Famous Temples and Spiritual Places in Uttarakhand

Kedarnath Temple, Rudraprayag
Deity: Kedarnath (Lord Shiva)

Kedarnath Mandir (Kēdārnāth) is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kedarnath is located on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in the state of Uttarakhand. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open to the general public only between the months of April (Akshaya Tritriya) and November (Kartik Purnima, the autumn full moon). During the winters, the vigraha (deity) from Kedarnath temple is carried down to Ukhimath and the deity is worshiped there for the next six months. Kedarnath is seen as a homogenous form of Lord Shiva, the ‘Lord of Kedarkhand’, the historical name of the region.

The temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 22 kilometres uphill trek from Gaurikund. According to Hindu legends, the temple was initially built by Pandavas, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva. Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath. The temple is one of the four major sites in India’s Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas.

Badrinath Temple, Chamoli
Deity: Badrinath (Lord Vishnu)

Badrinarayan Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is situated in the town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. The temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is open for six months every year (between the end of April and the beginning of November), because of extreme weather conditions in the Himalayan region. The temple is located in Garhwal hill tracks in Chamoli district along the banks of Alaknanda River at an elevation of 3,133 m above the mean sea level. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage centers of India.

The idol of the presiding deity worshipped in the temple is a 1 ft , the black stone statue of Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. The statue is considered by many to be one of eight swayam vyakta kshetras, or self-manifested statues of Lord Vishnu.

Gangotri Temple, Uttarkashi
Deity: Devi Ganga

Gangotri, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the Goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage. The original Gangotri Temple was built by the Nepalese general Amar Singh Thapa. The river is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (the Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier, and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. The temple is closed from Diwali day every year and is reopened on Akshaya Tritiya. During this time, the idol of the goddess is kept at Mukhba village, near Harsil.

Yamunotri Temple, Uttarkashi
Deity: Devi Yamuna

Yamunotri Temple is situated in the western region of Garhwal Himalayas at an altitude of 3,291 metres in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Yamuna and has a black marble idol of the goddess. The Yamunotri temple is a full day’s journey from Uttarakhand’s main towns — Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun. The actual temple is only accessible by a 13 kilometres trek from the town of Hanuman Chatti and a 6 kilometres walk from Janki Chatti.

The hike from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri takes in views of a number of waterfalls. There are two trekking routes from Hanuman Chatti to Yamunotri, the one along the right bank proceeds via the Markandeya Tirth, where the sage Markandeya wrote the Markandeya Purana, the other route which lies on the left bank of the river goes via Kharsali, from where Yamunotri is a five or six hours climb away.

Jageshwar Temple, Almora
Deity: Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Devi Shakti and Other Gods and Goddesses

Jageshwar Temples are a group of over 100 Temples dated between 7th and 12th century near Almora, in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. The valley has a number of temple clusters such as the Dandeshwar and Jageshwar sites. Some locations have attracted construction of new temples through the 20th-century.

Together these temple clusters over the valley consist of over 200 structural temples built from cut stone. Many are small, while a few are substantially large. They predominantly illustrate North Indian Nagara style of architecture with a few exceptions that show South and Central Indian style designs, many are dedicated to god Shiva, while others in immediate vicinity are dedicated to god Vishnu, Shakti goddesses and Surya traditions of Hinduism.

Rishikesh, Dehradun
Deity: Rishikesh (Lord Vishnu) along with Other Gods and Goddesses

Rishikesh (Hrishikesh) is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, it is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas” and “Yoga Capital of the World”. It lies approximately 25 km north of the city Haridwar and 43 km southeast of the state capital Dehradun. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the holiest places. Sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of spiritual knowledge.

Several temples, ancient and new, are along the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh. Shatrughna Mandir, Bharat Mandir (Lord Vishnu’s avatar), Lakshman Mandir are the ancient temples established by Adi Shankaracharya. Shatrughna Temple is near Ram Jhula and Lakshman Mandir is near Lakshman Jhula. The historical records mention that some pilgrims used to stay at Rishikesh as a resting place before moving onwards to the higher mountains for the pilgrimage while a larger number used to visit Rishikesh as the original destination and visited various sites between Rishikesh and Lakshman Jhula before returning

Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar
Deity: Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Devi Ganga

Har Ki Pauri (रहर की पौड़ी) is a famous ghat on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar. This revered place is the major landmark of the holy city of Haridwar. Literally, “Har” means “Lord Shiva” , “Ki” means “of” and “Pauri” means “steps”. Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are believed to have visited the Brahmakund in Har Ki Pauri in the Vedic times.

It is believed that it is precise spot where the Ganges leaves the mountains and enters the plains. The ghat is on the west bank of Ganges canal through which the Ganges is diverted just to the north. Har Ki Pauri is the area where thousands of pilgrims converge and the festivities commence during the Kumbha Mela, which takes place every twelve years, and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, which takes place every six years. It is also famous for the Punjabi festival of Vaisakhi, a harvest festival occurring every year in the month of April .

Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib, Chamoli

Hemkund Sahib, formally known as Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib Ji, is a Sikh place of worship and pilgrimage site in Chamoli district. It is devoted to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, and finds mention in Dasam Granth, a work dictated by Guruji himself. With its setting of a glacial lake surrounded by seven mountain peaks, each adorned by a Nishan Sahib on its cliff, it is located in the Himalayas at an elevation of about 4,632 meters. It is approached from Govindghat on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway. The main town near Gobindghat is Joshimath.

Tunganath Temple, Rudraprayag
Deity: Lord Shiva

Tungnath is one of the highest Shiva temples in the world, and is the highest of the Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath. Tunganath literal meaning is lord of the peaks. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas of the Mahabharata times.

According to ancient stories, Rishi Vyas advised the Pandavas that since they were culpable of slaying their own relatives (the Kauravas) during the Kurukshetra war, their act could be pardoned only by Lord Shiva. Consequently, the Pandavas went in search of Shiva who was avoiding them since he was convinced of the guilt of Pandavas. In order to keep away from them, Shiva took the form of a bull and went into hiding in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. Shiva’s body in the form of bull’s body parts rematerialized at five different locations that represent the “Panch Kedar”. The Pandavas built temples at each of these locations to worship and venerate Lord Shiva, seeking his pardon and blessings. Each temple is identified with a part of the bull or Shiva’s body. Tungnath is identified as the place where the bahu (hands) were seen; hump was seen at Kedarnath; head appeared at Rudranath; his navel and stomach surfaced at Madhyamaheshwar; and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar.

Golu Devata Temple, Almora
Deity: Golu Devata

Golu Devta (Garhwali: गोरिल देवता) is the legendary God of the Kumaun and eastern Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The Chitai Golu Devta temple is the most celebrated temple dedicated to the deity and is about 4 km from the main gate of Binsar wildlife sanctuary & about 10 km from Almora.

Golu dev used to travel far distances on his horse and used to meet people of his kingdom, Golu Darbar used to take place and Golu Dev used to hear the problems of the people and help them in any way possible, he had a special place for people in his heart and he was always ready to help them, due to his complete dedication to people, he led a very simple life and lived his life on the principles of brahmacharya. Golu dev still meet with his people and in many villages the practice of Golu darbar is still prevalent, where Golu dev appear in front of people and listen to their problem and help people in every way possible.