Peninsular India encompasses the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry. Renowned for its gorgeous beaches and verdant backwaters, South India is one of the most popular tourist destinations of India. With a rich historical and cultural heritage, this area is home to some of India’s best architectural and archaeological wonders.
Temples In South India
Some of the country’s greatest temple architecture can be found in South India, especially in states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Exceptional reflections of Dravidian architecture, some of the ancient temples here have even been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Read on for more about the most famous temples in South India.
Built around the 7th Century, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore, Chennai, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. The Vijayanagar rulers of the Tuluva Dynasty are credited for the spectacular Dravidian architecture of this temple. The best time to visit this ancient structure is from mid-March to mid-April, when the neighbourhood celebrates its annual spring festival during the Tamil month of Panguni.
Kamakshi Amman Temple
Located in the city of Kanchipuram, the Kamakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to the worship of Kamakshi, one of the many forms of Goddess Parvati. As opposed to her typical standing pose, you will find the Goddess sitting in a Padmasana pose at this magnificent temple. Be sure to add this, Kanchipuram’s one and only temple for Goddess Parvati, to your to-do list when you next visit.
Varadharaja Perumal Temple
Another famous temple in Kanchipuram is one dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Varadharaja Perumal Temple is considered to be one of the Divya Desams – 108 Vishnu temples that were visited by the 12 poet saints. This spectacular temple, is often clubbed with the Kamakshi Amman Temple and the Ekambareswarar Temple, and commonly referred to as the Mumurtivasam (abode of trio).
Renowned as one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (five major Shiva temples), the massive Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Spanning an area of 25 acres, this temple complex is one of the largest in the country. One of the most talked about attractions of this temple is the superb thousand-pillared hall that was built during the Vijayanagar reign and still stands as a glorious testament to their architectural expertise.
Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple
Yet another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple was built by Rajasimha during the Pallava dynasty (somewhere between 685 and 705 AD). There are around 58 small shrines inside this temple that depict the different forms of Lord Shiva. This temple is also covered with numerous carvings, which is one of the main highlights of the Dravidian architectural style.
The Tiruvannamalai Temple is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (five major Shiva temples). It is also known as the Annamalaiyar Temple because of its location at the base of the Annamalai Hills in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. The masonry at this temple can be traced back to the 9th century, when the Chola dynasty ruled this region. Every year, millions of pilgrims visit this ancient temple during the months of November and December for the grand Karthigal Deepam festival.
Located in the city of Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) in Tamil Nadu, Jambukeswarar Temple was built approximately 1,800 years ago. One of the earlier Chola kings, Kochenga Chola was the creator of this temple, which is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bhoota Stalams of Tamil Nadu. Do not miss out on the artistic Chola period inscriptions inside this grand temple.
Situated on the Srirangam Island in Tamil Nadu, this Hindu temple houses the deity Ranganatha – one of the forms of Lord Vishnu. One of the 108 Divya Desams, this temple boasts of Tamil style of architecture. It is also considered to be the world’s largest functioning Hindu temple. with the main entrance or Rajagopuram that soars up to a height of 73,000m.
Located on the banks of the Vagai River, the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. The present structure of this temple dates back to the 16th Century as it was plundered and looted in the 14th Century. It is home to 14 towers (gopurams) and approximately 33,000 sculptures. This temple gets about a million visitors from all over the country during the months of April and May during the Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival.
One of the oldest granite temples in South India, the Shore Temple overlooks the Bay of Bengal and was initially identified as part of the Seven Pagodas in Mahabalipuram. This structural temple was built by the Pallava Dynasty, under Narasimhavarman II’s rule, and dates back to the 8th Century. The Shore Temple houses three temples and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South India is a treasure trove for silk sarees, handcrafted jewellery, wooden and stone carvings, traditional handicrafts, and coir products. Some of the best places to shop in South India are:
Whether you love luxury shopping or street shopping, Chennai has innumerable shopping opportunities, right from wholesale stores to colourful markets. Tanjore paintings, sandalwood boxes and blocks, terracotta items, silk sarees, and sweets are great souvenirs to pick up from Chennai.
When in Kanchipuram, you must buy at least one of the Kanjeevaram silk sarees. This city is famous for hand-woven silk sarees, with intricate designs and amazing contrast borders. Some of the other things that are worth buying in Kanchipuram include hand-made jewellery boxes, baskets laden with fresh fruit, and idols of various deities.
When you want to shop in Madurai, look for Sungundi sarees and batik shops. The government emporiums are perfect to pick up wooden or brass souvenirs from this city.
Stone carvings, paintings, jewellery, pottery, and traditional handicrafts are some of the things that you can buy from the local bazaar or private shops in Trichy.
With the traditional South India tour of Cox & Kings, you will be covering all these temples and enjoying all these shopping venues in just a week.
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