Uttarakhand, nestled in the lap of the majestic Himalayas, is often called the ‘Land of Gods’ owing to its abundance of Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites. Known for its pristine natural beauty and serenity, Uttarakhand is home to some of the most revered temples in India that attract millions of pilgrims and devotees every year seeking spiritual awakening.
The famous temples of Uttarakhand showcase the rich cultural heritage and architectural marvels spanning centuries. Magnificent temple complexes with stone carvings, sculptures, and unique structural designs offer an enchanting spectacle. The spiritual aura surrounding these temples is simply unparalleled.
This article takes you through an exploratory journey of Uttarakhand’s iconic temples, their legends, spiritual eminence, must-visit attractions, travel tips, and the ultimate divine experience they offer.
II. Kedarnath Temple
Perched at an imposing height of 3,584 meters in the Garhwal Himalayan range near Mandakini river, Kedarnath temple is one of the most esteemed Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Part of the revered Char Dham pilgrimage circuit, Kedarnath houses one of the twelve Jyotirlingas depicting Lord Shiva’s supreme radiance. The unique Lingam in the Kedarnath temple is made of granite and is extremely endearing to devotees.
Mythology states that the Pandavas sought Lord Shiva’s blessings for redemption from the sins committed during the Mahabharata war. Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into the ground leaving behind his hump on the surface which is worshipped as his incarnation Kedarnath.
The majestic Kedarnath temple, standing strong amidst snow-capped peaks, offers a truly enchanting sight. The best time to undertake the rewarding pilgrimage to Kedarnath is between April and October. One can access the temple by a 14 km uphill trek from Gaurikund, or take a helicopter directly to Kedarnath. Proper acclimatization to high altitudes is advised before the trek.
“The climb to Kedarnath is a steep one. But the view from the top is a spectacular peek into divinity.”
III. Adi Kailash
The sacred mountain of Adi Kailash (6,191 m) in the eastern Kumaon region of Uttarakhand is revered for its immensely spiritual nature and unadulterated tranquility. It offers stunning landscapes with alpine forests, exotic flora and glacial waters cascading down alongside trekking trails.
Hindus believe Adi Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The climb to the summit Represents the path to enlightenment and spiritual union with Shiva. The Indo-Tibetan border passes through this mountain.
Trekkers experience sublime views of the surrounding peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Om Parvat on the rewarding journey to Adi Kailash. The base village Dharchula is the starting point of the trek. Accommodation options are available at Dharchula guest houses and nearby areas of Jauljibi and Budhi. The best season for the Adi Kailash yatra is April to June & September to November.
IV. Triyuginarayan Temple
The Triyuginarayan temple, situated amidst the Triyugi mountains in the Rudraprayag district, holds immense religious significance. It is famed as the venue for the celestial wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Legend speaks of Lord Vishnu mediating the divine marriage, after which the three Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were present together, hence the name Triyuginarayan (‘three yugas’). The eternal flame at Triyuginarayan temple symbolizes the presence of these Gods.
Newlywed couples visit Triyuginarayan to seek Lord Shiva’s blessings for a happy married life. Pilgrims can reach Triyuginarayan by road (7 km) from Sonprayag and perform rituals like worshipping the Brahma Shila. The best months for an enriching spiritual experience here are from April to June.
V. Kartik Swami Temple
Dedicated to Lord Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Kartik Swami temple boasts captivating architecture and scenic surroundings. Situated in Kanak Chaturthi village near Rudraprayag, it was built in the early 20th century by the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal.
The temple complex has a charming hut-style design with stone and wooden carvings. Intricate sculpting depicting various Hindu Gods grab eyeballs. Trekkers throng the uphill 3 km trail from Kanak Chaturthi to the temple to soak in scenic Himalayan views.
Comfortable accommodation options are available at Rudraprayag, Ukhimath, and Chopta for pilgrims. The months between September to June, excluding winter, are ideal to visit Kartik Swami temple.
“The hike uphill to Kartik Swami temple filled my heart and eyes with divine bliss and natural beauty.”
VI. Badrinath Temple
Enveloped between the towering Nar and Narayan mountain peaks, Badrinath temple is prominently featured in the Chardham pilgrimage circuit as a sacred site to find Lord Vishnu. Its sanctity finds mention in several Puranic scriptures.
Badrinath temple, situated on the banks of the Alaknanda river at an altitude of 3,133 meters, enshrines a one meter tall black stone statue of Lord Vishnu in the meditative Padmasana posture. The statue is believed to be self-manifelled or ‘swayambhu’.
According to legends, Lord Vishnu undertook severe penance at Badrinath which pleased Lord Shiva, leading him to reside permanently here as Badrinarayan. The temple’s iconic bright colors, golden spire, and intricately carved gate add to its spiritual essence.
Pilgrims access Badrinath temple by road from places like Rishikesh, Haridwar, and Joshimath. Owing to extreme winters, the temple remains closed from November to April every year. The ideal time for a fruitful spiritual journey is between May and October.
VII. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi is one of the most popular Shiva temples in India. Now part of Uttarakhand, the iconic temple finds mention in ancient scriptures like the Skanda Purana. More than 300,000 Hindu devotees visit it annually.
With its divine Shivalingam and three-storied golden dome structure, Kashi Vishwanath temple presents a stellar spectacle. The interiors boast elaborate stone carvings and verses from Hindu scriptures. Galleries showcasing artifacts surround the main temple.
Maharani Khaneti Devi of Jaipur showed her devotion by offering gold plating and rebuilding the temple in 1785. Destroyed repeatedly by Mughal invaders in medieval times, the temple was restored to its full glory in the late 18th century. Pilgrims can visit daily from 2:30 AM to 12 PM.
“The holy city of Kashi in Uttarakhand resonates with spirituality, history, and architectural marvels for every seeking soul.”
VIII. Omkareshwar Temple, Ukhimath
During winter, the Kedarnath deity shifts to the scenic Omkareshwar temple near Ukhimath to continue providing audience and blessings to devotees. Omkareshwar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, holds high sanctity among pilgrims undertaking the Panch Kedar yatra.
Mythology states that upon the request of the Gods, Shiva took abode at Ukhimath during his self-imposed exile following the death of Sati. The present structure was rebuilt in the 11th century by the king of Garhwal. The deity shifts back to Kedarnath when the gates reopen after winter.
Pilgrims can reach the temple by road from Ukhimath, located 90 km from Rudraprayag. Accommodation and travel amenities are available at Ukhimath. The trekking route also provides a spiritual experience for avid trekkers. The ideal time for worshipping at Omkareshwar temple is from November to April.
IX. Gangotri Temple
Nestled amidst captivating Himalayan peaks at an altitude of 3,140 meters, Gangotri temple glorifies Goddess Ganga, the river Goddess. Gangotri forms part of the prestigious Chardham circuit in Uttarakhand granting salvation to pilgrims.
According to Hindu culture, King Bhagirath pleaded to Lord Shiva to contain the mighty Ganga in his matted locks to prevent massive destruction on Earth. This legend graces the origins of River Ganga and the Gangotri temple.
The scenic trek to Gangotri commences from the village of Gangnani. Pilgrims get to enjoy the gushing river, lush greenery, and snow-clad mountains on the 18 km uphill trek. Gangotri remains inaccessible directly during winter due to heavy snowfall.
April to November is the ideal period to schedule the Gangotri Yatra for a profound spiritual experience. Accommodation is available at Gangotri, Harsil, and Uttarkashi.
X. Hemkund Sahib
The revered Sikh pilgrimage center of Hemkund Sahib attracts devotees from far and wide. Located in the Himalayan heights at an elevation of 4,620 meters, it is surrounded by seven snow-clad mountain peaks.
Hemkund Sahib houses a glacial lake and a Gurudwara commemorating the meditation place of Guru Govind Singh. Sikh pilgrims undertake a rewarding 40 km uphill trek from Govindghat to Hemkund Sahib to reconnect spiritually.
The crystal clear blue waters of the lake, glaciers, and scenic valleys enthrall trekkers and pilgrims alike. One can enjoy excellent views of the Himalayan peaks on a clear day. The best season for visiting Hemkund Sahib is from May to October. Limited accommodation is available near Ghangaria.
“The demanding yet fulfilling trek to Hemkund Sahib fills the soul with divine bliss and natural splendor.”
XI. Rudranath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Rudranath temple forms part of the esteemed Panch Kedar temples in the Garhwal Himalayan region. It symbolizes the ‘face’ of Lord Shiva as per mythology. The scenic trek to Rudranath commences from Sagar village.
Rudranath temple boasts intricate stone carvings depicting various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. A natural rock structure resembling a Shivalingam denotes the main sanctum. The temple remains shrouded amidst rhododendron, deodar and Himalayan oak forests.
Devout pilgrims undertake challenging treks across ridges like Kalanag, Swargarohini and Chandrashila to reach Rudranath. The trekking route provides breathtaking vistas of the Himalayan peaks. The ideal time for the rewarding journey is between May and October.
XII. Yamunotri Temple
The sacred Yamunotri temple, situated at an altitude of 3,293 meters, marks the holy source of River Yamuna. It is the westernmost shrine in the Chardham circuit bestowing tremendous blessings on pilgrims.
According to Hindu legends, Goddess Yamuna is the daughter of Surya (Sun) and Yami. The actual source of the river lies one km further uphill from the temple. The main temple was constructed in the 19th century by Maharaja Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal.
The route to Yamunotri temple passes through charming mountainscapes, waterfalls and hamlets. Shrine-goers need to trek 14 km uphill from Jankichatti village. Porters and palanquins are available for assistance. The period between April and June, and August to October are best for the journey.
XIII. Madmaheshwar Temple
Perched at an altitude of 3,289 meters in the Garhwal Himalayas, Madmaheshwar temple is one of the revered Panch Kedars. It is mostly devoted to Lord Shiva and his incarnation as Madhyamaheshwar meaning ‘God of the middle world’.
A true architectural marvel, Madmaheshwar temple boasts exquisite stone and wood carvings narrating episodes from Hindu mythology. A distinctive feature is the water