What started as a three-week business trip to Bangalore ended up being an adventure I will never forget! Obviously, visiting temples is a must when traveling to India, but how do you know which ones to visit when there are so many to see? And, of course, everyone has their own list of favorites. It would take forever to list all of the incredible temples in India, or even just in the one part of South India that I visited, Bangalore. Luckily, I had local coworkers who were more than happy to show me around, including places that not all tourists get to see. Check out my three favorite temples near Bangalore based on my love of architecture and the amazing experiences I had at each temple.
One of those unique places I visited is the Lepakshi Temple (or Veerabhadra Temple) which is my favorite of the top three, the hidden gem. It’s so secluded that I was the only tourist there that day, on a weekend. Lepakshi is actually a small village about 80 miles north of Bangalore, but well worth the drive. We just hired a car with a driver for the day, which is pretty common in India. The drive even gave us time to joke around and get to know each other better. I found it amusing how many cows were just strolling along the road and even into the road at times. Don’t worry, we didn’t hit any. The driver was very careful.
At first glance, the temple appears small and similar to others, but don’t let that first look fool you. As I entered the temple, I walked into a mind-blowing maze of carved pillars, built in the 16th century. Wow, is all I can say!
I didn’t even know which way to go first because there was so much to see with what seemed like endless pillars, statues, and paintings in every direction. The detail was incredible!
The guide was so excited to have us there. He walked us around the temple highlighting the rich history and unique architecture, giving me a much better understanding of what I was seeing. While he didn’t speak English, I was so grateful that my coworkers were able to translate for me. Most of them had never even been to this temple before and were just as amazed as I was, even though they’ve seen countless Indian temples. Some of the highlights included the hooded serpent statue, the leaning pillar, the giant footprint, and so much more.
Like I said, there was just so much to see! Then, as we were exploring outside and rounded the corner, we saw this amazing view from the back of the temple…
It was like walking into heaven. I will never forget the peaceful atmosphere and just pure beauty of that moment. It’s my happy place!
The second temple on my top three list is the ISKCON Temple in Bangalore. This is one of the largest ISKCON temples in the world, with six different shrines and a huge gold-plated flag post in the front.
We did have to remove our shoes to enter and there were long lines because of the popularity of the temple, but the overall experience made it well worth the wait. As I finally made my way inside the temple, what immediately caught my attention were the amazing shrines, beautiful paintings on the ceiling, and what seemed like gold everywhere.
Beyond the impressive structure of the temple was a great spiritual experience as well. Getting to participate in a worship ceremony was so powerful and something I will not soon forget. As we were heading out, one of the priests even prayed for us and offered us Sri Krishna prasadam, which is basically spiritual food, as I understand it. I’m not a religious person, but I would consider myself spiritual, and I really appreciate different cultures, religions, and experiences that are different from my own. This temple was definitely a must-see (or should I say, must-experience) for Bangalore.
The final temple in my top three is the Shiv Temple, which is also one of the most popular in Bangalore, but for very good reasons. For me, the impressive statues caught my eye, and the cultural and spiritual experience was like no other.
There were multiple statues and even healing stones throughout the temple. The one that grabbed my attention first was the 32 foot Lord Ganesha statue, representing one of the most worshiped Hindu deities, with the recognizable elephant head.
As we continued through the temple, parts of it were like walking through narrow caves, so if you’re claustrophobic, this temple may not be for you. It reminded me of one of my horror movies I love so much, but just for a few minutes, and then I made it through. So for me, it was still definitely worth it. There were even hidden statues throughout.
While there are impressive statues and other treasures to see, this temple is actually more widely known for it’s spiritual and healing power. The main statue, the Lord Shiva idol sitting at 65 feet tall, took my breath away, but I was even more moved by the faith and spirituality I could feel from the people around me.
At the end of the night, there was a light and sound show with comforting music, lit candles swaying in the dark, and just an overall sense of peace. I literally had chills through my body from the experience, and it was definitely not cold outside. It was simply mesmerizing!
If you are traveling near Bangalore, I would highly recommend visiting the three temples I mentioned (Lepakshi, ISKCON, and Shiv) for an unforgettable cultural and architectural experience. There are so many temples to choose from, though, you probably can’t go wrong. I know everyone I talk to has a different list of favorites. Just don’t forget about those hidden gems!
What are your favorite temples near Bangalore, or any other part of India?