The architecture that characterises temples in South India is unlike that of any other part of the country. Temples dominate the skyline, displaying a unique architectural heritage, which like the traditional culture of the local people has been subject to less external influence than most other places in India.
Tamil Nadu: Origins of an Architectural Style
The Pallava Empire ruled Southeast India for seven hundred years. There are many examples of Pavalla design in the Mamallapuram area in Tamil Nadu, and the Shore Temple is one of the earliest examples. It is dedicated to the Hindu diety Shiva and has been subject to more than 13 centuries of erosion and sea spray. The Shore Temple is constructed from blocks of stone rather than carved from bedrock, in one of the earliest examples of this kind of construction.
One of the biggest Dravidian temples in south India, the Meenakshi Amman Temple, is also found in Tamil Nadu. The infographic attachment with this post contains some more information about this temple.
615 Steps: Sravanabelagola in Karnataka
Those prepared to brave the 615 rock-cut steps to reach Sravanabelagola are rewarded with a Jainism temple which is built around a statue of Gomateshvara, first guru of the Jains. At 17.5 metres tall, it is the biggest monolithic statue in the world.
The temple complex is surrounded by a beautiful landscape, and every 12 years the Mastakabhisheka festival is held here, where people come to bathe the statue in milk, spices and other foodstuffs, as well as coins, sandalwood paste and precious stones.
40 Million Pilgrims: Venkateshwara Temple in Andhra Pradesh
With an estimated 40 million visitors per year, Venkateshwara Temple in Andhra Pradesh is perhaps the most-visited temple in the world. This is all the more incredible when one considers the scale of the journey needed to get there: a 15-kilometre walk leads to a stairway of 3,500 steps … and all of this in tropical heat. At the top, long queues can await those who have made the journey.
The short video attachment has more information about some of South India’s spectacular temples.
The Taj Mahal: One of India’s Most Famous Buildings
The spectacular Taj Mahal at Agra in northern India is just a couple of hours journey from New Delhi. The embedded PDF has more information about this incredible building.
Michael Kern has travelled extensively in India, particularly in the Himalayan regions.