Intriguing animal temples to visit in India

Find out about the most famous animal temples in India to explore the country’s fascinating relationship with animals.

By Saga team

Published 5 May 2024

A holiday in India gives the chance to explore the country’s fascinating relationship with animals.

As Hinduism, one of the leading religions in the subcontinent, incorporates so many different branches of belief, there’s no standard way to treat animals.

However, this relationship with the animals is one of the most beautiful and touching parts of India, and the reason a number of amazing temples up and down the country.

We have a list of the most famous animal temples to visit across India.

Galta ji is a temple complex in the hills of Jaipur where pilgrims come to bathe in the holy waters sourced from the gorge springs in which it sits.

Within this complex is a temple called Ramgopalji, affectionately nicknamed the monkey temple because of the large company of Macaque and Langur monkeys that live within its walls.

As the monkeys are thought to be the representative of Hanuman the monkey god they are allowed to live in the temple in peace.

Though many in the UK would jump a mile if they saw a snake cross their path, in India there are the Nagaraja, the serpent gods, representing the contrasting aspects of these reptiles.

Set over 16 acres of Keralan forest, this sheltered and beautiful temple is surrounded by snake idols, statues and carvings, with an estimated 30,000 representations of snakes, this is a fascinating site by day, probably best avoided at night.

Elephants are considered to be the embodiment of Lord Ganesh, and the most famous of these is Guruvayur dedicated to Krishna.

Kerala is known for its worship of elephants and a lot of the temples in Kerala house temple elephants, that work and live within the complexes.

However, it is important to know that several animal rights movements in India are trying to change the law in order to protect these beautiful animals.

If you’d like to see elephants in their natural habitat in Kerala instead, head out to the Periyar, Punnathur and Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Karni Mata Temple in Deshnoke has been made famous all over the world for this temple’s residents; thousands, and thousands of rats!

This temple, built for the worship of Karni Mata, a goddess who lost one of her tribe and tried to cut a deal with the god of death, that her people would be reincarnated as rats until they were born back into her tribe.

The rats are fed with milk and grains by devotees to the goddess. Just remember, this temple is not for the faint of heart, there are rats everywhere, and you are required to take off your shoes. You can be sure there is nowhere like it on earth.

Kapaleeshwarar is a vibrant temple to Shiva that's adorned with idols of animals including cows, a bull, elephants and peacocks. Non-Hindus can only go in the outer courtyard, but there's plenty to see on the outside of this iconic building.

With its dazzling breadth of experiences and deep spirituality, India never fails to delight the senses and uplift the soul. Find out about our holidays to India.

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