Tamil Nadu is a stunning state, and it’s often overlooked by travellers planning an India trip. The temples of Tamil Nadu are perhaps the best in India, the atmosphere is very authentic and the food is downright fiery!
The Lonely Planet recommends a ‘top 5 temples’ list for Tamil Nadu in their 12th edition. Top of the list for those interested in temple culture and history is the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, followed by Arunachaleswar Temple in Tiruvannamalai, Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur, Rock Fort Temple in Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) and last but not least the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. These are the temples that we would recommend for you to visit during your India holiday.
Many temples will have a resident temple elephant within to welcome and bless visitors for a small donation, so expect this during your India trip. Temple elephants are generally well cared for, bathed and groomed and on occasions beautifully dressed and decorated to take part in any local festivals and processions.
Sri Meenakshi Temple– This temple complex is a constant and sometimes overwhelming hive of activity. There are towering gateways (gopurums) that sprout above the urban skyline of Madurai and are covered from top to bottom in very colourful images of gods and all sorts of creatures. It’s a great place to visit during your India holiday.
Arunachaleswar Temple – One of the largest in India, this temple site is truly vast! One of the gopurums (unpainted in contrast to Madurai) is over 60 meters in height and there is a thousand pillared mandapa (pavilion) and a large tank inside the temple. So this site is very impressive in scale. Girivalam (or Mt Arunachala) stands over the town and is circumnavigated on foot by devotees at festival times, or alternatively by auto-rickshaw or bicycle. It’s a really unique India travel experience.