The Virupaksha temple (or Prasanna Virupaksha temple) is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river at Hampi, Karnataka. Built during the 7th century, the beautiful architecture and history of the temple has made it a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple is abode to one of the forms of Lord Shiva called Lord Virupaksha. While it is located at present day Hampi, it was once a smaller shrine in the middle of the ancient and majestic Vijayanagara empire. You will find beautiful stone inscriptions dating back to the 7th century on the walls of the temple as proof of its rich heritage. Architecture-lovers and history-buffs, do visit the temple when you are in Hampi!
The historic Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River, Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Built sometime between the year 1623 and 1655, the wonderful architecture of the place is renowned globally. Meenakshi Temple is primarily dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her spouse, Shiva. What makes this temple different from the others is the fact that both God and Goddess are worshipped together.
Hoysaleswara or Halebid Temple is a 12 century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the west of the Dwarasamudra lake in a small town of Halebid in Karnataka, this magnificent temple is one of the three most landmark monument of Hoysala empire and is also the most significant monument dedicated to Lord Shiva in south India. The designing and decoration of the temple are done by the famous Shilpkar Kedoraja.
Built during the 7th century, Shore Temple is one of the oldest South Indian temples constructed in the Dravidian style and depicts the royal taste of the Pallava dynasty. The work of the temple has been listed amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. It is located in Mahabalipuram and is one of the most photographed monuments in India situated on the shores of Bay of Bengal. The Shore Temple's name originated as a result of its overlooking the shore of Bay of Bengal. It is built with blocks of granite which can be dated back to the 8th century AD.
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Yaganti, in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh in India, is a popular tourist site that is famous for its temple of Sri Yagantiswamy, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the perfect way to get a feel of the Andhra Pradesh tourism. Also known as Uma Maheshwara Temple, the ancient Sri Yagantiswamy temple dates back to the 5th and 6th centuries. The temple houses the idol of Shiva and Parvathi fused together, called Ardhanareeswara. This fascinating idol is carved out of a single stone and is a marvellous idol of the deities to behold. The festival of Maha Shiv Ratri which falls around October or November each year is celebrated with great pomp and show at the temple.
The Chamundeshwari Temple is a traditional Hindu temple located on the eastern edge of Mysore at the height of 1000ft on the Chamundi hills. Dedicated to and named after goddess Durga, the temple also has statues of Nandi and Mahishasura, the demon. Being one of the oldest temples in the palace city of Mysore, the temple is a must-visit attraction for the travellers. The Chamundeshwari Temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha and is one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas.
Annapoorneshwari Temple, a mesmerising temple devoted to Goddess Annapoorna, is located at Horanadu which is at a distance of about 100 kilometres from Chikmagalur in the South Indian state of Karnataka. The temple is surrounded by dense forests and valleys of the Western Ghats and lies on the banks of the scenic River Bhadra. The location is an absolute treat for nature lovers. The grand, colourful entrance of the temple is breathtaking. As you walk up the stairs, you are sure to feel the spiritual atmosphere. As you proceed further, try to make that atmosphere a part of you and your prayers. Annapoorneshwari, the goddess of Anna, meaning grain or food, is worshipped in temples at very few locations in India. This temple hence becomes very important for religious believers.
A perfect blend of mind-boggling architecture and spiritual significance, Rameshwaram Temple, also known as Ramanathaswamy Temple of Tamil Nadu is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It also boasts of being one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples of India. Not just spiritually, Rameshwaram Temple is appealing architecturally also. With the longest corridor of the world and immaculate carvings on pillars, it is definitely a treat for your eyes.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple stands tall in the Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala in its decadent gold-plated glory. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams, the principal centres of worship in the dharma of Vaishnavism. Divya Desams are the holy abodes of the great Lord Vishnu, and the temple worships Lord Padmanabha- a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. This divine temple is one of the very few temples in India where the entrance is only granted to people that practice the Hindu faith.
The Sabarimala Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is one of the most renowned and prominent temples of all the Sastha temples. This temple is significant not only for its religious elements but also because of the cultural, societal and cultural elements attached to it. This is perhaps why this is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world; which attracts over 100 million devotees each year. The temple is unique in the sense that it follows a liberal approach, allowing entry to devotees of all castes and religions.
The Kukke Subrahmanya Temple is a famous Hindu temple that is located in Karnataka, India. Lord Kartikeya, who is the lord of all serpents, is worshipped here as Lord Subrahmanya; and the temple provides tranquillity and peace like no other. It is located in the heart of the village of Subrahmanya, in the Sullia Taluk of Dakshina Kannada, and is surrounded by the beauty and glories of nature on all sides. The mountain Kumara Parvatha overlooks the temple adding seven stars to its charm. If seen geographically, Shesha Parvatha, a mountain shaped like a six-headed cobra, adjacent to Kumara Parvatha seems to protect the temple.
Considered to be one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in South India, the Krishna Temple or the Udupi Sri Krishna Matha is quite a huge name associated with the worship of Lord Krishna. The fascinating idol of the Lord is adorned with jewels and a golden chariot. What makes the temple unique, is its worshipping pattern. The prayers and process of the whole worship take place only through a silver-plated window with nine holes called the Navagraha Kitiki. Several temples known as Udupi Anantheshwara Temple surround the Shree Krishna Matha. These temples trace back to 1,000 years. The Krishna Temple is always seen to be crowded with Krishna Bhakts.
The Lepakshi temple, also known as Veerbhadra temple is located in the tiny hamlet of Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. It is a paragon of excellent architecture and art. It is famous for its architecture characterised by hanging pillars and cave chambers that can astound you! Once the essence of Vijayanagara Empire, Lepakshi is culturally and archaeologically significant as it acts as the prime location of the shrine dedicated to Veerabhadra. The Lepakshi Temple is an exhibition of timeless art, with famous frescoes and murals.
Located in the Guruvayoor town, Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple is one of the most sacred pilgrim hubs in Kerala. It is one of the most revered temples in South India where the presiding deity Lord Vishnu is worshipped in Balkrishna Avtar. Lord idol is adorned with four hands each carrying a conch, a mace, a discus and a lotus and is also known by the name of Unnikrishnan. Garlanded with the Tulasi or Basil Garland and pearl necklace, the lord appears in full radiance blessing the devotees.
The biggest attraction of Thanjavur - The Brahadeshwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple. Built during the reign of the Great Chola emperor, Raja Raja Chola, this temple is an architectural marvel. Protected by deep trenches on either sides and the Grand Anaicut River running through another, this temple is a favorite among the pilgrims. The shrine itself is a 216 feet structure. The sanctum is dotted with paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The statue of Nandi the Bull welcomes at the entrance.
Situated in the city of Vishakhapatnam, the Simhachalam temple is an ornate shrine which is revered to be one of the most important temples in the region. The edifice is perched atop a hill 800 metres above the sea level and is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, who is an incarnation of Vishnu himself. Simhachalam Temple is embellished with extremely detailed stone carvings and design and can be spotted from a distance. This is the only temple in the country where Shri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swami- who is a combination of the third and fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu- appears. Lord Narasimha appears here in the tribhanga posture and has two hands with the head of a lion on a human torso.
Situated in Suchindram, Thanumalay temple is also known as Sthanumalayan Kovil is the sacred shrine dedicated to Trimuthis (Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva). The beautiful temple was renovated in the 17th century, and its inscriptions date back to the 9th century. This beautiful temple represents great architectural magnificence. One of the major highlights of this temple is the four musical pillars carved out of a single stone placed in the alankara mandapam area. These musical pillars emit a variety of musical notes when struck with a thumb. Another striking aspect of the Sthanumalayan Perumal Temple is that it depicts both Shaivite and Vaishnavite sections of Hinduism.
Sri Venkateshwara Temple is the most revered and celebrated temple of the temple town of Tirupati having tourists and pilgrims flooding in all year long. Comprising of various complexes inside the premise, the temple is known for its Vishesh Puja, held from 5:30 am till 6:30 am everyday. With the most busy months being September-October due to the Brahmostava festival, this temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, and dates back to the 12th century.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, a beautifully carved temple complex, is located in Srirangapatna in the south-western state of Karnataka, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha who is considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu in Hindu religion. The temple complex brightens up as the sun rises and the vibe is so divine one cannot explain but only experience here. Pause and notice the exotic carvings on the gopuram before you enter the temple. The complex is surrounded by the beautiful River Kaveri which adds to the beauty of the temple. The ghats of the river are frequented for taking a dip before entering the holy temple complex.
A Shiva Linga known as the Atmalinga is worshipped in this Mahabaleshwar temple. Built using white granite, it is a classic example of the beauty of Dravidian architecture. A 1500 years old carved stone Lord Shiva idol in the standing position represents the main deity.
Bhadrachalam can be a refreshing place to visit with a share of instances from the Ramayana, a glorious palace, a vibrant river and mystical terrain and surroundings. One of the major attractions of Bhadrachalam is the Sita Ramachandraswamy temple. A popular temple in the area houses several smaller temples inside of various gods and goddesses. Also, visit the museum inside which has on display jewellery of Ramadas and many more items.
On the southern bank of River Krishna, is a temple, the town Srisailam is known for. The Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, is the most celebrated temple of the town and finds it roots 6 centuries in history, when it was built by King Harihara Raya of Vijayanagar. According to the legend that the temple houses, Goddess Parvati cursed sage Bringi to stand, as he only worshipped Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, after consoling the goddess, gave him a third leg, so that he could stand more comfortably. Find the idol of sage Bringi standing on three legs here as well as idols of Nandi, Sahasralinga and Nataraja.
The temple that has made Annavaram, one of the most popular tourist spots in Andhra Pradesh, is at a small distance of 2 km from the Annavaram railway station. Situated on the Ratnagiri hill, about 460 stone steps lead to the shrine from the bottom of the hill. This temple was constructed in 1891 by a Zamindar of the time, Raja Ramanarayana. The main temple was constructed in the form of a chariot with four wheels at each of the four corners.
One of the five Panchbootha Sthala, the Nataraja Temple is a place of deep religious importance for the Hindus. Spread across a sprawling 40 acres complex, the Lord Nataraja Temple situated in the heart of the city is one of the most beautiful examples of the genius of Chola architecture. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of only five places where he is represented as an idol instead of a lingam. The temple is an architectural treasure trove giving insights into the Dravidian culture that prevailed during the times of the Cholas.
Possessing a rich history that is more than 800 years old, the Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple in Dharmasthala, also known as the Dharmasthala Temple is one of the most famous and most respected temples not only in southern India but all across the country. The presiding deity of this religious institution, Manjunatheshwara, is worshipped at this temple in the form of a shivalinga, and people from near and far flock in large numbers to seek his blessings.
Also known as the Sharadamba Temple, it was established by Acharya Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada. It is devoted to the Goddess Sharadamba. This beautiful temple is one of the four monastery founded by Sri Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya. It has been reconstructed in a South Indian style of architecture and features multiple stone pillars replete with carvings of various Goddesses.
Nageshwara and Channakeshava, the twin temples built at edge of the Mosale village depicts the Hoysala style of architecture. These structures are famous for it's intricately designed architecture and scriptures.
Lying on the banks of River Pennar, Ranganatha Temple is one of the most revered temples of Nellore. The temple is great religious significance and is considered to be the oldest temples of the area which attracts devotees in such large number. The temple is also known for its beautiful architecture and exquisite carving. It houses seven gold pots adorned with huge mirrors within the temple premises. Addala Mandapam or minor hall situated within the complex is famous for its intricate inlay work. It is also a major part of the temple being the place where the idol of the presiding deity of the temple, Lord Sri Ranganathswamy is enshrined.
Located in the district of Ambalappuzha, Alappuzha in the state of Kerala in South India, Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. Built in the traditional Kerala style architectural pattern, the temple is famous for its delicious rice pudding prepared in sweet milk, popularly known as Pal Payassam. Also called as the ‘Dwarka of the South’, the temple is believed to have been built between 15th - 17th AD by the local king Chembakkassery Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan Thampuran. The main deity presiding the temple called Parthasarathi (another name for Lord Krishna) is carved out of black granite stone and carries the sacred conch (shankh) in the left hand and a whip in the right.
Penna Ahobilam is renowned for its Lord Narasimha Swamy Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. The temple complex has temples of Adi Lakshmi Devi Temple and Chenchu Lakshmi Devi. The temple was built on the footprint of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy measuring 5 feet 3 inches. It is believed that a marriage ceremony performed here leads to a happy and fulfilling marriage. Lord Narasimha is the half man, half lion form of Lord Krishna, when he came to save his devotee Prahlad, from his own father.
Raghavendra Swami Temple or the 'mutt' as it is known houses a vrindavana where Guru Raghavendra Swami is believed to have been residing since 350 years and would do so for 350 more years. The shrine of Manchalamma is next to it, both lying near the Tungabhadra river. The temple is open all day however the best time to visit is in the evening as post the aarti at 7pm, there is a rathothsavam where several chariots are drawn from the temple carrying the deity followed by worshipers chanting away.
The Ekambaranatha Temple is the largest temple in Kanchipuram. It covers a massive area of 20 acres. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and was built by the Pallavas and then in turn was renovated by both the Cholas and the Rayas. One notable feature of this temple is the fact that the 1000 lingas are all carved out of one solitary stone. Also, there are one thousand pillared halls found within the temple. Outside of the Ekambaranatha Temple there is a mango tree that is around 3500 years old. There are four separate limbs found on the tree that represent the Four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana).
Located in the suburbs of Halasuru (Ulsoor) in Bangalore, Halasuru Someshwara Temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Dating back to the Chola period, the temple is the oldest in all of Bangalore. Built in around the 12th and the 13th centuries by the Hoysalas, the temple is now managed and maintained by the Endowment Department of the Karnataka government. However, major modifications and additions to the temple were made during the Vijayanagar empire. Besides the several other notable features of the temple, the most fascinating are the elaborate sculptures of Ravana holding the Kailash Parvat to please Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga slaying Mahishasura (a demon), scenes from the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati, images of the Saptarishis etc.
Located around 50 kms from the town of Kottayam near Ernakulam, Chottanikkara is the most revered of the 393 Hindu shrines spread across 3 districts in the state of Kerala. Popular for its spectacular architecture, the shrine stands out to be the ultimate testimonial for the primordial vishwakarma sthapathis (wooden sculpture) in carving out this temple. Sree Mahamaya Bhagawati (Aadiparashakthi), believed to be the supreme mother Goddess in Hindu religion, also known as the Goddess of Power presides the temple. Popularly known as Chottanikkara Devi, the Goddess is worshipped in three forms at three different times of the day.
Kapaleeshwarar temple is a holy shrine of Shiva in Mylapore, Chennai. Originally built by the mighty Pallavas, Portuguese explorers destroyed the temple and rebuilt it in around the 16th century once again by the Vijayanagar kings. A visit to this temple will be an experience enriched with a glimpse into Tamil religious culture and the lovely architectural combination of the two styles - Dravidian and Vijaynagari, complete with towering Gopurams. There is also a sacred tank on the western side.
Nestled in a forest glade near Haripad, Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple is dedicated to the snake god- Nagaraja. Nagaraja is considered to be a form of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Flocked by pilgrims and devotees who believe in serpent worshipping, the temple is marked with over thirty thousand paintings and drawings of snakes along the path and over the trees in the surrounding grove. The unique temple is known to have umpteen snakes crawl all over the place at all times- on the steps, in the hedges, on the creepers etc. The majestic shrine is internationally known and is mostly visited by women seeking fertility.
This is a Hindu temple dedicated to Sri Ranganatha, a reclining form of the Hindu deity Maha Vishnu, situated in Srirangam. It is one of the most acclaimed temples of South India and has played a pivotal role in Vaishnavism history. It is located on an island between the Kaveri and Kollidam rivers. This has made it prone to flooding and plundering by armies like that of Delhi Sultanate. The temple was rebuilt in the 14th century and expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries with more gopurams (tower gateways).
The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Trivandrum is one of the most talked about temples of not just the south, but the entire country. Among the many reasons for its popularity, probably the most eye-catching one is that it received a Guinness World Book record when over 37 lakh women offered pongala at this temple at once, making it the destination of the largest gathering of women for a religious activity! Popularly known as the 'Sabarimala of Women', this temple draws a massive throng of women each year during the famous Attukal Pongala festival. Rich in cultural heritage and adorned by impeccable Tamil architecture, this temple holds an extremely critical place in the hearts of the natives and the devotees of Goddess Bhagavathy, the principal deity of this temple.
Located in the suburb of the city Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvanaikoil Temple, also known as Jambukeshwarar Temple is one of the holiest places in Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the Panchabhoota Temples (signifying the 5 elements of nature) and represents the water element (Neer). It is situated on an island surrounded by rivers Cauvery and Coleroon and should definitely be on your list when moving around this suburb.
Mookambika Temple is dedicated to Aadiprakarshakti who is believed to embody the powers of three goddesses, Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Mahakali and Maha Lakshmi. The sanctum sanctorum houses a Linga represents Purusha as well as Shakti and is called the Udbhavlinga.