Temples are the backbone of Indian tradition and culture. Our country houses countless ancient temples that speak volumes about exquisite craftsmanship and scientific brilliance of our ancestors. Many have stood the test of time and brutal invasions.
Here are seven such awe-inspiring wonders that will amaze you:
Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram
Apart from the silks, this town in Tamilnadu is known for its temples and is a popular pilgrimage site. Kanchipuram was the capital city during the Pallava reign, making it steeped in history and culture. The temples built in this era are known for their architectural wonder.
King Rajasimha built the Kailasanathar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the 7th century. The lions sculpted on the sandstone pillars are typical of the Pallavan era. You can find other motifs like birds, vines and flowers. Interestingly, these motifs are signature patterns on the Kanchipuram pattu sarees too. MahaShivratri is celebrated here in a grand manner.
Ekambranathar Temple, Kanchipuram
The Ekambranathar temple is one of the significant Panchmahabootha sthalams, representing the element Earth. While the Pallavas started to build it, the kings of the Vijayanagara empire completed it. This temple has two noteworthy features: the Raja Gopuram, which stands tall at 57 meters, and the ayiramkala mandapam or the hallway with a thousand pillars.
Gangaikondacholapuram Temple, Tamilnadu
At the mention of Tanjore, one automatically associates it with the glorious Brigadeeshwara temple. And yet, one can explore many other fascinating ones that are equally bedecked in architectural beauty and carry untold stories of valiance and power. One such is the Gangaikondachola temple which structurally resembles the main Brigadeeshwara temple at Thanjavur but with smaller dimensions.
Rajendra Chola, the son of Rajaraja Chola, built this temple to commemorate his victory march to the river Ganges. Gangaikondacholapura, the title assumed by him, means the Chola that conquered the Ganges. Despite the resemblance to the original one built by Rajarajachola, one needs to visit this one to appreciate the finer nuances and differences in details. The temple is a functioning one with daily offerings and aarti
Haleibidu or Hoyasaleshwara Temple, Hassan
This 12th-century Shiva temple in Hassan, Karnataka, built by King Vishnuvardhan, reflects the splendour and glory of the Hoyasala empire. Although it's a Shiva temple, the architecture has borrowed generously from the Vaishnava and Buddhist traditions.
This twin temple has two shrines with a Linga each. These represent and celebrate the masculine and feminine aspects of a human. The base of the shrines is connected and shaped in the form of a star. The carvings throughout the temple structure are intricate and typical of the Hoyasala architecture. One can spend hours in this serene space to decipher the puranic stories sculpted or simply marvel at the beauty.
This temple is approximately 30 km from Chikamagalur, an excellent weekend getaway. So, you could combine the trips.
The Chalukyas built this magnificent temple in the 7th century. The structure blends the laws of Mathematics, Physics and engineering so beautifully that one cannot help but wonder at the geniuses of our ancestors.
The architecture incorporates concepts like the fractal law, Fibonacci sequence, and pinhole camera (the shadow of the Raaja Gopuram on the Saalu Mandapa is an inverted one) in its design even before these concepts were known to the world. We highly recommend hiring a knowledgeable guide to unravel the many mysteries within the structures.
Arulmigu Patteeswarar Temple, Coimbatore
Standing tall since the 2nd century, built by Karikala Chola, makes this one of the oldest temples in India. The lingam here is a swayambu. Legend has it that the lingam got discovered when the calf of Kamadhenu
got her calf pierced by an object embedded inside the ground. When the villagers dug that place, they found the Shiva lingam. The Lord blessed Kamadhenu (who was in the cattle shed, or Patti in the local language) and hence got the name Patteeswarar.
Nayanars like Appar and Sundar have ever since immortalized this ancient shrine in their thevarams, making this a Vaippu Sthalam.
The Kankasabai, or the golden hall, has a magnificent Nataraja statue. Lord Patteeswar did the Ananda Thandavam with his consort Parvati as They appeared in their divine forms before the sages Gomuni and Pattimuni.
The temple is en route to Velliangiri hills. So, you could combine it with a trip to the Dhyanalinga at Isha Ashram.
Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, Lepakshi
This temple was built in the 16th century by Virupanna Nayaka and Viranna during the Vijayanagara rule. It is one of the devakshetras mentioned in the Skanda Puranas. The garbha-griha, or the sanctum sanctorum, has the life-sized deity of Veerabhadra.
A fascinating architectural aspect is one of the total 72 pillars defies gravity. It stays suspended, just a few centimeters above the ground. Visitors have fun sliding a piece of cloth from one end to the other underneath the pillar. This temple has been built on a granite rock that's in the shape of a turtle. Hence, it also gets the name Kurma Saila. The Nandi is carved out of a single block of stone and is considered the largest in the world.
The other unique aspect of the temple architecture is the natural-ink-coloured frescoes on the ceilings. They depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Have you visited these temples? We would love to hear about your experiences.
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