Southern India is known for its pristine natural environment, exciting culture, and of course — it’s magnificent temples. There are dozens of famous temples in South India, including the spectacular Virupaksha, Meenakshi, and Annamalaiyar Temples. This guide is going to share some information about these wonderful holy sites, to help you plan your next Indian temple tour.
The south Indian temple architecture is truly amazing. One of the most impressive examples of temple architecture in the region is Meenakshi Temple. Located in the ancient city of Madurai, Meenakshi Temple is a large Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River. The city was established in the 1st century with the templed being built sometime before the 6th century.
Meenakshi Temple is one of the most famous temples in South India, known for its grandiose appearance and decorative exterior. It attracts pilgrims from all around the world and is a must see for your India temple tour.
One of the most ancient temples in India, Jambukeswarar Temple was built more than 1,800 years ago by Kocengannan, an early Chola King. This temple also belongs to the Panchabhoota Sthalams and represents the element of water. In this case, Lord Shiva is present in the form of Appu lingam, which is the water lingam. The temple complex contains 5 different enclosures. A massive 25 foot high wall surrounds the temple complex. There are hundreds of stunning sculptures and artworks to admire throughout the complex, many dating back more than well over 1,000 years.
Thillai Nataraja Temple
Thillai Nataraja Temple is a popular pilgrimage site and one of the main attractions in Chidambaram. It is an ancient Hindu temple that is dedicated to Nataraja, which is Shiva as the lord of dance. It is a very colourful temple that is one of five Pancha Bootha Sthalams located around Tamil Nadu. Being dedicated to Nataraja, the temple features many carvings of deities and humans dancing together.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
Built in the 16th century, Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the most beautiful ancient temples in India. It is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati who is worshipped in her Meenakshi form within the temple. Shiva is also present amongst the many gorgeous statues within the temple grounds. There are many Mandapams (temple porches) including Aaiyiram Kaal Mandapam, Ashtashakti Mandapam, and Meenakshi Nayakan Mandapam. They are wonderful spaces with many incredible artworks and sculptures. The beauty of this temple makes it a fantastic addition to any South India temple tour.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Sri Ranganathaswamy is another one of the most famous temples in South India. It is a beautiful Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha — the reclining form of Lord Vishnu. The temple complex is spread over 156 acres and includes multiple temples and monuments. This temple is of the Dravidian architectural style, feature multiple concentric layers with ornate carvings. It is a very impressive example of South Indian temple architecture and is quite beautiful.
Sripuram Golden Temple
The Sripuram Golden Temple is one of the newest temples in Southern India. Located in Vellore, Tamil Nadu and inaugurated in 2007, this huge temple complex covers more than 100 acres. A huge portion of the temple is covered in gold and features intricate artworks from some of the India’s leading artisans. The main temple is surrounded by a star-shaped path to represent the Sri Chakra. As you walk around the path, you can read messages from different spiritual leaders. It is an awe-inspiring temple that is sure to impress!
Annamalaiyar Temple is another must-see location on your South India temple tour. It is a huge Hindu temple located in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu. Dedicated to the deity Shiva, this temple is a part of the Pancha Bhoota Stalas (five temples dedicated to Shiva) and is associated with the element of fire. The temple complex is very large, covering 10 hectares. It includes four impressive gateway towers, many stunning monuments, and a large sixteen-pillared hall of light. The temple tree is considered sacred by devotees and childless couples often tie cradles to branches to increase their chances of having a child.
Virupaksha Temple is located in Hampi, in the state of Karnataka. It is a part of a group of monuments in Hampi that are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. The temple was built in the 7th century by Lakkan Dandesha, a chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is dedicated to the Virupaksha form of Shiva. The temple includes a large pillared hall, a sanctum, an open pillared hall, and three large ante chambers. There are also several smaller shrines near the main temple. It is one of the oldest temples in the region and worth adding to any Indian temple tour.