The temples of South India are some of the most stunning architectural marvels in India. From their intricate carvings to their symmetry, they make for enchanting visuals, and also have believers who feel their wishes come true here. We’ve rounded up some of the best temples that you must visit when in South India.
India’s geographical, religious, and cultural history is one of the jaw-dropping, detailed, and extremely nuanced in the whole world. The southern part of India is studded with temples that have both historical and religious value and help take us back in the time when the temple was built. South Indian temples speak of much more than their religiosity and are open text books for those who wish to know about Indian history to its core. We found and shortlisted some of the most legendary temples of South India that we think are a treasure to the whole country.
Temples of South India that you need to visit
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
To term Meenakshi Amman Temple or Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple as just one of India’s most significant religious spots is to exclude its significance as a thriving cultural and architectural marvel. The temple is located to the south of river Vaigai in the city of temples, Madurai. If you’re wondering what sets Meenakshi Aman Temple apart from every other temple in South India, perhaps the fact that this temple, built way back in 1623-1655 CE, was nominated among the top 30 contenders for being one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple is dedicated to Parvati and Lord Shiva.
Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati
A small hill town in Andhra Pradesh called Tirumala is home to one of the most captivating temples of South India, the Venkateswara Temple. If we were to go by the local belief, the construction of this temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu commenced in 300 AD. The backdrop of the temple combined with the stunning Dravidian architecture is worth a visit by everyone travelling to Andhra Pradesh, religious or not. Devotees have always donated to temple but Venkateshwara has a different and a rather unusual market — selling human hair, since Lord Vishnu accepts human hair as sacrifice and hence, the ritual.
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Perhaps one of the most famous temples of South India is the Virupaksha Temple located on the banks of the Tungabhadra in the much-acclaimed tourist destination of Hampi. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Virupaksha temple is one of the few but albeit one of the most brilliant examples of the architectural prowess exercised during the Vijaynagara empire. Dating back to the 7th century, it takes a patient and willing person to look through the intricate carvings on the walls of the temple. And hey, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
The much-acclaimed Chola Dynasty, during its years of absolute glory, had built architectural wonders such as the Brihadisvara Temple in stunning Tamil architecture. Despite being 1009 years old, this temple holds on to its magnificence tightly and has claimed for itself the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Great Living Chola Temples. It was built in dedication to Lord Shiva. Another popular temple that is a part of these Chola Temples is the Airavateswara Temple in Kumbakonam, built by Rajaraja II.
Suchindram Temple, Tamil Nadu
You may know this temple by its former name of Thanumalaym as well for it is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu. If we talk about architectural wonders, this temple can give the others serious competition with its musical and hanging pillars! No, it’s not witchcraft. Built way back in the 17th century, this temple is linked to the legends of the Anasuya and Ahalya and a single linga, which represents Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh.
Sabarimala Sastha Temple, Pathanamthitta
Among the most respected temples of South India, Sabarimala Sastha Temple is located at the Sabarimala hill in Pathanamthitta, Kerala. The temple, which is close to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan. The temple also hosts a mass pilgrimage of about five crore people. The temple, for the longest time, had put a ban on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50. This ban was overruled in 2018.
Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram
Located in Kanchipuram, Ekambareswarar is one of the largest temples in South India. Spread over an area of 25 acres, it hosts about 12 festivals across the year, which are visited by lakhs of devotees. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and has dix prayers offered to the deity inside daily.
Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Monuments of Pattadakal consist of nine Hindu temples as well as a Jain sanctuary. These temples are surrounded by smaller shrines as well, and are surrounded by lush green lawns. The temples are a marvellous blend of Dravidian and Nagara styles of architecture, and make for a beautiful place to visit. Among the most popular among these temples is the Virupaksha Temple, built by Queen Lokamahadevi of the Chalukya dynasty.
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram. This collection of religious sites is located on the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu, and has 40 Hindu and Jain temples along with open-air rock reliefs. The temples here are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Shiva, and were built during the Pallava Dynasty. The Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is held in the exterior of the temple complex, which is also the best time to visit here.
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram
Among the most popular temples of South India, Ramanathaswamy temple houses one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The pillared highway here is one of the longest in India, which is another feature that makes it special. The temple was built in the 17th century, and has beautifully painted ceilings here.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Tiruchirappalli
Located in Tiruchirappalli (or Trichy, as it is also called), the Ranganathaswamy Temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha (a form of Lord Vishnu). The temple has stunning Dravidian architecture, with beautifully coloured walls that are carefully carved. The temple dates back to about 2,000 years and is among the most respected temples in the country.
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