The temples in the southern part of India are world-famous for their distinctive Dravidian architecture, which attracts millions of visitors each year. The Pallava dynasty, who ruled in parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and northern Tamil Nadu until the 9th century, pioneered this style of temple construction.
These southern Indian states now have some of the oldest Hindu temples that are not only beautiful to look at but are indeed man-made wonders. These incredible temples are mostly shaivites (or, temples dedicated to Lord Shiva) that display the mastery over the exceptional architectural skills of the builders in those times.
Thus, if you’re planning to pay a visit to these temples in south India, here is a list of such Shiva temples that are known for their unique design and majestic history.
Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple
Located on the bank of Krishna river in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Mallikarjuna Swamy temple is one of the historic temples of south India. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas that are situated across the country.
Ramanathaswamy temple is one of the most beautiful shaivite temples of south India. Located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, this shiva temple draws hundreds of thousands of devotees all over the country each year. It’s also one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, and part of the sacred Char Dham pilgrimage circuit.
Brihadeshwara temple is one of the biggest and oldest temples in India. The temple is located on the south bank of the Cauvery river in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. It was built during the reign of the Chola Dynasty in the year 1010 CE.
Shore temple is one of the oldest stone temples of south India. The temple was built with granite stone blocks, and is now part of a group of structural monuments in Tamil Nadu’s Mahabalipuram district. Scholars believe the temple was built in the eighth century AD.
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is one of the historic Shaivite temples of south India. Located in Madurai city, this temple is counted as one of the seven wonders of the world that carries great mythological and historical significance. According to legend, Lord Shiva took the form of Sundareswarar (aka, the handsome one) and married Goddess Parvati at the very place where the temple stands now.
Srikalahasteeswara Temple is a popular and well-known Shaivite temple in Andhra Pradesh. It is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, which dates back around two thousand years.
Annamalaiyar temple is one of the most famous shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. The temple was built during the reign of the Chola Dynasty in the 9th century. It is located at the base of the Arunachala hills in the city of Thiruvannamalai.
Thillai Nataraja Temple
This temple of Thillai Nataraja was built during the rule of the Chola Dynasty. Lord Nataraja, one of the forms of Lord Shiva, is the presiding deity of the temple. It is located in Chidambaram city in the state of Tamil Nadu (formerly known as Madras).
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 the shrine, housing antique wall paintings and wooden artifacts.
Mahabaleshwar Temple is one of the shining examples of Dravidian architecture. Located in the district of Uttara Kannada in Karnataka, this temple is also very ancient and sacred to Hindus. It’s said to have been built in the 4th century CE, and is famous for housing the original image of Shiva’s linga (also known as Atmalinga).
Jambukeswarar 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 marvelous temples. According to experts, the temple was also built during the reign of the Chola Dynasty.
Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple
Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple is one of Kerala’s oldest Shiva temples. It’s said to be ancient, during the time of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. Although the temple was reconstructed in the year 1542 A.D.
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 Dynasty 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.
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 Dravidian 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.