India is a country rich with cultural heritage and architectural masterpieces. And one of the fine examples of architectural magnificence is the spectacular temples which can be found across the length and breadth of the country. These temples have elaborate architectural designs featuring massive towers, lofty halls, pillars adorned with remarkable sculptures, intricate carvings, and paintings. The southern part of India has some of the grandeur ancient temples which are hundreds of years old and of great historical significance. Some of the famous temples in South India are also the top tourist places in India and are visited by pilgrims and enthusiasts from all over the world.
We asked our travel blogger friends to share their favorite South Indian Temples. These temples should definitely be on your list of places to visit in India.
Murudeshwara Temple, Karnataka
Murudeshwar Temple is one of the most beautiful and magnificent Shiva temples in the world. Murudeshwar Temple located in Murudeshwar Town of Karnataka State of India is popular for the 123 ft tall statue of Lord Shiva which is world’s second tallest statue. The statue of Shiva sits on a hill called Kanduka Giri surrounded by the Arabian sea on three sides.
The entrance to the temple complex is through a 20-story high tower decorated with sculptures of Hindu god and goddesses. One can access the top floor of the tower by a lift. The top floor offers breathtaking panoramic views of the beach, the Shiva statue, and the surrounding. A visit to the sanctum sanctorum may take time sometimes due to the long queues. You can visit the inner courtyard which has several smaller temples. At some 10 minutes walk from the temple complex is a garden which has numerous sculptures along with the colossal Shiva statue, a visit to the garden offers a closer look at the statue of Shiva.
Murusdeshwar Temple is one of the most famous temples in Karnataka you cannot miss it on your visit to this part of India. Murudeshwar is a popular beach destination on the west coast of India. There are plenty of water sports activities one can indulge in on a visit to Murudeshwar. The street to the temple is lined with numerous hotels and shops selling puja items, souvenirs, clothing, and toys.
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
If you travel towards the southern extremities of India in the state of Tamil Nadu, you leave the mainland of India and enter Rameshwaram situated on the Pamban Island. A beautiful sea bridge known as Pamban Bridge connects the town of Rameswaram to the mainland. Rameshwaram is one of the holiest of holy places amongst the Hindu Temples. Situated here is the famous Ramanathaswamy temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. The temple is associated with the Indian epic Ramayana and legend has it that the Shiva Lingam which is the main deity in the temple was consecrated by Rama who is considered to be an avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu. It is believed that Rama offered prayers here after the war with Ravana at Lanka, as repentance for the destruction wreaked by the war. It is believed that Rama had instructed his trusted lieutenant Hanuman to get a Shiva Lingam from the Himalayas, but as he was delayed, Sita built one from sand and this became the main deity over which the Ramanathaswamy temple now stands. This is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas and hence one of the most important pilgrimage centers.
Voted by Sandy & Vyjay from VOYAGER
The temple itself is an architectural marvel and one of its striking features is its long corridors.which run between raised platform like structures on either side. There are two sets of corridors that run through the temple. The outer set of corridors is considered the longest corridor in any temple in the world. The corridors are supported and ornamented by 1212 exquisite pillars. The temple’s architectural and artistic magnificence is indeed a visual delight and inspires awe.
Lakshminarasimha Temple, Karnataka
The construction of Lakshminarasimha Temple took place during the 13th century, much later than Veeranarayana Temple of Belavadi. It was built by King Vira Someshwara (1235 – 1263). This temple is made of grey soapstone, which is easy to sculpt and hardens on exposure to air. The temple has Hoysala architectural style. This style developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries. This architectural style was more prevalent in the region known today as Karnataka, a state of India. The three Garbhagruhas (the inner portion that houses the idols) of Lakshminarasimha Temple are arranged in a triangular pattern. They have the idols of Lord Vishnu in the main sanctum, Lord Venugopal’s idol in the southern and Lord Lakshminarasimha’s in the northern sanctum. The idols were laden with several garlands of colorful flowers during our visit.
Voted by Indrani from Isharethese
The sculpted images on Temple Exteriors are stunning. The outer wall here fascinated me the most! It has stunning workmanship on it. There are 140 wall panel images, each made with attention to fine details. It seems like each figure has a story to tell. Nowhere else have I seen the Dashavatars depicted so finely!
Lakshminarasimha Temple in Javagal is 15kms from Halebeedu Temple of Hassan district, Karnataka. It is 195kms from Bangalore. You can hire private vehicles or state transport buses to get to Javagal from Bangalore. Approximate time to travel is 4 hours. Bangalore is well connected by air.
The beautiful UNESCO-listed temples of Pattadakal are incredibly well preserved and one of the most popular tourist places to visit in Karnataka. The UNESCO listing is done as part of a three-temple complex which includes Aihole and the Badami Cave temples on the banks of the Malaprabha River. These three temples are considered to be the greatest architectural inspiration for constructions in the rest of India from the 7th to the 8th temple and were used for experimentation and innovation.
Voted by Mar from ONCE IN A LIFETIME JOURNEY
The temple’s name means coronation and it was used by the Chalukya Dynasty as the place for the coronation of kings. While the majority of the constructions are Hindu and devoted to Shiva, there are also two Buddhist temples and one Jain temple farther away but still part of the same complex. Visiting Pattadakal is not as easy as it is quite remote but can be done as part of the Golden Chariot luxury train journey across Karnataka. Alternatively, you can get there by train to the Badami station which is 6km away. The nearest airport is 4h away.
Badami Cave Temples, Karnataka
The Badami Cave Temples are a group of four temples, three Hindu and one Jain Temple. The cave temples are located in the town of Badami in the Bagalkot districts of Karnataka. The caves are carved out of the large sandstone cliffs and are adorned with sculptures and inscriptions on walls and pillars. The Badami Cave temples are an excellent example of the rock-cut architectural style.
Each of the temples is built alike featuring a large veranda and a colonnaded hall. Of the three Hindu temples, two enshrine Lord Vishnu, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the last one to the Jain Tirthankaras. The cave temples overlook the beautiful Agastya Tirtha Lake which dates back to the 5th-century. Surrounding the Agastya Tirtha Lake are the ancient temples of Mallikarjuna and the Bhuthanatha.
The other points of interest close to the Agastya Tirtha Lake are an ancient fort and an archaeological museum. The archaeological museum displays a wonderful collection of ancient sculptures and historical artifacts. All these attractions are located in the interior of a small village with narrow winding alleys. It is usually very difficult to get through these alleys to reach the lake.
The nearest airport to the caves is located in the city of Belgaum and Hubli. You can hire a taxi from Hubli to the caves of Badami which will take you around 3 hours. Alternatively, reach Hubli or Bagalkot from the city of Bangalore which is well-connected with buses and trains.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the city of Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum in English) in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, is a magnificent piece of architecture. The style marries the typical Kerala temple style architecture with that of the neighboring Tamil Nadu’s. Only those who profess Hindu religion can enter the temple. And even the devotees have to follow strict clothing and other rules. I was thus unable to enter, but the splendor of the temple is well obvious on the outside as well.
Voted by Veronika from TRAVEL GEEKERY
Being the main Vishnu temple and also one of the oldest temples in the country, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple belongs to main things to see in Trivandrum, as actually the whole city was built around the temple. The temple belongs to the Travancore Royal Family and is their major asset. In 2015, a treasure chamber was found inside the temple worth a trillion US dollars (!), which confirmed its status as the richest temple in the world.
To visit the Padmanabhaswamy Temple, I drove there by bus with other bloggers on the Kerala Blog Express bus, but you can easily get there by yourself. As the temple is positioned relatively centrally, even within a walking distance from the Central train station, you can simply walk. If your hotel is located further away, make use of an auto-rickshaw (a tuk-tuk).
Sri Prasanna Krishna Swamy Temple, Karnataka
The Sri Prasanna Krishna Swamy Temple in Mysore is an impressive temple located with the grounds of the Mysore Palace. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna and was built in 1829. The exterior of the temple is intricately carved with figures and stands out in the palace grounds. Visitors can enter the temple and see the ancient murals which are beautiful examples of Mysore art from the 19th century. Inside the temple are several displays of carved religious figures and a holy man offers visitors the chance to be blessed with the traditional tilaka.
Voted by Rohan from TRAVELS OF A BOOKPACKER
While visiting the temple by day is recommended, a visit on a Sunday night is a must. Every Sunday evening at 7 pm the entire palace grounds and buildings are lit up by thousands of LED light bulbs creating the most magical spectacle. The temple looks particularly stunning as the lights intensify the details of the carvings. Entrance to the grounds is free during this time but you cannot enter the temple or palace.
Vitthala Temple, Karnataka
A highlight of the temple tours in Hampi is certainly the world famous Vittalasvami Temple. The mid-15th-century Vittala Temple is located about 2 kilometers east of Hampi Bazaar and can be reached on foot as you walk along the riverbank. You can also reach the Vittala Temple by rickshaw or taxi driving along the Talarigatta-Kamalapur Road. Better ask the driver to wait, otherwise, you might have problems getting back to the hotel in Hampi Bazaar.
Voted by Clemens from TRAVELLERS ARCHIVE
Please note that you pay entry for the area of the so-called “Royal Center” and the “Holy Center”, as they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In front of the main shrine is a magnificent platform with carved pillars, an open hall, and countless temple pillars adorned with lion-like mythical creatures, the Yalis. The roof is supported by 56 pillars, which are 3.60 meters high. Among other things, there are also the famous musical pillars along the outer sides, which produce different sounds. Particularly impressive are the sculptures in the interior. There are sculpture friezes with horses, warriors and wild geese, while the stairs are lined with elephants. Some of the works still show traces of colors. Make sure not to miss the most photographed structure in the entire region: the impressive stone temple car or Garuda pavilion pulled by stone elephants.
Golden Temple, Karnataka
Many people know about the world famous Golden Temple in Amritsar (North India), yet quite a few know that there is another Golden Temple in Karnataka, South India. It is situated in Bylakuppe – the second largest Tibetan settlement in India. Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastery) is home to thousands of monks and it is the largest center of the Nyingma tradition (the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism). Nevertheless, back in 1963, the initial structure of the temple was made out of bamboo sticks. The popular name – Golden Temple – came after it was rebuilt several decades later. There appeared three 40 feet idols – Buddha, Padmasambhava and Amitayus – and numerous murals and wooden carvings made in golden color among other intricate interior elements.
Voted by Natalia from MY TRIP HACK
There is no entry fee to visit Golden temple, though donations are accepted. I recommend reading about traditional functions and prayers in advance, as during that time the common audience can’t visit the temple. Bylakuppe is situated 11 km away from Kushalnagar – the bigger town well-connected with other cities in Karnataka and neighboring states by bus network. Once you reach Kushalnagar, you can take an auto to reach the temple.
Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
We arrived in Madurai on a bus from Kanyakumari. The Meenakshi Hindu Temple was our first stop in this city, it is one of the famous temples in Tamilnadu. The temple complex covers 6 hectares and comprises 12 gopurams or monumental towers. It was built between 1623 and 1659. One of these gopurams here has 1511 gods, goddesses, demons and heroes decorating it.
Voted by Sarah from ASOCIALNOMAD
The temple is stunning. It’s home to the triple-breasted Goddess, Meenakshi, who is an incarnation of Shiva’s consort, Parvati. In Tamil poetry, Meenakshi means perfect eyed and according to legend, Meenakshi was born with three breasts, the third melted away when she met Shiva. As we’re not Hindu we cannot enter the main shrine, but what we can see is stunning. The Pudhu Mandapa near the eastern entrance is a stunning long pillared hall from the 16th century – you must look up to the ceiling to see the most stunning feature. This was our first visit to an Indian Hindu temple and it was quite simply stunning.
Brihadeeswara Temple, Tamil Nadu
The Temple that never casts a shadow at noon – Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple
I grew up in the shadows of the Big Temple in Tanjore also called the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple. It is one of the most ancient temples and known for its disappearing shadow – at 216 feet, the temple is one of the tallest temples in the world and is designed that it does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year. It is situated in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India also known as “The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu”. Built over 1000 years ago Brihadeeshwara temple has stood the test of time and is a great example of excellent workmanship and grandeur.
Voted by Priya from OUTSIDE SUBURBIA
The Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built by King Rajaraja I in the 11th century to celebrate a military victory. The temple is a tribute as well as a reflection of the power of RajaRaja Chola I. The complex that houses the main sanctum is known as the ‘Periya Kovil’ and is located amidst the fortified walls that were added to the building in the 16th century. The Siva Lingam here is more than 12 feet tall and the Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height. The temple is built over 29 square bases and is surrounded by a moat on two sides and Grand Anaicut river on the other side. The walls of the temple complex are adorned by beautiful paintings and frescoes belonging to the Chola and Nayak period. In the main hall, there are musical pillars that produce different sounds when tapped. This architectural masterpiece has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How many of these temples have you already visited on a trip to India? Visiting these famous temples in South India are an architectural masterpiece and a great way to experience the rich heritage of the incredible land of India.
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