Why is it that people don't wear shoes and sandals when they visit a temple? Sometimes they remove them outside of temple premises and sometimes outside of the temple steps...

It's a common practice amongst Hindu people whenever they visit a dharmik sthal/temple, so what's the reason behind removing footwear outside?

And is there a rule to do so, or do people just follow a common norm?

Footwear outside temple

Credits for the image: double-barrelledtravel.com

  • In South Indian temples, usually there would be turmeric or sandalwood paste like items which happens to be on floor. These are of medicinal values and could help legs in one way or another. So in addition to the idea of respect, there could be a hidden intention. Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 5:05
  • From where should we remove shoes? What can be the start of temple? the stairs or from where roof starts? Some temples does not have long roof but people start removing shoes from stairs only. Is that true to remove shoes from stairs or from roof only? Can I ask this question on stack overflow or you integrate it in your question?
    – prem30488
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 7:37
  • Also I want to know what is written in scriptures related to shoes?
    – prem30488
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 7:42
  • @ParthTrivedi according to me those are non standard questions and doesn't make any sense, as far as this question goes, it was asked when we were drafting rules for the site, so if you are going to compare yours with mine then don't
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 13:31

1 Answer 1


Since no answer gives any reference from any scriptures, i am adding my own.

The reason is scriptural injunction. That is, scriptures ask us not to wear shoes where idols are placed.

There are 5 such places where one is prohibited to enter with shoes on. They are:

  1. The room where the Vedic fire has been established. 2. A cowpen; Goshala or where the cows stay. 3. A place where a Deity is installed, like a temple or a Puja room and a room for the Brahmin. 4. A place for taking meals. 5. The room where one chants the Gayatri.

One should leave off his shoes [before entering] the house in which the Sacred Fire is deposited, a cow-pen and the presence of a Deity, or a Brahmana, [and before] taking his meals, or reciting [the Gayatri]. (61)

[If a person] putting on [his] sandals, goes, from his house, to the Five Rooms,* a pious king should cut off his two legs. (62)

Angiras Smriti 1.62,63.

However, these rules do not apply for the following special persons:

An Agnihotrin (i.e., who maintains the Sacred Fires), an ascetic, a S'rotriya, one who has completely-studied the Vedas ; these may go there with [their] sandals on ; others must be chastised with punishment. (63)

NOTE: Angirasa Smriti is counted among the 18 major Smritis that we have.


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