16 Best Heritage Sites in Tamilnadu

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage | City

Situated on the banks of the River Vaigai, Madurai is the third-largest city in Tamilnadu and one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in India. The city is situated about 209 km from Coimbatore and 464 km from Chennai.

Also referred to as Athens of the East, Madhurai is the oldest continually inhabited city in the Indian peninsula, with a history dating back to the Sangam period of the pre-Christian era. Madurai was the seat of power of the Pandyan Empire. Often considered the cultural capital of Tamilnadu, Madurai is one of the top places to visit in tamilnadu. The city is very well known for Madurai Meenakshi Temple, among the most visited temple in South India tour packages.

Meenakshi Temple, also known as Madurai Meenakshi, is the biggest landmark of Madurai and is one of the largest temples in India. The temple has stunning architecture and a significant testimony for Vishwakarma Brahmins for their master architecture in sculpting this temple. Along with Meenakshi Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal & Koodal Alagar Temple are other important places to visit as part of Madurai tour packages.

Historical & Heritage | City

Situated on the banks of the Cauvery River, Tiruchirappalli or Trichy is the 4th largest city in Tamilnadu and among the must include places in Tamilnadu tour packages. It is located about 133 km from Madurai and 334 km from Chennai.

Tiruchirappalli is home to numerous historical monuments and temples that attract tourists and pilgrims from all parts of the country throughout the year. The city played a critical role in the Carnatic Wars (1746-1763) between the British and the French East India companies. Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam, one of the most famous pilgrimage centers in South India is situated near Trichy. Rockfort Temple, Jambukeshwar Temple, Uraiyur, Mariamman Temple, Government Museum and the St John's Church are some of the top places to visit as part of Trichy tour packages.

Tiruchirappalli is internationally known for a brand of cheroot known as the Trichinopoly cigar. The city is very popular for its cigars, handloom saris and stone-studded jewelry, Pith models, and cheroots. According to the National Urban Sanitation Policy (2010), Tiruchirappalli was one of the ten cleanest cities in India.

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Chidambaram is a pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadu. Well known for Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram temple is one of the most celebrated shrines in South India and also one of the famous Tamilnadu places to visit. It is about 66 km from Pondicherry, and 217 km from Chennai.

Also known as Thillai, the town is known for the Thillai Nataraja Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Built during the 11th century, Chidambaram Nataraja Temple has a great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. This is one of the Panchabhoota Stalas signifying the five elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). Thillai Kaali Amman Temple, Pichavaram, Sattanathar Temple, Bhuvanagiri, Parangipettai, Annamalai University, Kollidam (river) and Poompuhar are the other prominent places to visit as part of Chidambaram tour packages.

Brahmotsavam, Ani Thirumanjanam, Thai Poosam and Arudra Dharshan are some of the Nataraja Temple festivals that attract large crowds from far and nearby places. Natyanjali Dance Festival is a major festival held in February. Many eminent dancers give their performances during this festival.

Historical & Heritage | Beach

Mahabalipuram, also called Mamallapuram is one of the must-visit weekend getaways from Chennai for one day trip. About 57 km from Chennai, it is one of the UNESCO heritage site in Tamil Nadu and one of the best places to experience Tamilnadu Tourism.

Famous for its Shore Temple built in 7th century, Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. It is known for its historical monuments, sculptures, scenic beauty, culture and tradition. The famous Arjuna's Penance, the Krishna Mandapa, Thirukadalmallai temple, Cholamadal Artist's Village, Mahabalipuram Beach, Tiger Cave and Crocodile Bank are the must include places in Mahabalipuram tour packages.

One of the prominent festivals celebrated here is the Mamallapuram Dance Festival, which is organized by the Department of Tourism every year from December - January. Mahabalipuram is one of the best places to include in your Pondicherry tour packages.

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Kanchipuram or Kanchi is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in Tamilnadu. It is situated at a distance of 75 km from Chennai. It is one of the most popular weekend getaways from Chennai.

Located on the bank of Palar River, Kanchipuram is one of the oldest cities in India and was served as the capital of Pallava Dynasty. Kanchi is known for its temples and silk sarees which are woven manually. Kamakshi Amman Temple is the landmark of Kanchipuram, and is believed to be existing even before Aadi Sankaracharya's period (788-820 AD). Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kailasanathar Temple, Karchapeshwarar Temple, Sri Ekambarnathar Temple are the other prominent temples to visit as part of Kanchipuram tour packages. The temples of Kanchipuram are known for their grandeur and great architecture.

Kanchipuram is a traditional centre of silk weaving and handloom industries for producing Kanchipuram Sarees. In 2005, 'Kanchipuram Silk Sarees' received the Geographical Indication tag, the first product in India to carry this label.

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is one of the popular places of href='/tamilnadu/heritage' target='_blank'>heritage in Tamilnadu as it has a rich historical heritage and is a prism of ancient as well as the modern south Indian civilizations. It is situated about 170 km from Madurai, and 326 km from Chennai. Situated on the banks of River Cauvery, it is one of the top places to visit as part of Madurai tour packages.

The city was once the stronghold of the historic Cholas. Since then, Thanjavur has been one of the chief political, cultural and religious centers of South India. Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadeeswarar Temple built by Rajaraja Chola in the year 1010 AD. Also known as the Big Temple, Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and among the most important heritage sites in India. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of South Indian temple architecture and among the must-visit places as part of Thanjavur tour packages.

Apart from Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur and the surrounding areas have several important tourist attractions like Thanjavur Palace, Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Thiruvaiyaru, Thirubuvanam, etc.

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 142 km from Chennai, 70 km from Kanchipuram and 106 km from Tirupati, Vellore is a popular and one of the oldest cities of South India. It is the administrative headquarters of Vellore district in Tamil Nadu situated on the banks of Palar River. Vellore along with Sripuram is among popular weekend getaways from Chennai for a 2 day tour and it is a major historical site in Tamilnadu. Vellore is one of the top attractions you must include in South India trip.

Vellore is popularly known as the Fort City of Tamil Nadu. Now a very calm and understated place, it was once a battleground and has seen many wars. The name Vellore also means a City of Spears. Vellore has an enriching legacy reflecting the early Dravidian culture. It has been ruled by the Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayanagara Empire, Rashtrakutas, Carnatic kingdom and the British.

Vellore has many historic and religious attractions. The famous Sripuram Srilakshmi Golden Temple is situated near Vellore. The Vellore Fort is prime attraction in the town completely made of granite stone. The Fort might have been built during the rule of Chinna Bommi Nayak (1526 to 1595 AD). The Fort is one of the most perfect specimens of Military architecture in South India. The Jalakandeswarar Temple inside the Fort is a very fine example of Vijayanagar architecture. ...

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 1 km from Srirangam Railway Station, 9 km from Trichy Railway Junction, 62 km from Thanjavur, 145 km from Madurai & 327 km from Chennai, Srirangam is well known for Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple which is the foremost of the eight self-manifested shrines of Lord Vishnu. The temple is considered the first among 108 prominent Vishnu temples and also one of the popular Tamilnadu tourist places.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is one of the most famous temples in South India, constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. Built across an area of 156 acres, this temple is dedicated to Ranganatha, a reclining form of Hindu deity, Lord Vishnu. This temple lies on an island formed by the twin Rivers Cauvery and Kollidam. Though the temple existing since 2nd century BC, the archaeological inscriptions are available only from the 10th century CE.

This temple is also known by other names such as Thiruvaranga Tirupati, Periyakoil, Bhoologa Vaikundam and Bhogamandabam. It has seven enclosures formed by thick and huge rampart walls which run around the sanctum. Apart from the 7 enclosures with massive walls, the temple complex has 21 very colorful sculpted gopuras, 50 sub shrines, 9 sacred pools and a golden Vimana (dome) over the sanctum sanctorum of the presiding deity.

During the invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310-1311, the idol of the deity was stolen and taken to ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 34 Kms from Thanjavur & 284 Kms from Chennai, Darasuram, a small town 8 Kms away from Kumbakonam is known for the Airavathesvara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE. This temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Great Living Chola Temples'.

This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.

The legend goes to show that Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, worshipped Lord Siva in this temple; so did also the King of Death, Yama. Inscriptions on the temple walls say that it was known in those days as Raja Rajeswaram and Raja Rajapuram.

Timings: 6 AM to 7 PM

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 42 km Chidambaram, 76 km from Thanjavur, 110 km from Trichy & 268 km from Chennai, Sri Brihadeeswara Temple is situated at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was the capital of Cholas. It was built by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, who conquered a large area in South India at the beginning of the 11th century. It occupies an important place in the history of India as the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 CE for about 250 years. This temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Great Living Chola Temples'.

Rajendra Chola I has established this temple after his great victories in Northern India. He was originally called Madurantakan and assumed the title of Rajendra during his coronation and continued to rule along with his father Rajaraja-I for a while. Gangai Konda Cholapuram is regarded as the reproduction of Brihadisvara Temple that was built by Rajaraja Chola, father of Rajendra Chola. The temple is renowned for having the biggest Shivalingam in the Southern part of India.

The temple was located at the center of the Gangai Konda Cholapuram and occupies around 6 acres of land. The temple has 2 enclosures surrounding the vimana, most of the wall was destructed and the granite rocks were used to construct a dam during the British rule. Archeological Survey of India has renovated and restored the vimana. The 182 feet tall tower over the sanctum is the second biggest after Thanjavur temple.

The ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 650 m from Virinjipuram Bus Stop and 13 km from Vellore Town Railway Station, Sri Margabandeswarar Temple is a 13th century temple situated on Bangalore - Chennai National Highway. The temple has rich sculptures and artistic pillars. The temple was built by Cholas Kings in 13th Century while Bomma Nayakars, who built Vellore Jalagandeswarar temple, made several extensions to the temple including beautiful kalyana mandapa.

The main deity of this temple is Swayambu Lingam known as Margabandeeswarar. The Siva Lingam is slightly leaning to North East direction. The Goddess of the temple is Maragadambal. Other deities seen in the temple are Ganapathy, Subramanya, Chandra Mouleeswara, Pancha Mukha Lingam, Saptha Matrukas, Lakshmi, Saraswathy & Durga. In this temple Lord Brahma is worshiped as Virinjan. He worshipped Lord Shiva at this place and hence it got the name Virinjipuram.

The rays of sun fall on the presiding deity during the Panguni month (March/April). The roof above the sanctum sanctorum is decorated with Rudraksha. The temple is a very good example of Dravidian temple architecture. This is the birth place of renowned Vedic scholar and Shiva devotee Sri Appaya Dikshithar.

The Simha teerth, the tank with the lion faced sculpture located inside the temple complex is a nicely built. The temple ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 35 Kms from Kanyakumari, 53 Kms from Trivandrum & 700 Kms from Chennai (situated on Trivandrum - Kanyakumari road), Padmanabhapuram is an ancient historical town surrounded by a fort with an area of 187 acres. The ancient capital of Travancore might be constructed before AD 1601. The palace with an area of seven acres, is situated in the very centre on the Padmanabhapuram Fort, amidst hills, dales and rivers.

The fort which was built with mud originally was dismantled and reconstructed with granite by Maharaja Marthanda Varma. The height of the walls varies from 15 ft to 24 ft according to the inclination of the ground.

Entry Fee Rs 25 for Adult & Rs 10 for Children. Closed on Mondays.
Fees for Foreigners : Adult Rs 200 & Children Rs 50
Video and Camera Fee are Rs 1500 & Rs 25 Respectively
Separate fee for Car parking

Historical & Heritage | Pilgrimage

At a distance of 120 Kms from Kanchipuram, 195 Kms from Chennai, 204 Kms from Bangalore and 83 Kms from Vellore, the famous Arunachala Temple in Thiruvannaamalai is one of the greatest Shaiva temples in South India. Tiruvannamalai along with Gingee Fort is one of the ideal Chennai weekend getaways and a major pilgrimage site in Tamilnadu.

Built within an area of 25 acres, this temple was constructed by Vijayanagara kings between 16th and the 17th centuries. This temple is famous for its huge & massive gopurams built on four sides of the temple. The Rajagopuram on East Gateway is 217 feet high with 11 storeys. The base measure 135 feet by 98 feet. This tower was built by King Krishna Devaraya of Vijayanagar. The Thousand Pillared Mantapam and the tank opposite to it were also constructed by Krishna Devaraya. The temple is fortified by a huge wall. Each of the prakarams has a huge Nandi.

The KARTHIGAI DEEPAM FESTIVAL celebrated in Karthika Maasam is celebrated with glory.

Sri Ramana Maharishi Ashramam is also located in Tiruvannamalai town.

Timings: 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM.

Historical & Heritage

At a distance 42 km from Pudukkottai, 36 km from Trichy, 39 km from Thanjavur & 363 from Chennai, The Malayadipatti Rock-Cut temples are situated on granite hillocks, south of the Malayadipatti village, also known as Thiru Valattur Malai.

There are two temples in Malayadipatti, one for Lord Shiva and the other for Lord Vishnu. Both temples are situated on the same hillock. Built in 8th century by Pallavas, the Shiva temple is older than the Vishnu temple. Constructed by Kuvavan Sathan, the Shiva temple is named as Vakeeswarar, according to epigraphic notes. This temple, popularly known as Alathurthali is situated towards the eastern side of the granite hill.

This temple consists of rock-cut mandapa. The sanctum is built on eastern end in cubical form cut inside the mandapa. In later period, a compound wall enclosing the cave and the front mandapa were built. The pillared mandapa has statues of Ganesha and Muruganalong with Nandi. The entrance gateway is guarded by figures of dwarapalakas. There is also a Shiva Lingam that is cut from the main rock face. There is a Saptamatrika panel placed between sculptures of Veerabhadra and Ganesha.

The Vishnu temple is popularly known as Olipathivishnu Vishnugraham, located closer to the western end of hillock. The rock-cut Vishnu temple includes numerous sculptures, painted stucco and painting on walls and ceiling. The 15 ft Moolavar is a beautifully carved image of Lord Anantha Padmanabha in a reclining posture. The ...

Adventure / Trekking | Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 2 km from Gingee Bus Stand, 71 km from Puducherry, 85 km from Kanchipuram and 93 km from Vellore, Gingee Fort or Senji Fort in Villupuram District is one of the largest surviving forts in Tamil Nadu. The fort was historically considered most impregnable and it was called the 'Troy of the East' by the British. The fort is one of the prominent tourist places to visit near Villupuram & Chennai also among the best places near Chennai & Pondicherry for a day trip.

Originally the site had a small fort built by the Chola dynasty during 9th century. Gingee Fort, also known as Chinji or Jinji, was modified by Kurumbar while fighting the Cholas and again by the Vijayanagara Empire during the 13th century. As per one account, the fort was built during the 15-16th century by the Gingee Nayaks, the lieutenants of the Vijayanagara Empire and who later became independent kings. The fort passed to the Marathas under the leadership of Shivaji in 1677 AD, the Mughals, Carnatic Nawabs, French and the British in 1761.

The Gingee Fort complex is spread on three hillocks, Krishnagiri to the north, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. The three hills together constitute the fort complex, each having a separate and self-contained citadel. The first hill, ...

Historical & Heritage

At a distance of 1 km from Thirumalapuram Bus Stop, 24 km Tenkasi and 62 km from Tirunelveli, The rock cut cave temples are situated on the hill of Thirumalapuram also known as Varanasimalai in Sankarankovil Taluk of Thirunelveli District. These ancient Cave temples are now under the protection of Archaeological Survey of India.

There are two rock cut cave temples which are excavated by Pandyan Kings in 750 AD. Among the two caves one is finished and other is unfinished. The finished one is more significant with rectangular ardha-mandapa with a flight of steps and cells on the western walls. It contains bas-relief sculptures and two inscriptions from Pandyan period.

This temple has 3 sections with 3 bas-relief structures. The first one is a beautiful dancing Siva with a bhootha gana and bull on both sides. Lord Shiva is seen in dancing posture of Chatura. A dwarf near his foot plays the musical instrument. Second carving is a standing Lord Vishnu with 4 hands and 2 seated bhootha ganas on either sides with sankha and chakra on upper two hands. Seated Ganesha is seen next to him. On one side is the sanctum sanctorum with a Siva Lingam. On either sides of the entrance of sanctum sanctorum are dwarapalakas. There is another relief sculpture of Brahma with 4 hands and 3 visible heads. On the centre of the hall, facing the Siva Linga is a monolith Nandi which is in broken state.

These figures in these temples are ...

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