Tamil Nadu is an abode of beautiful monuments, which have stood strong from ages. The architecture of the South Indian temples is beautiful and amazing.
From Dravidian form of architecture to Vijayanagara unbeatable style of architecture from massive pillars of Chalukyas to tender stone carvings by Krishnadevaraya, each and every temple of Tamil Nadu has a different story to tell. These Hindu temples are rich in legend and culture and stunning in their presentation and are a must visit for any traveling to India.
If you want to see the impeccable architectural designs, these temples depict some of the best ones.
List of Tamil Nadu Temples
1. Meenakshi Amman Temple
The Meenakshi Temple is also called the Meenakshi Amman or Minakshi-Sundareshwara Temple. It lies to the banks of the river Vaigai. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi who is a form of Goddess Parvati.
The temple also includes Shiv, in many sculptures and rituals.
Visiting Time: The temple opens at 4:00 in the morning and closes by 10:00 PM.
Location: The temple is located in Madurai, which is mostly known for being a city of temples. You could travel to the banks of this river by a boat.
2. Brihadeeswarar Temple
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the largest of Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. It is a perfect example of a Dravidian architecture. Throughout History, this temple has been damaged and rebuilt.
Today the temple stands, but most of its ornaments and valuable pieces have been lost to history.
Visiting Time: The temple is usually opened from 6 AM to 9 PM each day.
Location: The temple is located to the south of Thanjavur, just to the mouth of the Cauvery river.
3. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
The Ranganathaswamy temple is a Hindu temple built for Ranganatha, who is the incarnation of the God Vishnu. This temple has made history in many ways.
Being on an island between the Kollidam and Kaveri rivers, the temple has witnessed flooding and attacks by foreign armies. The Delhi sultanate warriors have attacked and plundered the temple on several occasions.
Besides being a religious house, the temple also served as a charitable institution, where they provided food to drought hit peasants and other economic burdens.
Visiting Time: The temple is open from 9 AM to 9 PM each day, but visitors are allowed to pray and visit the temple only from 3 to 9 PM each day.
Location: The temple is located at Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli. The island can be visited by a boat.
4. Jambukeswarar Temple
The Jaukeswarar Temple is another temple located in the Srirangam Island of Tamil Nadu. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple too represents a Dravidian style of architecture which dates back to the Chola era. It is believed that there flows an underground stream beneath the Shivlinga from which water constantly flows out.
A legend says that the Goddess Parvati when in the form of Akilandeswari performed an act of penance under a ‘Jambu Tree’ that was thought to have grown out of the head of a saint who was in meditation To honour the penance of Goddess Parvati worshipping Lord Shiva, each afternoon, the priest of this temple dress as females in sarees and pray to Lord Jambukeswarar.
This unusual prayer is attended by worshippers and devotees every day and showcases an experience to some of the unusual Indian traditions and customs.
Visiting Time: The temple is opened from 6 AM to 9 PM. Visitors are permitted to enter and pray during this time.
Location: It is located in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu.
5. Kanchi Kailasanthar Temple
Kailasanathar Temple Kanchipuram is found in the Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu. This place is one of the most famous pilgrims center.
The temple is believed to have been built under the Pallava Dynasty around the late 7th century or the arly 8th century. It is the oldest temple in Tamil Nadu which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The architecture of the temple portrays a Dravidian style with a minutely carved pyramidal shape tower on the main sanctum and about fifty eight small Shiva shrines within the complex.
Visiting Time: Visitors are permitted to pray and provide offerings from 3 PM to 11 PM.
Location: It is located in Pillaiyarpalayam, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu.
6. Ekambareswarar Temple
Counted amongst five ‘Panch Bootha Sthalas’, the temple is built to honour the element, Earth. It attracts a whole lot of pilgrims and visitors and holds a great religious significance for worshippers of the Lord Shiva.
The temple is believed to have been standing since 600 AD. The thousand pillared hall with carvings of a thousand and eight Shivlingas is believed to be added by the Vijayanagara kings somewhere during Lingam, and the sacred mango tree, believed to be more than three thousand years old, can be seen in the temple premises.
The speciality of this unusual tree is that it bears four different types of Mangoes in four different seasons in a year.
Visiting Time: This temple closes at 11:00 PM each night. And it's open from the wee hours of the morning from 4 AM.
Location: Found in the local town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu.
7. Ramanathaswamy Temple
Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the four ,’Char Dhams’ (pilgrimage destinations’ for all Hindus across the world and one of the twelve holy Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
According to myth, the story associated with the Shivlinga is enshrined in the main sanctum of the temple goes back to the times of the Ramayana. It is believed that after returning from Lanka, Lord Rama wanted to free himself of his sins of killing Ravana.
So, he decided to worship Lord Shiva and told Lord Hanuman to get the best Shivlinga from Himalayas.
Unfortunately, it took lot of time for Hanuman to get the Shivlinga,so Rama’s wife, Goddess Sita built a Shivlinga from sand. This Shivlinga, was known as ‘Ramalinga’ and is believed to be in the sanctum of the Ramanathaswamy Temple since then.
Visiting Time: Opened from 5 AM to 10:30 PM each day
Location: It is situated at about 180 Kms from Madurai airport
8. Kapaleeshwarar Temple
Built under the reign of the Pallava Kings during 7th century CE,the temple was devastated by the Portuguese and it was in 16th century that the Vijayanagara Kings brought the temple back to its pristine splendour.
The temple that stands today dates back to the 16th century CE. Dedicated to Lord Shiva who is worshipped here in the form of Kapaleeshwarar, the temple is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Tamil Nadu .
The Karpagambal temple attracts huge crowds each Friday where the Goddess’ deity is decorated with garlands of gold coins.
Visiting Time: The temple is open to devotees throughout the day till 8:00 PM
Location: Located in Mylapore in Vinayaka Nagar Colony
9. Monolithic Rock Temples, Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 7th century and is believed to have been built by the Pallava dynasty. Today ,the town is famous and stands as a living achievement of India's archeology and culture.
The main focus of this temple town are its five monolithic rock-cut temples in the form of ‘Panch Rathas’ or chariots. Each ratha has been dedicated to a Pandava brother from the Mahabharata times.
With every ratha carved in different shapes and sizes along with sculptures of animals, humans and gods; the build-up of these structures allows you to take a peek into the designing skills of the sculptors during the Pallava rule.
Visiting Time: The Mahabalipuram temples are open to visitors from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM except on Thursdays.
Location: It is located in about sixty kilometres southwest of Chennai on the Coromandel Coast. The monuments can be reached by a divided East Coast Road and Rajiv Gandhi Salai. The nearest airport is in Chennai.
10. Nagaraja Temple
The Nagaraja Temple is built to honour the serpent king Vasuki. The deity of this temple is a five-headed Naga God and is visited by millions of devotees, especially on Sundays when a special Pooja is performed where milk and turmeric is offered.
According to local legands, once a village girl was cutting some grass when she noticed blood coming out of her axe after accidentally hitting against a stone. One villager realised that the stone was an idol of a five headed snake.
Since that day, the temple dedicated to Nagaraja was built. The soil beneath the statue still remains wet and it is believed that the blood is still oozing out of the statue till this very day. It is believed that this soil holds magical powers and can cure diseases and perform miracles.
Visiting Time: This temple is opened for twenty four hours, but allows visitors till 9:00 PM only.
Location: This temple is situated in the Nagercoil town of Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu
And there you have it, the grandest of temples in Tamil Nadu that surely deserves a visit. So pick on those hiking shoes and move down south to explore a whole lot of some culture and tradition.