Top 10 Famous Temples to Visit in Tamil Nadu


Known as the temple city of India, Tamil Nadu is one place in South India where the elaborate architecture and brilliant sculptures of its ancient temples, leave all its tourists spellbound with their astounding beauty. With almost all the temples built during historic and medieval times, a trip to these temples provides you with a deep insight into brilliant architectural, sculptural and artistic skills of the engineers, architects and artisans of the bygone times. These temples also showcase the opulent and lavish tastes of the erstwhile royal kings, be it Pallavas, Cholas or Nayakas. Standing tall as the backbone of the Tamil culture, these temples are today, India’s precious jewels adding to its rich heritage.

1The shore temple, Mamallapuram

Shore Temple is a standing testimonial to the regal heritage of India.It comprises three shrines, the prominent ones are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), an image of Shivalinga embraces the site. At the rear end, one can find two shrines facing each other. Here, one shrine is dedicated to Ksatriyasimnesvara and other to Lord Vishnu. In the shrine, Lord Vishnu is imaged reclining on the 'Sheshanag', which is a symbol of consciousness in Hinduism.

Shore Temple is also acknowledged for being the first stone structure made by Pallavas. Before this, the monuments used to be carved out of the rocks or stones. Unlike other monuments of the region, Shore Temple is a five-storied rock-cut structural temple more willingly than monolithical. In southern India, this is one amongst the earliest and most important structural temples. The spire is extensively decorated with carvings and sculptures. In the recent years, a stone wall has been constructed to protect the shrine from further sea-erosion.

Entry Fee: INR 10 for Indians, INR 250 for Foreigners
Timings: 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM

2Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram

The Kailasanathar Temple is one of the prime attractions within the Land of Thousand Temples,Kanchipuram, located in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was built for Lord Shiva who is known as Kailasanathar in the temple, during the Pallava dynasty which ruled over this region. The temple, with its intricate designing was constructed with sandstone during the period of 680 AD to 705 AD, under the Pallava ruler Rajasimha. Consisting of about 60 shrines, the temple attracts tourists from all over the country and also foreigner visitors in large numbers.

The prime attraction of this temple is its innermost pathway which circles the idol of Kailasanathar, and signifies the entrance of a person and his exit from Paradise. With an amazingly serene environment, and an ancient Dravidian architectural style, this temple is one of the epitomes of divinity which has got to be visited at least once in your lifetime.The Shiva Lingam which is present in the main shrine has the feature of having sixteen faces and is ten feet high.This temple stands for the Ketu planet amongst the nine Shaiva kshetras(nine temples) with each of them standing for one of the nine planets.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 4.00 PM to 7.00 PM

3Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai

The Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built approximately in seventh century. The Gopuram inside the temple marks as a unique example of Dravidian architectural style. A traveller cannot help but notice the inscriptions in the premises of the temple that date back to 12th century. The Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple has a tank in the West which is surrounded by broad streets on four sides. Goddess Parvati is worshipped in the temple and has been incarnated as Goddess Karpagambal or the 'Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree'.

Arulmigu Karpagambal is enshrined at the entrance and situated exactly in front of the Goddess. The mount of the Goddess is a stone sculpture of Lion located outside the temple. The Arulmigu Kapaleeshwar Temple hosts six different kinds of puja’s namely Ko pooja,Vaikarai Pooja, Kaala sandhi Puja, Uchi Kala Pooja, Evening Puja, Kala Puja and Ardhajama Pooja. The temple is thronged by devotees throughout the year. Major festivals like Brahmotsavam or ‘Arupathu Moovar’ Festival, Theppa Thiruvizha Float Festival, Navratri Festival, and Vasantha Utsavam are celebrated at the Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Monday- Closed
Tuesday to Sunday- 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

4Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar temple of Thanjavur is one of the best places to visit in Tamilnadu. Popularly known as “Thanjavur Periya Kovil”, this is the largest temple in India. The outstanding architecture makes it one of the best temples in India.

The Big Temple was constructed by Raja Raja Chola I, the greatest king of the Chola dynasty between AD 985 and 1014. The Chola dynasty were Shaivites. Vijayalaya Chola who envisioned "The Chola Empire" ruled around AD 850. Raja Raja Chola I was the greatest warrior and administrator in the Chola dynasty. King Raja Raja Cholan was the most successful in expanding their empire. The Big Temple was an expression of the success of Raja Raja Chola's empire. This temple is also called as Brihadeeswara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples”.

King Raja Raja Cholan had the main temple built completely with granite. It is hard to imagine how, in that age, more than 130,000 tons of granite was brought to the temple site, especially given that there is no granite quarry within a hundred kilometers of the temple site. Another stunning architectural feat is the Vimana / Shikhara - the spire atop the temple. The beautiful lotus shaped stone of the Big Temple weighs a stunning 80 tons. We can but marvel at the engineering mastermind who managed to hoist an 80 ton carved rock up a 212 feet tower back in the 11th century.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM

5Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

Dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja or the cosmic dancer, the ‘Thillai Nataraja Temple’ is one of the most ancient temples of Tamil Nadu known for both, religious and architectural significance. The temple is believed to have been built during the time of Pallava rule in 11th century and further renovations were made during Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagara reign.

The Nataraja Temple is also one of the ‘Panchabhuta Sthalas’ with each one dedicated to five elements of universe – earth, air, water, fire and space; this temple signifies the fifth element, space.The place where the temple sits is believed to be the centre of earth’s magnetic field. The main sanctum known as Chit Sabha, houses the deity of Nataraja and Sivakamasundari (Nataraja’s consort). The roof of Chit Sabha is made of gold and is believed to have been built during the Chola rule. The temple also has a shrine for Sivakamasundari known as the Sivakami Amman Temple and a 1000 pillared hall designed in the form of a chariot. Dating back to the Chola period, the temple and the hall are adorned with figures of dancers, drummers and musicians on the walls. The lofty gopurams of the temple ornamented with carvings of Hindu gods, various manifestations of Lord Shiva and dancers representing 108 postures of Bharatnatyam, are also a sight to behold.One of the most significant temples for Shaivites, a visit here is sure to provide you with an inner peace and solace.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM

6Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Dedicated to Goddess Parvati in the form of Meenakshi and her consort, Lord Shiva in the form of Lord Sundareswarar, the ‘Meenakshi Amman Temple’ is one of the most ancient and famous temples not only in Tamil Nadu but, in entire India. According to historical and archaeological records, the temple was originally built around 6th century AD and the major portion of it was damaged in 14th century by the Muslim invaders in India. The present structure of the temple dates back to 16th century when it was again restored to its pristine glory by the Nayak rulers.The temple houses 14 magnificent Gopurams including two golden Gopurams for the main deities elaborately sculpted and painted.

The Meenakshi temple is a majestic beauty with exquisite architecture. The image of Goddess Meenakshi is said to be carved out of a single emerald. This exotic temple was renovated by various kings, adding coiled corridors and larger-than-life sculptures. According to the legend of this temple the marriage of the goddess Meenakshi to Shiva actually took place in Madurai and is still celebrated every summer with great excitement.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

7Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram

One of the four primary pilgrimage destinations (‘Char Dhams’) for all Hindus across the world, the ‘Ramanathaswamy Temple’ is swarmed by hordes of pilgrims every day. Besides being one of the holy ‘Char Dhams’, the temple is also counted amongst the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. According to mythological legends, the story associated with the Shiva Lingam enshrined in the main sanctum of the temple goes back to the times of Ramayana. It is believed that after returning from Lanka, Lord Rama wanted to absolve his sins of killing the demon Ravana who was also a great Brahmin and scholar. In order to do so, he decided to worship Lord Shiva and asked Lord Hanuman to get the biggest Shiva Lingam from Himalayas. As it took very long for Hanuman to get the Shiva Lingam, and seeing the auspicious time for prayers being run out, Rama’s wife, Goddess Sita built a Shiva Lingam from sand. The same Shiva Lingam, known as ‘Rama lingam’ is believed to have been residing in the sanctum of the Ramanathaswamy Temple for centuries.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM

8Kumari Amman temple, Kanyakumari

Kumari Amman Temple is located on the shore of Kanyakumari which is the confluence of Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. The temple is devoted to an incarnation of Parvati, in the form of Kanyakumari, the Virgin Goddess. The Temple was built by the Pandya kings in 8th century and later renovated by the Vijayanagar, Nayaka and Chola rulers.According to legend the temple of Goddess Kanyakumari is dedicated to the extinguisher of evil in the form of Banasura, the demon king. The goddesses performed severe penance to win the hand of Lord Shiva for marriage.

The blue stone idol of Devi Kanya is believed to have installed by Sage Parashuram. The Devi is seen in penance with a garland in her right hand, and a sparkling nose jewel. It is believed that the nose ring is so bright that it has been mistaken as light form the Lighthouse. The radiance has confused ships sailing in the sea and they got wrecked in the sharp rocks.The temple of Kanyakumari is not just one of the most beautiful temples in India but crowded by visitors from all over the world. The temple complex is not just a marvel to look at but blissful for your soul.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 5:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

9Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the ‘Ranganathaswamy Temple’ located on the Srirangam Island of the Tiruchirappalli city in Tamilnadu, is another masterpiece of the Dravidian architecture. Spread across an area of over 150 acres, the temple has 49 sub-shrines and is dotted with 21 brilliantly carved Gopurams (tower gateways) with the main or the ‘Rajagopuram’ standing tall at 236 ft. making it the tallest in Asia. It is also only one of its kind shrine where you will find a unique mix of a temple and township co-existing; a part of the temple is actually dedicated to temple activities whereas the remaining portion serves as a township for human.

The temple also has 7 prakaras with the presiding deity of Lord Vishnu in the form of Lord Ranganathaswamy reclining on five-headed serpent, enshrined in the innermost prakara. The tower above the innermost prakara is in the shape of ‘Om’ and is completely plated in Gold. Counted as the first amongst the 108 ‘Divya Desams’ or holy abodes of Lord Vishnu, the temple draws uncountable pilgrims and tourists every year.

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee
Timings: 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

10Sripuram Golden Temple, Vellore

Situated on the hills of Malaikodi in the city of Vellore in Tamil Nadu, the ‘Sripuram Golden Temple’ is on the checklist of almost all tourists on a trip to temples in South India. Standing tall in its stunning beauty and grandeur, the temple is truly a sight to behold. Built only recently in the year 2007, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi known as ‘Sri Lakshmi Narayani’. Spread across a sprawling area of 100 acres, the temple is entirely built in pure gold. The total amount of gold used in creation of this temple is said to be around 15000 kilograms that costs around 600 crores. Over 800 gold and coppersmiths well experienced in temple art worked on the creation of this amazingly beautiful temple for 7 years. The outstanding carvings, sculptures, artwork and exquisite lighting work done by these artisans on the walls, ceiling and pillars of the temple is sure to leave you awestruck. The glittering reflection of the temple in the water body surrounding it, during night is just beyond words and is sure to leave you enchanted with its hypnotising beauty.

Entry Fee:No Entry Fee,Tickets to touch the gold 250 INR
Timings: 4:00 AM to 7:00 PM