Tamil Nadu is home to about 33,000 ancient temples and most of these are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Bhairava. Apart from these, many temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Murugan and Lord Hanuman. Because of such a huge number of temples in the state, Tamil Nadu is also known as ‘Land of Temples’. Temples in Tamil Nadu are categorized according to the era in which these were built and their way of construction. Like there are temples of Sangam age, Cave temples of Pallavas, Cave temples of Pandiyas, structural temples of Pallavas, Pandiyas and Cholas etc. Some of the most famous temples in Tamil Nadu are:
Chidambaram Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva Natarajaha and Lord Govindaraja Perumal is also known as Thillai Natarajaha Temple, Chidambaram Thillai Natarajar-Koothan Kovil. The temple is located in the East Central town, Chidambaram of Tamil Nadu. This temple was renovated many times during the Chola Empire in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Its main attraction is Lord Shiva as the Lord of the dance Bharatanatyam. Chidambaram Temple is one of the five major temples and represents the element sky.
Sri Ekambaranathar temple
Sri Ekambaranathar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and located in Kanchipuram. The gateway tower of the temple known as the gopuram is the tallest in India and is 59m tall. Sri Ekambaranathar temple is one of the five major temples and represents the element Earth. The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam, or the “hallway with a thousand pillars” is one of the major attractions of the temple and it was constructed by the Vijayanagar Kings.
Kapaleeswarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was constructed in 7th century CE and shows Dravidian architecture. Lord Shiva was worshiped in the form of a peacock and also known as Mylai which in Tamil means ‘peacock’. Goddess Karpagambal is adorned with a kaasu maala on every Friday. It is the garland made of gold coins. The annual festival, Brahmotsavam is a popular event of the temple that is celebrated in the month of Panguni.
Darasuram Temple is popular for its splendid art and architecture. There is a huge chariot drawn by horses in the front gate of the temple.
It is one of the greatest temples of Chola Temples and was built by Rajendra Cholan. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva (Brahadeeshwara) and his wife Parvathi. Also, there is a huge statue of Nandi in both the temples. Annabishekam is an annual festival that is celebrated with great devotion. Huge amount of rice is boiled and presented to Lord Shiva on this day. It is a great architecture marvel as shadow of its main tower never touches the ground all across the year.
Kailasanathar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the oldest temple in Kanchipuram. It was constructed by the Pallavas during early 8th century CE. Lord Shiva is shown as Nataraja in the temple.
Parthasarathy Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and located at Triplicane. The temple was built by Pallavas in the 8th century and expanded by Cholas. Beauty of the temple is the view of four incarnations of Vishnu which is Rama, Narasimha, Krishna and Varaha. The detailed carving is the major attraction of the Parthasarathy Temple. There are two towers facing east and west directions.
The Shore temple is a beautiful temple facing the Bay of Bengal and was built in 700-728 AD. This temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. There are one big and two small temples inside the Shore temple with its main temple facing eastward direction to get sun rays directly on Lord Shiva’s Linga, the main deity of the temple.
Brihadeeswara Temple is located at Thanjavur and popular for its architecture. Brihadeeswara temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 AD and displays great and unique Chola architecture. The temple tower is 216 ft high. The top most structure of the temple is carved out of a single stone. Whole structure inside the temple is made up of granite. The temple is also known as Big Temple and dedicated to Lord Shiva. Because of its architectural style it is regarded as a World Heritage Monument as ‘Great Living Chola Temple’ by UNESCO
Thirukadaiyur Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and one of the eight places of Lord Shiva. It is the place at which Lord Shiva had saved Markandeya from the God of Death, Yama. The temple depicts Chola style of architecture with five Prakarams, temple towers and huge Mandapams.
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