India’s Hampi Temple seems to glow at sunset. // © 2013 Thinkstock
Savvy travelers anticipate having to follow different norms when visiting foreign countries. So what do visitors to temples throughout India need to be aware of?
Arriving to a temple properly dressed is the first step. No matter the weather, guests should have their shoulders covered and shorts and dresses should be knee-length or longer.
“You are in the house of a higher power,” said Max Ali, director of group operations with SITA World Tours. “Being modestly attired and not attracting attention to yourself is important for your own well-being as well as that of the worshipers and fellow visitors.”
Out of respect for the deity within the temple, shoes are always removed before entering. Wearing dark, thick socks inside the temple is also advised.
Because many temples are active sites, visitors will likely see worshipers engaged in silent prayer, or groups of singers chanting while ringing bells or playing musical instruments. Some temples may prefer that guests simply observe, but others allow guests to join the worshippers. Ask your guide or a temple official to be sure. Ali also advises visitors to move about the space quietly and to ask permission before snapping photos.
“Some among the congregation may be sensitive about having their photos taken,” said Ali.