Himachal Pradesh is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva during his resting days. Some of the most sacred rivers of India start at these places in Himachal Pradesh. There are various types of religious places with great historical significance here due to the Tibetan population here and the historical Tibetan exile, there are some prominent places that are located here in addition to monasteries and Hindu temples.
Here are the top Religious Places in Himachal Pradesh visited by tourists and locals residing in the mountains.
1. Hot Sulpher Springs at Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara
This place is famous for the hot springs where it is believed to have medicinal and curing properties. There are three of such hot springs with separate sections for men and women. Situated within 5 km distance from the beautiful region of Kasol, by the banks of the River Parvati in Kullu district.
The Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara in Parvati Valley is also a very famous pilgrimage destination in India. It is visited by both Hindus as well as Sikhs. While a couple of hotsprings are privately owned by guest houses, one belongs to the Gurudwara. It is said that the hot sulpher springs are so hot that it is sufficient to place a vessel on the hot water and the food is prepared to be served at the langar.
2. Residence of His Holiness, Little Lhasa, McLeodganj
The well known residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual head is situated on a hill in Dharamshala. McLeodganj is one of the top hill stations in Himachal Pradesh surrounded by hills.
Set in a backdrop of other top tourist destinations of Himachal Pradesh like Bhagsu Nag and Dharamshala, tourists visit all three places at a go. It is situated amidst several culturally rich and historical structures like Tsulagkhang, Namgyal Monastery, and other top attractions such as Triund and Dal Lake. Culturally it is a blend of British influence and neighboring Tibetan influence.
3. Church of St. John in the Wilderness, Dharamshala
The church dates back to 1852 is constructed in the dense forests and so, the name of the neo-gothic style of architectural structure. It is believed to be the final resting place for Lord Ergin. He was a viceroy in British India and one of the governor generals. This church dedicated to St. John the Baptist is one of the oldest historical structures in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
There is another Church with the same name in neighboring state of Uttarakhand in Nainital district. Generally, this is mistaken for the same Church but it is not as this is located in the Dharamshala district of Himachal Pradesh.
4. Kangra – The Land of the Gods, Dharamshala
This picturesque region is well known as Land of the Gods as there are innumerable temples, and the way the town of Kangra valley is mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures over and over again, it is believed to be the ‘Dev Bhumi’ that literally translates to Land of the Gods. This picturesque land has the massive River Beas flowing through it, thee lush green tea plantations and the amazing Dhauladar mountain ranges in the distance.
Bordering the two districts of McLeodganj and Dharamshala, with the latter as the administrative unit, you can see the hill slopes in green with tea plantations located around 36 km from the main city of Kangra. This place has something mystique about it especially the burning flame which is said to be burning on its own without any known fuel source. You can find it in the Jwala Devi temple.
Other great attractions in this town include the rock temple mentioned in the Indian epic book of Mahabharata and traces back to the Monolithic age. It is known as Masroor rock cut temple. The burning flame has surprised several people including scientists, visitors and theorists.
5. Kinnaur – The Abode of the Gods
The capital city of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is situated only within 250 km from this ‘land of gods.’ This is a culturally rich area with blend of different cultures of ancient India including Hinduism and Buddhism. This is one amazing place for the nature lovers and peace seekers as you can see the 3 beautiful waters of Baspa, Satluj and River Spiti running through this place. In addition, there are rocky terrain with hills and velvet greenery on its slopes.
The town of Kinnaur dates back to pre-historic times with tales of Pandavas and how they are connected to Kinnaur. It is also a great place for Hindus as devotees flock here believing it to be the abode / home of Lord Shiva visible in the Shivaling rock caves. The area also has a number of Buddhist monasteries / temples that are of great cultural and historical significance.
The visitors and tourists who would like to taste the cuisine specialties of the land can also go for for local apples called Chilgoza, and shop for handlooms and handicrafts unique to this region. While there are spots of modern areas, Kinnaur still remains a place culturally rich and people preserve the customs. It is also a great place to check out sports such as trekking and skiing in winters for adventure enthusiasts.
6. Kullu – The Sister Town of Manali, Himachal Pradesh
This pristine region at an elevation of 1230 m, is a hub of tourism, for nature lovers, nature activities, adventure enthusiasts, and religious devotees or visitors. It is always clubbed with Manali which is one of the top tourist destinations in India. The town of Kullu is now a developing tourism hub that provides many adventure activities and is home to some great destinations. It includes one of the top national parks in India – the Great Himalayan National Park that has snow creatures that only can live in this region.
You can participate in mountaineering, mountain biking, trekking, river rafting, etc. Those who are here in search of temples will not be disappointed as there are many. Some prominent temples include the Jagannathi Devi Temple, Raghunath Temple, and the Bijli Mahadev Temple. There are also great sightseeing options such as Pandoh Dam, and Chandrakhani Pass area.
7. Solan – Palaces, Forts, and Temples, on the Punjab, Himachal Border
This place is popular as the ‘Mushroom capital of India’ and borders with other great top tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh. The beautiful Chail and Kasauli is here. It is one of the best places for a summer holiday in India to beat the heat this summer. There are also the ancient gompas and Hindu temples here that attract many devotees all year around. It is famous for many reasons including housing one of the oldest breweries in the nation.
This place is also well known for the large quantities of tomatoes it produces earning the title of ‘City of Red Gold’. There are also historical forts and palaces like Kuthar Fort and Nalagarh Palace, especially the one located on the hilltop that also provides mesmerizing views of the surrounding area. Coming to the religious places, it houses the Jatoli Shiv Temple as well as the Shoolini Mata Temple where many tourists and pilgrims visit here to take blessings. Another must – visit religious site in Himachal Pradesh situated in Solan is definitely the Yundung Monastery.
8. Mandi – The Choti Kasi of Himachal Pradesh
This region covered with thick forests and greenery with innumerable pine and deodar trees, is a popular religious destination in Himachal Pradesh. It is situated in the junction of Kullu – Dharamshala and makes a nearby diversion when you tour these places. The famous Varanasi of Hills is popular as a temple town with over 80 temples dotting the entire region.
There are many visitors to worship various deities and take the blessings at these temples. It is believed to house temples that date back to as early as the 5th century AD. In addition to temples and religious places, people visit this place also for the activities available here such as trekking, Janjheli and Prashar Lake, and it serves as a gateway to the great valleys of Himachal Pradesh – Spiti – Lahaul, Kullu and Manali. One such famous temple here is the Bhutnath Temple.
9. Shoja – Quaint Village with Wooden Temples
Sitting amidst the vast wilderness and natural beauty unspoiled by the humans, this lesser known town makes a perfect weekend getaway to introspect and get some inner peace. It is nestled in the Banjar Valley and is famed for housing many temples that are made from the most natural material – wood!
This place serves as on – the – way route to various other surrounding areas especially Jalori pass that is only 5 km away. The mesmerizing sights include the famous deodar jungles alongside the snow covered mountains of the Great Himalayan ranges on the other side. Visit even for sightseeing, nature, mountain sighting, beautiful waterfalls, lakes, valleys, and even ancient forts like Raghupur Fort. So, it makes a great place for nature lovers, adventure enthusiasts, trekkers, culture nerds, and religious people.