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10 Beautiful South Indian Temples that every Hindu should visit

South Indian temples are famous for Dravidian style and Vijayanagara style architecture that is grandeur, tall and consists primarily of pyramids like towers made from sandstone, soapstone, and granite. They look magnificent and are breathtakingly beautiful that provides people with both spirituality and amusement.

Compiled here are the 10 beautiful South Indian Temples, which everyone should visit once in their lifetime.

1. Virupaksha Temple – Hampi, Karnataka

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Designated as world heritage site by UNESCO, it was built in the 7th century the queen of Vikramaditya to honor the victory of the king. Virupaksha Temple has the Dravidian style architecture and is located in Hampi, 350 km from Bangalore. Virupaksha Temple is one of the most beautiful South Indian Temples and lies on the bank of beautiful Tungabhadra River and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

2. Meenakshi Temple – Madurai, Tamil Nadu

This temple was on the list of top 30 nominees for the new “Seven Wonders of the world”. It is said that this temple was built in 6th century BCE by survivors of Kumari Kandam, but was looted all of its valuables by Muslim Malik Kafur in the 14th century and was rebuilt in the 16th century by Nayak ruler Bishwanath Nayakar. This resembles great Hindu culture that is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and her consort Lord Shiva. It lies on the bank of Vaigai River in the city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The halls, gopurams and the shrines of the temple are ornate and grand in their appearance. Two very distinct features in terms of iconography are the shrine of Meenakshi holding a parrot and the right raised leg of Nataraja.

3. Venkateswara Temple – Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh

Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala
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Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple was built in 300 AD. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is also known as Tirupati Balaji Temple. It is located in Tirumala of Andhra Pradesh and is one of the richest temples where devotees donate a huge amount of money and valuables every year. This is in regard to the story that Lord Vishnu could not return to Vaikunta without paying the debt of Kubera, which devotees believe to help Vishnu to pay the debt by donating their valuables that would bring them more fortunes and property.

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The temple has a rich history and Dravidian style architecture with the magnificent environment and is a place that is must visit both in regards to the amusement and religious.

4. Ramanathaswamy Temple – Ramnad, Tamil Nadu

This temple was built in 7th to 8th century and is situated on the big island of sand in the Ramnad district of Tamil Nadu. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is also one of the twelve sacred Jyotirlinga temples of Lord Shiva.

Ramanathaswamy Temple

The legend narrates the tale of Lord Rama who is believed to have prayed to Lord Shiva here. The temple has one of the longest and most ornate corridors among other South Indian temples. Rameswaram is also one of the Char Dhams for pilgrimage.

5. Aihole and Pattadakal Temples –  Bagalkot, Karnataka

Aihole temple
Aihole temple by Bharathkumar Hegde on 500px.com

These ancient capital cities of Chalukyas are famous for their beautiful rock-cut temples in Karnataka. These beautiful south Indian temples date back to 5th century CE, very elaborate in their architecture and grandeur. Aihole is also known as the “Cradle of Hindu Rock Architecture”.

Aihole and Pattadakal - South Indian Temples
Pattadakal Temples – Photo by Hrishikesh Deodhar on 500px.com

Famous temples of Aihole include Durga Temple and Lad Khan Temple. Pattadakal follows the blend of Nagara and Dravidian style. Important temples include Sangameshvara Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Ganga Nath Temple, Jain Temple etc.

6. Airavatesvara Temple – Darasulam, Tamil Nadu

Airavatesvara Temple
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Designated as world heritage site by UNESCO, it was built in the 12th century by Rajaraja Chola. Airavatesvara Temple is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. It is classified as Karak kovil, a temple built resembling the shape of a chariot used during temple festivals. Literary evidence is found in Tamil works, which refer the temple as Karak Koil. Located in the town of Darasulam, Tamil Nadu, this temple is a storehouse of art and architecture and has some exquisite stone carvings. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and traces its name from Airavata, the white elephant of Indra who worshiped Shiva in this temple.

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7. The Brihadishwara Temple – Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Brihadishwara Temple
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Also designated as world heritage site by UNESCO, Brihadishwara Temple was completed in 1010 CE and is one of the largest temples in India. This temple is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture of Chola period and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The Vimana (temple tower) is 198 ft (60 m) high and is one of the tallest in the world. The Kumbam (the apex or the bulbous structure on the top) weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 ft (4.9 m) long and 13 ft (4.0 m) high at the entrance. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are about 60 km to the west of Temple. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions and most beautiful South Indian Temples in Tamil Nadu.

8. Vitthala Temple – Hampi, Karnataka

Vitthala Temple
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Dating back to the 16th century, Vittala Temple is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu, who is known as Lord Vittala in the temple. Vittala Temple features the original South Indian Dravidian style of architecture. The temple was constructed back in the reign of King Devaraya II. The temple is one of the most popular attractions of Hampi and people from all over visit the temple to have a look at its beautiful carvings and magnificent architecture. Vittala Temple features the original South Indian Dravidian style of architecture. The pillars and walls of the temple are beautifully decorated with intricate carvings.

Musical Pillars

The star attraction of the temple is the Ranga Mandapa and 56 musical pillars, which emanate music upon tapping. This temple is one of the most popular and mysterious South Indian Temples. The Vittala Temple is recognized as the grandest of all temples and historical sites in Hampi. The temple showcases the creativity and architectural excellence, which the sculptors and artisans of the Vijayanagara era possessed.

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9. Thanumalayan Temple – Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

Also known as Suchindrum Temple, it is located in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu and was built in the 17th century. This temple attracts various pilgrims from across the neighboring states. The legends of Anasuya and Ahalya are attached to the temple.

Thanumalayan Temple
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The special features of the temple include the four musical pillars, the hanging pillar and the single Linga, which represents the triumvirs, Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh.

10. Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is a famous Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, who is the reclining form of Hindu deity, Lord Vishnu. The temple complex is huge and is spread over an area of 156 acres (63.131 hectares). Featuring Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is one among the most revered temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Also, the temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Vishnu.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

The structure of  Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is unique and comprises of seven concentric rectangular enclosures or prakarams which are formed by huge walls. These prakarams run around the chamber in which the deity presides. As per a research, it has been found that Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is one of the largest functioning temples in the World. Also, it is ranked amongst the largest religious complexes in the world.