Southern region of India consists of the five states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana as well as three union territories of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry. South region has a tropical climate and is dependent on the monsoons for rainfall. It has a non-arid climate with minimum mean temperatures of 18 °C. The most humid is the tropical monsoon climate characterized by moderate to high year-round temperatures and seasonal heavy rainfall above 2,000 mm per year. The tropical climate is experienced in a strip of south-western lowlands abutting the Malabar Coast, the Western Ghats and the islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar are also subject to this climate. The southwest monsoon from June to September accounts for most of the rainfall in the region.
The southern region of India corresponds with many historical temples. The architecture of these temples are extraordinary, unique, and incomparable. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi in the Vijayanagara district of Karnataka, is considered as the most spiritual or sacred temple in South India. Another historic town, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, is a land of the extensively remarkable and significant temple in Southern India—the Meenakshi temple. Other historical spots that form the must-visit spiritual places for the tourists are The Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, recognized as the famous Tirupati Temple, Tirupati. The Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of India.
For the Buddhism and the Jainism followers, the temples of Aihole in Karnataka promise to give a wonderful experience exploring these two religions’ monuments. Another prominent monastery is the- Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery in Karnataka, which draws thousands of visitors and the lamas from different parts of the world on the eve of the Tibetan New Year.
The spread of Jainism is evident from the large and magnificent temples in the southern part of the subcontinent. Some of the notable Jain temples in southern India includes the Gomateshwara Temple in Karnataka, Badami Cave Temples in Karnataka, Kulpakji Temple in Telangana, and the Dharmanath Temple in Kerala.
One of the essential Gurdwaras of the Sikh community, Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib in Karnataka, draws the attention of thousands of Sikhs to this beautiful state.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Andaman and Nicobar Islands are a group of islands at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea well known for scenic beaches and the infamous “Kaala Pani” (Cellular Jail) of British colonial era. Port Blair is the capital and the largest city of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprises of two island groups, the Andaman Islands, and the Nicobar Islands, separated by the 150 km wide “Ten Degree Channel”, with the Andamans to the north of this latitude, and the Nicobars to the south. The Andaman Sea lies to the east and the Bay of Bengal to the west.
Some of these Islands are also home to the Sentinelese people, an uncontacted people. The Sentinelese are the only people currently known to not have reached further than stone age technology.
The Climate of Andaman & Nicobar Islands is a warm tropical climate with a humid Weather and has no winter season. Climate here is always warm, with pleasant sea-breeze. The rainy season happens twice a year under the influence of Southwest monsoon in mid-May to September, and Northeast monsoon in November to January. There is medium to heavy rain during the monsoon, in the months from May to mid-September and November to mid-December.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh is known for its cultural heritage, charming countryside, and mouth-watering delicacies. Amaravati is the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh while Hyderabad is de jure capital of the state. Since times immemorial, Andhra Pradesh has been renowned as a spiritual destination with its thousands of temples that subtly blend stunning architecture and artistic magnificence with delightful legends and tumultuous history.
The first temple that most pilgrims visit in Andhra Pradesh is the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple – one of the richest temples in India and famed as one among the eight Swayambu Kshetras dedicated to Lord Vishnu. A fine example of Dravidian architecture, it draws millions of devotees from all over the world. Srisailam is home to the famed Siva Mallikarjuna Temple featuring one among the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva in India. The 600-year-old temple is also regarded as a Shakthipeetha of Goddess Parvathi. Lepakshi is a fascinating village dotted with interesting archaeological remains and ancient temples featuring intricate sculptures. Most famous among the temples in Lepakshi is the Veerbhadra Temple that boasts of a huge, monolithic Nandi statue made of granite – one of the largest in India. Built in the 16th century in the Vijayanagara architectural style, the artistic brilliance of the temple is a breathtaking sight.
Undisputedly one of the most famous temples in Andhra Pradesh is the Kanaka Durga temple in Vijayawada believed to be created by Arjuna for the worship of Goddess Durga. As astounding example of Dravidian architecture, the temple that finds mention in numerous sacred texts is visited by millions of devotees each year. Yaganti Temple in Kurnool is another famous Shiva temple dating back to the 15th century and featuring various caves such as Veera Bramham Cave, Agastya Cave and Venkateshwara Cave. Known as Kashi of the South, Srikalahasti Temple in Chitoor built in 1516 is a major Shaivite temple renowned for its fabulous carvings.
One among the 108 Divya Desams, Ahobilam Temple in Kurnool is a unique temple where Lord Narasimha is worshipped in nine different forms and is believed to be the spot where Lord Narasimha slayed Hiranyakasipu. Another prominent temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha is the Simhachalam temple featuring enchanting architectural styles from the times of Cholas and Chalukyas. Dating back to the 11th century, the Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple is believed to house an idol of Lord Ganesha that keeps growing. The water available at the temple is said to be a cure for many ailments.
Buddhism that was once deeply entwined in the culture of Andhra Pradesh is now evident in the numerous Buddhist monasteries that still echo the holy chants. Salihundam in Srikakulam district dating back to the 2nd century and Ramatheertham in Vijayanagaram are replete with Buddhist temples and stupas. Thimmapuram was a bustling Buddhist center that was home to over 100 monks in the 3rd century. Bojjannakonda, Kotturu, Kodavali, Guntupalli and Amaravati are other famous Buddhist centers in the state.
A tour of temples in Andhra Pradesh offers visitors a breathtaking insight into the rich history, cultural heritage, and spiritual legends of the state. To experience the best of ancient architecture and indulge in spirituality like never before, set off on a tour of the famous temples in Andhra Pradesh.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Karnataka
Karnataka is known for its rich heritage sites, ancient temples, historic places, beautiful mountain ranges of Western Ghat (Sahyadri) and sun-kissed beaches. The name Karnataka is derived from the Kannada words ‘karu’ means ‘elevated’ and ‘nādu’ means ‘land’, literally meaning ‘elevated land’. A tour of famous temples in Karnataka is an enchanting gateway into the opulence and magnificence of its bygone eras. Impressive architecture, spectacular sculptures, breath-taking landscapes and divine ambience in its temples and monasteries combine to offer visitors a rejuvenating experience.
Religious tourism in Karnataka is best depicted by the colossal statue of Lord Shiva with the Arabian Sea as backdrop at the Murudeshwar Shiva Temple in Bhatkal. Another must-see for Shaivites is the Kotilingeshwara Temple in Kolar featuring the tallest Shiva linga in Asia. Aihole is home to 125 temples with the most famous being the 7th century Durga Mandir, known for its impressive and unique architecture.
The 1200-year-old Mookambika Mandir in Kollur is a spectacular temple believed to be the area where Goddess Parvati killed the demon Mookasuran (Mahishasura). Famed as ‘Dakshina Kashi’ and revered as the most sacred pilgrimage center in Karnataka is the Mahabaleshwar Mandir in Gokarna dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ghati Subramanya near Bengaluru famed for snake worship is distinctive for its deities of Lord Subramanya and Lakshmi Narasimha carved as a single idol and facing opposite directions.
For a unique temple experience, head on to the Badami Cave Temples in Bagalkot dating back to 578 AD and featuring four temples. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most ancient temples in the state is the Vitthala Mandir, nestled amongst the ruins in Hampi and famed for its stone chariot. The 12th century Chennakeshava Mandir in Belur is famed for its stunning artwork that showcases life in the bygone eras.
Buddhism too has a delightful presence in Karnataka. The Dhondenling Tibetan settlement is home to five monasteries with the Dzogchen Monastery being the largest and most stunning. Bylakuppe near Mysore is home to another Tibetan settlement and the famous Namdroling Buddhist monastery known for its prayer wheels, majestic statues of Buddha and mystical ambience.
Jainism runs deep in the religious history of Karnataka. Thanks to the patronage of rulers from various dynasties such as the Mauryas, Hoysala, Kadamba and Chalukya, the state is now home to numerous Jain monuments dating back to as far as the 3rd century BC. Shravanabelagola is home to 106 Jain monuments, including 92 monuments in Chandragiri Hill, some of them dating back to 300BC. Do not miss the stunning Gommateshwara Statue in Shravanbelagola – a 57-feet tall, monolithic statue of Bahubali. It is believed that praying at the feet of nine statues of Tirthankaras at the Navagraha Jain Temple in Hubli will help appease graham doshas.
Sikhs can find spiritual solace at the various gurudwaras in the state. The Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib Gurudwara in Bidar known for its tranquil surroundings is historically significant as the place where Guru Nanak created a spring of fresh water in the region ravaged by famine. Another prominent Sikh pilgrimage center is the Guru Singh Sabha Gurudwara in Bengaluru.
With rich cultural heritage, captivating history and thousands of religious centers, Karnataka continues to mesmerize generations and offers a truly unique spiritual getaway.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Kerala
Kerala is famous for beautiful palm-lined beaches, scenic backwaters and lagoons, hill stations, emerald green valleys, tropical forests, waterfalls, exotic wildlife, ancient temples and monuments, and enchanting festivals. The state is noted for AYURVEDA, a traditional system of holistic healing using herbs and medicinal oils that serve to rejuvenate the body, and is home to a variety of herbs and spices. Thiruvananthapuram, also known as Trivandrum, is the capital and the largest city of the state of Kerala. The name Kerala is derived from the word ‘Kera’, which means ‘coconut tree’ in Malayalam, because of abundance of coconut trees in the state.
True to its famed tagline ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala mesmerizes her guests with unique cultural heritage, picturesque natural settings, warm hospitality and delectable cuisine. A deeper exploration reveals ancient temples, mystical shrines and sacred monasteries shrouded in fascinating legends, magnificent history, architectural splendour, artistic brilliance, and spiritual harmony. So, here are some famous temples in Kerala that have captivated millions with its divine ambience.
The richest place of worship in the world and one among the most divine 108 Vishnu temples is the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Mandir in Thiruvananthapuram. Designed in the Dravidian architectural style, this 8th century temple is renowned for its captivating wall murals, stone sculptures and the idol of Lord Vishnu reclining on the serpent God Anantha.
Another temple that subtly blends architectural splendor with divinity is the Vadakkunathan Mandir in Thrissur. Believed to be built by Lord Parasuram, the temple features huge pillars with splendid sculptures and murals. A must-visit for Shaivites is the 14th century Ettumanoor Mahadeva Mandir in Kottayam, famous for its fresco of Shiva, it is considered to be one of the most magnificent ancient artworks in South India.
There is no dearth of fascinating legends and stories related to ancient temples across Kerala. According to legends, the Shiva linga worshipped in the 1000-year-old Kaviyoor Mahadeva Mandir was instated by Lord Ram during his journey to Ayodhya after slaying the asura Ravana. Thirunelli Mandir in Wayanad is believed to be the creation of Lord Brahma. Known as Dwaraka of the South, the Guruvayoor Mandir is believed to be the creation of the divine architect ‘Lord Vishwakarma’.
To experience the holiness of the sacred feminine, seek the blessings of Goddess Parvathi at the Attukal Bhagavathy Mandir. Another ancient temple dedicated to the Goddesses is the 1300-year-old Udiyanoor Devi Mandir in Thiruvananthapuram, the only north-facing temple in Kerala. An astonishing ritual at the Chottanikara Devi Temple in Ernakulam is worshipping the same deity as Saraswati in the morning, Lakshmi in the afternoon and Durga in the evening.
Searching for a truly unique spiritual experience? Do visit the Ananthapura Lake Mandir, guarded by a vegetarian crocodile. The Oachira temple in Kollam with no idol or sanctum sanctorum glows with the true spirit of universal consciousness. Located within 16 acres of forests, is the Mannarasala Mandir in Haripad. The temple is dedicated to the serpent God Nagaraja and considered as the most revered place for childless couples of all religions.
Experience the footprints of Jainism in the 500-year-old Jain Mandir in Palakkad featuring ancient sculptures of Jain Yakshinis and Tirthankaras. Buddhist statues unearthed in different parts of Kerala indicate that Buddhism was deep rooted in ancient Kerala. Buddha idols now enshrined in Karumadi and Mavelikkara are estimated to be over 2000 years old. Sikhism too has left an imprint on Kerala with the Sri Guru Singh Sabha near Kochi that has been attracting people of all faiths since 1955.
A trip to Kerala offers the perfect pilgrimage of a lifetime, introducing you to ancient legends, stunning architecture, breathtaking views, diverse faiths, and profound spiritualism.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep is a group of palm-covered, white-sand-skirted coral islands located southwestern coast of India, known for beautiful and exotic islands and beaches. Kavaratti is the capital city of Lakshadweep.
The name Lakshadweep is derived from Sanskrit words “Laksha” (hundred thousand) and “dweep” (islands), literally meaning a ‘hundred thousand islands.
Lakshadweep is typically accessed from Kochi (Kerala) and a permit is required to visit Lakshadweep for all tourists. After permit, Indians tourists are permitted to visit all islands, however foreign tourists are permitted to just visit Agatti, Bangaram and Kadmat Islands. Permit is issued by Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports (SPORTS) and can be obtained from Kochi itself.
Lakshadweep has a pleasant tropical climate with plenty of rainfall during monsoon months from June to September, when the sea is are extremely rough.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Puducherry
Puducherry is known for its serene beaches, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville and French heritage, and is referred to as “The French Riviera of the East”. Pondicherry is the capital and the largest city of the union territory of Puducherry.
The name Puducherry said to be derived from local words “putu” (new) and “ceri” (village). It is formed out of four districts, namely Puducherry (Pondicherry), Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam.
The climate of Pondicherry is tropical wet and dry, similar to that of coastal Tamil Nadu. Summer lasts from April to early June, when maximum temperatures reach up-to 41 °C.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is considered as a perfect place for a pilgrimage tour in the southern India, and famous for ancient temples and rich cultural heritage. You are sure to be mesmerized by the architectural splendor and artistic brilliance of ancient temples that grace this Land of Temples. Dating back to historic times of the Pallavas, Cholas and Nayakas, these enormous and enduring temples offer a glimpse into its rich culture, tumultuous history, and glorious heritage.
The most ancient and most stunning example of architecture is the 6th century Meenakshi Amman Mandir dedicated to Goddess Parvati. The towering ‘Gopurams’ of the temple are embellished with thousands of finely sculpted gods and demons. Regarded as the first among the 108 holiest abodes of Lord Vishnu is the 10th century Ranganathaswamy Mandir in Tiruchirappalli adorned with 21 intricately sculpted towers and splendid frescoes. One among the Chardham (four holiest pilgrimage centers) and home to one of the 12 revered Jyotirlingas is the Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram.
Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the 7th century Monolithic Rock Temple in Mahabalipuram featuring five temples in the form of chariots dedicated to the Pandavas. The Nagaraja Mandir in Nagercoil with Vasuki as its deity is famed for its tranquil divinity. Located at the southern tip of the nation, is the 3000-year-old Kumari Amman Temple dedicated to Goddess Kanyakumari, and located at the holy confluence of Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Tamil Nadu will delight you with its temples dedicated to the Pancha Bhootas or Five Elements. The 11th century Thillai Nataraja Temple dedicated to the element of space, the 6th century Ekambareswarar Temple signifying the element of earth and the 9th century Annamalaiyer Temple symbolizing the element of fire are famous Shaivite temples. Do not miss the spectacular sight of the Sripuram Golden Temple constructed completely in gold. Its pathways embellished with quotes from Bible, Quran, and Gita, blesses visitors with the profound wisdom of universal consciousness.
The roots of Jainism ran deep in ancient Tamil Nadu as is evident from the 135 ancient Jain temples and numerous Jain caves in the state. The 1500-year-old Kesarwadi Jain temple in Puzhal, the 6th century Jinakanchi temple near Kanchipuram, the 1st century Ponnurmalai Jain temple in Ponnur village and the 3rd century Jain temples in Munigiri, all replete with attractive paintings, sculpted pillars, carved towers, footprints of Jain saints and grand statues of Tirthankaras.
Located in Rameswaram, the Guru Nanak Dham beholds a historical significance. Shri Guru Nanak ji visited Rameswaram in the year 1511 and stayed there for 19 days on his return journey from Sri Lank, where he made significant contribution in solving the problems of Raja Shivnabh, the King of Sri Lanka. The Gurdwara was built to honour and commemorate the visit of Guru Nanak ji, the first Sikh Guru.
Ancient Buddhist idols have been unearthed in many places in the state. Two large, almost intact, 8th century idols of Buddha are now enshrined in two locations in Salem. The Muniappan Kovil in Salem City features a broken idol of Buddha that is now revered as the local God, Muniappan.
A pilgrimage to Tamil Nadu is a rare opportunity to behold thousands of abodes of the Gods and indulge in its vibrant culture, ancient traditions, fascinating legends and spiritual peace. You can also spend time exploring some of the beautiful hill stations, beaches, and enjoy the traditional, mouth-watering Tamil Cuisines.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Telangana
Telangana is renowned for its rich heritage and grand history that has left its imprints across the state in the form of stunning temples famed for its breathtaking architecture and adorned with exquisite sculptures and carvings. Hyderabad is the capital and the largest city of the state of Telangana. Steeped in legends and divinity, a tour of famous temples of Telangana is an exciting way to discover the architecture and divinity that has stood the test of time.
There are several interesting legends associated with the Chilkur Balaji Temple. One of them is that completing 11 circumnavigations of the temple will help devotees fulfill all their wishes. Another rather strange belief is that praying at the temple helps people get a US visa. Strange though it may seem, this belief has given Lord Balaji the name of ‘Visa Balaji’! Hyderabad Birla Mandir is a resplendent temple created from white marble, dedicated to Lord Ventateshwara and offering exquisite views of the Hussain Sagar Lake.
Just as the name suggests, the Thousand Pillars Temple in Warangal features a thousand pillars, each one intricately carved and embellished with sculptures and motifs. A supreme instance of Kakatiya architecture, the temple also finds mention under UNESCO heritage sites. Another renowned place of worship is the Gnana Saraswathi Temple in Basar where devotees can offer prayers to the holy trinity of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Kali. The temple is believed to be most ideal for initiating small children to the world of learning through the ritual of Akshara Abyasam.
Believed to house the self-manifested idol of Lord Sri Ram, the Bhadrachalam Temple is a splendidly built structure that is also known as ‘Dakshina Ayodhya’. Dating back to the 11th century, Karmanghat Hanuman Temple is believed to be a haven for people searching for miraculous cures for critical illnesses. Imagine a temple that features a mythology-themed park. This is exactly what attracts devotees to the Surendrapuri Temple – a visual treat of art, architecture, carvings, and sculptures, including a 101 feet high Shiva Linga.
Telangana is also blessed by the presence of numerous Buddhist monasteries, temples and caves dating back to ancient times. Dhulikatta village that finds mention in the works of ancient, Greek traveler Megasthenes is home to a Buddhist stupa that is over 2000 years old and adorned with numerous Buddhist symbols. Another famous Buddhist site in the state is Nelakondapalli that stretches across 100 acres and features viharas, stupas and idols dating back to the 3rd century.
The influence of Jainism in the state is evident from the glorious, 2000-year-old Mahavira temple in Aler town that features the deities of Lord Neminatha, Lord Rishabhanatha and Lord Mahavira. Another prominent Jain center is Kolanupaka that prospered during the reign of Rashtrakutas. According to legends, the Manikyaswami deity at this Jain temple built from white marble originally belonged to Ravana’s wife Mandodari. The temple is also famed for its idols exquisitely crafted in jade.
Indulge in the serenity and divinity of these temples, marvel at the architectural brilliance and pay homage to the ancient, divine forces that have been blessing the land since times immemorial.