Indian Heritage – South India

09 Feb 2020

Lush green backwaters, beautiful beaches and architectural wonders have made South India a preferred destination in the Indian Tourism Industry.

South India is known for its silks, temples and rich cultural heritage that gives it a unique appeal.

Several destinations have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Let’s learn more about some of these Sites in South India.

1.Great Living Chola Temples: These temples belong to the Chola Dynasty and were constructed between the 11th and 12th century CE. The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram represent Dravidian architecture at its most recognisable form, and bear testimony to the outstanding architectural development of the Chola Empire. Traditions and religious practices that have been practiced for centuries continue even today, making these ‘living’ temples.  The three temple complexes form a unique group, which showcases highly developed Chola architecture and art at its very best.

2.Great Monuments at Hampi: This last capital city of the great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar is home to one of the most austere, grandiose Dravidian temples, built between the 14th and 16th century. Located in central Karnataka, Hampi reflects the glory of the Vijayanagar Kingdom. More than 1,600 remains of forts, riverside features, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, gateways, defence check posts, stables and water structures, belonging to the once-flourishing Vijayanagar Empire can be seen today. Dravidian architecture prospered under this kingdom and was characterised by its massive dimensions and cloistered enclosures. A distinguishing feature of the Vijayanagar architecture is its unique representation of a multi-religious, multi-ethnic civilization as seen in the Indo-Islamic architecture in the Queen’s Bath and the Elephant Stables.

3.Great Monuments at Mahabalipuram: Along the Coromandel Coast in South India, in the 7th and 8th centuries, kings from the Pallava Dynasty constructed a group of sanctuaries including monuments and Hindu temples, mandapasgiant open-air reliefs such as the famous ‘Descent of the Ganges’, and the Temple of Rivage, with thousands of sculptures dedicated to Lord Shiva. History has it that Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, got its name from the famous Pallava king, Narasimhavarman I. The Pallavas had established trade connections with some South East Asian countries, including China. There was also a very important sea port in the kingdom during the Pallava reign. Mention of Mahabalipuram and the Pallava dynasty can be found in various Chinese scriptures, documenting the ties between South India and China. Reflecting those ties, the Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in 2019 in Mahabalipuram, further kindling interest between this ancient seaport town of Tamil Nadu and China.

4.Group Monuments at Pattadakal: The city of Pattadakal, in Karnataka, represents the zenith of the 7th and 8th century architectural grandeur under the Chalukya dynasty. These monuments are a blend of architectural forms from both northern and southern India. One can find a splendid series of nine Hindu temples, and a Jain sanctuary. The Temple of Virupaksha, built in 740 CE by Queen Loka Mahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory, even today is a living, active house of worship. Most of the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva.

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