The monuments of Tamil Nadu attract tourists from all over the world and are considered the architectural gems in the southern area of India. Most of the ancient buildings have been constructed by following Dravidian architectural style. These monuments reflect a unique style which is evident from their design of the walls and the ceilings which have been decorated with intricate and delicate sculptures.
Lots of ancient monuments such as Madras War Cemetery, Bharathiyar Illam, Rippon Building, Vivekananda Illam, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal and the Rock Fort temple are present in the major cities of the state. The monuments of Tamil Nadu can be classified into two categories, historical monuments and religious monuments.
Table of Content
Monuments of Tamil Nadu
- Fort St. George
- Kailasanath Temple
- Padmanabhapuram Palace
- Meenakshi Temple
- Mahabalipuram Rathas
- Vivekananda Rock
- Brihadisvara Temple
Fort St. George
Fort St. George was the first British fortress in India. The construction of the fort at Chennai saw a spurt in settlements and construction activity around the place. The later day Madras/Chennai city evolved around the same fort. Fort St. George has the distinction of being the oldest English fort on the East Coast of India.
Constructed between 1640 and 1653 and subsequently reconstructed in the year 1783, Fort St. George was once a town, complete with named streets, alleys and roads.
Kanchipuram is a pilgrimage city. A former Pallava capital (7th – 9th century), Kanchipuram is filled with temples dating from the 8th – 17th centuries. These temples are the perfect study of the evolutionary changes that the South Indian architecture underwent while different reigns made their impressions on them.
Among the oldest temples in the temple city of Kanchipuram is Kailasanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. An epitome of an early structural temple, Kailasanath Temple reflects the rapidly emerging South Indian style: gopuras, pilastered walls, a pyramidal shikhara, and a perimeter wall enclosing the complex.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace is one of the most magnificent monuments of Tamilnadu. It is situated in Kanyakumari district, 15 km from Nagercoil and 55 km South-West of Thiruvananthapuram. The Padmanabhapuram palace was the seat of power of the rulers of Travancore.
The palace is known for its planning and military architecture and remained the center of power till 1790, when the capital was shifted to Thiruvananthapuram. The main attractions of the Padmanabhapuram Palace are its sheer aesthetic beauty, murals, innovative designs and time tested wooden carvings.
The Meenakshi temple complex is one of the largest in India. The presiding deity at the Meenakshi temple at Madurai, the Athens of South India, is Goddess Meenakshi. The nucleus of the temple is older than the Madurai city. The Meenakshi temple complex is spread over an area of about 6 hectares.
The temple has 12 gateways (Gopurams), which range in height from 45 to 50 m and the tallest Gopuram is the southern. The southern gateway is nine stories high and has images of gods and goddesses. A unique feature of the ancient Dravidian culture of South India is that people paint their gods in brilliant and bright colors. This is very much evident atop the gateways of the Meenakshi temple.
Mahabalipuram is a temple town that is situated along the Coromandel Coast 55 kilometers off Chennai, the capital of Tamil nadu. The place is famous for its Ratha temples that are a part of the famous shore temple complex. The Pallava king Narsimha built the magnificent ‘Ratha’ cave temples of Mahabalipuram.
These 7th century temples are regarded the pioneer of an entirely revolutionary style of architecture that came to be known as Dravidian architecture style.
These ‘Ratha’ temples of Mahabalipuram are commonly called the Pancha Pandava Ratha. These temples are considered pioneer of the Dravidian monolith era and mark the point of transition between the earlier tradition of rock-carved temples and the later tradition of freestanding stone structures.
There are actually eight Rathas at Mahabalipuram out of which five are named after the five Pandavas of Mahabharata and one after Draupadi. The five rathas that can be seen are Dharmaraja Ratha, Bhima Ratha, Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha and Nakul Sahadeva Ratha.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial is built on the legendary Vivekanad Rock that juts out of the convergence of the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. About 400 mts offshore the two rocky islands became the seat of enlightenment for Swami Vivekananda, an Indian philosopher and social reformer. It is believed that in the year 1892, Swami Vivekananda swam across the sea and meditated on this isolated rock island, imparting spiritual charisma to him.
The Brihadisvara temple is one of the most ancient and the most celebrated Hindu temple in the world. The temple is located in the city of Thanjavur that is also known as Tanjore, in the Indian province of Tamil nadu. The UNESCO has adjudged this thousand years old temple a “World Heritage Site”.
Brihadisvara is the most illustrious and a brilliant example of the Dravidian style temple architecture. The building that carries the main sanctum is known as the ‘Periya Kovil’. This stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century.