A decision by the trustee board of the famous Somnath temple in Gujarat has put it out-of-bounds for non-Hindus. The authorities have decided against entry to people following other faiths without prior permission citing security concerns and protection of 'sanctity' of the religious place.
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There are several other famous temples across India that disallow non-Hindus to enter their place of worship, Rediff.com lists some of them.
Guruvayur Temple, Kerala
This temple located in the town of Guruvayur in Kerala permits only Hindus to enter the worship place dedicated to the god Krishna. Considered one of the most important temples in Kerala and one of the five famous Krishna/Vishnu temples in India, it follows a strict dress code.
Men have to remove their shirt and wear a mundu. Women are allowed to wear only sarees and girls have to wear a skirt and blouse.
The debate over the ban on non-Hindus entering Hindu temples began around 30 years ago when singer Yesudas, who planned to take part in a music programme, was stopped at the Guruvayur temple gate. He finally had to sing bhajans outside the temple wall. Though several temples in Kerala have signs saying that non-Hindus are denied entry, few of them enforce it as strictly as the Guruvayur temple, which insists on following its distinct traditions.
Jagannath Temple, Puri
‘Only Orthodox Hindus are allowed’, reads a signboard hanging from the Lion's Gate of the Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. The issue has triggered many a controversy in the past and continues to arouse strong feelings even today.
The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime.
In the past a number of dignitaries, including former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had not been allowed to enter the 12th century shrine because she had married a Parsi, Feroze Gandhi. In 2005, the Queen of Thailand Mahachakri Siridharan was not allowed inside the temple as she was a follower of Buddhism.
In 2012, an American, Noel Magee Hayden, was allegedly beaten up by temple security personnel when he attempted to climb 'Nandighosh', the chariot of Lord Jagannath during the world famous Rath Yatra.
In 2006, the shrine did not allow a citizen of Switzerland named Elizabeth Jigler, who had donated Rs. 1.78 crore to the temple because she was a Christian.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
Located in Varanasi, the temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The most famous of the many temples in Varanasi is the one dedicated to Vishveswara -- Shiva as lord of the universe. The gleaming gold spires give it the name, Golden Temple.
Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, although this is not always enforced. On the northern side of Vishwanath Temple is the Gyan Kupor well. Non-Hindus are strictly not allowed to enter here.
Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar
The temple is the most prominent landmark of the Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state.
Lingaraja temple is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archeological Survey of India. The temple has an average of 6,000 visitors per day and receives lakhs of visitors during festivals.
In 2012, a 35-year-old Russian tourist created quite a flutter after entering the 11th century temple that is off limits to non-Hindus. Rituals at the temple were disrupted for nearly four hours following the foreigner's entry. Priests performed a purification ritual and dumped the Lord's cooked prasad worth above Rs 50,000, sources said.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
The temple, which has references in Epics and Puranas, was built in the 16th Century by the kings who ruled over the then kingdom of Travancore. Local legends say the Travancore kings sealed immense riches within the thick stone walls and vaults of the temple.
It is said to be the richest Hindu temple in the world. Emergence of the temple as one of the richest Hindu shrines in the world has also thrown up security concerns with police as an interim step deploying two platoons of armed personnel. According to the temple sources, the treasure trove has been so far estimated at around Rs 90,000 crore.
The number of foreigners visiting the temple has increased considerably, but unfortunately non-Hindus are not allowed inside.
Kapaleeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu
Built around the 7th century CE in Dravidian architecture, this Shiva temple in located at Mylapore, in Tamil Nadu.
Foreigners and non-Hindus are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum. The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal being the most prominent.
Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu
Located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Pashupatinath. This temple complex which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites's list since 1979 was erected anew in the 15th century by King kirat Yalamber.
The area of Pashupatinath encompasses 264 hectre of land including 518 temples and monuments.
Entry into the inner courtyard is strictly monitored by the temple security, which is selective of who is allowed inside. Practicing Hindus and Buddhist of Indian and Tibetan descendent are only allowed into temple courtyard. Practicing Hindus of western descent are not allowed into the temple complex along with other non Hindu visitors. Others can look at the main temple from adjacent side of the river.
Kamakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu
Located in the historic city of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, the Kamakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Kamakshi, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati. The temple is also popularly associated with Sankaracharya, one of the greatest Hindu gurus.
The temple sanctorum consists of a deity ‘Adivaraha Perumal’ which is one of the 108 Vaishnaivaite deity worship temple. The temple is situated at about 5 acres of land and has four entrances but is off-limits for non-Hindus.
The Kamakshi temple has a close relation with the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and its successive Sankarcharyas.
Dilwara Temples, Mount Abu
The five legendary marble temples of Dilwara are a sacred pilgrimage place of the Jains. Some consider them to be one of the most beautiful Jain pilgrimage sites in the world.
Facilities are available for bathing, which is mandatory before puja is performed for the idols. There are five temples in all, each with its own unique identity. Each is named after the small village in which it is located. The most famous of these are the Vimal Vasahi and Luna Vasahi temples.
Photography at this exquisite global cultural heritage site was banned in 1992 and it is also off-limits for non-Hindus.