Tamil Nadu is famed for its temples, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a metropolis like Chennai or in rural South India, you’ll find some of India’s most spectacular temples here.
From towering and colorful gopurams to the rock cut caves in Malamllapuram, Tamil Nadu’s temples will never stop wowing you.
Here’s the top 10 you should check out!
1.Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Chennai
As one of Chennai’s most famous sites, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple dates back to the 7th century. This temple in Chennai’s Mylapore district houses numerous shrines and many halls, but its colorful structures on the 120ft high gopuram (gateway tower) are what make this temple so famous. Often vibrant and crowded, with numerous festivals and events going on in and around the temple, this is one of Chennai’s must see attractions.
Curious fact, even though the original temple dates back to the 7th century, it was destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt in the 16th century.
2.Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
The temple complex in Thanjavur is one of India’s largest temples and is also one of the most prized architectural sites in the whole country. Wearing its UNESCO World Heritage Site badge with pride, the Brihadeeswarar Temple is also known as the Great Living Chola Temple in praise of its beauty and 1000 year heritage.
The entire temple is made out of granite, and adorned with giant sculptures both inside and out.
3.Meenakshi Sundareswarar, Madurai
When your temple makes the shortlist for the “7 New Wonders of the World”, you know you’ve got something good. This historic Hindu temple on the bank of the Vaigai River in Madurai, a city famed for its temples, is dedicated to Parvati and her consort Shiva.
This temple is engraved into Madurai’s history, evening features in Tamil literature, and of course its iconic status brings in 15,000-25,000 visitors per day. There are about 14 gopurams going up to 50 meters in height and 33,000 sculptures in the temple, making it one of India’s must see sites.
4.The Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram
Up on the hill overlooking the Bay of Bengal these rock-cut sanctuaries and temples are one of Tamil Nadu’s most spectacular sites. These carved carves, known as mandapas, have their roots in the Buddist and Jain faiths. Many of these date back to the 7th century and admired for their sculptures, art and friezes, most notably the Mahsisuramardhini Cave Temple, which is considered by many as a masterpiece in Indian art.
5.Nagaraja Temple, Nagercoil
At India’s most southern tip, the temple at Nagercoil has quite a few Keralan traditions, being on Tamil Nadu’s edge, where male devotees have to remove their shirt or vest. This temple is dedicated to the god Nagaraja and is full of images representing snakes. The temple is famous for its vast pond in the middle, which sets this ancient temple apart. There is no record or evidence to point to the origins or age of the temple although it does go back to the region’s legendary times.
6.Kumari Amman Temple, Kanyakumari
Set right on India’s tip bridging the Bay of Bengal with the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. This temple dedicated to the Goddess Kumari is 3000 years old and has even had a starring mention in the Ramayana, Mahabaraha and Purananooru.
7.Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram
This Dravidian temple the oldest structure in Kanchipuram. It was built in dedication to the god Shiva in the late 7th century but the ruler of the Pallava Dynasty out of sandstone. This temple is renowned for its Dravidian carvings depicting half-animal deities.
8.Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval
This temple is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu, and represents the element of water. It is also one of the Early Cholas built around 1800 years ago, and filled with inscriptions dating back to the era.
Inside the temple there are five enclosures, where the outer wall is vast and stretches for over a mile, up 25 feet high and is more than two feet thick.
9.Annamalaiyar Temple, Thiruvannamalai
Dedicated to Shiva, the temple at the base of the Annamalai hills has quite a following. It is one of the temples in South India associated with the five elements, which is fire in this case. It is one of India’s largest complexes, spreading over 10 hectares, with four gopurams, where the highest stretches up toe 66 meters, easily India’s highest temple tower!
10.Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram Island
Set on Rameswaram Island, this 12th century temple boasts the longest corridor among all of India’s Hindu temples. It sees thousands coming to the island in pilgrimage. It’s a stunning temple, with corridors running in total over 3000 feet make this complex a stunning site to visit.