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South India Temple Tour: Art and Culture

South India is a fascinating land boasting of rich cultural heritage and architectural wonders. South India Temple tour offers you a glimpse of the unique form of architecture which characterizes the temples sprinkled across southern part of Indian subcontinent. 

South India temples are specimen of pure Dravidian style of architecture dating back to medieval times. Various southern dynasties such as the Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas, Hoysala and Vijayanagar Empire have subsequently contributed to the evolution of Dravidian architecture over many centuries.
South India temple tours
Tirumala Tirupati by vimal_kalyan (DSCF3796  Uploaded by Joschi90) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The south India temple tour starts from Tirupati. One of the most revered pilgrimage destinations, Tirupati is located in the vicinity of the Tirupati temple. The city is home to a large number of temples of which Lord Venkateshwara temple is the most popular. Some other temples that you can visit in Tirupati are Padmavati temple, Govindaraja Swamy temple, and the Kodanda Rama Swamy temple.

Another major destination when it comes to temple tours in India is Tamil Nadu. It is replete with many temples situated in various cities of this region. Kanchipuram is an ancient city that lies in the Kanchipuram district of Tamil Nadu state.  It is also known as “the city of 1000 temples“ due to the fact that it houses a large number of temples. Some of the famous temples that one can explore in Kanchipuram are Kailasanatha Temple, Ekambaranatha, Kamakshi Amman Temple among others.

Another major destination in South India is Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, a 7th century port city of the Pallava dynasty situated in Tamil Nadu. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is known for its historic monuments dating back to 9th century. Some famous temples situated in Mahabalipuram are Shore Temple, Pancha Rathas and Varsha Cave Temple.
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Mahabalipuram by http://www.flickr.com/photos/pnglife/ [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is another destination in South India for those on a temple tour to more than 70 temples. The Brihadeshwara temple located here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts tourists from all over the world. Madurai is one of the oldest cities of India, the history of which can be traced back to 2,500 years. The city is built around the Meenakshi Amman Temple which is the topmost attraction here.
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Brahadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore by Aruna at ml.wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
If North India temple tour is incomplete without visiting Varanasi, the same goes for Rameshwaram in South India. Rameshwaram is a pilgrim destination which offers a dash of mythology and religion. Rameshwaram, situated in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu, is one of the Char Dham’s in India.  The Ramanathaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the most sacred temple in the city.
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Rameshwaram Temple by Nsmohan at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
You will reach Kanyakumari on the penultimate day of your south India temple tour. Located on the southernmost part of Indian peninsula, the city is mostly visited for Kumari Amman (also known as Kanyakumari temple) and Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Located on the confluence of Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, the temple is a Shakti Peetha dedicated to the virgin form of Goddess Parvati.

To say that south Indian temples are repository of art, culture and Dravidian tradition will not be an overstatement. With each temple draped in sheer architectural brilliance having its own mythological significance, they attract travelers and devotees alike from across the world.  Embellished with intricately carved pillars, huge gopurams and beautifully adorned idols, these temples never fail to catch the attention of the visitors and are major attractions when it comes to cultural tours in India.