From exquisitely architectured and carved temples to breathtaking lush green hill stations, stunning backwaters and mesmerizing beach views let us take up an amazing journey to explore the southern part of India, generally called South India which comprises the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Spirituality and South India are two faces of the same coin and we find this statement to be absolutely non-objectionable. Not only will you spot beautiful women draped elegantly in Silk sarees and men wearing a white lungi with a perfectly crisped shirt but you’ll be impressed by the majestical temples and cultural heritage that this section of our country owns.
The southern region dominates with many ancient Dravidian architectural masterpieces that are inspired by Vedic astrology. Let us take you on a spiritual and mystical tour of few of the world’s famous monumental heritage sites in South India.
- Tirupati: Acclaimed to be the most reputed religious sites in the world in terms of the number of visitors and the amount of donation, Tirupati is a temple city in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. It is considered as one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites because of the golden habitat of Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple. Named as the best ‘heritage city’ by India’s Ministry of Tourism, Tirupati is visited by millions of tourists, irrespective of their religion and belief from all across the world. The temple is situated at the top of Tirumala Hills and evokes feelings of strong spirituality. While Sri Venkateshwara Temple is the primary attraction, Tirupati is home to a plethora of ancient temples and monuments for the tourists.
- Madurai: The historical city of Madurai is home to some of the most impressive and decorated temples in South India. Considered to be the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Madurai has a great cultural heritage and strong mythological history. The major attraction to the city is Meenakshi Temple. With all its grandeur and opulence Meenakshi temple covers 15 acres and has 4,500 pillars and 12 towers. Other prominent temples in Madurai are Thiruparankundram, Koodal Azhagar Temple, Pazhamudhir Solai which showcase the cultural heritage of the city.
- Rameshwaram: The city of Rameshwaram holds a special place in Hindu mythology as Lord Rama built a bridge across the sea to rescue Goddess Sita from the clutches of the demon Ravana, in SriLanka. It is one of the holiest places in our country and the city is associated with innumerable myths. It’s known for Ramanathaswamy Temple, a Hindu pilgrimage site with pillared hallway and it is the longest in India when it comes to the perimeter. The carved pillars along with the magnificent ceiling make for an interesting spectacle. The pilgrims are supposed to take bath first before entering the temple at the Agni Theertham as part of the purification ritual. The water is considered to be holy and purifying to mind and body. Along with Dwarkadish, Puri and Badrinath Temple, Rameshwaram completes the famous circuit of Chardham Yatra to the Hindu pilgrims.
- Sabarimala: More than 50 million devotees visit Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala every year, making it the largest in India and the 2nd largest religious gathering in the world. The temple is dedicated to Lord Dharmashastha or popularly known as Ayyappan. Sabarimala is situated in the heart of the evergreen forest in Kerala and the locals believe that Vishnu’s incarnate Parasurama placed the idol of Lord Ayyappa at the top of the mountain.
- Mysore: It is a very popular destination among the devotees of South India and prominently for the annual celebration of Dusshera. The demon Mahisasura was supposedly killed by goddess Chamundeshwari after a fierce and long-drawn-out battle. A temple is built on the top of Chamundi Hills and is one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas in India which attracts a lot of tourists every year. Not only Chamundeshwari Temple, but the town of Mysore also has other temples like Prassana Krishnaswamy Temple and Trineshwaraswami Temple.
- Kumbakonam: Kumbakonam is a gorgeous temple town and gets its name from the deity Lord Aadhi Kumbeshwarar. A traditional representation of South Indian culture, the town is home for more than 18 temples. The Sarangapani Temple is one of the most unique and impressive temples with a shrine in the form of a horse-drawn chariot. Another prominent temple situated here is the Airateswara Temple which is a 12th-century marvel. Its stone carvings are a treat to the eye and denote the Chola Dynasty’s finesse and taste for perfection. The detailing is much more intricate than the Tanjore Temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple that are situated nearby and is worth visiting. Like many other sacred places, Kumbakonam has a unique festival known as the Mahamaham festival. The festival is celebrated once in every twelve years coincides with the entry of Sun and Jupiter into the constellation of Aquarius and Leo respectively.