Must Visit Top Temples in Tamil Nadu
Top Temples in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, the “land of temples” will leave you mesmerized and elated at the beautiful structuring and construction adopted during the reign of the monarchs. The brilliance of their architectural style will leave us wondering how it was possible back in that era. Thousands of people who visit these temples to evoke blessings from God on their holy pilgrimage trip and thousands who visit the temple to just observe the magnificence and beauty of the temples are increasingly growing day by day.
The top temples in Tamil Nadu you must not miss are:
1. Kapaleeshwarar temple – Located in Mylapore, Chennai the Kaplaeeshwarar temple worships Lord Shiva and was believed to be built by the Pallavas during the 7th century in Dravidian style architecture. Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati is also worshipped in this same temple and is called Karpagambal (known as the ‘Goddess of the wish yielding tree’). The temple consists of many shrines but that of Lord Shiva and Parvati are the prominent and popular ones. The gopuram or gateway tower of the temple is 120ft tall with colourful figures of lords depicting ancient stories adorning it. Festivals and processions are also held in the temple where devotees from all over come to worship. It is also believed that the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt in the 16th century by the Vijayangara Empire.
2. Brihadeeswarar temple – One of the largest temples in India, built during the Chola reign and completed in 1010 AD is located in Thanjavur and worships Lord Shiva. A perfect example of the Dravidian style architecture, Brihadeeswarar temple also known as Periya kovil is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site known as “Great Living Chola Temple” basking in the glory of its 1000 year old heritage. The temple tower stands 216ft high, one of the tallest in the world and most of the epic and exclusive features of the temple are carved out of one single rock, for e.g: Nandi the sacred bull which is 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The temple in its entirety is made of granite with huge sculptures beautifying it. Thousands from all over the world visit the temple to view its beauty and majesty.
3. Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple – Also fondly known as Meenakshi Amman temple is situated on the banks of the Vaigai River in Madurai. The temple is devoted to Parvati, who is also known as Meenakshi and Lord Shiva who is known under the name Sundareswarar. Covering an extensive area of 15 acres, the temple has 14 gopurams all ranging from 40-45 metre height the tallest of which is 51.9 m tall approx. 170 ft high and more than 33,000 sculptures. The temple also houses numerous halls, art museum, lotus tanks, pillars, stalls, paintings, sculptures and smaller shrines. The colourful and vibrant temple is quite a sight in itself pools in thousands of devotees every day and stands out as a prominent landmark amidst the city of Madurai. The temple was also short-listed as the top 30 nominees for the “New Seven Wonders of the World”.
4. The cave temples of Mahabalipuram – Mahabalipuram has around nine monolithic temples built during the times of the Pallavas. The monolithic temples are also called rathas or chariots as it resembles the chariots used for processions in temples. The rathas are carved out of a huge boulder or one single rock. The five rathas are the best and the prominent ones which often gather a lot of attraction namely; Dharma raja ratha, Bhima ratha, Arjuna ratha, Draupathi ratha and Sahdeva ratha. All of which are magnificently sculpted to perfection telling stories of lords and kings. The cave temple of Mahabalipuram located on the shores of Bay of Bengal in Kancheepuram district is also called mandapas or rock-cut caves enclosed with bas-reliefs (Arjuna’s Penanace is the most impressive bas relief) believed to have existed during the Buddha and Jain periods. The temples do not worship any deity; out of the 11 mandapas the most noticeably ones are Varaha Cave Temple, Krishna Cave Temple, Panchapandava Cave Temple, and Mahishasuramardini Mandapa. They are cut from rocks and carved using chisels and other tools, decorated and painted. These cave temples are a pure masterpiece of Indian art, history and culture. The cave temples are a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984 for their architectural elegance.
5. Kumari Amman Temple – The 3000 year old temple stretching towards the ocean is dedicated to the virgin goddess Kanya kumari, who is actually Shree Bhagavathy in the form of an adolescent girl child; it is located in Kanyakumari, on the southernmost tip of Indian Peninsula with the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean soaring high waves in the background and spectacular view of the three seas meeting together. The temple is beautifully sculpted and located in the most beautiful setting surrounded by beaches, bazaars and the perfect venue for sunset watching; the Rock Memorial and the famous Thiruvalluvar statue can be seen from the temple. The idol is made of blue stone, it is believed that the nose ring set with rubies and diamonds wore by the goddess is so bright and shiny that it illuminates radiance causing ships to go astray and hence the sea facing gate of the temple is always kept closed. A prominent pilgrim site, devotees from all over the world come to immerse themselves in the waters of Kanya kumari for salvation.
6. Kanchi Kailasanathar temple – One of the ancient temples built during the Pallava period (685 – 705 AD) is located in Kanchipuram where the main deity is Lord Shiva. Best known for its unique architecture, the temple foundation is made of granite, while its structure is made mostly of limestone with beautiful sculptures, carvings, mural paintings, pillars and shrines; there are around 58 small shrines apart from the main one dedicated to Lord Shiva. As proof of their architectural style, the carvings are all half animal deities which were popular among the Dravidian period. A famous tourist attraction of the city, the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple began construction during the reign of Rajasimha Pallaveswaram and was completed by his son, Mahendravarman III. The locals believed that the king used the temple as a safe hideout; remnants of an escape tunnel are still prevalent inside the temple. It is a belief among devotees that entering a narrow passage by crawling from the left behind the Shiva linga and exiting through the right side will attain salvation. People from all over the world flock together to the temple on the eve of Maha-Sivaraathri.
7. Ramanathaswamy temple – One of the holy and pilgrim sites for Hindus, Rameshwaram is where Lord Rama evoked moksha from Lord Shiva for killing Raavan, who abducted his wife Sita Devi. The temple is located on a small island called Rameshwaram, on the tip of the Indian Peninsula and worships Lord Shiva. Located just 100 metres away from the sea, pilgrims first take a holy bath in the sea which is believed to purify mind and body, and then enter the temple. This interior of the temple will keep you wonderstruck with its vibrant and beautiful colours, sculptures, painting even the very structure of the temple will make us wonder. A prominent feature is its corridor; the temple has the longest carved pillared corridor or hallway among all Hindu temples in India with a painted ceiling. The compound wall of the temple measure 865 feet from east to west and 657 feet from north to south. The total length of the corridors is a massive 3850 feet with 1212 pillars and is about 30 feet from floor to the centre of the roof. The Dravidian architectural style of the temple brings in thousands from all over the world to witness this beauty.
8. Annamalaiyar temple – Located at the foot of the holy mountain, Annamalai in Thiruvannamalai, the Annamalaiyar temple worships Lord Shiva in the element of fire. Covering an extensive area of 10 hectares and four gateways, the temple is the second largest by area in India. The temple has nine towers and three courtyards and also holds the record for the tallest temple tower measuring a height of 66 metres (217ft). The temple also houses several pillared halls and shrines. Devotees believe that walking around the mountain during full moon will give them salvation and free them of their sins. During Karthika Deepam festival once every year between November and December on a full moon, a huge fire is lit in a cauldron on top of the mountains for several days as a repetition of an event in history. Pilgrims from all over the world come throughout the year to Annamalaiyar temple to celebrate festivals, seek moksha and pay penance.
9. Sri Ranganathaswamy temple – Located in Trichy on an island formed by twin rivers, Cauvery and Coleroon, the temple worships Lord Vishnu and is one of the largest functioning Hindu temple in the world. Occupying an area of 156 acres and a perimeter of 4116 m, it is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. The temple consists of 49 shrines devoted to Lord Vishnu and is surrounded by seven concentric walls extending to over six miles and fenced by 21 gopurams. The main tower or gopuram is 73 meters high and is the second tallest temple tower in Asia. The first three of seven walls are used for commercial purposes like restaurants, flower shops, residential homes, hotels etc. The shrine over the sanctum sanctorum is shaped in the symbol of Om and plated with gold. The temple also consists of a 1000 pillared hall of riding horses similar to that of a theatre, the temple celebrates festivals almost every day throughout the year which pools in devotees from all over.
10. Thillai Nataraja temple – The Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Thillai Nataraja temple is a major shrine since the time of the Chola kings, built during the 12th and 13th century in Chidambaram. A temple complex spread over 50 acres has nine gateways, 5 halls, shrines, temple tanks, temple cars and houses the bejewelled image of Nataraja depicting Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharathanatyam. The temple name was first inspired by Thillai trees and forest surrounding the temple. The golden tiled roof for the Chit Ambalam was laid by the Chola king. Numerous features in the temple like the earliest known Devi shrine, Surya shrine with chariot wheels, pillared mandapas and giant tanks are a good sight. The temples on the inside and out have numerous beautiful sculptures and carvings and have festivals throughout the year which pool in pilgrims from all over India.