Popular temples in Tamil Nadu
On June 29, 2017
It would be wrong to call the southern state of Tamil Nadu as the cradle of Hinduism, but at first glance, with the numerous temples located at every street corner, that is the impression one gets! It’s no wonder then that Tamil Nadu is known as the ‘Land of temples’ with over 33,000 ancient temples dating back to 800 to 3,500 years old found scattered through the state. And not only that, some of the largest temples are also found here, making Tamil Nadu a major pilgrimage spot for Hindus.
These temples have stood testimony to the culture and heritage of its people with historical records dating back to at least 3,000 years. They usually display architectural complexity ranging from colorful towering intricately-sculptured gopurams to artistically carved rock-cut temples with exquisite sculpturing of gods and goddesses and rich inscriptions of a bygone era.
The various ruling dynasties of Tamil Nadu were great patrons of these temples and employed skilled sculptors to create complex and magnificent works that leave you gaping at their awesomeness. Some of the famous temples of Tamil Nadu include the following:
The Cave temples of Mahabalipuram
Dating back to the 7th century, they are located on the hills facing the Bay of Bengal and consist of spectacularly carved mandapas that have their roots in Buddhism and Jainism. The Mahasisuramardhini cave temple is the most famous among them as a masterpiece of Indian art.
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple of Madurai
Located on the banks of river Vaigai, it is the most popular temple in Tamil Nadu and receives the highest footfalls of tourists and pilgrims alike. Its numerous gopurams with exquisitely carved statuettes is a sight to behold. The temple is dedicated to goddess Parvati.
Brihadeshwara temple in Thanjavur
It’s also called the ‘Living temple of Cholas’ or the ‘Big temple’ and consists of massive complicated sculptures and magnificently carved huge idols. The temple is dedicated to Brihadeshwara or Lord Shiva, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, the Vimana’s shadow is believed to never fall on the ground.
Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Trichy
Area-wise, this is the largest temple in India, covering an awesome 156 acres of land. This Vaishnava temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi and is home to magnificent works of inscriptions and incomparable works of sculpturing and architectural designing.
Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameshwaram
This island temple was built in the 12th century by the Pandya dynasty and is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of a Jyothilingam. The incomparable beauty of this temple lies in its huge towers as well as having the longest elaborately sculptured corridors in Tamil Nadu.
Thillai Natarajar temple in Chidambaram
Natarajar, a form of Lord Shiva, is the lord of traditional dance of Tamil Nadu – the Bharatanatyam. This temple is also supposed to have many mystical secrets passed down the generations over the centuries.
Kamakshi Amman temple in Kanchipuram
The deity here is a form of Parvati Devi and she is found to be in a yoga posture instead of the usual sitting position. This temple is designed in the Dravidian architectural design by the Pallava kings. A special highlight is the presence of a Sri Chakra found here.
There are so many other intriguing temples too, but then we will talk about them another time!