Hindu Temples In Southern India
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The most famous South Indian temples include the Meenakshi temple in Madurai, the Hindu pilgrim destination of Rameswharam, and the magnificent temples in the sacred city of Kanchipuram.
Shri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai
The Meenakshi temple in Madurai is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and his wife Parvati, known here as Meenakshi. According to legend, Shiva and Meenakshi were in fact married in Madurai. The large temple complex contains 12 famous gopuras or towers that are decorated with brightly coloured sculptures of HIndu deities. The Thousand Pillar Hall contains over 900 (but just under a thousand) carved pillars. It takes hours to explore the enormous temple complex.The temple is always busy with pilgrims, tourists, beggars, salesmen and palm readers, but becomes even busier during temple festivals. Madurai has flight connections to Chennai and Mumbai, and train and bus connections around South India.
Rameshwaram, a pilgrim destination
Rameshwaram is an important Hindu pilgrimage destination, being the place where the Hindu god Rama built a bridge across the sea to rescue his beloved Sita from her evil abductor, Ravana. The Ramnathswamy temple dates back to the 17th century and is an example of Dravidian temple architecture as well as one of the holiest of India’s Hindu temples. Rameshwaram is a busy pilgrim destination and has train connections to Chennai and Madurai.
Kanchipuram, a sacred city
Kanchipuram is one of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities. It is filled with magnificent temples, most of them dedicated to the gods Shiva or Vishnu, although the goddess Shakti is also worshipped in the Kamakshi Amman temple. One of the largest and most ancient – and at the same time probably the most famous temple in Kanchipuram – is the magnificent Ekambareshwar Temple.
Many of the temples in Kanchipuram will not let non-Hindus into the innermost area of the temple, but visitors can still walk around the temple complex. Kanchipuram is also famous for its silks and temple visitors can expect lots of invitations to silk shops from rickshaw drivers and touts who hang around temples. Kanchipuram can be easily reached from Chennai.
Temple visit Do’s and Don’ts
Hindu temples ask visitors to remove their shoes, which can usually be left in a shoe storage outside the entrance. Western visitors should also remember that appropriate dress for visiting a Hindu temple means covering your shoulders and wearing long trousers or skirts. Some South Indian temples may charge for entry but others rely on donations.
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