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Tamil Nadu- The Land of Temples

Updated on June 25, 2021
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Travel, especially the pilgrimage are the great pleasure for Sunil Kunnoth. He loves to wander with his spiritual sojourns.

Fine beaches, exotic hill stations, rivers, mountains, unspoilt forest and wildlife, ancient literature and history, Tamil Nadu, a southern state of India, has it all. But what makes it a different travel destination is the large presence of temples on its soil. There are temples everywhere and It is the marked feature of this southernmost state of India.

Tamil Nadu shares its border with Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry. The state has a good coastal line and the seas are the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. If need be, it can be said that Sri Lanka is the neighboring country of the state. The country is reachable within one hour time from the shores of Tamil Nadu.

The state's capital is Chennai and the main language is Tamil. Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are the main religions of the state.

The people of Tamil Nadu are very lovable, hospitable and they welcome the tourists in a very warm manner. They show great respect to the visitors. They still follow their tradition and culture. Their behavior to women is praiseworthy. All these I have personally observed or felt in my several journeys to the state. Perhaps, I have covered more parts of the states than my home state Kerala. Each my travel only added my love to Tamil Nadu and the Tamilians.

Tamil Nadu has a splendid culture. It is rich with all sorts of arts like music, dance, film, film songs, village drama, etc. The capital city Chennai is so popular for classical music better known as Karnatik music. It is practiced all over the state. The famous annual event of 'Thyagaraja Aradhana' at Thiruvaiyaru near Thanjavur attracts thousands of music lovers and renowned musicians from all parts of the state.

The musical festivals held at various stages in Chennai is a grand annual function. This too attracts a huge crowd. 'The Tamarind City', a book on Chennai has a detailed account of the Tamilians' love for music. They love both film songs and classical songs. This book written by Bishwanath Ghosh also humorously illustrates other interesting aspects of Chennai and the Tamilians.

These pictures showcasing the great Tamil culture
These pictures showcasing the great Tamil culture | Source

Temples, Temples Everywhere Temples

Temples are a marked feature of the Tamil Nadu landscape. You can see temples everywhere. All cities, towns and villages have a good number of temples. You may be surprised when seeing a temple at a place where there is no habitation around it. In the vast expanse of green fields also, you may see some temples. Take a long ride on your vehicles through the highways or village roads, you can see plenty of beautiful temples during the journey. Apart from the temples, you can see the statues of Village Gods everywhere. These are a spectacular scenery on either side of the road. 'Thevar Makan', a good film acted by the famous actor Kamalahasan and directed by the well-known director Bharathan had beautifully pictured this village temple scenario of Tamil Nadu.

The Village Gods.  These kinds of statues are a common sight throughout Tamil Nadu.
The Village Gods. These kinds of statues are a common sight throughout Tamil Nadu. | Source

When we follow the history text, it can be seen that it all (the temple craze) began during the age of 'Bhakti' (devotion) and many of these temples were patronized by the Kings and local rich people. Tamilians always loved and respected their tradition and culture. Similarly, they are too proud of their language and literature. Visiting sacred places for worship was a custom and common practice. They also found pleasure in learning and reciting their ancient text. 'Thirukkural' is the best example for this practice.

The oldest temples in Tamil Nadu trace their history earlier than the Christian era. Here, temple building evolved is commonly known as Dravidian style. Visiting the great temples, one is struck by their massiveness of proportion and excellence of craftsmanship found in their pillars, towers, ceilings, sculptures and great walls. You stand amazed at the superhuman patience which the old artisans have bestowed on their construction. It is all the more amazing when we know that these all were constructed at a time when there were no technology or motorized conveyance facility. Just imagine the great efforts and hard work they had put in. And still all these ancient buildings stand in good condition.

Get together Joints

These temples often provided entertainments for the public. The vast space or corridor of the temples were usually the only venue for the display of various cultural programs such as music, dance and drama. 'Bharatanatyam', the classical dance form of the state had a large audience. These activities peaked during the festival season. All people had the benefit of these cultural engagements. At a time when there was no TV or cinema or for that matter any gadgets, these cultural programs were a great pass time for them. Thus, the temple premises also stood as a get together joint of the villagers.

Festival Fanfare

Festivals were and are still one of the important features of the Tamil Nadu culture. A temple festival is a good occasion of great social rejoicing and people from all walks of life gather at these joints. It is time for a relaxing get together. Residents from all towns and villages reach the temples whenever the festival starts. The Pongal is a major festival in the state. Also, the Car Festivals (Radholtsav) of Srirangam, Kanchipuram and the Madurai's Floating Festival are best example for the happy assembly of people. These festivals attract thousands of pilgrims and visitors.

In my several sojourns in Tamil Nadu, the most rush and cacophony of sound and light I had witnessed during a festival season was at the time of Diwali. All Tamilians across the country try to reach his hometown for the festival. All flights, trains and buses ply in full capacity the day just before Diwali. The vibration of the festival cannot be clearly shared here as it is so great. It has to be experienced. Luckily, I had plenty of opportunities to feel it all as my sister and her family are living in Trichy in Tamil Nadu for the last 25 years.

Here I present a few good pictures of some of the great temples of Tamil Nadu. These temples are located at various regions of the state attracting many pilgrims and visitors. The famous temples at Madurai, Palani, Rameswaram, Kanchi, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Trichy, Sree Rangam, Thiruthani, Chidambaram, Thiruchendur and Kanyakumari are a few names to quote as examples of ancient architectural brilliance. I suggest you to visit any or all of these to feel that rich temple heritage of Tamil Nadu.

All are welcome

The most welcome aspect of these temples is that most of them provide entry to all people irrespective of their caste and religion. People of all faith can visit most of these temples. Only a few temples restrict non-Hindus entering the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Nevertheless, they have permission to enter into other areas of the temple. They can walk, talk, take photos and simply sit there for meditation or prayers. When I visited a large old temple at Samayapuram in Trichy recently, I saw a good number of European tourists roaming in and around the temple premises taking snaps of the architectural features of the temple. Madurai is the place where you can find a large number of international tourists.

Nearly everyone who visits Tamil Nadu returns with the impression that this is the land of temples. It is just not the land of temples alone. It is the land of love and hospitality too. The Tamil culture will surely capture your heart. Make a visit, you will endorse the fact with extra enthusiasm. The enchanting Tamil Nadu is an exciting experience for any traveler.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Palani (Pazhani) Subramanya TempleThe Golden Temple, Vellore (a modern temple and made of gold)Sarangapani Temple, KumbakonamShore Temple at Mahabalipuram, near ChennaiThe famous Tanjavur TempleBRAGADHEESWARA Temple, TanjavurTemple at ThiruchendurThiruchendurTHIRUNAGESWARAM KOVIL, KUMBAKONAMChidambaramChidambaram
Palani (Pazhani) Subramanya Temple
Palani (Pazhani) Subramanya Temple | Source
The Golden Temple, Vellore (a modern temple and made of gold)
The Golden Temple, Vellore (a modern temple and made of gold) | Source
Sarangapani Temple, Kumbakonam
Sarangapani Temple, Kumbakonam | Source
Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, near Chennai
Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, near Chennai | Source
The famous Tanjavur Temple
The famous Tanjavur Temple | Source
BRAGADHEESWARA Temple, Tanjavur | Source
Temple at Thiruchendur
Temple at Thiruchendur | Source
Thiruchendur | Source
Chidambaram | Source
Chidambaram | Source

Have you ever been to a temple in Tamil Nadu?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth


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