Hindu places of worship in Dharamshala

Butter Lamp in Dharamshala

Though Dharamsala is renowned around the world for being the residence of the Dalai Lama, the guru of Tibetan Buddhism, this tranquil hamlet plays host to many an ancient Hindu temple. Hinduism and Buddhism co-exist peacefully in this beautiful hill town, located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Here is a list of some of the popular Hindu temples in and around Dharamshala:

Baijnath temple

Baijnath temple

Baijnath temple

The Baijnath temple is the shrine of Lord Shiva, one of the members of the supreme trinity of Hindu Gods. The mandir was constructed in early thirteenth century by two local merchants named Ahuka and Manyaka.

The temple is an excellent example of medieval Indian architecture. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful paintings and carvings of numerous Hindu deities. The water in the temple is believed to contain therapeutic properties that cure people of their illnesses.

A unique feature of this temple is the presence of the two Nandi statues (Nandi is the gatekeeper of Lord Shiva) unlike the other Shiva temples where only one Nandi statue can be seen. Devotees perform a famous ritual whereby they whisper their wishes into the ears of the Nandi idol and their wishes would be granted by the God.

On a sunny day, one can be treated to spectacular views of the Dhauladhar hills of the Himalayan mountain range. The tall peaks stand majestically on either side of the Beas valley where the temple is located.

Chamunda devi mandir

Located on the banks of Baner river in Kangra district (approximately 15 km away from Dharamshala) of Himachal Pradesh, the Chamunda Devi mandir is the abode of the deity Goddess Durga, known locally as Chamunda.

According to the legends, the Goddess killed the two demons Chand and Munda in a fierce battle, and was thus endowed with the title Chamunda Devi. The Devi’s idol is flanked on either sides by the idols of Lord Hanuman and Lord Bhairo. Devout followers believe that worshipping at this shrine would give them and their ancestors mohksha (salvation).

The temple itself features a diverse range of images from various Hindu sacred texts such as the Devi Mahatmyam, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. These images vividly portray various aspects of Hindu folklore and tradition.

Jwalamukhi temple

Located in the valley of Beas nearly 60 km away from Dharamshala, the Jwalamukhi temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old and it is unlike any other typical Hindu temple. Dedicated to the Goddess Jwalamukhi who is an incarnation of the Goddess Durga, the temple does not feature any idols or images of the Goddess.

People worship a blue-coloured flame that seems to emerge from the rock crevices. The temple perhaps derives its name from these flames (the term Jwala means ‘fire’ in Sanskrit).  While scientists might argue that these flames are an effect of the natural jets of combustible gases underneath the rocks, the locals believe it to be the manifestation of the deity.

The temple is also renowned for its biannual fairs held in the months of April and October (during Navratri) festival that draws lots of enthusiastic crowds from in and around the region. The temple is a must-visit primarily for its rich history and unique characteristics.

Brajeshwari temple

Brajeshwari temple

Brajeshwari temple

Also known as the Vajreshwari devi or the Vajrayogini temple, this temple is located in Nagarkot approximately 22 kilometres away from Dharamshala. The term Vajra means thunder in Sanskrit and the name Vajreshwari literally translates to ‘The Goddess with the power of the thunderbolt’.

It is believed that the temple was built by the Pandava kings, a noble race of warrior kings in the Indian epic tale Mahabharatha.

In the past, the temple bore the brunt of plunderers and invaders. In 1905, it was completely destroyed by an earthquake before it was rebuilt to its current form twenty five years later.

Bhagsu Nag temple

The temple bell Bhagsu nag templeNamed after Raja Bhagsu who built this temple, Bhagsu Nag mandir is located just a stone’s throw away from Mcleoadganj. The temple is home to the snake god Naga and Lord Shiva. The temple plays host to a fresh-water spring and devotees believe that their sins can be washed away by taking a dip in the table.

The temple is surrounded by rich greenery and the picturesque scenery is a treat for the eyes. A short walk up the hill leads to a pristine waterfall which can be experienced in its full splendour during the monsoon.

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