India is a multicultural country following traditional ideologies and rituals. According to Mark twain, India is a millionaire in terms of religion as Indians worship more than 2 million Gods.One can find a place of worship in every nook and corner of India. Every temple has its peculiar history and untold story.
Travelers all over the globe visit Indian temples in order to find their spiritual connect. Along with deity worship, Indian temples follow unique rituals and traditions.Today we are going to discuss some offbeat temples found only in Indian subcontinent which are known to be weird because of the unknown deities worshipped or the unusual offerings to the deities for fulfillment of their wishes. You may find these temples to be interesting and bizarre at the same point of time. Lets have a look !!!!
Murugan Munch Temple – This temple tops my list. In Alapuzzha kerala, Lord Balamurgan (son of Lord Shiva) is worshipped in Chemmoth Sree Subramaniya Swami Temple since past 300 years . But since past few years lord Balamurugan is offered “munch ” bars for wish fulfilment and even the devotees are given munch chocolates as “prasad”.
This tradition started when a muslim boy felt sick and kept murmuring Murugan’s name. The next day, his parents brought him to the temple and the priest asked them to offer something to the deity. While his parents offered oil and flowers, the boy stubbornly offered Munch to the god and was miraculously cured. The story spread, that his how BalaMurugan was persuaded by a little boy to change his tastes. According to the temple priests, nowadays, devotees perform MunchPara (offering a big vessel of munch ) and Munch Thulabharam (offering chocolate in equal to their body weight)”. So,this temple is a must visit for kids especially and all the chocolate lovers.
Chinese Kali Temple -With noodles served in the holy prasad, no wonder India’s only Chinese Kali Bari is worth every mentioning in this list. The temple is situated in the only indian chinese town Tangra in Kolkata. The prasad served after Kali Puja consists of chop suey, ramen, noodles and Chinese rice.
According to locals, once a Chinese boy was terminally ill. His desperate parents sought Goddess Kali’s intervention to save their child and offered their prayers to the stones. Within days a miracle happened. The boy started recovering and he was back on his feet soon. His grateful parents decided to build a temple at the site and establish Goddess Kali’s idol there. This temple is Must visit for all the chinese lovers. This temple is amalgamation of Indian and chinese cultures as devotees pray barefooted like indians and offer prayers by doing pranaam and burn handmade paper to ward off evil spirits in Chinese style.
Karni Mata Temple (Temple of Rats) – It is a Hindu temple in Deshnoke, almost 30 km from Bikaner in Rajasthan. It is build in mughal style and the presiding deity in this temple is Karni Mata. The unique feature of this temple are the 25000 rats known as “kabbas” living and revered in the temple premises. One has to worship Karni Mata with rats running all over and even on your feet too.
According to legend, Karni Mata’s son Laxman drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar while drinking water from the pond. Karni mata implored Yamraj to revive her son and eventually God Of Death permitted to reincarnate Laxman and her other sons in the form of rats. Since then rats are fed and taken care of in this temple. After the death of a rat, a silver rat is made to replace it. the food nibbled by rats is known to be prasad in this temple. If you are lucky enough you may spot a white rat considered holy and pious. Because of its rat worshipping, the temple featured in America’s reality series “Amazing Race” and couple other shows.
Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurudwara – This gurudwara located in Talhan village of Jalandhar district of Punjab is famous among Indians wishing to go abroad and are awaiting their visas. Here devotees offer miniature toy aeroplanes of their desired destination to Baba Nihal Singh from the shops outside the gurudwara and miraculously their prayers are answered. It is a fact that atleast one member of each family in doaba region of Punjab is residing abroad. Therfore this gurudwara is also known as “Hawai Jahaaz Gurudwara”.
Dog Temple – After the rat temple . dog temple comes next on my list..Yes you are absolutely reading it right. This temple in a village called Agrahara Valagerehalli in the city of Channapatna, Karnataka is dedicated to dogs, man’s best friend. According to a legend, the dog temple was built for the protection of goddess Kempamma’s temple. It is said that the goddess instructed the villagers to find two dogs, that had disappeared from the village, so that her temple could be protected from evil. When the villagers could not find the dogs, they built a temple and installed the two dog statues inside it. a huge festival is held annually in the honour of the guarding dogs. Dogs are fed lavishly and taken care of with utmost importance.
Bullet Baba temple – One of its kind in the whole world Om Banna temple in pali district of Jodhpur in Rajasthan is next on the list as the deity to be worshipped in this shrine is the 350 cc Royal Enfield Bullet bike. Yes, you heard it right… Every day localites as well as travelers stop and pray to the bike and its late owner Om Singh Rathore. Most of the drivers offer small bottles of alcohol to the deity. It is said that a person who does not stop to pray at the shrine is in for a dangerous journey. Devotees also apply the ’tilak’ mark and tie a red thread on the motorbike.
According to the stories Om banna , a youth was travelling near Pali and unfortunately he lost control of his motorcycle and hit a tree. He died on the spot whereas the motorcycle fell into a nearby ditch. The morning after the accident, local police took the motorcycle to a nearby police station. The next day it was reported to have mysteriously disappeared from the station and was found back at the site of the death. Even after numerous efforts by the police to keep the vehicle in their custody, the vehicle always returned to the spot of accident before dawn and so a temple was built in that place. Weird but true!!! Dont forget to pay a visit to this temple if you are riding a bike on NH -62 Jodhpur – Pali expressway.
Kal Bhairav Temple – Located in the Ujjain city of Madhya Pradesh, the presiding deity of this ancient temple is Kal bhairav (guardian deity of Ujjain) who is offered Liquor as one of the tantric ritual offerings along with flowers and coconuts by the devotees. In 2015, the State Government set up liquor counters outside the temple to ensure that the devotees are not swindled by unlicensed vendors of alcohol. After offering the liquor bottle to the deity, one third of the bottle is returned to the devotees as “Prasad”. Unbelievable but true !!!! Visit this temple if ever you plan a trip to Ujjain.
Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple – This is the most bizarre temple in my opinion. On one hand India is constantly strengthening the rights for women and empowering them in all aspects while on other hand in Kodungallar, Thrissur district of Kerala there is a unique temple with bizarre rituals dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali in her ugra(angry) form. The Kodungallur Bharani festival (in between march and april) is celebrated annually at this temple, celebrating the birth of goddess Bhadrakali. During the festival, the female devotees said to be possessed by her, run around the temple in a frenzied state waving their sickle-shaped swords in the air while the members of their retinue offer reverence over the inner quadrangle of the temple. They hit their heads with swords spurting blood all over the temple premises, abuse the deity and sing lewd songs during the ritual, which is said to please the goddess. This is followed by a purification ceremony the next day.
Clock Temple – In Brahma Baba’s temple in a village in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh people offer clocks as a mode of offering after their wishes come true.This unique ritual can be strange for some people but people of this village and other devotees have been following this ritual for past 30 years. There is a story behind this ritual. It is said that a man wished to become a driver and asked god to give him skills to learn driving. After when he started to drive, he offered a clock to god and since then, offering clocks have become a tradition here. The trees in this temple are loaded with clocks and seem to be in a fantasy land. The villagers look after this temple as there are no priests.
Monkey temple – Galtaji is a popular temple complex located at 10 km from Jaipur in Rajasthan.The temple is centered around a natural spring that has been channeled to fill seven large pools. In these pools pilgrims come to bath away their sins. Galtaji Temple is known as Monkey Temple because of its inhabitants “monkeys”. Monkeys in India are believed to be related to Lord Hanuman. So, they are worshipped and loved a lot. You will find many Rhesus monkeys and Langur monkeys in Sita Ramji Galtaji Temple. These monkeys were featured on Natgeo’s series Rebel Monkeys and “Wildest India ” television series.
Apart from these. India is known to have temple dedicated to living legends like Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin tendulkar, politicians like Sonia Gandhi and Shri Narendra Modiji as well as mythological infamous characters like Raavan (Ramayana), Duryodhana(Mahabharat) and Hidimba Devi (a demoness). So for an unforgettable experience and witnessing unusual offbeat rituals and deities, do visit these temples in India.
“A nations’s culture resides in the hearts and the soul of its people – Mahatma Gandhi”