It is interesting to note that the Origins of Hinduism belonged to the extreme north of India and Lord Shiva, who is the Hindu God responsible for the destruction in addition to Vishnu who is responsible for protection and Brahma who is responsible for creation are referred as the three biggest Gods of Hinduism. Hinduism is perhaps the only religion that has equal reference to destruction as much as creation. Lord Shiva, according to Legend, stays in The Kailas Mountains of Himalayas. However, the influence of this God can be found until the extreme south of the Indian subcontinent. There are Shiva temples dedicated to worshipping Shiva and his consort Parvati in various forms in various parts of South India.
Let us look at a few important Shiva temples that find their presence in the south of the Tropic of Cancer.
Mallikarjuna temple Srisailam
The Mallikarjuna temple is one of the Jyotirlinga is the radiant temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the only place in India where one can worship Shiva and Shakti in a single Temple. Legend says that when Lord Kartikeya was refused the fruit of wisdom, he decided to stay in Palani, which is in Tamilnadu. Shiva and Parvati, according to their promise to stay close by Karthikeyan at their home at the Srikalahasti Temple and that is the reason for the proximity between Palani and Srikalahasti. It also has to be noted that the Shiva Linga in this temple is worshipped with Jasmine flowers and that has given the name of this temple to be Mallikarjuna. there are legends that say that the Shiva linga in this temple where is commissioned by Lord Rama or the Pandavas.
Ramanathaswamy Temple Rameswaram
The ramanathaswamy temple in Rameshwaram is a very special one. It is not only because of its presence but also because of its contrasting history. Traditionally, according to Ramayana, the Rameswaram region was the place from which Lord Rama started his campaign against Ravana in Sri Lanka. However, in spite of Rama being a Vishnu avatar, one of the 12 jyotirlinga temples that is dedicated to Lord Shiva is located in Ramanathapuram. What is more interesting is that the temple had survived the pic of rivalry between the devotees of Vishnu and Shiva who were always at loggerheads during the medieval Tamilnadu. The ramanathaswamy temple is referred to as the paadal petra stalam which technically means the place from where songs where born. The 9 Mars who were the designated highest devotees of Shiva and the best of them like the upper, Sundara and 3 gnanasambandar have glorified the temple with their songs. Given the temples affinity to both Shiva and Vishnu, this temple is famous among both the devotees. The architecture of this temple is nothing short of magnificent. The longest Temple corridor is situated in here and the site of the pillars converging at a single point is nothing short of astounding.
Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur
The brihadishwara temple in Thanjavur is also called as rajarajeswaram or peruvudaiyar Kovil. Which is an exemplary episode of the Dravidian architecture and it was built by the famous Chola Empire Raja Raja Chola between thousand three and thousand 1080. The share magnificence of this Temple has earned this place a recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The architecture of this temple is baffling to the engineers even of this day. This temple and its nomenclature is a good example of how there was a perfect balance between Tamil and Sanskrit in 10 days. The brihadishwara literally means great river in Sanskrit. This temple is situated about 350 km from Chennai and there are a lot of buses that connect Thanjavur to a lot of major cities. The nearest airport is the Tiruchirapalli airport and this Temple lies in the Cauvery Delta region.
Shore temples of Mahabalipuram
The shore temples are a huge temple complex out of which only one of the seven survives to this day. It was built between 707 28 ID and it is interesting to note that Mahabalipuram was one of the most important and the busiest ports not only in India but in the entire world during the reign of king narasimhavarman of the Pallava dynasty. This temple is one of the oldest structural stone temples in South India. It was so magnificent and respected that Marco Polo, the famous Explorer who took noodles from China and made it into Pasta in Italy called it the seven pagodas. This Temple, again is a great example of how shaivism and vaishnavism coexist peacefully in Tamilnadu. As much as there are structures that showcase the family of Lord Shiva, there is also a structure that showcases Vishnu in his reclining posture, Krishna dancing over the 7 food Serpent and a lot more that show even Goddess Durga has Mahishasura Mardini. The very presence of Shiva in this temple elevates the status of this Temple as one of the most revered places of worship in ancient India.
Meenakshi sundareswarar temple in Madurai
Meenakshi sundareswarar temple, very concisely known as the Meenakshi temple or the Meenakshi Amman temple is probably the one building That Gives Madurai all its importance as an important center of trade, literature and even government. This temple is an excellent example of how the South Indian social system gave a lot of importance to women. This Temple has its main god as Meenakshi who is a form of Parvati and Shiva is only an auxiliary detail in this Temple. This Temple does not have a fixed day of origin but it finds its mention as early as the texts from the 6th century a. D. This temple was rebuilt in the 14th century and again built in the 17th century after the plundering of the Delhi sultanate Army’s lead by Malik kafur. This temple is an important center of Shiva worship and there are a lot of sculptures and narrative that are dedicated to Vishnu as well because Vishnu is considered to be a brother of Meenakshi. The Meenakshi temple also includes sculptures of Lakshmi, Krishna playing the flute, Brahma, Saraswati, Rukmani and a lot of other divine entities. Without the advent of urbanization and skyscrapers Unlike the cities like Mumbai and Chennai, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Meenakshi temple dominates The Skyline of the city of Madurai. The city of Madurai, much like Varanasi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
Eshwara Temple Srikalahasti
There are some places that have famous temples in them. At the next level, there are places that get their name because of the presence of temples. The town of Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh is named after the srikalahasteeswara temple in that town. This place is situated at about 35 km from Tirupati and is famous for the Vayu Lingam which is one of the Pancha bootha sthalams that are dedicated to the five forces of nature and why you represent in the wind. The inner part of the temple was constructed by the Chola and the outer part of the temple was constructed by the Vijayanagara Kings. The first part was built in the 5th century and II, in the 12th century. Lord Shiva is worshipped as kalahastheeswara in this Temple.
The very presence of these many Shiva temples, in addition to the only place where Shiva and Parvati can be worshipped in one shot, the Meenakshi temple where Parvati has more prominent than Shiva and the many Jyotirlingas show the acceptance of the South Indian kings and the welcoming nest of their culture that they gave some of the most prized parts of their land to construct those temples that today would be known as the landmarks, not only in the field of architecture but also in the field of acceptance and culture!