South India is a blessed abode where there are as many Gods as people.
A region where there is a bounty of emerald green carpets, sun-baked earth, and calm backwaters. Still, what always steals the spotlight is the religiosity that is in the roots.
Where there is a symphony of hymns in the air and half-naked priest bathing the divinities, that’s where the South Indian Mandirs reside. It is the spiritual heaven that brims with revered temples. So much so, that after every few kilometers you will spot a beautiful temple glancing over mankind.
Be that as it may, there is no other place on this planet where Hindu temples tear the sky so marvelously giving competition to modern-day skyscrapers. They are the beauty, grace and driving force of Southern India. So, let’s learn about these paragons of faith that have single-handedly ruled the tourism of down South.
THE LOST TEMPLES IN SOUTH INDIA- Brihadeeswarar Temple- Tanjore, Tamil Nadu
Are you a history buff? Also, would you like to sail the ocean of spirituality on your voyage through time? Yes? In that case, witness the architectural marvel of the Chola Dynasty- Brihadeeswarar Temple. Famous in history as a mystic yet mysterious destination of India, Brihadeeswarar Temple today is a renowned World Heritage Site.
It is one of those ancient temples in South India that has been carved to perfection. And we second that! Still, it is hard to believe that this humongous structure was built a thousand years ago, from a single granite rock with just primitive tools.
Fun fact: Do you know that granites aren’t found within the 60 km radius of this temple? Also, one of the temple towers (Gopuram) alone weighs like 80 tones. It was a miracle back then as it is now and even thinking about how they built this temple, gives us chills.
According to popular belief, this temple was 10,000 times taller than any other structure at the time it was built. Furthermore, it does have the personality of its builder Raja Raja I stamped all over it. And as the size of the Shiva lingam in South India stood for the power and prosperity of the King at that time, this temple houses the strongest and probably the largest Shiva Lingam of history (approximately 12 feet tall and 5 feet wide).
Wait, there is more!
The temple also has hallways decked up in paintings illustrating Lord Shiva’s life. And, we strongly recommend visiting this place called Arjuna’s penance here that narrates the stories of the entire universe.
Besides all these amazing facts, the real enigma here revolves around one quiet hallway. It is here that you can meet the creator of this marvel along with his guru. But that’s only when you take this Southern India trip. So, book your tickets now!
*After reading all this you must be thinking, why mention it under lost temples category? Well, that’s because it was abandoned after the Muslim invasion, and rest is history!*
Timings: 5:30 AM – 12 PM and 4 PM – 8 PM
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi is the heartland of Southern India, a ghost city that is frozen in time. But do you know what changes the ambiance of this place? The hymns and chants at the very famous Virupaksha Temple.
Virupaksha Temple is mesmerizing. But for a shrine this sacred, its entourage is very offbeat. Why? Well, that’s because everything around it is in ruins. Although it is quite amazing to be able to experience such a unique landscape in India, it does add a daunting element to it when you think about the times it has been through.
It was commissioned during the era of very prosperous Vijayanagara Empire under the rule of Krishna Dev Raya. Initially, it started off as a small shrine but later it turned into a whole complex. And, my oh my, we are glad it did! As for now, it is decked in intricately carved granite murals and sculptures of deities that can make anyone go gaga.
Holistically, there is no doubt that Virupaksha is one of the best temples in South India. And, its relation to mathematics and its triangular construction adds more value to our assertion. Does intricate architecture drive you? Then, you have for yourself a holy spot for worshipping, a pillared hall, antechambers, and a few shrines surrounding the main edifice here.
Fun fact: Do you know that it is the oldest functioning temple in India? Also, it has ancient inscriptions of 9th and 10th centuries too.
The murals on the outside of this temple narrate a different tale. They tell us about the lifestyle of the rich and famous in the yesteryears. Want to unveil this mystery? Take a trip to Karnataka now!
Timings: 9 AM – 1 PM and 5 PM – 9 PM
MOST POPULAR TEMPLES IN SOUTH INDIA- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple- Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu
People come to Trichy because of two reasons: one to enjoy the perks of becoming a hillbilly in warm summer days and second to visit the biggest temple in South India- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple.
With an unbroken line of spiritual and cultural continuity, Sri Ranganathaswamy temple is an important pilgrimage out of the five sacred sites of Sri Vaishnavism. This temple particularly preaches to Lord Ranganath one of the many forms of Lord Vishnu. And, together the five sacred spots along the river Kaveri are the Panchranga Kshetram (Five Ranganath Sites).
Amid narrow chaotic streets, this Vishnu temple in South India stands tall like a mammoth painting. But unlike skyscrapers, the sky-tearing gate towers of this temple (one of the tallest temple structures in Asia) drenches in vibrant colours and murals.
This temple complex is one of the largest in India. It is so vast that it can easily accommodate many famous structures inside its walled boundaries. So, if you don’t have an hour or two to traverse, then this temple is clearly not for you.
There are many notable and jarring places to visit inside the temple complex that will leave you stunned. Other than that, this temple is also home to 48 other Hindu deities. Once you are done admiring their aura, we suggest you try the temple food Puliyogare and Curd Rice to complete your temple tour. Believe us, it is even more scrumptious than the temple architecture.
Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 AM and 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Meenakshi Amman Temple- Madurai, Tamil Nadu
If you are looking for famous devi temples in South India, then your search ends here!
Meenakshi Amman Temple is the paragon of beauty. The spectacle of its sight is such that it was in the running for Wonders of the World title. Its aura, its murals and its back stories are all top notches, making it one of the top tourist destinations in India.
14 sky-rising gopurams guard this magnificent shrine. Moreover, its massive corridors, 170 feet high towers and stories that portray the power of devotion redefine bliss.
The foundation of Meenakshi Amman Temple was laid back in the 1st century.
A thousand pillars, colorful towers, and humongous corridors give this place the grace it deserves. So, pay homage to this eternal power and witness the magic of life getting back in action.
This first-century edifice has many legends rolled up in its sleeves too. So, make sure you have a fair share of it when you pay it a visit on your South India trip.
Timings: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple- Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
Perched on the seventh hill of the divine ‘Seven Hills’, Tirupati Balaji Temple is the wealthiest and holiest temple of all times.
Often regarded as the king of South Indian temples, this shrine welcomes a whopping 50,000 devotees per day. And, this temple also earns some pretty big bucks. How? Well, with the help of an age-old ritual that involves shaving hair as a sacrifice to the deity. Yes, you read that right!
Here in Tirupati sacrificing your hair as a tribute to the creator is fruitful. In Hinduism, it is a selfless deed that destroys false pride and imbibes humility among devotees.
Fun fact: The temple has two enormous halls with barbers continuously taking out hair. Are you wondering, where does the hair go? The donated hair is sold in the western market. It earns the temple more than 6.5 million USD every year.
Every year pilgrims flock here in millions of numbers to pay homage to Lord Venkateswara. As per beliefs, Lord Vishnu (the preserver) incarnated as Sri Venkateshwara here to save mankind from the scrutinies of Kali Yuga.
You are wrong if you are thinking that the grandeur of this temple is recent. In fact, the temple’s history dates back to the 12th century. The locals say that the life-like statue of the main deity came out of thin air, making it a part of the eight self-manifested images of Gods in India.
Tirupati Balaji temple South India looks like a pearl sitting gracefully amid the lush green hills of Tirumala. Furthermore, it puts forward the best of architecture from the Pallava dynasty. Fancy it’s hues on your travel journal? How about taking a trip to Tamil Nadu?
Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:00 AM and 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM
THE MYSTERIOUS TEMPLES IN SOUTH INDIA- Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Your South India temple tour can never be complete if you didn’t get a chance to visit the very famous Shore Temple. That’s why this 7th-century has such a fancy spot on our list.
This UNESCO world heritage site is the flag bearer for Dravidian style architecture in Southern India. Unfortunately, it was lost in the pages of history. But it did regain its fallen glory after the 2004 Tsunami hit the India coast, exposing the assets of this temple to the world.
The temple was famous as a nautical device for approaching ships. But the temple’s beauty was unparalleled. It was so beautiful that the King of Lord submerges it in the water out of jealousy.
The mystery that follows is that of its missing Pagodas and weird devices in the shrine complex. So, if you’d like to unveil it, then plan your trip to Mahabalipuram now!
Timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Veerabhadra temple or Lepakshi Temple, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh
Veerabhadra temple is an asset on the ravages of time. Although the history of this temple dates back to 1583, it’s mentions are in holy epic Ramayana too.
On stepping into the temple a carved bull popular as Nandi in Hindu mythology welcomes you. Furthermore, on further exploration, one finds numerous others carvings of Hindu deity here. Yet what remains the most noteworthy for history buffs around the globe are mural paintings of the Vijayanagar Kings.
Fun fact: Do you that this temple has the most unique Shiva Lingam in the courtyard? There is no other ancient Lingam like this across India.
Shining on our mysterious temples of South India list, this temple has a lot rolled up its sleeve. Are you wondering about the mystery of this temple that gets it a spot on our list? Then, let us tell you that this temple has a ‘Hanging Pillar’ that doesn’t touch the ground.
It is believed that during the British era, a British engineer tried to move it to uncover the secret. However, upon moving the pillar, the whole temple started shaking. Although it was petrifying for the engineer, for devotees, it’s a miracle of God and they treat it accordingly. Want to know how? Then, see it yourself. Add it to your bucket list now!
Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 AM and 4:00 AM to 8:30 PM
Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
If you are up for a soul searching experience amid the enigma of a golden temple in south India, then this is your chance.
Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple is the lesser popular counterpart of the 108 Divya Desams in India dedicated to the preserver-Lord Vishnu.
Tracing its roots to the late 8th and early 9th century, this complex is widely popular for its two rock-cut temples. One of which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and another paying homage to Lord Vishnu.
But that is only a dash of information on this temple. The real reason why this temple is famous is because of the seven secret vaults in its foundation. Jarring, right? Out of these seven, six were open on the Supreme Court’s request and guess what they found. A hidden treasure worth over 22 billion dollars!
But where is the mystery? Well, the mystery lies behind the seventh vault. People say that this vault has a steel door with no latches or bolts on it. There are only carvings depicting 2 cobras on that door. Rumor has it, that this vault can only be opened by a secret chant. Furthermore, opening it by force can be catastrophically dangerous. That gave us chills, what about you?
Timings: Morning- one hour slots starting from 3:30 till 12 noon.
Evening -5: 00 AM to 7:20 PM
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