6 Temple Etiquettes for Visitors to the Himalaya

Since temples are ultimate destinations of many treks meandering through the Himalaya, we thought of discussing age-old and modern temple etiquettes. The temples expect proper decorum from all the visitors to maintain the sanctity of the shrines.

1. Don’t wear shoes inside the temple 


A free shoe-shelf within a temple in Mandi, the Himalaya
A free shoe shelf for storing devotee’s shoes in Ekadash Rudrakash Temple, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh


Age-old temple etiquette dictates that devotees should remove the shoes before entering the main temple. You may walk wearing shoes within the temple complex but definitely not within the main temple.


2. Don’t carry leather goods within the temple  


Prohibition on leather goods in temples located in the Himalaya
A warning on the wall of Bhimkali Temple in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh says “ Don’t carry leather goods inside the temple.”

A number of temples prohibit carrying leather goods like bags, purses and belts inside the temple. It is generally mentioned on the walls near main entry to the temple. So read the instructions before entering the temple.

3. Don’t ring the temple bell


A temporary prohibition on ringing the Ekadash Rudrakash temple bell in the Himalaya
A temporary paper signboard requesting not to ring the bell

It is a custom to ring the bell on entering in and exiting from a temple. However, sometimes, priests and devotees participating in the havan (a Hindu ritual) and / or akhand path (continuous reading of holy books) do not like to be disturbed. They prefer that devotees should not create unwanted sounds from the bell. Check for instructions near the venue of the religious rituals.

4. Don’t apply bhog to idols 

In some temples, applying bhog (sacrament) to the statues is strictly prohibited for the sake of cleanliness and retaining the beauty and colors. While offering bhog, ensure that it does not touch the statue. Just keep it in front of the statue.

5. Don’t enter if menses are in progress 


A warning prohibits female devotees experiencing menses from entering into Chainkothi temple in Kullu in the Himalaya.
A handwritten warning to woman devotees experiencing menses

This social etiquette is bit weird and I personally do not like it. However, special instructions are mentioned on several temple walls across the Himalaya that women experiencing menses should not enter the temple.

6. Don’t carry cameras and mobiles

Now-a-days, cameras and mobiles are ubiquitous. And everyone is a photographer. These gadgets thus cause lots of noise and chaos within the shrines that are built for meditation and spiritual activities.  Both the activities require inner and outer peace.

Another reason for the prohibition is terror threats of the modern world. Lastly, the pictures aid in theft of antique priceless idols. Therefore, you cannot carry your gadgets within a number of temples.