Temples in southern India are world-famous for their distinctive Dravidian architecture, which attracts millions of visitors every year. The Pallava dynasty, which ruled Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and many parts of northern Tamil Nadu until the 9th century, pioneered this style of temple construction.

These southern Indian states now house some of the most ancient Hindu temples that are not only beautiful to look at, but also man-made wonders. These magnificent temples are mostly of shaivites (or, temples dedicated to Lord Shiva) and showcase the extraordinary architectural skills of the builders at that time. 

So if you are planning to visit these temples in South India, below is a list of those Shiva temples that are known for their unique designs and majestic history.

Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple

Located on the banks of the river Krishna in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Mallikarjun Swamy Temple is one of the most historic temples in South India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas located across the country.

Ramanathaswamy Temple

Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the most beautiful Shaivite temples in South India. Situated on Rameswaram Island in the state of Tamil Nadu, this Shiva temple attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from across the country every year. The temple is referred to as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, and is part of the sacred Char Dham pilgrimage circuit.

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Brihadeshwara Temple

Brihadeshwara Temple is one of the largest and oldest temples in India. This temple is situated on the south bank of river Kaveri in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. It was built in the year 1010 CE during the reign of the Chola dynasty.

Shore Temple

The Shore Temple is one of the oldest stone temples in South India. The temple was built of granite and is now part of a structural monument in the Mahabalipuram district of Tamil Nadu. Archaeologists believe the temple was built in the 8th century AD.

Meenakshi Sundareswarara Temple

Meenakshi Sundareswara Temple is one of the historic Shiva temples in South India. Located in the city of Madurai, this temple is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, which carries great mythological and historical significance. According to legends, Lord Shiva took the form of Sundareswara (aka, the handsome one), and married Goddess Parvati right where the temple now stands.

Srikalahasteeswara Temple

Srikalahasteeswara Temple is a popular and well-known Shiva temple in Andhra Pradesh. It is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is about two thousand years old.

Annamalaiyar Temple

Annamalaiyar temple is one of the most famous Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. The temple was built in the 9th century during the reign of the Chola dynasty. It is located at the foot of the Arunachal hills in the town of Tiruvannamalai.

Thillai Nataraja Temple

This temple of Thilai Nataraja was built during the reign of the Chola dynasty. Lord Nataraja, who is one of the many forms of Lord Shiva, is the presiding deity of the temple. It is located in the town of Chidambaram in the state of Tamil Nadu (formerly known as Madras).

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Vadakkunnathan Temple

Vadakkunnathan temple is an ancient shaivite temple located in Thrissur, Kerala. The temple is well-known for being constructed in the traditional Kerala architecture. It also has a museum within its shrine which houses antique wall paintings and many wooden artifacts.

Mahabaleshwar Temple

Mahabaleshwar temple is one of the shining examples of Dravidian architecture. Located in the Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, this temple is very ancient and sacred to Hindus. It is said to have been built in the 4th century AD, and is famous for housing the original image of Shiva’s linga (also known as atmalinga).

Jambukeswarar Temple

Jambukeshwar temple is one of the five most famous Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. The temple exemplifies the evolution of Dravidian style architecture, which was once widely used to create these remarkable temples. According to experts, the temple was also built during the reign of the Chola dynasty.

Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple

The Mahadeva Temple at Ettumanoor is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Kerala. This temple is believed to date back to the reign of Pandavas of the Mahabharata. Although the temple was rebuilt in 1542 AD.

Murudeshwar Shiva Temple

This magnificent Murudeshwar Shiva temple in Karnataka is one of the most visited temples in the state. The temple houses the world’s second-highest statue of Lord Shiva. It was built on the Kanduka hills, which are surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple

Located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple is a living history of the Chola Dynasties in stone. This was the biggest temple built during the reign of Rajendra-I, holding a rich repository of magnificent structures constructed during the middle Chola period.

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Hoysaleshwara Temple

Built in the 12th century, Hoysaleshwara temple is one of the ancient Hindu temples of Karnataka. Although the majority of the temples found in the southern part of India are of Dravedian architecture, this one was built with Hoysala architecture.

Murugeshpalya Shiva Temple

Murugeshpalya Shiva temple is a popular attraction in Bangalore. The temple houses one of the largest statues of Lord Shiva in India. The statue is about 65-feet tall and was inaugurated in 1995. It is located right on the old airport road, behind the Kemp fort.