandhinagar
Deity: Swaminarayan

Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat is a large temple complex inspired by Yogiji Maharaj (1892-1971) the fourth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan, and created by Pramukh Swami Maharaj (1921-2016), the fifth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan. Located in the capital of Gujarat, the complex is a tribute to Swaminarayan and his life and teachings. At the center of the 23-acre complex is the Akshardham mandir, which is built from 6,000 metric tons of pink sandstone from Rajasthan. The complex’s name refers to the divine abode of Swaminarayan. Followers of Swaminarayan believe that the jiva or soul goes to Akshardham after attaining moksha, or liberation. BAPS followers worship Swaminarayan as God almighty.

Hanuman Mandir, Botad
Deity: Lord Hanuman

Shri Hanuman Mandir, Sarangpur is a temple located in Sarangpur, Gujarat and comes under the Vadtal Gadi of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. It is the only Swaminarayan Temple which does not have the Murtis of either Swaminarayan or Krishna as the Primary deity of worship. It is dedicated to Hanuman in the form of Kastbhanjan (Crusher of sorrows).

The idol of this temple is said to be so powerful that a mere look at it will drive the evil spirits out of the people affected by them. Saturday is the designated day for a special ritual (as Saturday is dedicated to Lord Hanuman) for those affected by mental illnesses and other disorders, they are brought to the temple to be touched by the rod used by Sadguru Gopalanand Swami during the installation ceremony of the idol.

Umiya Mata Mandir, Mahesana
Deity: Devi Umiya Mata

Umiya Mata Temple is the Temple of Goddess Umiya, Kuldevi of Patidars. It is located in the center of Unjha, Mehsana district of Gujarat. The temple is about 2100 years old but it was rebuilt around a century ago with the aid of the people living there.

Bahuchara Mata Mandir, Mehsana
Deity: Devi Bahuchara Mata

The Temple of Bahuchara Mata is a major pilgrimage centre. The name of the town is derived from Bahuchara Mata or Bahucharaji. The region around the town is known as Chunwal. The Bechar village is located 1 km south of the temple while Sankhalpur village is located 2 km north of the temple.

Bahuchara Mata is shown as a woman who carries a sword on her bottom left, a text of scriptures on her top left, the abhay hasta mudra (“showering of blessings”) on her bottom right, and a trident on her top right. She is seated on a rooster, which symbolises innocence. According to Tantra Chudamani, the left hand of the Goddess fell in the Boruvan when the Shiva performed the Tandava dance. The temple was built on the place. According to a legend, the goddess has appeared to help the saints who were harassed by Bhundasur or Dandhasur demon.

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Kutch
Deity: Nara-Narayana Dev, Swaminarayan, and Harikrishna Maharaj.

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a temple located Bhuj, Kutch District. This temple (mandir) that was constructed by Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan Sampraday.

This mandir comes under the Narnarayan Dev Gadi. Senior devotees Gangarambhai jethi Sundarjibhai, Jigneshwarbhai and others from the Bhuj region of Kutch went to Gadhada (a city and a municipality in Botad District of Gujrat) where God Swaminarayan was attending a Fuldol festival. In that festival, the devotees of Bhuj met Swaminarayan and requested him to construct a temple in Bhuj.