When it comes to sightseeing in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the temples in the state are much of the show stealers. Tamil Nadu is amazingly blessed with rich culture and history charm, which can be seen markedly in its 600 to 800 years old temples and pilgrim centers - around 33000 ancient temples are scattered across the land. As if the temples aren't attractive enough, several of them are positioned in spectacular environs together with an island, perched high on a rock, and in the distant mountains. A number of the popular Hindu Temples reside here. Mostly all wonderful temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and his severe aspect of Bhairava, intimately followed by temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Moreover, there are lots of other temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman and Lord Murugan, besides many Amman temples. The Temples of Tamil Nadu also offers opportunities for social celebrations and educational programmes. Being visited by numerous devotees from every corner of India, the Temples of the place are enshrined with the stunning idols of different Gods and Goddesses. Take a look at the list of must see Temples of Tamil Nadu here.
The temples of the state were generally created by its Pallava, Pandya, Chola, Nayak and Vijaynagar rulers. All of these temples feature a unique approach reflective of its patronage. The Pallava temples are the oldest one and made from stones while the Cholas added lots of ornate mandpams or halls to temples and created huge gopurams - towers. The Pandyas introduced the large towers, high wall enclosures and giant towered gateways; the Vijayanagar Style is well-known for the complexity and beauty mainly for the adorned monolithic pillars; and the Nayaks are famous for their circulatory paths or prakarams.
Some Famous Temples of Tamilnadu
Madurai - Meenakshi Temple
Madurai or the "city of nectar" is home to the most remarkable temple in south India - the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple. It is a historic Hindu temple situated in the southern bank of river Vaigai, in the temple city of Madurai. It is an ancient center of worship and also an art gallery of huge extent. It is dedicated to Parvati who is called Meenakshi and her husband, Shiva, named her as Sundareswarar. As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva with his divine group of followers came here in this city of Madurai, in order to marry the daughter of the Pandya ruler, Meenakshi, who is supposed to be a form of Hindu goddess Parvati. This glorious temple complex sprawls over an area of 6 hectares and has 12 superb gopurams or towers in the temple that are highly sculptured and painted. The golden lotus pond (Potraamarai Kulam) is placed to the left of the Meenakshi shrine. There are almost 33,000 sculptures in the temple and it was included in the list of top 30 nominees of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". The annual 10 day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival is celebrated in the month of April-May and it attracts 1 million visitors.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple - Rameshwaram
Ramanathaswamy Temple is a popular Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva, and situated on the island town of Rameshwaram which attracts thousands of devotees every year. Rameshwaram (Chennai to Rameshwaram 572 km) is located in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. The main area of Rameshwaram is occupied by the Ramanatha Swamy Temple; while the spiritual island is spread in an area of 61.8 square kilometers and appears to be in the shape of a conch. The temple is one of the 12 Jyothirlingas of India, at which Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga - it means "pillar of light". The temple consists of 22 wells where the taste of the water of each well is diverse from one another and also the water of the wells is thought to hold medicinal properties.
The special feature of Ramanathswamy temple is that it posses longest temple corridor ever built in India. In addition, there are numerous pillars with detailed carvings. It has some fascinating mythological associations with Ramayana. As per legends, this is the place from where Lord Rama, construct a bridge Ram Setu (also called Adam's Bridge) across the sea to Lanka to save his wife Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. People consider that here Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva so as to expel his sins of killing the demon king Ravana who was a Brahmin. As well, it is strongly assumed that a visit to this ancient temple will ease you of your dreadful sins and direct you to salvation.
Brihadeswara Temple - Thanjavur (Tanjore)
The Brihadeswara temple, also called The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram is a Hindu temple exclusively dedicated to Nandi - the mount of Lord Shiva and an art of the work attained by Cholas in Tamil architecture. The Brihadeswara temple, located in the city of Thanjavur in the Indian province of Tamilnadu, is the most famous and an outstanding example of the Dravidian style temple architecture. It is a 10th century shrine as well as leading tourist attraction in the state. The Brihadeswara temple was build in the 11th century to celebrate a military victory by the great Tamil ruler - Rajaraja Chola I of the Chola dynasty. Later different additions were done in the temple; however the most important one among these was the inclusion of a copper pot above the tower by King Rajaraja Chola II. The complex that houses the major sanctum is called 'Periya Kovil'. It is positioned amidst the fortified walls that were perhaps added to the building in the 16th century. The 'Vimana' of the temple is around 70 meters and among the tallest of its types in the world, while the 'Shikharam' (crown) is very big itself & heavy (81.25 tons) and has been carved out of a particular stone.
Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
The Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram is the wonderful Temple & Shrine that adorn the landscape and the sky of Tamil Nadu. It is a good example of rich Pallava art as well as architecture. This historic holy site is situated in the heart of the city and dedicated to Lord Shiva where devotees come to worship him in his aspect of Nataraja or the form of the celestial Dancer. One could see Lord Shiva in the Ananda Tandavam dancing pose - the pose is taken from his triumph upon Goddess Kali whom he defeated in the competition at the Tillai forest judged by Lord Vishnu himself. A fascinating part of this ancient sanctum is that you can view the deities of both Shaivite and Vaishnavite enshrined together in the temple. The festival of Natyanjali is celebrated here every year with great enjoyment and enthusiasm and lasts for 5 days.
The Kapaleeshwarar temple is one of the most gorgeous and good example of the rich architectural heritage of the olden period. The temple is situated in Mylapore, Chennai and has statues of all the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu Religion. Built in the 7th century CE, this temple remains a shrine to the greatness and unwavering devotion of the Pallava kings. The type of Shiva's wife Parvati worshipped here is known as Karpagambal - "Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree," from Tamil. As per the Puranas, Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, so the dialect name Mylai was provided to the region that developed across the temple - mylai means "peacock" in Tamil. Furthermore, the 37m finely carved ‘Gopuram’ of gods, goddesses and saints represent significant "Puranic" legends.
The Parthasarathy Temple located at Triplicane, Chennai is Vishnu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Sarathy (charioteer) of Partha (Arjuna). Spread over an area of 1.5 acre, the temple was built in the 8th century by the Pallavas and rebuilt in the 11th century by the Vijayanagar kings. The temple is well-known for its inscriptions, which emphasize the roles of Chola King, Pandya King and rulers of Vijaynagar Dynasty. For a short time period, the temple was under the management of East India Company. After passing under the bright gopuram (temple gateway), you'll go through the courtyard, which has many carved shrines. The temple has 4 of the incarnations or avatars of Vishnu - Narasimha, Rama, Varaha and Krishna. Several fine carvings beautify the temple. The current structure of the temple is mainly based on the renovations and add-ons carried out in the 16th century.
Kumari Amman Temple, KanyaKumari
Kumari Amman Temple is 3000 years old temple and overlooks the shores from KanyaKumari. The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Kanyakumari - Kanya (Virgin) and Kumari (Girl), an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi. The first Durga temple built by Lord Parasurama is Kumari Amman Temple and it is located at the coast of the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The temple has been also stated in Ramayana, Mahabharata and Purananooru. As per the legends, the goddess Parvati did penance here to get lord Shiva as her husband. When she was not victorious in her penance, she vowed to stay virgin. Hence, the temple is dedicated to Parvati in the form of Devi Kanya (the virgin goddess). The idol of the goddess Parvati has a shining diamond nose ring and it is observable also from the sea. According to the temple story, this nose ring was acquired from king cobra.
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