Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh
This mountainous temple town is located just about 130 kms from Chennai, and is home to probably the most visited temple in South India.
Tirupati Balaji Temple
Tirupati Balaji temple is also popularly known as the Tirumala Venkateshwara temple. Every season is peak season to visit Tirupati. The temple celebrates many festivals, the most famous being the Brahmotsavam festival, also known as the Salakatla Brahmotsavam, which is celebrated for 9 days and witnesses a massive number of the devotees. People here get their hair tonsured in large numbers and it is believed that this ritual implies you are ready to let go off your ego. If you have a day’s time in hand to spend at Tirupati, do get a first-hand experience of this age-old renowned temple apart from enjoying a climb to the Tirumala hills. Do get your share of the prasad in the form of laddoos, which are famous around the world for their unique, delicious taste. Ensure you are dressed in traditional attire and if possible, book your entry tickets online to save time at the temple.
Photo Credit: Tirumala Org
Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Are you in a mood for a quick trip or a long drive from Chennai, but don’t know where to go? Let beaches and hill stations take a back seat and let a temple visit become a priority, for a change. Head to the pious city of Kanchipuram. Also known as ‘The City of Thousand Temples’, it is a 2-hour drive from Chennai. According to the Hindu religion, Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred places in India where one can attain salvation or moksha.
Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple
Believed to be a spot where Goddess Parvati’s midriff fell on earth, this temple is one of the most important places of worship in India. Spread across a five-acre area, the entire main building is off-limits to non-Hindus. The idol of Goddess Kamakshi is found seated here with legs folded, with a bow made of sugarcane and an arrow full of flowers in her hands.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Ascend to the realm of Gods. The Ekambaranathar temple, a mutt plus temple, is also one of the known Shiva temples situated at Puthupalayam Street. It is believed that Sage Kachchiyappa was buried next to the holy idol of Ekambaranathar here. The special attractions here are the 1008 granite Shivalingams and the 1000-pillared hall.
Not just Lord Shiva devotees, but most other people also visit the Kailasanathar temple to marvel at the ancient sandstone architecture and to see the bizarre historic inscriptions on the Avudaiyar (a circular or rectangular base on which the Shivalingam is mounted).
Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Known for its coastal beauty, this easy-going, small city of Tamil Nadu, just about 60 kms from Chennai, is frequented by people looking to take a break from their busy schedules. As a tourist or someone looking for a religious trip from Chennai, you just cannot miss out on Mahabalipuram, one of the world heritage sites declared by UNESCO.
Standing like an elegant rock-cut fist and overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the Shore Temple or the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram, speaks a lot about the Dravidian art and grandeur. This temple has a conglomeration of three shrines, two of Lord Shiva and one of Lord Vishnu. You will be amazed to see that most of the monuments here are in the form of monoliths, chiselled out of huge rocks. A set of them are popularly known as the Pancha Pandava Rathas, named after the five Pandavas and Draupadi. Unscathed by harsh salt surrounding and continuous wind erosions, you’ll get the opportunity to see a lot of centuries-old carved caves such as the Mahishasuramardini Cave and the Krishna mandapam.
Sthalasayana Perumal Temple
This temple falls under one of the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu and is yet another eminent temple at Mahabalipuram, built according to the Pallava style of architecture.
Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Often called the “temple town”, Kumbakonam, a small town in Tamil Nadu, around 273 kms from Chennai is a must-visit for all temple lovers, where multiple dynasties such as the Pandyas, Cholas and Vijaynagar rulers have had a significant contribution in building the temples. No wonder tourism is one of the major sources of income for this town!
Sri Chakrapani Temple
Located at the centre of the city, this is one of the most significant temples here, where pilgrims pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu, who is represented in the form of a chakra. A Peepul tree welcomes everyone at the entrance and on the south-west corner, there is a Ganesha temple surrounded by trees, medicinal shrubs and creepers. The origin of the temple dates back to the era of Parasurama (sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and the idol is believed to be consecrated and solemnised by him.
Thiruvidandhai, Tamil Nadu
Amidst lush green groves and tall trees, 40 kms from Chennai (Tamil Nadu), lies the suburban and scenic village of Thiruvidandhai. Situated near the Bay of Bengal sea shore, this temple is dedicated to Lord Perumal, who appears impressively in His standing form, facing east. The history of this temple dates back more than 2000 years and it is one of the 108 holy pilgrim centres (Divya Desams) of Vaishnavites.
Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple
The Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple is a very famous Hindu temple in Kovalam. Lord Vishnu is the primary deity here, who is represented as Nithya Kalyana Perumal, standing with one of his legs on a snake and the other on the ground. It is believed that Lord Vishnu bestows a happy married life on those who come and pray here. If you are planning a trip to this place over the weekend, be ready to find the temple crowded with people from far and near.
Photo Credit: Nithya Kalyana Perumal Temple
If you haven’t fulfilled your desire to visit all the popular temple cities near Chennai, try the award winning Skyscanner app to book your flights and hotels.