Temples of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu, known as Land of Temples consists of 33,000 ancient temples, many at least 800 to 1,200 years old. Studded with complex architecture, variety of sculptures, and rich inscriptions, the temples remain the very essence of the culture and heritage of Tamil land, with historical records dating back to at least 3,000 years. The Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagar rulers and the Nayakas have made immense contributions to temple art in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu boasts some of the grandest Hindu temples of Dravidian architecture. These temples are of a distinct style renowned for their towering Gopurams.
Arunachaleswara Temple which is located in Tiruvannamalai is dedicated to Lord Siva and it is one of the largest temples in India. Arunachaleswara temple is one among the ‘Panch Boodha Sthalams’. It has also the significance as ‘Padal Petra Sthalam’. Four famous ‘Saiva saints and poets’ such as Appar, Sundarar, Manichkavasakar and Thirugnana Sambandar have written several poems on Lord Arunachaleswara.
Brihadeeswara Temple Thanjavur city of Tamil Nadu became a centre of learning during 10th to 14th century AD. The famous Chola King Rajaraja constructed the Brihadeeswara Temple in 10th century AD. The temple, dedicated to Nandi, the Bull is a masterpiece of the captivating Chola architecture. The mount of Lord Shiva i.e. Nandi has been made from a single granite rock.
Chidambaram Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva situated in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram. Chidambaram is one among the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (ether). The other four temples in this category are the Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara,Trichy (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire),Thiruvannamalai and Kalahasti Nathar (wind), Kalahasti. Chidambaram temple is mainly associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose .
Ekambaranathar Temple is situated in the holy town of Kanchipuram, one of the Panch Bootha Sthalangal of God Shiva. Well known as the ‘City of Temples’, Kanchipuram which is one of the seven great holy centres of ancient India. It was a royal capital once, a flourishing Buddhist and Jain centre mentioned in the Tamil epic Manimekalai. During the Chola period it was a seat of art, religion, education and trade. The Chola kings built several temples in and around Kanchipuram, also known as Kanchi.
Kailasanathar Shiva Temple is located in the temple town of Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, it was built great by the Pallavas in the early 8th century CE. It is famous for its splendid vimana. It also contains numerous panels showing Lord Shiva as Nataraja in various postures. This temple was built by Pallava King Narasimhavarman II (Rajasimhan).
Kanchipuram Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi. Goddess Kamakshi here is workshipped in the form of a chakra, placed in front of the idol. There is also an image of Sankaracharya, whose statue is also worshipped. It is in this particular temple Sankaracharya defeated the Buddhist philosophers who had a debate about the Goddess. Shakti in India is worshipped in three places – Madurai, Varanasi and Kanchipuram.
Sri Kumara Kottam Temple is located in Kanchipuram which is one of India’s seven “Moksha-puris” or sacred cities where salvation may be obtained. Sri Kumara Kottam Temple was built in its present form around the year 1915. The shrine of Sri Subramanya Swami in Kanchipuram has a significant place in Hindu mythology. For Hindus on a pilgrimage trip in life, this temple is a mandatory place to visit. ‘‘Soma Skandha’’ posture which indicates Lord Shiva seated with the Goddess Shakti to his left, with his son, Lord Subramanya seated between them. In Kanchipuram, the shrine of Lord Shiva (Sri Ekambaranathar) is located with the shrine of Shakthi (Kamakshi Amman) to its left.
Mahabalipuram Temples consist of several temples of enormous size, which were built by cutting huge boulders into exquisite carves and set against the background of unfathomable sky and vast sea. This was a concept of great Pallava Monarch Rajasimha, which was built during the period 830-1100 AD in the Pallava dynasty. Few of the great monuments of world stand here near the seashore. The freestanding monolithic temples are called ‘Rathas‘. The cave temples are lavishly sculptured with the narration of the story of Arjuna obtaining the ‘Pasupata‘. The temples with two towers, familiarly known as shore temples, also enhance the charm of this place.
Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is being one of the greatest temples of Meenakshi in India. It is well known for the sprawling landscape filled with sculptured halls, pillars and lofty towers which have lavish artwork in all forms. Madurai is even the site of the 64 Tiruvilayadalgal of Shiva and one of the 5 Pancha Sabhais of Nataraja. It has Rajata (Velli) Sabhai where Lord Shiva dances with a raised right foot. It is believed that the Goddess Sakthi rules the world as Meenakshi in Madurai, as Kamakshi in Kanchi and as Visalakshi in Kasi.
Perur Patteeswara Swamy Temple is situated on the banks of the holy river Noyyal. Located 6 km towards the west of Coimbatore, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The belief about the temple is that the mortal remains of the dead turn into white stones after about 144 days. The famous temple of Perur Patteeswara Swamy was built by the King Karikala Cholan. The presiding deity here is Lord Shiva and the ‘Swayambu Lingam’ is the idol worshipped here.
Sree Bhadrakali Temple which is located at Kollemcode Village belongs to Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu. This village is beside the border area of Kerala. This is the famous Temple in South India known as Sree Bhadrakali Devasom at Kollemkode and is an important temple that endows the followers with blessings of the Lord Bhadrakali who is believed to be the most efficient Lord in endowing blessings to the followers. It is a religious temple for the Hindus and is widely worshipped all over the country.
Sripuram Golden Temple was built in a short span of 7 years. It was inaugurated on August 24, 2007. The entire temple was designed by Amma, as conceived through the divine vision. Sri Narayani Peetam headed by a 31-year-old God man who calls himself Narayani Amma. Devotees hail the temple as ‘one of the wonders of the world’ and say that it is the only temple covered fully with gold. The salient feature of Sripuram Golden temple is the Lakshmi Narayani temple or Mahalakshmi temple whose ‘Vimanam’ and ‘Ardha Mandapam’ have been coated with pure gold both in the interior and exterior of temple.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple is known for its architectural work of genius. It is a located at Thanjavur (Tanjore). In the early 11th century, the temple got built by Rajendra Chola, who was the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola. This famous voluptuous temple stands next to the famous Brihadisvara temple at Tanjore. Gangaikonda Cholapuram has been regarded as the reproduction of Brihadisvara Temple. The temple is renowned for having the biggest Shivalingam in the Southern part of India.
Varadaraja Perumal Temple is recognised as Hastigiri and it was originally known as Attiyuran. Attiyuuran is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in the holy city of Kanchipuram. It is one of the “Divya Desams” temple, the 108 temples of Lord Vishnu believed to have been visited by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars.
Thanjavur Temple is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of around 314 km, south-west of Chennai and 56 km, east of Tiruchirappalli. The name of place Thanjavur is known to have been derived from the word “Tanjan”, an asura in Hindu myth, who is believed to have been killed at this spot by Lord Vishnu.Also the name is believed to have been derived from Than-sei-oor, it means the place is surrounded by rivers and green paddy fields. The name also may have came from the word asylum (Thanjam) as the Chola king Karikalan had to shift the capital as sea inundated their capital city of Poompuhar.
(With inputs from Tamil Nadu Tourism)