Famous Temples In South India

By Deepak Kannan on Aug 12, 2016
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South India is known for the Superstar actor RajiniKanth, and the delicious Idly-Sambhar but they are equally popular for their Magnificent temples that brim with so much history and architectural detailing. Ruled by emperors from different dynasties, the style and the significance that these temples possess will leave you awestruck.

Here is a list of the famous temples in South India that we think are the best. In no particular order.

1. Brihadeeswarar Temple - A UNESCO Heritage Temple

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Listed in the UNESCO world heritage site as the 'Great Living Chola Temples', Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur is one of the marvels from the Chola dynasty. Locally known as the 'Tanjai Periya Kovil', it is one of the oldest temples being dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built by Arulmozhivarman, popularly recognized as Raja Raja Chola the temple stepped into its 1000th birthday in 2010. The very-well maintained Brihadeeswarar temple is 66 metres tall and the Kambam at the top which is said to be constructed from a single rock weighs approximately 80 tonnes. Brihadeeswarar temple is visited by millions of tourists every year and sure stands as an example for the architectural excellence.

2. Vaitheeswaran Kovil - The Temple of Healing

Dedicated to Shiva who is worshipped as 'Vaitheeswaran' or the 'God of healing', Vaitheeswaran kovil is one amongst the Navagraha temples associated with Mars. As the history speaks, the planet Mars suffered from leprosy and was cured by Vaidhyanathaswamy, thus making the temple a part of Navagraha temples of Angaraka (Mars). The temple was also once said to be visited by the great Rama, Lakshmana, and Saptarishi during the Ramayana period. The main attraction of this temple is that of Vaitheeswaran present as lingam in the central shrine.

3. Meenakshi Amman Temple - The Pride of South India

Dedicated to deity Parvati, well-known as Meenakshi; the historic Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the banks of Vaigai river in the 'City of Temples', Madurai. An iconic symbol of the Tamil people, Meenakshi Amman temple was on the list of top 30 nominees for the 'New Seven wonders of the world'. It is interesting that Meenakshi temple was once almost destroyed completely in the 14th century by the Mughal Muslim emperor but was later rebuilt by the Nayak emperor, Vishwanatha Nayakar around the 16th century. Today, the temple is one of the prominent temples in South India attracting 15,000 visitors every day and receives an annual revenue of ₹60 million.

4. Sarangapani Temple - The Temple of Majestic Chariots

Sarangapani Temple in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu is a temple dedicated to deity Vishnu and is considered as one of the three major temples of Vishnu. With a height of 173ft. the Rajagopuram is eleven-storeyed and carries the dancing sculptures of Shiva, which is rather unusual in a temple dedicated to Vishnu. Sarangapani's shrine which looks like a chariot is popular for its chariot festival and carries twin temple chariots with each weighing 300 tonnes. Throughout centuries the temple has received significant contributions from the Cholas, Nayaks and Vijayanagar empire making it a destination that boasts with antiques.

5. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple - The One in the Holy land

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Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in the Holy land of Rameshwaram is one of the largest temples in the whole of India. The temple occupies an area of 156 acres and is Magnificent. Built in a Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the Hindu deity, Vishnu and is considered as the most prominent temple in the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu. The devotees visiting Sri Ranganathaswamy temple take a bath in its sacred 22 wells as a sign of respect to the deity. The lengthy hallways of the temple with brightly colored ceilings add to the beauty of the temple.

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6. Nellaiappar Temple - Musical Temple of South India

Located on the Southern banks of the River Tamiraparani in the Tirunelveli district, Nellaiappar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, represented by a lingam in the sacred sanctum. The temple resides in the heart of the city and comes to light during the Thaipoosam festival. The musical pillars in the Mani Mandapam when struck gives out different tones of music according to the force applied and the temple reverberates with positive energy. The temple never ceases to surprise with its golden temple car which is the third largest in Tamil Nadu.

7. Shore Temple - The Seafarers Friend

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Overlooking the shore of the Bay of the Bengal is the Shore temple of Mahabalipuram. Built from the granite rocks that dates back to the 8th century, it is one of the oldest stone cut shrines in India. The Shore temple comprises of three temples: two small and one large structure. The Shore temple was very famous with the seafarers as the temple guided them during those days and they started calling it, 'Seven Pagodas'. Catch the captivating evening sunset from the shrines and explore the sculptures in Mahabalipuram. They look truly Magnificent.

8. Varadharaja Perumal Temple - The Temple of Gold and Silver Lizards

Varadharaja Perumal temple is one of the Divya Desams, (108 temples of Vishnu) located in the suburbs of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Originally built by the Cholas in 1053, the temple is frequented by the Vaishnavites and one of the greatest Vaishnavite scholar Ramanuja is said to have resided inside the temple premises. Known as 'Perumal Koil', the temple has 100 pillared hall which carries sculptures depicting Mahabharata and Ramayana is a true masterpiece. Varadharaja Perumal Koil is significant for its Gold and Silver lizards touching which would wash away your sins.

9. Annamalaiyar Temple - The Temple of Lights

At the base of the Annamalai hills in the town of Thiruvannamalai is the temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, Annamalaiyar temple. Associated with one of the 'Pancha Bhoota Stalas', Agni (fire); the temple occupies 10 hectares of land and is one of the largest temples in South India. The temple has nine towers and three inner courtyards and this is where the 9th Century Saiva saint poet Manikkavasagar composed the 'Tiruvempaavai'. The temple is frequented by devotees all around the year especially during the Karthikai Deepam festival which is celebrated within the months of November and December. A huge fire is then lit atop the mountain that blazes for days and those who witness the sight are said to be blessed!

10. Sabarimala Temple - A Gem in the God's own Country

Sabarimala temple is situated amidst 18 hills in the Western ghats region of the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit this famous Hindu pilgrimage centre to worship Lord Ayyappa making it one of the most visited pilgrim centers in India. The temple which is perched atop a hill at an altitude of 1,535 ft. is trekked by devotees barefoot who follow strict vows for 48 days straight and elderly people who cannot walk are lifted by Men on bamboo chairs.

11. Virupaksha Temple - Hampi's Center of Attraction

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Situated amongst the ruins of Hampi, in the state of Karnataka, is the oldest temple of Virupaksha, which is said to be operating uninterruptedly since its inception in the 7th century. Being the main center of Pilgrimage in Hampi, Virupaksha temple attracts tourists and pilgrims in huge numbers. The temple is dedicated to deity Shiva who is referred to as Virupaksha by the locals. Interestingly according to the legend, the temple was initially built as a small shrine but later transformed into one of the largest, significant shrines under the Vijayanagara rulers. Virupaksha is known its tall gopuram and regularly hosts Marriages and betrothals.

12. Guruvayur Temple - The 5000 Year Old Temple

Referred to as 'Bhuloka Vaikunta' which translates to 'Holy Abode of Vishnu on Earth', Guruvayur temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. As the legend has, the deity worshipped in Guruvayur temple is more 5000 years old. The Guruvayur temple of Krishna is one of the five best temples of Krishna in India and is significant for it oil prasadham that is said to cure all fatal diseases including paralysis.

13. Veerabhadra Temple - The Temple with a Huge Multi-headed Serpent

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Veerbhadra is a fearsome form of deity Shiva. Built in the 16th century, the Veerabhadra temple in Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh gleams with Vijayanagara style architecture. The fresco paintings depicting epic stories of Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas are brightly colored and well preserved. The temple has 70 pillars amongst which is the Hanging pillar which does not rest on the ground and is seen floating. This is one of the biggest mysteries and features of the Veerabhadra temple. Bejewelled with artistically beautiful sculptures, the grandeur of the temple’s multi-hooded serpent guarding the linga is an eye-catcher.

14. Temples at Aihole - The Oldest Temple of South India

Described as the 'Cradle of temple architecture', Aihole is a temple complex in Karnataka that brims with 125 Chalukyan temples. Located on the banks of Malaprabha river, temples at Aihole give a descriptive insight at the Chalukyan heritage. Temples dating from 5th Century CE, the place is a must visit for the historical buffs and the devotional population alike. The absolute grandeur and the amazing work of the artisans, make the Temples at Aihole one of Magnificent temple places to visit in South India.

15. Venkateshwara Temple - The Richest Temple of the World

Perched on the hill of Tirumala at Tirupati is the Venkateshwara temple dedicated to the deity Venkateshwara. As the temple lies on the seventh hill - Venkatadri, it is famously referred to as the 'Temple of seven hills'. Visited by 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims every day which shoots up to 500,000 during the peak season, Venkateshwara temple is one of the most visited and powerful temples in South India. The temple is the richest temple in the world in terms of wealth and the donations received. And it is believed praying to Lord Tirupati Balaji will help you attain Moksha.

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