India is home to many religions and their respective places of worship. Although, it is predominantly a place with a large population practicing Hinduism, people also follow Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and many others.
Each place of worship - church, temple, mosque or a gurudwara has its own set of uniqueness, be it their architecture, the ways of worship or any other factor.
The architectural styles involved in the construction of these places of worship, is a matter of astonishment and once the structure is completed, it would simply make its visitors spellbound.
TheVadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, is one fine example of the Kerala style of architecture and is on its way to make it to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, after it won an appreciation for the successful restoration work.
Another example is the Jama Masijd, which is an example of the Mughal architecture and there are many more such wonderful structures which are worth visiting. Let's have a look at them.
1. Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya
The Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, is identified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The temple is built on the site, which believed to be the place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The structure was built by Ashoka, the Great in the 3rd century BC and is one of the oldest brick temples in India.
The complex also has various sacred sites where Buddha spent his initial weeks after his enlightenment. Make a stop at the Bodhi tree which is said to be a descendant of the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
2. Vadakkunnathan Temple, Kerala
The temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated right at the centre of Thrissur city in Kerala. The temple is an excellent example of Kerala architectural style with four gopurams or monumental towers and also has a Koothambalam.
The Koothambalam is closed stage in which various art forms are performed; according to a popular folklore the temple is said to have been built by Parashurama and there are no records of date of origin of the structure.
The temple has many murals of which many are very rare.According to ASI, the two rare paintings -Vasuki Shayana and Nataraja are said to be around 350 years old. The temple received the Award of Excellence in the year 2015, from UNESCO for the remarkable conservation of the structure. It is also put in the list for consideration of the World Heritage Site Tag by UNESCO.
3. Akshardham, New Delhi
Opened in 2005, this intricately carved temple complex is worth the time you spend here. The temple dedicated to Swami Narayan is the largest Hindu temple in the country. The central temple was constructed only using stone and marble and must say it's quite a wonder to look at.
The temple complex has an abhishek mandap, musical fountain, a thematic garden and three exhibition halls.In one hall there is an IMAX screening facility, in another a boat ride that takes you through different ancient cultures in India.
PC: Russ Bowling
4. Golden Temple, Amritsar
The 400 year old iconic gurudwara, which houses the Guru Granth Sahib(scripture of the Sikhs) has its architectural features which are aligned with the beliefs of the community. The gurudwara is built at a lower level than its surroundings so that the visitors descend a few steps to enter this; the purpose is to encourage an attitude of humility.
The four entrances here symbolize that it is open to all.The beautiful gold embossed work and the delicate inlaid work that covers the interiors adds on the aura and would truly give you rejuvenating energy.
PC: Prashant Ram
5. Jama Masjid, Delhi
Built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 1600s, it is a masterpiece of the Mughal style of architecture. The Masjid has a courtyard which measures 408 sq ft and can accommodate up to 25,000 people.
The structure like all other Mughal monuments is built using red sandstone and white marble along with two minarets which scale a height of 40 meters. This also makes it the largest mosque in the country.
PC: Umesh Gopinath
6. Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
One of the best examples of the Dravidian style of architecture, is the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, which was built in the 1600s. The temple has 14 gopurams or gateway towers which vary in heights and are decorated with many sculptures.
The tallest and the most well-known amongst the 14 is the Southern tower which measures to a height of 170 ft. The temple complex has a lot of architectural nuances which are worth watching. The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam or the Hall of 1000 Pillars, is known for its musical pillars carved out of granite and produce different sounds when struck.
PC: Bryce Edwards
7. The Lotus Temple, Delhi
The Bahai House of Worship is constructed in such a way that it resembles a lotus. The structure was completed in the year 1986 and has 27 marble petals which also acts as free standing walls, while nine petal shaped pools mark the edges of the structure. On a visit during the evening, one would be able to see the structure lit up and would resemble a floating lotus.