Southern India, the abode of nearly more than 30,000 ancient and beautifully architectured temples, has been a fascination for a large number of devotees and tourists since years. The old magnificent temples here proudly represent the rich South Indian culture and heritage. The southern states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerela are famous all over the world for their massive temple complexes. The unique and minutely carved temples have been holding great historic as well as spiritual significance since the time immemorial. These glorious iconic temples are one of the major centres of worship for the hindu followers. Here is a list of top ten marvellously designed South Indian temples.
1. Konark Sun temple
One of the most worthy example of immensely fine craftsmanship, the Konark Sun temple in Orissa, was putatively built by Narsimhadeva of Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple has been designed in the shape of a very huge chariot of the Sun God with intricately carved 12 pairs of wheels and 7 pairs of horses. Innumerable multifarious images of snakes, elephants, giraffes and efficiently carved figures of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti, all over the walls of the temple are worth watching. The most spectacular attractive idols of women, engraved on the walls are world-known. The temple is visited by people of all religious groups and belonging to all walks of life as the Sun God bestows his blessings on all.
2. Jagannath temple
The celebrated Jagannath Puri temple is one of the Hindu temples situated on Reddy Kuppam Road, Kannathur, Chennai. The main deities of the temple are Lord Jagannath, Devi Subadra and Lord Balabadra and their idols are made up of neem-wood. The temple is far-famed for its grand religious festival kown as ‘Rath yatra’ and the varied paintings, portraying incarnations of Lord Vishnu on the walls as well as ceiling. The vast landscape and colourful flowers around the temple compound enhance the holiness of the temple.
3. Tirupati Balaji temple
The Tirupati Balaji temple of Andhra Pradesh is known to be the richest shrine of the world. Devotees from all the parts of the world come here to worship Sri Venkateswara (Lord Vishnu) and seek blessings, as it is a faith that the one, who worships Sri Venkateswara, attains Salvation (Moksha) in the ‘kaliyuga’. The main gate, ‘Padi Kavali Maha Dwara’ is very massive and consists of images of Hanuman, Kevale Narasimha and Lakshmi Narasimha. The wonderful architecture and sculpt of the temple is greatly amazing. It is said that all the rulers who ruled the Andhra Pradesh have vastly contributed to the wealth of the temple. The beautifully constructed idol of lord Venketeswara, the dome over the main shrine and enclosures built in the Dravidian architecture is attracting thousands of pilgrims every day.
4. Ekambareswarar temple
The 500 years old temple in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu. It is one among the most popular temples of Lord ‘Shiva’, which was built by Paranthaka chola. The most notable sculpture of the temple is that of Kubera, the lord of wealth seated on his fish vehicle. A large number of people visit the temple to worship Kubera for wealth and prosperity. The temple’s chief source of attraction is the 10 pillars in the inner passageway, which when struck with the dry sandal stick, produce 10 different musical sounds. The temple is famous as an abode for seeking health, wealth, prosperity in trade and child boon.
5. Veerbhadra temple
According to a mythological religious narrative, Veerbhadra is considered as a creation of Lord ‘Shiva’. It is believed that this creation was a result of Shiva’s immense grief and anger due to Sati Devi’s self-immolation. Veerbhadra is envisioned as a tall, dark figure with three eyes. He wears a garland of skulls and is extremely powerful. The temple was built in vijayanagara style of architecture during the 16th century, in Lepakshi, in Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh. The temple walls and ceilings have been artistically painted with images of dancers and musicians.These mesmerising images and the huge ‘Nandi’ established in the temple are of great historical and religious significance.
6. Chennakesava temple
Chennakesava temple, originally known as Vijayanarayana temple is built on the banks of the Yagachi river in Bellur, Karnataka. The temple was constructed by the king ‘Vishnuvardhana’ and there are several tales regarding its construction. The main entrance and the superstructure over it is an example of outstanding craftsmanship of that time. The finely structured pillars, especially the Narsimha pillar, are the major centres of attraction. This temple of Lord Vishnu comprises of images of ‘the dancing Kali’, ‘seated Ganesha’ ‘Ravana, shaking Mount Kailasha’ and ‘Durga, slaying the demon Mahishasura’. The temple has been conferred as a Heritage site by UNESCO.
7. Kapeeleswarar temple
The Kapeeleswarar temple, built by the ‘pallavas’ in the 7th century, is located in Mylapore in the state of Tamil Nadu. The main deity of the temple, Lord ‘Shiva’ is worshiped as ‘Kapeeleswar’. The temple has two entrances on either sides. The beautifully engraved statues of the Gods and Goddesses are placed on various vehicles such as peacock, elephant, goat and parrot. Moreover, the Golden chariot, adds to the beauty of the temple. The serenity of the temple complex due to the sacred worship and rituals performed by the priest attracts devotees from all over the world.
8. Kanchi Kailasanathar temple
The first structural temple, built by Narasimhavarman (Rajasimha) in 81st century A.D and later completed by his son, stands on the banks of Vedavathi river at western boundaries of the Kanchipuram. The temple is dedicated to Lord ‘Shiva’ and is well known for its ‘Pallava’ architecture. There are 58 small shrines in the compound that are devoted to various forms of ‘Shiva’. The large number of carvings of half-animal deities, the 16 sided Shivalinga in black granite stone, the well- sculptured images of incarnations of ‘Shiva’ and ‘Vishnu’and the tall Gopurams embellish the temple. The visit to the temple on the night of ‘Shivrathri’ is considered an auspicious one.
9. Sri Annapoorneshwari temple
Amid the thick, green forests and valleys of Western Ghats of Karnataka, at Hornadu, is located the famous temple of Goddess Annapoorneshwari. The gold-made charming idol of the deity is depicted with four hands, holding Shanka, Chakra, Shri Chakra and Gayathri mantra, one in each hand. It is a belief that those who have the divine glimpse of the goddess will never go hungry in their life. The peculiar thing about this temple is that all the visitors are catered with meals and a place to sleep inside the temple premises. The core attributes of the temple that have been attracting thousands of devotees since a long time are the temple’s main dining hall (Annapoorna), the Mantapam and the ghats surrounding the complex.
10. Meenakshi Amman temple
Meenakshi Amman temple, also known as Meenakshi Sundareswara temple is one of the most splendid masterpieces of the Dravidian architecture. The temple is situated in the southern bank of river Vaigai in the city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The 52m high, historic hindu temple is square shaped and occupies an area of around 45 acres. The temple is devoted to Meenakshi, avtar of the hindu Goddess Parvati and is believed to be founded by Indra (king of Devas). It has been gracefully constructed with four entrances, in four different directions and is surrounded by ten huge gopurams, which are decked with stone figures of animals, Gods and demons.