South India has a lot of ancient temples. This is the area where one can find a lot of architectural excellence when it comes to temples. They have breath-taking beauty, and they also are the place where people visit to restore their faith. In India, most people believe in God. Hindus have different deities and gods to worship, and they visit these places with a faith and with a belief that this will bring some positive changes in their lives.
It is said if one takes a study of entire southern part of the country, there are more than 33 thousand temples that can be traced. But only a few of them are famous worldwide and a huge number of people gather there to offer prayers. Also, most of the temples have been labelled as the World Heritage Sites under the UNESCO as they bear the masterpieces and art works of history.
Here are some major temples that one should definitely visit if they are making a South India temple tour.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam:
This is a famous temple where Lord Ranganatha is worshipped. He is the reclining form of another Hindu deity called Lord Vishnu. This temple complex is big and covers an area of 156 acres. The temple has a pure Dravidian form of architecture and is very much unique. It has seven rectangular enclosures made from concretes, and they round a chamber where the idol is situated. This temple is said to be one of the largest functioning temples around the world.
ThillaiNataraja Temple, Chidambaram:
This is another popular pilgrimage site in Tamil Nadu, and this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in Chidambaram, this temple sees a lot of visitors throughout the year as they are the devotees of Lord Shiva. Here, in this temple Lord Shiva is named as ThillaiKoothan and the idol is of a cosmic dancer. Here, Lord Shiva represents the element of sky (one of the five PanchaBhootha) in this temple.
Rameshwaram Temple, Rameshawaram:
This temple is famous for the longest pillars, which were constructed to build this temple. At the end of the pillars, there are painted ceilings, and this temple has a hall which is the longest one in India. This temple is located very near to the sea and all the pilgrims come here to take a holy dip in the sea followed by offering prayers in the temple.
Annamalaiyar Temple, Thiruvannamalai:
This is another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and another one of the PanchaBhoothasthalams. Here the deity is worshipped as the symbol of fire or the Agni Lingam. The basic temple structure was built long back in the 9th century when Cholas used to rule the dynasty and later some extensions were made when Vijayanagar rulers came to power. Here one can see the idol of Parvati with Lord Shiva. This temple has four gateways, which are called Gopurams, and the Eastern Tower with 11 storeys and a height of 66 meter is considered to be the tallest temple tower of India.
Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram:
This is the third one among the five PanchaBhoothasthalams in South India and here Lord Shiva represents the element of earth. The most attractive part of this temple is the entrance gate, which is 59 meters high. There is a hall in this temple which stands with thousand pillars, and it was built by the Vijaynagar rulers. Phalguni Festival takes place in this temple for 13 days where the wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva with goddess Parvati is observed.
Brihadeswara Temple, Thanjavur :
This is a very old city in this state as years back during the 11th century Raja RajaChola I of the Chola dynasty built this city. Here in this place, the Cholas also built more than 70 temples among which the most extravagant one if the Brihadeswara Temple. This is a World Heritage Site labelled by the UNESCO because; this temple was constructed almost 1000 years ago. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the architecture displays the Chola’s aesthetic sense along with a dome, which has a height of 60 meters. The ceiling of this temple has frescoes which is unique from the Chola kingdom.
Thyagarajaswamy Temple, Tiruvar :
Another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva who is known as Lord Somaskandar here. This temple is situated over an area of 30 acres, and it is said to be one of the largest temples in India. Here the major attraction is the Thyagaraja car festival, which happens here in every 12 years. This festival is organised in the month of April.
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Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai :
Madurai is one of the oldest cities in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is in this city lies the world famous Meenakshi Temple, which is a grand one. The temple stands strong on huge area of 15 acres which has 4500 pillars along with 12 huge towers. This is a grand construction which leaves one spell bound when they look at it. Every year, in the month of April, there is a festival organized here which is known as the Chithirai Festival. This festival goes on for 12 days in which the marriage between Gods and Goddesses take place. This temple has 14 gopurams and almost 33,000 sculptures. Also, one can get to see a lot of pavilions in this temple.
Sripuram Golden Temple, Vellore :
This temple is a new one as compared to others mentioned above as this was inaugurated in the year 2007. The temple complex is about 100 acres, and it is entirely covered with gold. The temple architecture tells us different instances and stories from the Vedas. Also, the shape of the temple resembles a star. The path that leads to the entrance of the temple is engraved with different messages from renowned spiritual leaders.
There are many other major temples that one can visit here in South India like Brihadeshwara Temple and Tirupati. Visiting a temple does not only mean to worship the deities but also to appreciate the architectural excellence.