India has the most ancient history and temples are the sign which proves its ancient culture, religion, and heritage. Temples represent the diversity and history of Indian religion. We Indians are religious and believe in our history and know the establishment of our culture.
Most of the temples listed below were constructed before the originating of some religions. Temples in India have huge respect and they remind us of our dignified and rich past. We should protect the heritage, symbols, and marks of our religion with the temples.
Many temples were built thousands of years ago, let’s see the top 10 oldest temples in India:
List of Top 10 Oldest Temples in India:
10. Konark Sun Temple:
Built By: King Narasimhadeva I
Konark Sun Temple was built by King Narasimhadeva I in the 13th century. It is devoted to the Surya Dev. The temple depicts a chariot with 12 wheels and seven horses as in Indian mythology Surya dev travels in a Rath. The wheels of the temple can be used to calculate the time of day and night. Every bit of this sculpture has a meaning and represents something related to science and Indian culture.
It was called a Black Pagoda or Kaala Pagoda by the European traders as the temple was in dark color and a trademark for them. The temple is completely carved in stone and attracts many tourists across the world. Its sculptures and carvings show the amazing work of that time. Most parts of the temple were demolished reason is still a mystery. In 1984 it was given the title of World Heritage.
9. Jagannath Temple:
Built By: King Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva
Jagannath Temple devoted to Lord Vishnu was constructed by King Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga Dynasty in 1161 CE. It is one of the Char-Dhams in India. Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are the three deities worshipped in this temple. The temple is spread across 400,000 square feet and includes 31 small temples. It is surrounded by a 6.1-meter wall. The architecture of this temple depicts 3 raths pulling the three deities. The whole temple is carved in stone but was reconstructed due to desecration.
There are several facts about the temple that science is unable to prove. The Sudarshan Chakra located at the top of the temple faces you exactly in the same direction irrespective of your position and it is also a riddle that how a Chakra weighing 2 tons can be placed above so much height without any machinery at that time. It is also observed that the temple doesn’t throw its shadow for even a minute in a whole day. And The temple feeds 2,000 to 2,00,000 people every day but never a single bite of food is wasted, what it should be considered management or will of Lord Vishnu?
8. Lingaraja Temple:
Built By: King Jajati Keshari
Lingaraja Temple is one of the oldest and biggest temples in Odisha, India. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and was built by King Jajati Keshari in the 10th century and completed by King Lalatendu Keshari in the 11th Century. Lingaraja means king of Lingam and the in this temple ‘Swayambhu’ – self-originated Shivling is worshipped. The temple is built with a red stone in Kalinga-style architecture. It is divided into four parts – Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum), Yajna Shala (the hall for prayers), Bhoga Mandap (the hall of offering), and Natya Shala (hall of dance).
Lingaraja Temple is an example of pure Hindu art and culture. Every day 6,000 visitors visit this temple and the numbers reach up to 2 lakh during festivals and Shivratri. The river originating under the temple fills the Bindusagar Tank. Its water is considered holy and helps to cure mental and physical illness. The gates of the temple are closed for Non-Hindus and in case a non-Hindu enters the temple purification process is done.
7. Brihadeeswarar Temple:
Built-in: 1010 CE
Built By: Raja Raja Chola I
State: Tamil Nadu
Devoted to the Hindu mighty Lord Shiva, the Brihadeeswarar temple is one of the largest temples in India. It also has one of the biggest Shivlinga in India which is 3.7 meters tall. The temple was built in the 11th century under the reign of Raja Raja Chola I. The original name of the temple was Rajarajeshwar but the Marathas changed it to Brihadeeshwara or the Great Ishwara.
The structure of the temple is influenced by the Tamil culture and the walls also contain Tamil mantras. The Vimana tower is considered as tallest temple tower in India elevated to 200 ft. Nandi (sacred bull) at the entrance of the temple is carved out of a single stone. Brihadeeshwarar temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2010 Brihadeeshwarar completed 1000 years and it attracts thousands of tourists to Tamil Nadu.
6. Kailasa Temple:
Built-in: 8th CE
Built By: Rashtrakuta King Krishna I
Kailasa temple is an amazing and stunning piece of art and architecture. The temple devoted to Lord Shiva is carved in the mountain from top to bottom. Legend says the temple was built in stages by succeeding kings. The entire Ellora caves ranging over 2 km are carved out of one rock. The structure of this temple is built in resemblance to the Kailash mountain.
Ellora caves collectively consist of 34 cave temples and monasteries. The Kailasa temple is one of the oldest and biggest monolithic structures in the world. The entire Ellora caves should be considered a wonder. The fun fact is it is said that the construction of the Kailasa temple is connected with the mystery of Aliens.
5. Somnath Temple:
Built-in: Before 7th CE
Somnath Temple which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva is situated in Veraval, Gujarat. The exact construction date and who built this temple is unknown but the legend says that the Somnath temple is mentioned in Rigveda and it has an existence of more than 2000 years ago.
The Somnath temple was raided a minimum of 8 to 10 times since its construction by many foreign kings to destroy its legacy and to steal the treasure. But the temple was reconstructed again and again by the believers. The temple you see today its construction was initiated by the First Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1947.
This temple is having huge importance and history attached to it. It is built in Solanki style and the tip of the temple rises 155 ft and the Kalash on the top weighs 10 tons. And the interesting fact is there is no land between this temple and Antarctica throughout the sea.
4. Meenakshi Temple:
Built By: Rashtrakuta King Krishna I
State: Tamil Nadu
Devoted to Devi Parvati, the form of Meenakshi, and Lord Shiva, the form of Sundareshwar, Meenakshi temple is one of the oldest temples in India having a brief history and cultural significance.
Legend says Meenakshi was an abnormal three-year-old girl who emerged from the Yajna performed by the King and his wife. The couple wanted a son and for that, they prayed to Lord Shiva. But, a triple-breasted girl emerged from the sacred fire. Expressing their concerns, the divine voice asked them not to be concerned about the physical appearance of the child and her third breast will disappear on meeting her future husband.
Meenakshi was the ruler of Madurai and captured nearby kingdoms and Indralok. On her way to capture the Kailash, she met Lord Shiva and her third breast disappeared. They returned to Madurai and got married.
Meenakshi temple was attacked and ruined by many foreign invaders to seize the valuables. But, the Indian rulers reconstructed it. It is situated in the heart of Madurai city and attracts thousands of visitors every day.
3. Lad Khan Temple:
Built By: Pulakeshin I
Lad Khan temple now known as Chalukya Shiva Temple is one of the most ancient temples of India. It was built in the 5th century by the first ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. Firstly it was devoted to Lord Vishnu but now has a Shiv Linga and a Nandi. Chalukya Shiva temple depicts the style and culture of the Chalukya dynasty and has many Hindu mythologies carved on the pillars.
The Chalukya Shiva temple was formerly known as Lad Khan temple because once a Muslim price named Lad Khan made this temple his residence for a while. It is one of the points of attraction in Aihole, Karnataka, and attracts numerous visitors daily.
2. Mundeshwari Temple:
Built-in: 4th CE
Mundeshwari temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and Shakti (Devi Durga). The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) dated this temple to 108 AD making it the oldest functioning temple in India and also in the world. The pillars and walls of this temple contain inscriptions of Hindu mythologies.
The temple is built in Nagara style completely with stone. The shikhara or tower of this temple is demolished. Many foreign travelers have mentioned this temple in their literature. ASI has restored and renovated some parts of this temple to protect its heritage. The Mundeshwari temple attracts many visitors daily. This temple is the symbol and an example of the history and ancientness of the Hindu religion.
1. Dwarkadhish temple:
Built By: Vajranabha
India’s most ancient temple the Dwarkadhish temple was built in 400 BC by the grandson of Lord Krishna Vajranabha on the land reclaimed from the sea by Lord Krishna known as Dwarka. The temple is situated on the bank of the Gomti river and is one of the Char Dhams in India.
To enter the temple pilgrims have to take a dip in the Gomti river. The temple is standing on 72 pillars. Pilgrims have to enter through Moksha Dwar (meaning “Door to Salvation”) and exit through Swarga Dwar (meaning “Gate to Heaven”). It is said that Dwarka is submerged in the sea six times, it is the seventh form we are seeing today.
Dwarkadhish temple was destroyed by Mahmud Begada in 1472 and was rebuilt in the 15th-16th century. The temple is renovated regularly since then. This temple has a huge religious and devotional significance in India and attracts thousands of visitors daily. It is one of the oldest temples in India and is a symbol that Indian mythologies were true.