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Top 10 Famous Hindu Temples of Tamil Nadu

Most of the temples of Tamil Nadu dates back to 800 to 1400 years and still stands to be rock solid.

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Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period
Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period
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NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu is known as the temple city of India and the state is considered as the torchbearers of the magnificent heritage of that region. The Hindu Tamil temples here are a classic example of art form evolved over thousands of years and thus very much glorifies the ancient culture of Tamil Nadu and of India as well.

Tamil Nadu has nearly 33,000 ancient temples scattered on its land and some of them are known to be the biggest temples of the Hindu community. The Hindu Tamil temples located here dates back to 800 to 1400 years and still stands to be rock solid. Although, the historical records describe the scriptures to be 3,000 years old but the wide variety of complex and wealthy architecture of these temple makes it difficult to believe in their ages.

Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period when Pallavas, Cholas, and Nayakas were the rulers of Deccan Plateau of India. Thus, these Hindu Tamil temples help you to get an immense insight of elaborate and brilliant sculptures of those times.

All these things point out towards the rich culture and heritage of Tamil Nadu.

Also Read: SC directs registration of Kerala temples having elephants

For the coming New Year, we have compiled a list of 10 famous temples of Tamil Nadu that will walk you through a great spiritual experience and offer you to learn about the mesmerizing past of the state. The astounding beauty does spellbind every visitor and tourist.

Meenakshi Amman Temple is a masterpiece of the Dravidian architecture. Wikimedia Commons
Meenakshi Amman Temple is a masterpiece of the Dravidian architecture. Wikimedia Commons
  1. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

The ‘Meenakshi Amman Temple’ is devoted to Goddess Parvati in the character of Meenakshi and her partner, Lord Shiva in the character of Lord Sundareshwarar. It is one of the most ancient and famous temples of Tamil Nadu, as the temple was built around 6th century AD and a major portion of it got damaged in the 14th century during the Muslim invasion. The present structure was again restored to its pristine glory by the Nayak rulers. The whole temple is furnished with thousands of figures of gods, goddesses, and demons.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple is a masterpiece of the Dravidian architecture and is no less than an ancient architectural marvel. Thousands of devotees throng this temple every year during ‘Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival’ in the months of April-May.

2. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the largest temples in India and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. This Hindu Tamil temple was built during the reign of the Chola dynasty in 11th century AD and stands 216 ft. tall. The temple is known for one of its structure known as ‘Vimana’ and claimed to be the tallest structure in the world.

The Brihadeeswarar temple comes under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ‘Great Living Chola Temples’. The Temple also professes of being the world’s first temple completely built from granite stone.

According to archaeological records, the exact is not known and dates back to the 10th century under the rule of Chola dynasty. Wikimedia Commons
According to archaeological records, the exact is not known and dates back to the 10th century under the rule of Chola dynasty. Wikimedia Commons

3. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is located on the Srirangam Island of the Tiruchirappalli city in Tamil Nadu. The temple is another gem built by the Dravidian architectures and is counted as the first amongst the 108 holy abodes of Lord Vishnu. It is spread across an area of over 150 acres with some dazzling tower gateways.

According to archaeological records, the exact is not known and dates back to the 10th century under the rule of Chola dynasty. The temple was plundered in the 14th century by Muslim invaders but was again restored by the Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers in the 16th century.

Also Read: Arulmigu Masani Amman Temple: Temple of Justice in Tamil Nadu

4. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram

Ramanathaswamy Temple is located on the serene island of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. This temple is considered as one of the holy ‘Char Dhams’ and included in the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. This Hindu Tamil temple is supposedly built by the Pandya rulers during the 12th century.

Such is the divineness of the temple that it is observed as one of the four primary pilgrimage destinations for Hindus. ‘Vishwalinga’ is located next to Ramalinga, the Shivlinga that is believed to be brought by Hanuman. The most amusing thing is the corridor hall which is acknowledged as the longest in India.

There is a mysterious water stream under the Shivlinga that continuously flows out. Wikimedia Commons
There is a mysterious water stream under the Shivlinga that continuously flows out. Wikimedia Commons

5. Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Jambukeswarar Temple was built during the reign of Chola empire and is located on the Srirangam Island. This temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and represents a Dravidian style of architecture.

The temple holds 5 enclosures inside it and the innermost enclosure is the main sanctum housing the Shivlinga in the form of Appu Lingam. There is a mysterious water stream under the Shivlinga that continuously flows out. According to an ancient ritual, every day the priest of the temple dresses in saree and offers prayer to Lord Jambukeswarar which is a very unusual practice.

6. Kanchi Kailasanthar Temple, Kanchipuram

Kanchi Kailasanthar is believed to have been built under the rule of the Pallava Dynasty and dates back to the late 7th century- early 8th century. This Hindu Tamil temple is the oldest temple in Tamil Nadu and dedicated to Lord Shiva with 16 sided Shivlinga’s made of black granite stone. It is located in Kanchipuram district of Tamilnadu and made entirely of sandstone.

There are various delicately carved sculptures of Lord Shiva and also walls of this temple have pictures of Goddess Parvati. The temple is said to attract a large number of pilgrims, especially during the occasion of Maha Shivratri.

Inside the structure, there is a 1000 pillared hall with carvings of Shivlingas. Wikimedia Commons
Inside the structure, there is a 1000 pillared hall with carvings of Shivlingas. Wikimedia Commons

7. Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram
Ekambareswarar Temple is counted amongst five elements of the universe and is devoted to the element earth. This shrine holds great substance for followers of Lord Shiva. The exact date of its existence is still not known but it is believed to have been in the existence since 600 AD.

Inside the structure, there is a 1000 pillared hall with carvings of Shivlingas. There is also a mango tree present in this Hindu Tamil temple and is believed to be 3000 years old and what makes it special is that it bears four different types of Mangoes in four different seasons in a year.

Also Read: Enigmatic Mount Kailash: The abode of Lord Shiva

8. Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai
Kapaleeshwarar Temple’s structure dates back to 16th century but after the devastation caused by Portuguese, it was built back by Pallava kings during the 7th century. The Hindu Tamil temple is located in Mylapore district of Chennai.

The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and is one of the key pilgrimage sites of Tamil Nadu. It presents a tremendous artwork of the Dravidian architecture. The temple also holds an essence of Goddess Parvati and there is also a small shrine dedicated to her.

Monolithic Rock Temples is known for famous five monolithic rock-cut temples. Wikimedia Commons
Monolithic Rock Temples is known for famous five monolithic rock-cut temples. Wikimedia Commons

9. Monolithic Rock Temples, Mahabalipuram
Mahabalipuram is known for some very famous ancient temples present in that area and thus it is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage site. The site was erected during the reign of Pallava dynasty and dates back to 7th century. The town holds a hallmark of the superb craftsmanship of that era. Monolithic Rock Temples is known for famous five monolithic rock-cut temples. The temple has been dedicated to a Pandavas and relates to the period of Mahabharata.

The other attraction of the Mahabalipuram town is the marvelous ‘Shore Temple’. Unlike Monolithic Rock Temple, this temple is constructed of granite stone. This Hindu Tamil temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu along with the Sheshnag.

The whole place in itself is so serene and peaceful that it also complements the whole spiritual environment.

10. Kumari Amman Temple, Kanyakumari
As the name of the place suggests, Kanyakumari was a virgin Goddess and an avatar of Goddess Shakti. The temple is situated in Kanyakumari of Tamil Nadu and dates back to 3000 years back.

Located on the peninsula of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, the ‘Kumari Amman Temple’ is dedicated to the virgin Goddess Kanya Kumari, an avatar of Goddess Shakti. The sculpture of Goddess is a pleasing young girl, holding a rosary in her right hand.

The surrounding od this place really calls for some tranquility and solace. The sea around the holy structure makes it a perfect place to visit and get lost in the serenity of this place.

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Maa Durga and Cosmic Divinity

Maa Durga is considered an epitome of Shakti (ENERGY) that is GOOD which can triumph over EVIL.

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Maa Durga
Maa Durga encompasses all three incarnations. Pixabay

By Salil Gewali

October is here, and we are all set to welcome Maa Durga for a few days. For many of us, Durga Puja is more of an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. We buy ourselves new clothes, move from pandal to pandal, and forget our exercise and diets for a few heavenly days. But is that all Durga Puja stands for? Are we aware of the philosophies behind this annual celebration? There is not one single philosophy, actually.

The word Durga is derived from the root word ‘Durg’ which means Fort. Just as a fort stands tall and mighty around low lying land and water and jungles, and protects the inmates from all kinds of dangers, we look upon Maa Durga as our “divine protector” from all evil. We feel safe and secure in her divine embrace and feel her all-pervasive energy around us and within us. Divinity has always been looked upon as something far removed from science, mundane logic, and facts. But modern science is only just beginning to realize that the energy of Maa Durga which we refer to as Shakti does have strong underpinings in every aspect of our life, and is actually the governing philosophy behind many of the relational dynamics – visible and invisible.

Maa Durga
Maa Durga and cosmic divinity

Of course, the philosophy behind our worship of Maa Durga is not just an amalgamation of sundry religious rites. A rational scientist would find many similarities in facets of her story and our real life. For example, let us look at her weapons.  Trident or trishul: The three-headed sharp weapon is said to symbolize the three gunashuman being is made of, i.e – tamas, rajas and sattva – this itself a very complex and vast subject to understand. Discus or Sudarshan Chakra is Lord Vishnu’s gift symbolizes the centre of creation. Thunderbolt or vajra: Indra’s gift meaning steadiness of character, determination, and supreme power. Conch is the symbol of the primordial sound of “creation” – AUM. Spear represents auspiciousness which is a gift of fire also symbolizes purity of power. Sword symbolizing intellect and wisdom with the complete sense of responsibility and the understanding to discriminate right from wrong. Bow and arrows are the combination of potential and kinetic powers symbolizes all segments of ENERGY. Axe symbolizes the power of Vishwakarma, and have the power to create as well as destroy. Lotus represents wisdom, “LIBERATION though KNOWLEDGE”. Snake symbolizes consciousness and the masculine energy of Shiva.

When you juxtapose this life-giving form of Maa Durga against the Trishul and sword-wielding warrior form of the Mother Goddess, she comes across as the Destroyer. The target of her weapons of destruction are the evil forces which she wishes to protect her children against. So the philosophy of Maa Durga encompasses all three incarnations in one form – The Destroyer, The Life Giver, and The Creator.

Maa Durga
She embodies the perfect amalgamation of power and mercy which we see in Mothers everywhere.

Yes, it is easy to look upon the fable of Maa Durga as a story we have created for our own consumption. But like the examples we have illustrated above, there are several ways in which the legend of Maa Durga finds reflection in our daily life and helps to underline some of the philosophies she represents. Let us examine a few of these.

According to mythological accounts, Ramba was an asura who pleased the fire God Agni with his devotion and got a boon that a son would be born to him who could not be killed by any God or man or animal. This son was named Mahishasura and he grew up to be a strong and powerful warrior. When he heard of the boon, it made him incredibly haughty and merciless, and he went around defeating all kind of men and demi-Gods and expanding his own kingdom. This cold-blood massacre and destruction soon left Gods worried, and they went into a huddle to plan an effective counter to Mahishasura without tampering with the boon he had been granted.

The solution came from the Gods themselves, who took advantage of the syntax of the boon. The boon had mentioned God, man, and animal, but had no mention of the “woman”. So the Gods put together their powers and created Maa Durga, she who would fight for the forces of good and vanquish the evil. Armed with all the boons and weapons that the Gods could provide, Maa Durga took on the EVIL represented by Mahishasura. After a long and ferocious battle, she finally put an end to the cursed life of Mahishasura.