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Temples & Monuments Of South India

Temples & Monuments of South India
Among the thousands of holy places through out India, some had achieved greater significance than the others as the spiritual followers increase over the times. Each region has one or two incarnation of the Lord Vishnu or other Deities that they especially worship. Lord Rama is worshiped from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar. In the western India is Lord Krishna, In Maharastra is worshiped Vittala, In the southern region of Tamil Nadu is Lord Vishnu and in Andhra Paradesh is Narashimha.

Each region consists of one or two major shrines. There are the Guruvayur and the Padmanabha temples in Kerala, Sri Meenakshi in Madurai and Sri Rangam in Tamil Nadu. The famed Chamundeswari and Udupi in Karnataka and Tirupati in Andhra pradesh. The Pallava rulers, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Nayaks all have contributed to the Southern style of temple creation

Architecture of the South Indian Temples
The South Indian temple design is in the typical Dravidian style that is usually made from stones. The shape of the temples may be rectangular, square, star shaped or octagonal. These temples in general have large towers known by gopurams places at the entrances. A vimana is the tower over the sanctum where the deities are placed while the large pillared hall with corridors are common in all the south Indian temple architecture.

Some temples dates back to more that 1700 years displaying a rich heritage of South India. The most sacred place in the architecture of the temples is the pitha, the pedestal, that is placed in the sanctum sanctorum or the inner sanctum. The sanctum santorum is topped by a pyramidal tower having several high storied called the vimana. Many temples have halls such as the ranga mahal intricately carved for occasional sacrifices and dance recitals. The main area to the halls are surrounded by a single wall of many miles in length

Sri Krishna Temple

Sri Krishna Temple

The Sri Krishna Temple is one of the most important and the richest temple in the whole of South India. Dedicated to Lord Krishna , the temple is also known by the name of Guruvayurappan. It signifies the name of the deity meaning the lord of Guru and Vayu. The deity of Lord Krishna is said to forgive the sins of his devotees who come to worship him in the temple. The Deity placed in the temple is over 5000 years old.

The deity of Lord Krishna is seen with the rare stone patala anjamam having four arms carrying a coonch, disc, mace and a lotus adorned with a tulsi garland and pearl necklace. The ritual of Tulabharam is a common sight here where devotees donate quantity of materials that equals the weight of their body. Devotees are seen being weighed against banana,sugar, jaggery or coconuts. The worship of the temple is done by the Nambudri Brahmins who live within the precinct of the temple.

According to the Puranas, the deity was worshiped by Lord Brahma in the beginning and given to Vaaudeva, the father of Lord Krishna. Later on the deity was worshiped by Lord Krishna himself in Dwarka. As the sea began to submerged the deity was transferred to its present location by Guru and Vayu.

Temple architecture
The attraction of this temple is the magnificent deity of Lord Sri Krishna. The temple comparatively small in size than the other south Indian temple is entered through the east direction. The eastern gateway is known as the Bholoka Vaikuntham and is the main entrance to the temple. The other enclosures contains a 110 ft high gold plated dwajastambam or flag ship. To the either side of the flag post are the pillars of lamp providing a spectacular view at night with its circular receptacles.

In the middle of the temple is located the central shrine called the Shikoli. The Shikoli holds the sanctum santorum where the main deity of Lord Krishna is placed. The wall depicts the early life and past times of the Lord. The Nalambalam, encircles the inner sanctum having the altar. It is the particular place where devotees view the deities.

The southern part contains the mystery cell believed to hold the jewels and ornaments well protected by the serpents Panchanagas. The courtyard is termed as Matilakan and the temple tank is called the Rudra titha. Next to the tank lies the shrine in the name of the goddess Edatharikathu kavil bhagavati.


Daily Chores in the Temple
The deity can be viewed from 3 am to 12.30pm and 4.30 to 10 pm. There are two entrances open, one from the east where the main bus stand is placed and the other to the west. Separate lines are there for men and women. There is a processing every evening of the deity at 7 pm. The deity is seen in elephant backs seated on his golden throne. A variety of classical dance such as Bharatnatyam are performed for the public.


Festival
The Ekadasi festival is celebrated in the months of November and December during the mangalam season. One can see the festival of lights called Vilakku. The las three days attracts a lot of devotees in Navami, Dasami and Ekadasi. As a part of the Ekadasi there is held the 11 days Chembur festival. The ten days long Utsavam Festival is another important occassion that includes an elephant race.


How to reach
» By Air : The nearest airport is in kochi or cochin 90 km away from the pilgrim site of Guruvayur.

» By Train : The nearest rail head is located in Trissur or at Kuttipuram from where Guruvayur is just 52
Kilometers.


Ramanathaswamy Temple

Ramanathaswamy Temple

The temple of Ramanathaswamy is located to the southern end of the Indian Peninsula on an island called Rameshwaram. The island sanctified by the footprints of lord Rama stands proud of the Ramanathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva whose worshipable deity was Lord Rama himself. The popular temple lies next to the sea of bay of Bengal. Believed to have been built around 12th century there have been many addition so far. The temple area covers an area of 15 acres of land.

Legends opined that the Siva-Linga in the Ramanathaswamy Temple was installed by Lord Rama on his return from the Island of Lanka after killing Ravana. Lord Rama wanted to absolve himself of the sins of killing the Lanka King Ravana, who was a Brahmin by birth. Lord Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailasha to bring the Linga. When Hanuman was late Sita made a Linga out of sands with her hand . Thus,the Linga came in to existence and came to be known as Rama -Linga

Temple Architecture
There is a deity of Hanuman placed on the main entrance seen trying to remove the sand Rama -Linga. The Temple has a long corridors with large sculptured pillars that are designed with intricate carvings. The corridors are the longest temple corridor in India. The corridor is 9m high and 21 feet wide. The Ramanathaswamy temple contains a total of about 1212 pillars in the north and south corridors. There is the huge bull Nandi, the carrier of lord Shiva towards the east entrance. The sculpture is 5 meter long and 3 m high.

As one goes to the interior of the temple there can be seen the Ramanathaswamy Siva shrine. In the principal sanctum or the altar , there is placed the Linga of Sri Ramanatha. The Vishwa- Linga installed by Hanuman rests to the right of the Ramatha- Linga on a different altar . The Shrine of Parvathavardhini, the consort of Sri Ramantha is to the left side of the linga. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu called Setu Madhava.

There are to be found 22 teerthams or tanks in the temple where pilgrims traditionally bath before offering puja to the deities. Some of the important tanks are Mahalakshmi, the tank of wealth, Gayatri, tank to get rid of Curse and Setu Madhava to get the blessing of Lakshmideva. The Surya tank is famous for acquiring knowledge of the past, present and future.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Six worship services are carried out each day, the first being at 5am and it continues till the dark evenings. Special pujas are offered to the deity with great festivity every Friday. The whole day sees the temple surrounded by a large population of devotees.Non Hindus are not allowed inside the inner Sanctum.


Festivals
Lord Rama is worshiped in the month of Aani or June and July according to the English calender. Two annual Bhrammotsavams are celebrated in the month of Aadi and in Maasi. Other festival held in the temple premises are Adi Thirukalyanam in June, Mahalaya Amavasai in September, Ramalingam Prathastai Mayand Navarathri Festival in October.


How to Reach
» By Air : Madurai Airport is the nearest one situated at a distance of 167 km from Rameswaram.

» By Rail : Two express trains, the Setu and the Rameswaram Express leave for Madras regulaly. The Rameswaram Express takes around 7 hours to Triruchirapalli.

Ekambareswarar Temple

Ekambareswarar Temple

The Ekambareswarar Temple is the 1st of the 32 Tevara Stalam built in the Tondai region of Southern India. Reckoned as one of the revered temple, it is the largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Kanchipuram. It is referred to as one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind, water, Fire, Earth and Space. The temple dominated the historical capital of the Pallava rulers.

History says that, once while Lord Shiva was meditating Parvati mischievously covered his eyes with her fingers which resulted in complete darkness on earth for many years. Shiva being angered by her act cursed Parvati to go to earth for penance. Parvati went to earth and created the earth linga and worshiped it under a mango tree in Kachipuram giving birth to the temple. The ancient temple has been in existence prior to the 600 AD and been praised in songs by the Saivite saints.

Temple Architecture Ekambareswarar
A part of the main temple was built by the Pallava Kings while the rest of the temple complex was erected in the 17 th century. The temple boast of a towering 60 meter high Gopuram built by Krishna Deva Raja of the Vijayanagara kingdom in the year 1509. There can be found no two towers opposite each other nor are the wall of the temple parallel to each other. The temple premise has a 540 pillar hall all intricately designed and beautifully carved. The pillared hall were constructed by the Vijayanagara Monarch.

A 3500 years old mango tree adores the sanctum having four branches each dedicated to the four Vedas. The Deity derives its name from the Mango tree from the words Eka-Amra-Natha, meaning the Lord of the Mango tree. The path to the tree has a Shiva Lingam made of around 1008 small lingas .The Huge linga is popular as the Prithivi Linga or the earth Linga. A Somaskanda panel featuring Shiva, Parvati and Skanda together Cherise the back end of the main shrine, which has been worship for centuries together.


Festivals
Festivals held are Ani Tirumanjanam in the month of July, Adi Kritikai and Avani Moolam in the month of August. The Chitra Purnima and Vaisakhi In the months of May and June marks the temples annual calender. The Panguni festival is celebrated for13days and during this period the wedding of the presiding deity is observed.


Daily Chores in the Temple
There are held six types of Puja daily in the temple by the name of Ushadkalam, kaalasanrhi, Uchi kaalam, Prodosham , Sayaratchai and Ardhajamam. The six types of services have different type of significance to the devotees offering the prayers.


How to Reach
» By Air : The nearest airport is in Madras, 71 km northeast to the place of Kanchipuram.

» By Rail : Kancheepuram railway station is on the Chengalpattu-Arakkonam section of the Southern Railways.

» By Road : Well connected by roads, the temple is situated at a distance of 80 Kms from Chennai.

Meenakshi Amman Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple

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Meenakshi Amman Temple
Location : Madurai, south of Madras in the state of Tamil Nadu
Dedicated To : Lord Shiva and Parvati
Significance : Parvati as Meenakshi
Also Known as- Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple

The twin Meenakshi Amman Temple is regarded as one of the largest and the biggest temples in India. Built in the 17th century one part of it is dedicated to Lord Shiva as Sundareswara or the Lord of beauty. The other sanctuaries is dedicated to Meenakshi, the wife of Shiva. Meenakshi is seen holding a parrot and a bouquet in her hand. The original temple created by Kulasekara Pandyan in the early years was in ruins. The present temple was reconstructed in the early 17th century by Tirumala Nayak. The temple is surrounded by Aadi, Chittiraj and the Massi streets.

Legends believed that, Goddesss Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva was reborn as Meenakshi having eyes like a fish to the family of Malayadhwaja Pandyan and his wife Kanchanamala on performing the Putthrakameshthiya puja. Born with three breast Meenakshi grew up to become a daring Queen. It was during her conquest that she met Lord Shiva, when her third breast vanished. Lord Shiva called her to Madurai and married her as Sundareswar.

Temple Architecture
Out of a total of 12 Gopurams or high rising towers , the four tallest Gopuram are placed at the outer walls each measuring 49 meters. The temple built in Dravidian architecture has four entrances that leads to the Meenakshi Amman shrine. The Astha Shakti Mandapan can be reached from the eastern gateway. Built under the guidance of the Nayakar's wife Rudrapathi Ammal and Tholimamal, the scenes from Meenakhshi Amman's life as a princess is depicted on the pillars.

There is a golden lotus pond called as Potramarai Kulam to the left of the Meenakshi Amman shrine. In the waters of the pond the Tamil sangam valued the literary works by placing them on the surface of the waters. Those that come up to the surface after going down the waters are valued as great masterpieces. To the western side is located the Oonjal Mamdapam housing the deities and the Killokutto Mandapam or commonly the hall of Parrots. The parrots are seen chanting the name of Meenakshi . Every week on Fridays, the Idols of Lord Shiva and Meenakshi are placed on the Swing and worshiped by chanting hymns and offering prayers.

The Deity of Lord Shiva is in the form of a Linga supported by 64 bhootaganas, 32 lions and 8 elephants. There is a stump of the Kadamba tree placed on the outer corridor under which Indra worshiped Lord Shiva. There can also be seen an unique idol of Nataraja dancing with the right leg raised to his shoulder. The idol is generally called Veli Ambalam.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Devotees are seen offering pujas in the early morning and it goes on till the evening. The whole atmosphere is filled with oil lamps called diyas and incense sticks fragrance all over the temple premises. Sound of the bells can be heard to great distance.

Sri Rangam Temple

Sri Rangam Temple

The first of the Vaishnava temples in south India, the Sri Rangam temple is the premier amongst the 108 Vaishnava divyadesas. The Vaishnava Acharyas made it the head quater of the Vaishnava movement. In present times the temple is managed by the Vaishnava Acharyas from the place Nathumani. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the entire Universe.

Lord Rudra narrated the origin of the Sri Ranga temple to Naradamuni. According to it, the temple sprang as a result of the tapas or meditation of Lord Brahma in the depth of the Milky ocean. Pleased with the devotion of Buddha, Lord Vishnu came in front of him as an idol in a vimana.. The Idol was borne by the celestial bird Garuda while Adishesha spreads its hood over it. The sun god and the moon god were seen fanning the deity. The celestial musicians Narada and Thumburu followed them singing his glory. The other devtas including Rudra raised the Jayaghosas.

When Brahma aroused from his meditation, he found Lord Vishnu in front of him in the Garuda vimana. It was then that Lord Vishnu informed him of his new form as a Swayamuyakta or an idol, Hence, the temple sprang up in devotion to lord Vishnu on the particular place. Further the lord said that there would be 8 such temples apart from Srirangam which are Srimushnam, Venkatadri, Saligram, Naimisaranya, Totadri, Pushkara and Badri.

Temple Architecture
The enormous temple consists of a 156 acres of land having large Prakaras or Enclosures called as Tiru Veedhis. The temple in total consists of 7 concentric walls and 21 towers or gopurams The enclosures are built by thick rampart walls covering the sanctum. The seven walls stretches a distance of nearly six miles. Towers to the top of the prakaras are a wonderful sight to the visitors.

A latest addition to the temple is the 236 feet structure of Rajagopuram on the southern rampart by Sri Ahobila Mutt. The structure of the deity was placed in the year 1987 with pomp and religious piety. There is a grand hall of about 1000 beautifully structured pillars believed to have been constructed between the 14th and the 17th century. Non Hindus are not allowed the innermost sanctum of the temple.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Worship to the deity goes on from morning till evening every day. The atmosphere is filled with devotion and dedication to the almighty. Complete silence prevail in the inner sanctum which glows with the diyas and the fragnance of the incense sticks.


Festivals
On the 120th day of the year, the Utsavmaurthy is taken out for procession from its inner sanctum. The Aadi Bharam motsavam is celebrated in the month of Panguni while the great Adhyayanotsavam is performed in the month of Margazhi. The echoes of the recitation of the Prabandham hymns or the Alwar Pasurams can be heard within the thousand pillars.


How to reach
» By Air : Tiruchirapalli is well connected to Chennai, Madurai, Bangalore and Colombo in Sri Lanka. The airport is 07 kms from the city .

» By Rail : Tiruchirappalli is an important junction of the Southern Railways. It connects Chennai, Thanjur, Chidambaram and Madurai.

» By Road : Tiruchirappalli is well connected by road to Madurai, Chennai, Pondicherry and Thanjavur.

Palani Temple

Palani Temple

Dedicated to Lord Thandayuthapani or Lord Murugan the supreme commander of the celestial army, it is one of the six famous abodes known as 'Aarupadai veedu'. The Palani hill temple lies about 152 km from the district of Trichi. The shrine of Lord Murugan is atop a hill 500 feet in height. There are several theerthams enclosing the hill. The old shrine Aavinnankudi is believed to constructed be 2000 years before.

Lord Murugan, considered the deity of the Tamil Land Palani is the third Padai veru. The view of the Idumban hill is clear from the temple. The lord is seen holding the staff in his hand in a standing position. The appearance of the deity is like a man who had renounced the worldly pleasures. A small piece of loincloth covers his body.

Legends opines that once Lord Shiva was confused as to whom he should offer the fruit of knowledge offered by Narada. He then decided to arrive at a decision that whoever circulates round the earth faster would get it. Lord Subramanu jumped on his vahana for a trip round the earth while Lord Ganesha being smarted revolved round his parents in a mouse. Pleased by his devotion to then , he was given the fruit. Later when Subrramanyu returned he was displeased and renounced his parents angrily and settled in Palani. Thus, came the existence of Palani from his other name of Muguda.

Temple Architecture
The icon of the deity unique in the world was made by Siddha Bhogar with the combination of nine poisonous substances or Navabashana. The Lord signifies beauty and youth. The deity placed at the top of a hill can be reached by climbing the flights of steps. There are about 690 steps to the top of a hill. Large corridors are attached to the temple. the temple is considered one of the major pedal petra sthalams in the country.

The structure looks different with the Tirivavinankudi temple located at the bottom of the hill while the Palani Andavar is placed on top. In the core of the inner sanctum there are situated shrines of Navaveera, Navadurga, the Saptamataas, Kailasanadar and Chandeswarar. There is also placed the shrine of Bhogasiddhar, the founder of the Palani temple.


Daily Chores in the Temple
The early morning worship starts at 6 am and the temple is open all day until the last worship is conducted at 8 pm. Devotees are seen making a beeline to have the blessings of the deity.


Festivals
Special puja's are held every month on the day of Karthigai. The major festival of the temple is the Thaipoosam in the month of January, Vaisakan visakam in may while the main occasion is the Pankuni utharam that draws a large devotees from all over the state of Tamil Nadu.


How to Reach
» By Air : The nearest airport is in Madurai situated at a distance of 119 km from Palani.

» By Rail : There is a small rail head at Palani but, it is advisable to travel up to Dindigal or Madurai by train and take the bus route or taxi to reach Palani.

» By Road : Palani is well connected by road with all important cities in Tamil Nadu. There are regular buses to Madurai, Coimbatore, Chennai, and Dindigal,

Chidambaram Natarajar Temple

Chidambaram Natarajar Temple

This is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva found in his famous dancing pose with one leg in the air and consisting of four arms. The temple is honoured to Lord Shiva in his aspect of Nataraja or the form of the celestial Dancer. Lord Shiva is seen in the Ananda Tandavam dancing position. The position is taken from his victory upon Goddess Kali whom he defeated in the competition at the Tillai forest judged by Lord Vishnu himself.

The temple was built during the reign of the Vira Chola Raja In the 10th century. Krishnadeva of the Vijayanagar Kingdom reconstructed it in the year 1520 AD. The deity of Lord Shiva is made of five metals and in his hands are seen the drums of creations and the flames of destructions.

Temple Architecture
The Temple is in the northern part of the city with its outer walls about 1800 ft long. Spectacular to be viewed from outside, it consists of four Gopurams or towers measuring up to 50 meters. The north and the south Gopurams is 49m each. The Gopurams are elaborately carved with 108 classical dancing postures of the Nataraja, the most famous being the Tandava. The local Brahmans act as the Dikshitars and guides of the temple. To the western Gopuram, there is the tank of Shiva Ganga measuring 315 ft. A shrine in the name of the nine planets are positioned in front of the northern Gopurams. Also there is a 13th century temples in honour of Kartikeya to the north west part.

The temple has five halls having 1000 pillars and 340 ft in height. The pillars are intricately carved with granite monoliths. The halls are significant since the deities of Lord Shiva and the Sundari is brought to the place for Abhisheka or sacred bathing. The Nandi shrine and a deity of Ganesha decorates the southern part of the temple. The eastern side of the temple has the hall of gods or the Deva sabha.

The inner enclosure of the temple also holds a large Divya Desam Vishnu temple that dates back to the 14th century. The shrine there is dedicated to Govindaraja or Lord Vishnu seen reclining on the Ananta Sesa. The inner sanctum of Nataraja has a altar coloured with hammered silver. The roof is gold plated and the doors are of solid silver.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Worship to the Lord starts from early morning till late evening every day. The atmosphere is filled with devotion and dedication to the Celestial Dancer. Complete silence prevail in the inner sanctum which glows with the diyas and the fragrance of the incense sticks.


Festivals
Two main festivals adore the temple surroundings . One held in the month of May and the other in the month of December. However the best to see is the Natyanjali festival held in February. Dancers from all over the country are seen paying their homage to lord Shiva.

How to reach
» By Air : The nearest Airport is in Tiruchirappalli, 167 km south west from the place of Chidambaram.

» By Rail : Chidambaram is on the main line of the Southern Railway. There are trains to Madras, Kumbakonam and Thanjore and a direct train to Tirupati.

» By Road : There are buses available from Chidambaram to Thanjore, Pondicherry, Madras and Mamallapur

Brihadeswara Temple

Brihadeswara Temple

The Brihadeswara temple lies to the southern part of the city of Tanjavur between the Grand anicut canal and the Vadavar river. Dedicated to Lord Shiva , this magnificent temple was built in 1003 AD by the chola king Rajaraja I. The temple, considered among the grandest temples of the Hindu religion is unique to itself. The vimana or the tower over the altar sours into the sky. Popular as the Temples of Temple, the Rajarajesvaram temple display some of the best expressions of artistic excellence of the Chola period.

The name of the goddess is Brihannayaki and the deity of Jwaraharaeswara is said to control fever. It is believed that an offering to the deity when somebody has a chronic fever will release him of the sickness. The sandal paste given to apply over the body subsides the suffering. There is also a 55 foot high temples encloses within the premises of Lord Subramanya.

Temple Architecture
The temples is bestowed with a unique structure, while the gopurams at the entrances are small the tower above the temple is 216 ft in height with 14 stories. The temple is capped by a monolithic solid granite block 80 tons in weight. The spherical domed Shikara is octagonal and rest to the top of the granite block. There is placed a gigantic Maha-linga measuring 3.5 meters in the inner sanctum. The linga was brought from the river Narmada. It is said that the Linga when brought above the waters kept increasing day by day and hence, the name Brihadeswara was given to it.

Also to be found inside is the giant figure of Nandi, the bull of Lord shiva carved out of a single stone which is considered second largest in India after the one at Leepakshi. The structure is 13 feet high and 6 meters long. Towards the western wall, of the temple is the Seppunaikan Tank. The Shiva Ganga tank is one of the sacred tank found in the temple courtyard. The mandapa or the hall has about 100 pillars all intricately designed and carved beautifully.

There is also to be found an interesting Archaeological Museum which exhibits the ancient ruins and the temples restoration. It also gives a chance to look back in to the history of the Chola Empire. The 107 paragraph long inscription found on the walls of the Vimana reads the contributions of the chola king Rajaraja and his sister Kundavai to the Thanjavur temple.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Peoples throng to the temple premises from the wee hours of the morning lined up to have a glimpse of the Deity. The pujas can be offered till late evening . The whole atmosphere is filled with an aura of peace, respect and honour for Lord Shiva after visiting the place. Archanas, Abhishekam and Prasad offerings are a daily affair.


Festivals
The day of the Ruling star, satabhishag is treated as a festival day every month as it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of birth of Rajaraja. The annual festival is held for 9 days in the month of Visaka or May according to the English calender. The deity is bathed with the water soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.


How to Reach
» By Air : The nearest airport is situated at Trichy which is 65-km from Thanjavur.

» By Rail : The railway station at Thanjavur is well connected with Trichy, Chennai, Madurai and Nagore.

» By Road : Thanjavur is well connected by road with all the major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu and also with Kochi, Ernakulam, and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Bangalore in Karnataka. There are regular bus services for visiting all the places of interest in and around Thanjavur.

Arunachaleswara Temple

Arunachaleswara Temple

The temple is at the foot of the Arunachala Hill and is one of the largest temples in India. The Vijayanagara ruler Krishna Deva Raya built the temple in between 1502 to 1529. The inner sanctorum of the temple dates back to the 11th century. In this temple is found one of the elements lingas where God Shiva incarnates as Fire. The Arunachaleswara temple spreads over an area of 24 acres. An interesting fact is that the Kadugai or the roof edge is formed of Yali friezes and the vimana of mortar.

There are found about 119 epigraphs in the temple most pertaining to the Cholas for a long time. The rest of the inscriptions belongs to the Kopperunjinga, Pallava, Hoysalas and the Vira Vallava Deva Nagara Kings. Inside the premises of the large temple there are also temples dedicated to Subramanya and Parvati. The temple came in to existence when Lord Shiva was angered by the act of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. He then took the form of Fire having neither a beginning nor an end

Temple Architecture
The Arunachaleswara Temple has a 60m or 13 storied high sculptured gopurams. There are in total 9 gopurams of which four are in the middle of the walls. The larger one or the big tower is called by the name of Raja gopuram. Thirumanjuna gopuram and pey Gopuram are to the north and south of the temple. The outer corridor has a granite wall that links the entrance gopurams. The massive wall is about 30 ft high.

On entering the temple from the east, there is the Thousand pillar hall built by Chola king Krishna Deva Raya. The exactly 1000 pillars are inscripted with the sculptures of the Naik period. The mandapam where the deity is placed and worshiped is known as the Ani Thirumanjaram. The sacred tank or pool of ShivaGanga is towards the south of the Kambathu iiayanar mandapam with enclosed corridor. The tank is used for the purification and ablution of the Deities in the temple. The water to the tank was provided by digging a canal called Thirumalaiamman Devi Samundram.

The third mandapa has 16 pillars and it is from this mandapa that the Pancha Murthis or the five deities give darshan on the day of Kartigai. The sanctum is reached by the main entrance in the east. Within the sanctum Lord Shiva personified as Annamalaiyar is present in Linga form . The Rudra baga is covered with gold plate. There is the Devi shrine to the opposite of the Mandapa.


Daily Chores in the Temple
Daily pujas are performed to Lord Arunachaleswara six times from early mornings to late evenings. The Pujas are performed in the traditional way. People are seen queuing in large numbers to offer puja to their Lord.


Festivals
Annually innumerable festivals are carried out in the temple. The most famous festival is "Karthigai Deepam" celebrated in the month of November to December for 10 ten consecutive days. During the festival every day in the morning and night 'Lord Arunachaleswara is taken out for a procession through the streets.


How to Reach
» By Air : Triruvanamalai is over 100 km south of Kanchipuram and 185km to Madras. From Madras there are international flights to important destinations around the world.

» By Rail : The train station is in the line between Madurai and Tirupati. Metro gauge trains operate between Vellore and Triruvanamalai.

» By Road : The bus stand is just 2 km away near to the temple. Many people arrive by bus to the temple. Triruvalluvar Transport Corporation buses run regularly to places like Tirupati, Madras, Kachipuram.

Thirumalainayak Palace Madurai

Thirumalainayak Palace Madurai

Designed by an Italian architect in 1636 AD, the Thirumalainayak Palace was the main palace where the King Thirumalainayak lived. The original palace, however, was four times bigger than the size of the present structure. The palace is a brilliant example of the Indo Saracenic style of architecture. Today the courtyard and the dance hall are the key attractions of the palace. The whole complex is enclosed by huge and high walls, running 300 m from east to west and 200 m from north to south. Thses walls have stood the taste of time till a hundred years ago. It was only during the 19th century that Lord Napier, the Governor of Madras between 1866 and 1872, paid heed to the palace and began several renovation work

Thirumalainayak Palace Architecture
The Thirumalainayak palace symbolises the Indo Saracenic style of architecture. The Thirumalainayak palace was divided into two major parts - the Swargavilasa and the Rangavilasa. These two parts of the palace housed the royal residence, theatre, shrine, apartments, armory, palanquin place, royal bandstand, quarters, ponds and gardens. The king used to conduct dance and music performances in the palace on a daily basis. Chokkanatha Nayak, the king's grandson, destroyed the palace and took the jewels away to other places. The large rectangular courtyard or the Swargavilasam stands even today abutting a few other buildings that have survived even to this day. The awe-inspiring structures are testimony to an era that boasted of glory and grandeur. The sizable courtyard covers an area of 3,900 sq m, being surrounded by gigantic circular pillars. The Throne Chamber lies to the west of this courtyard. The chamber is a huge room topped with a large octagonal dome. Moving further ahead, one comes across the Dance Hall. After India gained her Independence, the palace was declared a national monument. Today the Tamilnadu Archaeological Department takes care of this ancient treasure. The inner shrines of the palace are believed to have a history dating back much before the 16th century. There are numerous paintings and sculptures present even today to take the visitors by storm. The ornate ceilings bear paintings relating to various themes of the Shiavite and the Vaishnovite. The marriage of Sundareswarar with Devi Meenakshi has also been depicted through wonderful paintings.
The Thirumalainayak palace is open for visiting from 0900 hours to 1500 hours. An entry fee is to be paid in order to explore the ancient riches of the palace.

Light and Sound Show
The Thirumalainayak palace organises Light and Sound Show that enlivens the story of Silappathikaram. The show is held both in English and Tamil languages. The brilliant show is one's chance of gaining an insight into the life of king Thirumalainayak. The show particularly stresses on his profound love for arts, his victories in battles and his affection for his people.


How to Reach
» By Air : The Madurai Airport is located at a distance of 12 km from the city centre. There are daily flights from here to places like Chennai and Mumbai.

» By Rail : The Madurai Railway Station is located within the city centre. There are regular trains connecting to places like Coimbatore, Chennai, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari and other key destinations of south India.

» By Road : A fabulous road-network connects Madurai to the major towns of Tamil Nadu and the surrounding areas.

Shore Temple

Shore Temple

The Shore Temple, located at Mamallapuram, was erected during the reign of Rajasimha in the 7th century AD. The temple rests on a rocky outcrop, presiding over the shoreline. The temple was designed with a view to catching the first rays of the rising sun and illuminating the waters after dark. For this reason, the temple has an unusual layout. It was the first Pallava structure to be built in stone. The older temples, however, were hewn out of stone. The Shikhara or the spire of the temple has been prominently designed. The spire has a soaring and tiered style rather than being like a rounded Vihara.

he Temple Architecture
The Shore Temple is a brilliant example of the Pallava art and architecture. What is to be noted is the design of the Shikhara or the spire. The design has altered from the rounded Vihara to the soaring tiered style. Erected to catch the first rays of the rising sun, the temple has an unusual design. The main shrine of the temple faces the east while the gateway, the forecourt and the assembly hall are located behind the sanctum.
The temple stands in dedication to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. A chain of Nandi Bulls can be observed along the enclosing wall of the temple. A huge stone wall was built to protect the temple against the rising waves of the sea. The wall also helped to save against further erosion. Facing the east and the west are two shrines to honour Lord Shiva. Acquiring a position between these two shrines is a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu can be seen resting on the serpent Sesha which symbolises consciousness. The sculpted panels of the temple represent the mastery of the erstwhile artisans of the Pallava era.

Festivals
Apart from being known for its sculptural treasures, the city of Mahabalipuram is also popular for the festival of Pongal. The festival is celebrated in mid-January every year. Yet another popular fsetival that is organised around the same time is the Dance Festival. Far-famed artists put up fabulous performances of Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Odissi dance forms. With the beautiful backdrop of the Shore Temple, the celebrations fill every heart with intense delight.


How to Reach
» By Air :Chennai (76 km) is the closest airport from Mammallapuram. .

» By Rail : Chengalpattu, 29 km from Mahabalipuram, is the nearest railway station from here. There are regular trains from here connecting to Chennai and other places of the country.

» By Road :Mahabalipuram or Mammallapuram has a fabulous road-network, connecting to places like Chennai, Tirukkalikundram or Pakshithirtham, Kanchipuram and Pondicherry.

Pilgrim Tour Packages

Pilgrim Tour Packages

Mysore Palace


Blending together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic style of architecture, the Mysore Palace is one of the key tourist attractions in the city of Mysore. Mysore was under the rulership of the Wodeyar Dynasty from 1399 till the independence of India in the year 1947. The Wodeyar rulers erected a palace in the city in the 14th century. The palace, however, suffered sever damages by a lightning strike in 1638. It was then repaired and expanded, falling upon evil times once again by the late 18th century. No wonder, a new palace was constructed in its place in 1803. Surprisingly enough, the palace was again destroyed by a fire in 1897.
Kempananjammani Vanivilasa Sanndihana, the queen regent of Mysore, commissioned a British architect Henry Irwin to erect yet another palace in its place. The construction got finished in 1912.

Temple Architecture
The stately and elegant Mysore Palace blends together various styles of architecture namely Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles. The architectural style, however, is commonly described as Indo-Saracenic. The stone structure of the temple has three storeys with marble domes and a 145-feet-high tower. A large garden around adds charm to the setting all the more. The temple is built in fine gray granite while the domes are constructed in deep pink marble. The frontage of the temple is beautified by seven huge arches and two smaller ones flanking the central arch. There are tall pillars that support the central arch. An exquisite sculpture of Gajalakshmi can be seen above the central arch.
The Gombi Thotti or the Doll's Pavillion serves as the entrance to the huge palace. To reach the centre of the palace one has to pass through the Elephant Gate which is adorned with beautiful floral designs and a two-headed eagle, the royal symbol of Mysore. To the north of the gate are some ancient dolls dating back to the 19th centuries. The Kalyana Mandapa or the Marriage Pavillion lies to the south of the gate. The pavillion has an octagonal ceiling that bears colourful stained glass with peacock motifs. Fabulous chandeliers from Checkosalavakia can also be seen hanging from the ceiling. The second floor houses the Diwan-i-Am or the Darbar Hall, measuring 155 ft in length and 42 ft in breadth. Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audience also lies on the same floor.
The Palace is now under the supervision of the Department of Archaeology and Museums of the Karnataka Government. The palace has been turned into a museum exhibiting a huge collection of royal paintings, portraits, jwellery, costumes etc. The most attractive feature of the palace is the gold royal throne of the Wodeyars, weighing 200 kg. The throne is on display during the Dussehra festival.

Festivals
The most popular festival of the city of Mysore is of course Dussehra. The festival is celebrated on a grand scale throughout the city, attracting a large number of tourists and travellers from all parts of the world. Being on the scene of the festival is an excellent way of gaining an insight into the traditions and culture of the people of the city. The 200-kilograms gold throne can also be seen during the festivities.


How to Reach
» By Air :The closest airport from the city of Mysore is at Bangalore (130 km). The airport operates regular flights connecting to almost all the major destinations of the country.

» By Rail : There are trains like the Kaveri Express and the Shatabdi Express running between the cities of Bangalore and Mysore on a regular basis. Bangalore has links with cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai etc.


Jewish Synagogue In Mattancherry

Jewish Synagogue in Mattancherry

Built in 1568 AD, the Jewish Synagogue of Mattancherry is popular as the oldest synagogue in the Common Wealth Countries. The synagogue still preserves the Old Testament and the ancient copper plates that recorded the grants of privilege left by the Kochi rulers. The synagogue suffered partial damages in the war of 1662 AD.


Synagogue Architecture
It were the Dutch who paid attention to the synagogue that was in a pitiful condition. They got it rebuilt and today it is one of the chief attractions of Mattancherry. What is notable about the structure is its hand-painted Chinese tiles that are truly commendable. The huge clock tower was added to the structure in the 18th century.The Chinese tiles are a sight to behold. What is most fascinating about these tiles is the fact that not one of them resembles another. The unique tiles are around 200 years old. Apart from that one can also observe numerous finely wrought gold and silver crowns that were gifted by the patrons of the time.

The Jewish Synagogue can be visited from 1000 hours to 1200 noon and from 1500 hours to 1700 hours daily except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

This Jewish Synagogue has huge religious significance both in India and abroad. People from far and wide come to have a look at this ancient treasure. It adds yet another beautiful feather of the religious heritage of the country. The ancient scrolls of the Old Testament, the unique Chinese tiles and the Belgian chandeliers are the chief attraction of the synagogue.

The small town of Mattancherry lies at a distance of 10 km from Ernakulam town. From the Ernakulam there are regular bus and boat services to Mattancherry.


How to Reach
» By Air :The Cochin Airport is the closest airport from the town of Mattancherry.

» By Rail : There are regular train services available from Ernakulum to the different parts of the state.

» By Road :From Ernakulam, there are regular bus services available connecting to the town of Mattancherry.

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