Temples are some of the first things that come to our mind when we hear the name Tamil Nadu, even though the state has various attractions ranging from beaches to forts and hill stations. Bordered by the Bay of Bengal and the Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu has many places to explore. Its amazing history and well-preserved culture have become a a cause for tourist attraction. Tourists not only visit several destinations but also love to watch the classical dance and music programmes when they visit the state.
Interestingly, Tamil Nadu is also home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The rule of famous dynasties like the Chola, the Nayaks and the Vijayanagar Empire has left behind rich architectural marvels that are one of the best in the world!
The state is definitely known for various Hindu temples and their mind blowing architectures. It has a fair share of temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Murgan and several Goddesses. Some of the most popular Hindu temples of South India are found in Tamil Nadu.
Here is a list of the top Shiva Temples in Tamil Nadu with fantastic architectures and most interesting legends. Have a look at this photo-tour of Shiva Temples and feel blessed!
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
Located in the island of Rameshwaram, the Ramanathaswamy Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples in India. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped as Ramanathaswamy and the shrine has two lingams: according to legend, one was made by Goddess Sita and another was brought by Lord Hanuman from Kailash Parvat.
Airavateshwara Temple, Kumbakonam
Airavateshwara Temple is a 12th century architecture situated near Kumbakonam. It is also one of the three 'Great Living Chola Temples' in Tamil Nadu. As per legend, Airavata (the mythical white elephant and the mount of Lord Indra) worshipped Lord Shiva here and hence the name Airavateshwara.
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Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
Legends say that Goddess Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a peahen. So, Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Kapaleeshwarar. This 7th century architecture is one of the famous temples in Mylapore of Tamil Nadu.
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Jalakandeswarar Temple, Vellore
Jalakandeswarar Temple was built during the reign of Vijayanagara Empire. It is located inside Vellore Fort and managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. The deity of Lord Shiva is called Jalakandeswarar because the Lingam is said to have been found inside an anthill surrounded by water.
Ekambaranathar Temple, Kanchipuram
Ekambaranathar or Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the top Shiva Temples in Kanchipuram. The temple complex is said to be built during the rule of the Chola Dynasty. Ekambaranathar means 'the Lord of the Mango Tree'. This temple premise also houses a Vishnu temple which is a part of 108 Divya Deshams by Alwar saints.
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Nellaiappar Temple Tirunelveli
Nellaiappar Temple is a Hindu temple constructed during the reign of Madurai Nayaks. This huge temple complex houses various shrines. Nellaiappar Temple is one of the famous temples in Tirunelveli of Tamil Nadu.
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Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple is similar to Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur but is much smaller in size. Gangaikondacholeeswaram Temple is also one among the three 'Great Living Chola Temples'.
Ardhanareswarar Temple or Arthanareswarar Temple is one of the unique Shiva Temples located in Tiruchengode. Here Lord Shiva is manifested in the form of Ardhanareswara, meaning half male half female (a fusion of Shiva and Parvati).
Thillai Natarajar Temple
Thillai Natarajar Temple is famously know as Chidambaram Temple in Tamil Nadu. Here Lord Nataraja (Shiva - Lord of Dance) is worshipped. Thillai Natarajar Temple is one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu.