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Amarnath Martand Sun Temple Vaishno Devi

Temples in Jammu and Kashmir: Living Legends of Salvation

One step after another, Pilgrims trudge, slowly, moving closer towards the religious shrine, remarkably inundated with the beauty of Jammu and Kashmir. The journey in itself is salvation, cleansing one’s soul. Over the years, several personal stories have witnessed the magic and healing power of temples in Jammu and Kashmir - they still do.

Perched on the hill-tops, Jammu Kashmir Temples have their own enigmatic history, architecture, style of construction and even indigenous roots. With interesting stories related to most of the temples it is one of the most revered religious pilgrimage destinations in India. Few of the temples known for being annual pilgrimages are Amarnath Yatra and Chaddi Yatra to Machel Mata. The central idea that still retains the sacred longevity of temples in Jammu and Kashmir is the uncountable stories of faith and legend attached with them. Thus, pilgrims from different parts of India, often indulge in the annual ‘yatras’, thereby adding to its cultural importance. A Temple Tour to Jammu Kashmir is not just a journey; it is a complete package of architecture, solitude and peaceful environment that makes it Paradise on Earth.

Most Revered Jammu and Kashmir Temples

Amarnath Temple

The annual Amarnath Yatra is believed to cleanse one’s sin and endow salvation. This tough journey is to visit the much revered Lord Shiva shrine in Jammu and Kashmir. Thousands of pilgrims set foot on the snow capped mountains to visit a revered ice-stalagmite lingam between July/August. It is formed by frozen water drops inside the cave and considered the embodiment of Lord Shiva himself. As per mythological Indian texts, Lord Shiva had narrated the ‘secret of life’ to his consort Goddess Parvati inside the cave. This was heard by two pigeons, which became immortal since then and are still seen by visitors. According to historical evidences, the first trip to Amarnath took place way back in 1000 BC. Helicopter, pony and palki services are available to make the journey comfortable.

Machel Mata

Another temple of Goddess Durga, in Jammu, it is known for its Annual pilgrimage called Chhadi Yatra. Every year in August thousands of pilgrims trek 32 kms from Gulabgarh to reach the shrine. One can spot road-side cafes while trekking upwards towards the shrine, which usually takes 2-3 days. Helicopter services are available from Gulabgarh or Jammu to reach Machel Mata in Jammu.

Martand Sun Temple

Dedicated to the Hindu Lord Surya, this temple belongs to 8th century. In fact, the term ‘Martand’ signifies the Hindu name of Lord Surya. In spite of it standing in ruins today, its religious value has not decreased. Since it is perched on the hill-top, it endows a breathtakingly beautiful bird’s eye view of the Kashmir Valley. Along with its religious and scenic importance, the temple even flaunts the best of architectural designing in Kashmir. Its architecture reveals a blend of Gupta, Gandharan, Greek and Roman form of architecture. It shot back into limelight with the shooting of the famous song ‘Bismil’ in a Bollywood movie called ‘Haider.’

Shankaracharya Temple

Perched at a height of 1000 feet on Shankaracharya Hill, this temple dates back to 200 BC. It was visited by Adi Shankaracharya and since then considered a pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists. Interestingly, one can also spot Persian inscriptions within the temple. Persians even call it as Bagh-i- Sulaiman.

Vaishno Devi

Definitely one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations in India; it is perched over the Trikuta Mountains. In fact, it is strongly believed that only those pilgrims can visit here, who have been called by the Goddess herself. Vaishno Devi is believed to be the combined manifestation of Goddess Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati in form of a young girl.

Located 12 km away from the base at Katra, the temple can be reached by an upwards trek. In fact, tourists can also opt for helicopter services and recently inaugurated cable car from bhawan till bhairo Ghati. In the darbar of the Goddess, every prayer is answered.

Raghunath Temple

Home to lakhs of “Saligrams” (the divine stone of Lord Vishnu) Raghunath temple has one of the largest temple complexes in India. Dedicated to Lord Rama, it took 25 long years (1835-1860) to complete. By the efforts of Maharaja Gulab Singh and his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh; today it stands as one of the most revered temples of Jammu. Inside, one will be amazed to see glimpses of Mughal architecture in carvings and arches.

Kheer Bhawani

Located in Tullamula of Srinagar district, Kheer Bhavani Temple is dedicated to Goddess Ragnya Devi, a form of Durga. This goddess was worshipped by Lord Rama during his 14 years exile. It is constructed over a spring that changes colour like Red, White, Blue, Green and Orange; thus predicting the future of Kashmir. Unlike any other Durga Temple, the goddess here is offered Kheer (milk & rice pudding); that is what gives it this name. The eighth full moon day in the month of May/June is considered very sacred. Devotees from the entire state keep a fast and visit the temple alongwith several other pilgrims.

How to Reach

By Air: Travellers can fly down to Jammu & Kashmir by taking flight to Jammu Airport in Jammu City or Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar.

By Rail: Those visiting by rail can land at the Jammu-Tawi Station, well connected with all the major cities in India.

By Road: The National Highway 1A links Jammu & Kashmir to the rest of the country and offers great road trips.

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