Kodandarama Temple, Hiremagalur, Karnataka. (Photo: Panduranga Sharma via X)
All eyes are turned towards Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh as the curtains are ready to go up on an iconic temple that is rooted in the Indian psyche and various kinds of celebrations are expected to continue well beyond January 22, 2024. From all accounts, it is expected to be a spectacular structure that combines architecture, art and culture. Even as Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir is likely to be a massive tourist and pilgrimage centre, some estimates say there are thousands of Ram temples dotting the country that are significant in their own right. Of these, several stand out for various reasons, so it is worthwhile to look at some of the other magnificent Ram temples that dot India’s landscape, all of which combine the country’s rich history, art and architecture. Here are seven that a worth a visit:
RAM RAJA TEMPLE, ORCHHA, MADHYA PRADESH
Orchha’s Ram Raja temple, also called the Orchha temple, is breathtaking for its beauty, architecture as well as the stories it contains. According to legend, the queen of Orchha was an ardent devotee of Lord Ram and during one of her visits to Ayodhya, brought the deity to her home on the condition that he wouldn’t traverse between places. Thus her palace became home to this unique temple with exceptional architecture; so much so that it feels like walking into a palace. Adorned in fabulous white and sand-coloured stones and decorated walls, the Ram Raja temple is among the most unparalleled structures in the country.
RAMACHANDRA SWAMY TEMPLE, BHADRACHALAM, TELANGANA
Perched on the banks of the sacred Godavari river, Bhadrachalam is believed to have been home to Rama, Sita, and Lakshman during their period of exile. The temple is thus also referred to as the ‘Dakshina Ayodhya’ or Southern Ayodhya. The temple is a beautifully evocative structure with intricate and exquisite carvings that narrate the epic saga of Lord Ram. The breathtaking view of the river serves as the perfect backdrop to the temple, creating a picturesque setting.
RAMASWAMY TEMPLE, KUMBAKONAM, TAMIL NADU
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Temples in Tamil Nadu are inherently breathtaking; the temple at Kumbakonam dedicated to Lord Ram is no exception. Sandwiched between several historical sites, the stunning Ramaswamy temple is a bit unusual in that the presiding deity of Lord Hanuman. The temple’s 64 pillars hold up fantastic gopurams that reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Tamil Nadu style of architecture. The annual Panguni Uthiram festival, which usually falls in March-April adds a burst of color and fervor and is the ideal time to visit the temple.
KODANDARAMA TEMPLE, HIREMAGALUR, KARNATAKA
Nestled in Karnataka’s verdant Chickmagalur district on the banks of the serene Tungabhadra river, this temple to Lord Ram is named after his mighty sword Kondanda. The temple’s primary idols are all carved from a single stone, a unique feature combining art and craft, with the delicate details engraved into the idols reflecting the pinnacle of artistic expression and expertise. Besides, the pristine ambience add to the visitors’ experience, allowing them to connect with their spiritual side while appreciating the simplicity of rural Karnataka.
KALARAM TEMPLE, NASHIK, MAHARASHTRA
The temple derives its name from the dark, almost-black hue of the stone used everywhere, including the central statue of Ram. Symbolically, the temple has 14 steps commemorating 14 years of exile of Ram and 84 pillars evoking the 84 lakh life cycles. Located in the heart of Nashik, the Kalaram Temple stands as a testament to Maharashtra’s architectural prowess and is encompassed in religious fervor, leaving visitors enchanted and spiritually invigorated.
RAM MANDIR, BHUBANESWAR, ODISHA
Bhubaneswar is the city of temples and visitors are spoilt for choice. But amidst the surfeit of excellence and spirituality stands the resplendent Ram Mandir, first among equals, its towering spires showcasing Odisha’s architectural brilliance. The temple hosts idols not only of Lord Ram and Hanuman, but also several others gods and goddesses that bring their own mythology and festivals to the space. The daily evening arti is a particularly well-known attraction, as is the silence and peace that are sought after by devotees. Also worth exploring are the rest of the sacred premises which are adorned with ancient sculptures, and witness the harmonious blend of spirituality and artistic grandeur of Odisha.
RAM TIRTH TEMPLE, AMRITSAR, PUNJAB
Situated in the historic city of Amritsar, the Ram Tirth Temple holds a significant place in the hearts of devotees. This sacred site is believed to be the place where sage Valmiki lived and where Sita took refuge and ultimately became the birthplace of Lord Ram’s sons, Luv and Kush. The temple’s serene surroundings, coupled with its historical importance, make it a tranquil retreat. The annual mela during Ram Navami transforms the temple complex into a festive hub, attracting pilgrims and tourists alike. A four-day fair around November is much anticipated and devotees throng from all over the area.