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Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu: A Famous Place to Explore

7 mins. read

Temples are memoirs of our country’s history, heritage, and culture particularly in the southern part of India. Known for its magnificent and glorious temples, Tamil Nadu is bound to leave you spellbound with its astounding charm. These Shiva temples showcase the luxurious and extravagant taste of the erstwhile Royals like Pallavas, Cholas, or Nayakas who ruled here. Although these Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu were built thousands of years back, they still stand tall as the backbone of the Tamil culture. While some of them are splendid architectural marvels, others tell the stories of their glorious past. So, if you are in for a spiritual retreat to ‘Temple State of India,’ here are some of the biggest, oldest, and most famous Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu:

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the biggest Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. Built under the rule of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century AD, this temple still stands as a testimony to the opulence and magnificence of the Chola rulers. This is probably why it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and witnesses an uncountable footfall of devotees and tourists each year. One of the things that make the temple quite special is its 216 ft tall ‘Vimana’ which is believed to be the tallest in the world. The ‘Kumbam’ or the apex structure on the Vimana weighs over 80 tonnes. The fact that it is carved from a single granite piece adds to the brilliance of the overall structure and leaves us all awed. Also, Brihadeeswarar Temple claims to be the world’s first temple to be completely built from granite.

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Lord Sundareshwarar and Goddess Parvati in the form of Meenakshi, the Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. According to archaeological records, it was built around the 6th century AD. However, a major portion of the temple was damaged in the 14th century by the Muslim invaders. The existing structure of the temple dates back to the 16th century when it was restored by the Nayak rulers. The temple exhibits intricate design, elaborate figures of gods, goddesses, and demons making it a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. If you look closely at the carved figures, you will be able to come across the scenes depicted from Indian mythology. Some of the most prominent scenes here are – the ocean of milk being churned by devas and asuras, Rishi Markandya hugging Shivlingam, nine-headed Ravana playing the veena, and the wedding ceremony of Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi. These are the sculptures that make it one of the most famous Shiva temples.

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval

Set on the Srirangam Island in Tamilnadu, the Jambukeshwara Temple also represents a Dravidian style of architecture.  While it is one of the many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in Tamil Nadu, its architecture is what sets it apart. With a 7-tiered gopuram decked with complex carvings and inscriptions from the Chola period, it is a temple that every Shiv bhakt must visit. The Jambukeswarar Temple is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams. Thus, it is where all the four highly esteemed Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have chanted glories of the deity. This Shiv mandir in Tamil Nadu also has 5 enclosures inside. The Vibudi Prakara is the massive outer wall covering the fifth precinct that stretches over a mile. It is two feet thick and more than 25 feet high. Legend has it that the wall was built by Shiva along with the labourers. The fourth precinct involves a hall with 796 pillars. It even has a tiny tank fed by everlasting springs. The third enclosure is surrounded by a wall that is 30 feet high. This area also has a coconut thoppu, a small water tank, and a couple of gopurams that are 73 and 100 feet tall. The second enclosure has several tiny shrines and a 65-feet high gopuram. Then, the innermost enclosure houses Shivlinga in the form of Appu Lingam making it one of the most spiritually powerful Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu.

Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram

The Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple literally translates to “Lord of the Cosmic Mountain”. It is believed to be built under the rule of the Pallava Dynasty. While the temple is entirely carved out of sandstone, its main sanctum enshrining a 16-sided Shivlinga is made up of black granite. The temple dates back to the late 7th century-early 8th century and yet showcases a breath-taking architecture exhibiting an intricately carved pyramidal-shaped tower on the main sanctum. This famous Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu also has 58 small Shiva shrines enclosed inside dedicated to the different forms of Shiva. Some of the most stunningly carved sculptures that one must see are that of Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati in different dance postures. Located on the banks of the Vegavathy River at the western limits of the Kanchipuram, the temple also offers spectacular views. This also makes this one of the best honeymoon places in Tamil Nadu.

Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Counted amongst five ‘Panch Bootha Sthalas’ (the five elements of the universe), the Ekambareswarar Temple, dedicated to the element – Earth and holds immense significance among devotees of Lord Shiva. According to mythological beliefs, Goddess Parvati performed penance under a sacred mango tree that is located here. The penance was performed for Lord Shiva with a Shivlinga that was made out of the sand. That sacred mango tree is believed to be more than 3000 years old and can still be seen in the temple premises. Another interesting fact is that the tree bears four different types of mangoes in all four different seasons of the year. Talking about the architecture of the temple, its 1000-pillared hall adorned with complex yet delicate carvings of 1008 Shivlingas is something one must witness and must be a part of your Tamil Nadu sightseeing!

Being home to thousands of temples that hold great significance to the Hindu religion, Tamil Nadu exudes a sacred aura that summons tourists in search of spirituality to trudge from near and afar.  While this is just a conglomeration of some of the Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu, there is a whole new spiritual and divine experience waiting for you.

March 12, 2021


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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