10 Beautiful Temples to Visit in South India

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
Virupaksha Temple, Hampi | © Lucy Plummer
Lucy Plummer

India Hub Writer

The fascinating culture, rich history and incredible architecture found exclusively in South of India is often overshadowed by its beaches and backwaters. The lesser-travelled states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are home to some of the most stunning temples and sacred religious sites found in the whole of India and are often where the locals go to experience beauty in its purest form. Here are 10 of the most beautiful temples that every traveller to South India needs to see.

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi is a dream destination in its own right and with the added advantage of visiting the remarkable Virupaksha Temple, it should be on every traveller’s South India bucket list. Arguably the oldest functioning temple in the whole of India, Virupaksha, a temple dedicated to Hindu god, Lord Shiva, was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus and contains a sacred sanctum, a shiva lingam (a sacred stone), said to change colour three times a day.

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Sri Venkateswara Temple, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh

Sri Venkateswara Temple

Sree Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple, Kerala

Kerala’s culture is made up of a mixture of influences from other parts of India as well as abroad and this manifests itself in a range of fascinating ways. Kerala’s temples and churches are particularly unique in this regard. The Sree Parassinikadavu Muthappan Temple is a Hindu temple that attracts visitors from all religions and provides free meals and accommodation. Interestingly, dogs are considered sacred here, unlike in most other places.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Seeing the Meenakshi Temple for the first time is really a ‘wow’ moment. The temple is architecturally stunning and nothing short of a marvel. It’s quite big and just a walk around its parameters is worth visiting Madurai alone. Although you can find images of many main Hindu deities in and around the temple, it is mostly dedicated to the Hindu goddess, Parvati and is a major pilgrimage site for devotees of Parvati and Shiva, her husband.

Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Gnana Saraswati Temple, Basar, Telangana

Another temple dedicated to a Hindu goddess, the Gnana Saraswati Temple is located in India’s newest state, Telangana. There are only two temples dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in India, the other situated in India’s most northern state, Jammu and Kashmir. A special pooja (prayers) ceremony for children takes place at this temple and many children are brought here before they begin school for blessings.

Namdroling Monastery, Bylakuppe, Karnataka

Home to nearly 5,000 monks and nuns, the Namdroling Monastery is the largest teaching centre of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world. The monastery stands within a large settlement of Tibetan refugees and has often been visited by Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Namdroling Buddhist Monastery

Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Located in the UNESCO temple site of Thanjavur, the Brihadishwara Temple is a prime example of Tamil architecture. Thanjavur is an important centre of South Indian religion, art and architecture and it is one of the most important and most visited historical sites in the country. Reaching a height of 63 metres, it is the tallest temple building in India and is dedicated to Hindu god, Shiva.

Brihadishwara Temple, Thanjavur

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Tamil Nadu

Dedicated to the worshiping of Hindu god, Vishnu, this temple in Srirangam covers an impressive 6,31,000 square metres and contains seven towers representing the seven elements believed to make up the human body. The temple celebrates a number of large festivals throughout the year, including the most important festival, Ekadasi, which is celebrated for a full 21 days from December to January.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

The Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram (or Trivandrum) is a fusion of Keralan and Tamil design. It is famous for having a secret vault that allegedly no human can open. Visitors to the temple should note that only Hindus are permitted inside the temple and are expected to follow a strict dress code.

Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram

Thanumalayan Temple, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

Another hidden gem in Tamil Nadu is the Thanumalayan Temple, an all-white work of art dedicated to the three main Hindu gods, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, in a single form called Sthanumalayan. The temple is famous for being hand-carved from stone and houses one of the tallest statues of Lord Hanuman in India.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article