Top pilgrimage Destinations In India

India the land of gods and diverse religions where lies the serenity of its heritage. A country, where its historical monuments and beautiful temples portrays its architectural legacy. India as a confluence of different religions has always attracted pilgrims from all over the world. India is home to many religions like Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam and all of them have their important places of worship.

India, often called the 'Dev Bhumi' or the abode of the gods, every inch of this land is heavily steeped in mythology and every glade has its own legend. India is covered with holy sites associated with the exploits of the gods, the waters of sacred rivers or the presence of holy men. Millions of people have been traversing its length and breadth to reach these centers of worship. In this land of diversity, the journey to these holy places has been the main form of interaction between people from different parts of the country. Carrying on this long tradition, pilgrimage tours in the country today has attained unprecedented levels.

In India there are numerous pilgrimage Destinations which you can see, each more beautiful than the other. Out of those thousands, here we list out the top pilgrimage Destinations to see in case you are on a short trip to India. Even if you are on a long visit, these are the ones which you must not miss out. Read more about them...

Tamil Nadu is often referred to as the 'land of temples' and on almost every street and corner of the state in South India, you would find a beautifully built place of worship. These temples in Tamil Nadu are noted not only for their religious importance, but also for the magnificent architecture and historical significance. Religious Places in tamil nadu,tamil nadu religious places,religious places tamil nadu india,religious places of tamil nadu,tour to religious places in tamil nadu It is not only temples , but also other religious places in Tamil Nadu such as the Churches and the mosques n Tamil Nadu that reflect the harmonious nature of the people living here, holding on to the religious diversity and the heritage of the state.

Different Religious Places in Tamil Nadu

In spite of the predominance of temples in Tamil Nadu, there are a number of other religious places in Tamil Nadu such as the mosques and the Churches that are worth a visit, if not for the beauty of the architecture, then surely for the divine ambience that prevails, that attracts a large number of tourists to these religious places of Tamil Nadu.

Introduction to Religious Places in Tamil Nadu :
The southern part of the Indian subcontinent earlier known as Dravida is believed by many to be the homeland to the Dravidians, the original inhabitants if India whom the Aryans invaded and conquered. Religious Places in tamil nadu,tamil nadu religious places,religious places tamil nadu india,religious places of tamil nadu,tour to religious places in tamil nadu Though predominantly a Hindu state since the pre historic times, the incursion of Muslim armies and later Christian missionaries in India saw the spread of other religions in India and Tamil Nadu. A tour to the religious places in Tamil Nadu therefore is vital for in depth knowledge on the religious history of the region.

Mosques in Tamil Nadu :
The Thousand Lights Mosque close to the Anna Flyover on Mount Road Chennai is quite an important place of worship for the Muslims. This mosque also happens to have a separate worshiping area for women.

The Big Mosque on Triplicane High Road dates back to 1795. This beautiful granite structure now hidden behind the big new age buildings is an important stopover for Muslims residing in the area.

Churches in Tamil Nadu :
St. Francis Xavier, who dedicated his entire life for the growth of Christianity in the Kanyakumari District saw success in form of a sizeable number of conversions to Christianity. Religious Places in tamil nadu,tamil nadu religious places,religious places tamil nadu india,religious places of tamil nadu,tour to religious places in tamil nadu The Tamil Nadu Churches therefore hold a special place in the history of Christianity in South India and are among the important religious places to visit during a Tamil Nadu tour. Some of the most important and most visited churches in Tamil Nadu are listed below.

* St. Thome Cathedral Basilica
* St. Mary’s Church
* St. John’s Church

C.S.I. Holy Cross Church, which is more than 120 years old and was originally called the Perambur Railway Church. This was when it was under the railway authorities.

Other Churches in Tamil Nadu

* St. George's Cathedral
* Velankanni Church

Temples of Tamil Nadu :
The Tamil Nadu temples are pretty much the icing on the cake and the major show stealers during a tour of the religious places in Tamil Nadu. The magnificent architecture, intricately carved pillars and gopuras have drawn the attention of tourists, architects, historians and art lovers since long. Some of the most visited Tamil Nadu temples are listed below.

* Meenakshi Temple
* Kanyakumari Temple
* Brihadeeswara Temple
* Ramanathasamy Temple
* Trichy Rock fort Temple

Pilgrimage Destinations in Tamil Nadu

1Chidabaram in Tamil Nadu

The town of Chidambaram is situated in 58 km from south of Pondicherry greets the visitors. The town is in the Coleroon River Valley on the Madras-Thanjavur road and rail system.The island of Rameswaram on the Gulf of Mannar is one of the main fishing villages in Tamil Nadu. More importantly, it is a major pilgrimage centre for pious Hindus who worship Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu known respectively as Shaivites and Vaishnavites.Navaligam Temple, ChidambaramMost visitors come to see the impressive Rameswaram Temple, famous the world over for its lengthy and ornate corridors, representing fine architectural masterpieces. Rameswaram also boasts of fabulous beaches edging its coral reef waters abundant with exotic marine life, making it a haven for adventure seekers.The temple town of Chidambaram, with a beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Nataraja – Lord Shiva in the enthralling form of a Cosmic Dancer. This is one of the few temples, where Shiva and Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. Chidambaram is also called Thillai, since the place was originally a forest of Thillai shrubs. It is one of the five Shaivite mukti sthalams, the other four being Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvanaikaval. A unique feature of Chidambaram is that a person of any race or religion can visit the shrine and pray.

2Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu

Kanchipuram is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in India and the seat of the Shankaracharya. The temple city of Kanchipuram extends from latitude 12° 50′ in the north to longitude 79° 45′ in the east. The city is situated around 70 km from Chennai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.Kanchipuram is known as one of India’s Seven Sacred cities. Kanchipuram was, one of India’s seven sacred cities. Kanchipuram was the historical capital of the Pallavas. It was under the Pallavas from 6th to 8th century A.D and later became the citadel of Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslim and the British. It has been a centre of Tamil learning, cultural and religious background for centuries.Kanchipuram the Golden City of a thousand temples, is the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. During the 6th and 7th centuries, some of the best temples in the city were built by the Pallavas. The city was also a great seat of learning. Sri Sankaracharya, Appar, Siruthonder and the great Budddhist Bhikku lived, and worked here. Today, it is known not only for its temples, but also for its handwoven silk fabrics.

3Kanyakumari Temples

Kanyakumari district is bounded by Tirunelveli district in the north and northeast, by Kerala state in the northwest and confluence of Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in the west and south. The coastline is almost regular except for some points of land projecting into the sea at Cape Comorin. Kanyakumari is the district headquarters of the district of the same name.At the southern most land tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kannyakumari, an important pilgrim centre. Kannyakumari is famous for its beach and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days. Kanyakumari is also famous for its vast green stretches of paddy fields, rich forests, coconut groves and mineral sands.

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4Madurai in Tamil Nadu

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage, for centuries. Legend has it, that the divine nectar falling from Lord Shiva’s locks, gave the city its name – Madhurapuri, now known as Madurai.

5Mahabalipuram Temples

The city is situated in 58-Km From Chennai, Tamil Nadu.Globally renown for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. 58 kilometres from Madras on the Bay of Bengal, this tiny sea – side village of Mahabalipuram, is set in a boulder – strewn landscape. Tourists are drawn to this place by its miles of unspoiled beach and rock-cut art. The sculpture, here, is particularly interesting because it shows scenes of day-to- day life, in contrast with the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu, where the carvings generally depict gods and goddesses.Mahabalipuram art can be divided into four categories : open air bas – relief, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas (‘chariots’ carved from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna’s Penance and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen man-made caves in different stages of completion are also seen, scattered through the area.

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6Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu

Thanjavur was the royal city of the Cholas, Nayaks and the Mahrattas. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Vishnu, Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan’s last request that the city might be named after him was granted. Thanjavur TempleThanjavur rose to glory during the later Chola reign between the 10th and the 14th Centuries and became a centre of learning and culture. It is the headquarters of the disrict of the same name. Thanjavur district, the ‘ Rice Bowl ‘ of Tamil Nadu, is also known for its exquisite handicrafts, bronzes and South Indian Musical Instruments.

7Rameshwaram Temples

Rameshwaram is an island situated in the gulf of manner at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. A very important pilgrim centre of the Indians. Rameshwaram is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge across the sea to rescue his consort Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. This is also the place where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to cleanse away the sin of killing Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage which is known as the Varanasi the south. Rameshwaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity is the Linga Of Sri Ranganatha, which happens to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. Rameshwaram is also popularly referred to as the ‘Benaras of the south’. In order to attain Moksha it is believed that the visit to Rameshwaram is mandatory.

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Temples in Tamil Nadu

Srivaikunthanthor Temple, Tirunelveli

The Srivaikunthanathor Temple is 37 km away from Tirunelveli. It is also known as Kallapiranswami temple and was used as a fort during British period.Tour to Tamil Nadu, Visit to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Cultural places in Tamil Nadu, Visit to Cultural Tamil Nadu It is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu and has majestic gopurams. This is an ancient temple known for its enchanting icons. The mandapas with pillars is embellished with sculptures of yallis, elephants and warriors. The Ekadasi Mandap contains elegant carvings and is open on Vaikuntha Ekadasi.

It is one of the 108 Sri Vaishnavite sacred shrines and has been sung by the Alwar Saints.

Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

The Ranganathanswamy temple complex is about three km from the Rock Fort at Srirangam in Trichi. 7 concentric walls with 21 gopuras surround the temple. Tour to Tamil Nadu, Visit to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Cultural places in Tamil Nadu, Visit to Cultural Tamil Nadu The temple was constructed by many dynasties including the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar Empire and the date of its construction ranges from the 14th to 17th centuries AD.

The largest gopuram of the temple is in the first wall on the southern side, which is the main entrance and was completed in 1987. It rises to a height of 73 m. the main temple is dedicated the Lord Vishnu although there are several other shrines dedicated to various gods and goddesses.

An annual Rath Yatra in a decorated wooden chariot is held in the month of January. The Vaikuntha Ekadasi or the Paradise festival is organized somewhere in the middle of December. Tour to Tamil Nadu, Visit to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Tamil Nadu, Trip to Cultural places in Tamil Nadu, Visit to Cultural Tamil Nadu The non-Hindus are allowed only till the sixth wall and not inside the gold- finished sanctum.

Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

The Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram is 200 km from Chennai. Chidambaram is popular as the 'City of the Cosmic Dancer'. The Nataraja temple is an example of the Chola Architecture and covers an area of 40 acres. The temple is a dedicated to the Dancing Form of Shiva in the form of the Lord Nataraja. The temple is a tribute to the art of Bharatnatyam. Nataraja temple, Chidambaram

The presiding deity of the temple is represented by the vacuum space, which is one of the five elements of the universe, the others being wind, water, fire and earth. It is known as the Akasa Lingam. The temple has the statue of Nataraja made in bronze, famous all over the world as the absolute synthesis in the metal art. The pillars in the eastern tower of the temple depict the Lord Nataraja in 108 different poses of the classical dance of Bharatnatyam. The temple has a striking roof covered with gold.

The Natyanjali festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is celebrated every year during the months of February-March. The festival continues for five days with in the temple premises. The dance festival begins on the auspicious day of the Maha Shivaratri.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

The original Meenakshi Temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shiva and his consort Parvati are known here as Sundareshwara and Meenakshi. The temple was converted into a magnificent structure by the nayaks, who ruled Madurai from the 16th to the 18th century AD.

According to local legends, Malayadwaja Pandya was the king of Madurai. He did not have any child for a long time so he performed a many yagnas or the sacrifices made before a sacred fire. On one of the sacrifices, a three-year-old girl came out of the fire and Malayadwaja adopted her. The girl had three breasts, which was the reason of worry for Malayadwaja. However, a divine voice gave assurance to him that the third breast would disappear as soon as she met her consort. The girl became a brave and beautiful princess and won many battles.

She finally lost her heart to Lord Shiva, when she met him on the battlefield in Kailash. Herr third breast disappeared as soon as she saw him and recognized her divine consort. They ruled over the Pandya kingdom for some time and then settled in the Meenakshi temple at Madurai as Meenakshi and Sundareshwara.

High walls enclose the temple complex. There are two sanctums of Sundareshwara and Meenakshi in the center of the complex. The two sanctums are surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and grand pillared halls. The 12 gopuras of the temple are really impressive. The towers rise from solid granite bases and are adorned with stucco figures of the deities, mythical animals and grotesque figures painted in bright colors

Kumari Amman Temple, KanyaKumari

Kumari Amman Temple, KanyaKumari The Kumari Amman Temple overlooks the shores from KanyaKumari. The place KanyaKumari got its name from the Goddess KanyaKumari Amman who is the popular deity of this area.

According to the legends, the goddess Parvati did penance in this place to obtain lord Shiva as her husband. When she was not successful in her penance, she vowed to remain virgin. Thus the temple is dedicated to Parvati in the form of Devi Kanya, the virgin goddess. the idol of the goddess Parvati has a sparkling diamond on her nose, which is supposed to outshine the sea.

The non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple. The temple opens from 0430 hrs to 1130 hrs in the morning and from 1730 hrs to 2030 hrs in the evening.
Kapaleshwarar temple, Mylapore

The Kapaleshwarar temple is 8th century AD temple but has a contemporary structure. The construction of the temple is based on the descriptions in the Puranas and the Tevaram. The gopuram of the temple is made in typical Dravidian style of architecture. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva.

A lofty Rajagopuram with several stucco images decorates the Eastern entrance to the temple. The sanctum is located here facing the West direction where the temple tank is located. The huge temple tank is the place for the popular Teppam or the Float festival celebrated in the month of Thai, i.e., Capricorn.

Parvati or Karpakambal is said to have worshipped Shiva here in the form of a peacock, Mayil. Hence the place got the name as Mylapore. In the courtyard of the temple, a small shrine of goddess Parvati depicted as peacock is worshipped under an old Punnai tree.The Arupattu Moovar festival is celebrated every year in the months of March-April.There are several literary works related with this age-old shrine. It is a seat of Tamil culture today.

Vivekananda Memorial, KanyaKumari

The Vivekananda Memorial at KanyaKumari is 500 m away from the main land. It stands on one of the two rocks separated from each other by 70 m. the Memorial is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda, one of the most charismatic spiritual leaders of this century, who is said to have meditated on this rock. The Rock memorial is a unique structure built in 1970 and has a meditation hall. The design of the mandapa is a blend of various architectural styles of India. the statue of Swami Vivekananda is also placed over here.

Poompuhar Shipping Corporation operates frequent ferry services from the shore to the rock memorial at regular intervals. The Memorial is open from 700 hrs to 11 hrs in the morning and from 1400 hrs to 1700 hrs in the evening. It is closed on Tuesday.

Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli

The Nellaippar temple is at a distance of 1 km from Tirunelveli Junction. The temple is dedicated to Lord Nellaiappar. This temple has a shrine of Lord Shiva and Parvati spanning over an area of 14. Shiva is said to have been worshipped by Agastya in a bamboo grove and by Rama after having killed Mareecha some nine miles away at Manoor.

Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli The antiquity of the temple dates back to 700 AD and has been sung by the Shaivite saint Tirugnana Sambandar. The musical pillars in the Mani Mandapam produces sound in various pitches when struck. the Samovar Mandapa or the 1000 pillared hall and the Tamra sabha with intricate woodwork and the Vasantha Mandapam are some of the noteworthy features of this temple. realistic sculptures decorate several mandapas of the temple. the finest specimen of this is Sangili Mandapam, which links the two temples of Nellaiappar and Kantimathi in this vast temple complex.

The historicity of the town tells that the town was known as Venuvanam. The Lord Shiva wanted to test the devotion of Vedapattar, Shiva's devotee. Lord made him lose all his wealth and suffer. Still, Venuvanam did not give up regular praying to God. One day, Vedapattar left some paddy in the sanctum of the temple and went to take a bath in the river. It started pouring in the meantime. Vedappatar came running to the sanctum to save the paddy. He was surprised to see the rain did not affect the paddy as the God had put a fence around it.

Nagaraja temple, Nagercoil

The Nagaraja temple situated at Nagarcoil is dedicated to the Lord Nagaraja. Nagercoil got its name from the five headed serpent shrine of the Nagaraja. Besides the presiding deity, the idols of Lord Shiva and Anantha Krishna are also enshrined in the ardhamandapa of the temple. the figures of Jain Thirthankaras Parsavanth and Mahavira are carved on the pillars of the mandapa.

The entrance gateway of the temple, Mahamerumaligai, resembles the Chinese architecture of Budha Viharas. Thus the temple is an embodiment of the four religious creeds of India namely, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Jainism and Buddhism.

The unique feature of the temple is that mud walls surround the sanctum and a simple thatched roof with coconut leaves and bamboo sticks over it. The place where the image of the five-headed serpent is enshrined is constantly marshy. The sand scooped out of this place is distributed to the devotees as prasadam. There are a plenty of cobras found inside the temple.

Kailashnath Temple, Kanchipuram

The Kailashnath temple situated at Putleri Street 1.5 km from Kanchipuram. is an ancient temple fine specimen of the Pallava architecture. The Pallava king Rajasimha started the temple in the 7th century AD and was completed by his son Mahendra. It is the oldest structure in Kanchipuram and the finest example of Pallava architecture in South India. The foundation of the temple is made of granite while the superstructure is carved out of sandstone.

The circumambulatory path around the sanctum is made in such a manner that it requires visitors to climb the up and down a flight of seven stairs and to crawl through narrow ways.

The temple is adorned with the sculptures of the Lord Shiva in 64 poses, which presents a picture of different aspects of mythology. The fresco paintings embellish the inner walls of the shrine. The temple is unique in its architecture and is viewed more as an architectural wonder than as a holy place.

It is not a major pilgrimage center. Pujas are offered regularly here to the Lord Shiva-Kailashanatha. The festival of Shivaratri is held here once every year.

Varadaraja temple, Kanchipuram

The Varadaraja temple is situated 3 km to the south of Kanchipuram. The temple is also known as the Devarajaswamy Temple. Originally it was known as Attiyuran.

It is one of the important Vaishnavite shrines. The main deity is the Lord Vishnu in the form of the Lord Varadaraja Perumal. The idol of the deity is in the standing posture facing towards the east. The temple is known for its splendid art and had association with Sri Ramanuja who used to serve here. The100 pillar mandapa of the temple beautifully carved. The gopuram of the temple is 100 ft high and originally built in 11th century AD. The Vijyanagar Kings renovated it after 500 years.

More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.

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