Top 10 largest temples in the world
Top 10 largest temples in the world

Enlightenment is the primary goal of every Hindu temple. Architectural styles, towering gopuras, magnificent sculptures, paintings, carvings and decorations of world famous temples are truly a feast to the eyes. Here the list of top 10 largest Hindu temples in the world.

The List of top 10 largest temples in the world

10. Vaitheeswaran Koil, Tamil Nadu, India, 15 Acres

9. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu, India, 17.3 Acres

8. Jambukeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, India, 18 Acres

7. Ekambareswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, India, 23 Acres

6. Annamalaiyar Temple, Tamil Nadu, India, 25 Acres

5. Belur Math, Kolkata, India, 40 Acres

4. Thillai Nadaraja Temple, Tamil Nadu, India, 40 Acres

3. Akshardham, Delhi, India, 100 Acres

2. Sri Ranganathaswami Temple, Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India, 156 Acres

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia, 500 Acres

What are the largest temples in the world?

10. Vaitheeswaran Koil, Tamil Nadu, India

Photo: Hinduism
Photo: Hinduism

Vaitheeswaran Kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Shiva, located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanathar or Vaitheeswaran meaning the "God of healing" and it is believed that prayers to Vaitheeswaran can cure diseases. Vaitheeswaran is a Tamil derivative from vaidya (Doctor) and Ishvara (God/Master). The presiding deity is Sri vaidyanathan, facing towards West whereas East side is the common one. He is the God of Healing. When pronouncing in Tamil, it sounds like "vaideeswaran". It is one of the nine Navagraha (nine planets) temples and is associated with the planet Mars (Angaraka).

The village is also known for palm leaf astrology called Naadi astrology in Tamil. It is located 7 kilometers from Sirkazhi, 235 kilometers from Chennai, 27 km from Chidambaram, 110 km from Thanjavur and 16 km from Mayiladuthurai.

The holy waters of the Siddhamirtham tank within the temple complex contains nectar, and a holy dip is believed to cure all diseases.

The temple is revered by the Tevaram hymns of 7th-century Saiva nayanars - Tamil saint poets and is also classified as a Paadal Petra Sthalam (temple revered by the nayanars).

The temple is located between Sirkali to Mayiladuthurai State Highway. Frequent bus services are operated by Tamil Nadu government. There is a Railway station which is located between Chennai to Mayiladuthurai railway road. Karaikal is the nearest proposal airport located around 40 kilometer from temple. The temple has a five-tiered gopuram (temple tower), two inner gopurams and large precincts. The central shrine is that of Vaitheeswaran present as lingam in the inner most sanctum. The first precinct around the sanctum has the metal image of Subramanya, worhsipped here as Muthukumara Swamy.

The other metal images in the sanctum are of Nataraja, Somaskanda, Angaraka and stone sculptures of Durga, Dakshinamoorthy, Surya (Sun god), Jatayu, Sampati. The shrine of Thaiyalnayaki in the second precinct facing south houses the image of Thiyalnayagi sported in standing posture with the medicinal oil to cure the diseases. The large precinct also has a small shrine to Dhanvantari and shrine of Angaraka in stone sculpture. The southern gateway from this precinct leads to the temple tank and directly faces the Thaiyalnayaki shrine. The Sthala Vriksha (temple tree) is margosa (Azadirachta indica, neem tree), believed to possesses medicinal properties, is present near the eastern gateway. The eastern gateway also has the shrine of Adi (original) temple that has a smaller replica of the main shrines. There is a fine metal image of Gangavisarjanar inside the temple. The shrine of Angaragan (Mars) is present near the Eastern gateway in the third precinct.

9. Meenakshi Amman Temple

Photo: National Geographic
Photo: National Geographic

Arulmigu Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareshwar, a form of Shiva. The temple is at the center of the ancient temple city of Madurai mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature, with the goddess temple mentioned in 6th-century-CE texts. This temple is one of the Paadal Petra Sthalam. The Paadal Petra sthalam are 275 temples of lord Shiva that are revered in the verses of Tamil Saiva Nayanars of 6th-9th century CE.

The west tower (gopuram) of the temple is the model based on which the Tamil Nadu State Emblem is designed.

The Meenakshi temple is located in the heart of historic Madurai city, about a kilometer south of the Vaigai River. It is about 460 kilometres (290 mi) southwest from Chennai, the state capital. The temple complex is well connected with road network (four lane National Highway 38), near a major railway junction and an airport with daily services. The city roads radiate from the temple complex and major ring roads form a concentric pattern for the city, a structure that follows the Silpa Sastra guidelines for a city design. Madurai is one of the many temple towns in the state which is named after the groves, clusters or forests dominated by a particular variety of a tree or shrub and the same variety of tree or shrub sheltering the presiding deity. The region is believed to have been covered with Kadamba forest and hence called Kadambavanam.

he goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple, unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity. According to a legend found in the Tamil text Tiruvilaiyatarpuranam, king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai performed a Yajna seeking a son for succession. Instead a daughter is born out of the fire who is already 3 year old and has three breasts. Shiva intervenes and says that the parents should treat her like a son, and when she meets her husband, she will lose the third breast. They follow the advice. The girl grows up, the king crowns her as the successor and when she meets Shiva, his words come true, she takes her true form of Meenakshi. According to Harman, this may reflect the matrilineal traditions in South India and the regional belief that "penultimate [spiritual] powers rest with the women", gods listen to their spouse, and that the fate of kingdoms rest with the women. According to Susan Bayly, the reverence for Meenakshi is a part of the Hindu goddess tradition that integrates with the Dravidian Hindu society where the "woman is the lynchpin of the system" of social relationships.

Top 10 Most Beautiful Temples in The World Top 10 Most Beautiful Temples in The World

Check out this top 10 most beautiful temples in the world that you can pay a visit in the future in the article below.

8. Jambukeswarar Temple

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Jambukeswarar Temple, Thiruvanaikaval (also Thiruvanaikal, Jambukeswaram) is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) district, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Though it is that Kocengannan (Kochengat Cholan), one of the Early Cholas, have built this temple. It is located in the Srirangam island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple.

Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu (Pancha Bhoota Stalam) representing the Mahābhūta or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. The sanctum of Jambukeswara has an underground water stream and in spite of pumping water out, it is always filled with water.

It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung glories of the deity in this temple. The temple has inscriptions from the Chola period.

As per Fergusson, the temple surpasses the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in architectural terms, which were both constructed at the same time. There are five enclosures inside the temple. The massive outer wall covering the fifth precinct, known as the Vibudi Prakara, stretches over a mile and is two feet thick and over 25 feet high. Legend maintains that the wall was built by Shiva working with the laborers. The fourth precinct contains a hall with 796 pillars and measures 2436 feet by 1493. It also has a small tank fed by perpetual springs. The third enclosure is 745 feet by 197 surrounded a wall 30 feet high. This area has two gopurams (gateway towers) 73 and 100 feet tall, a coconut thoppu and a small water tank. The second enclosure is 306 feet by 197, a gopuram 65 feet high and several small shrines. The inner most enclosure measuring 126 feet by 123 has the sanctum.

7. Ekambareswarar Temple

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

One among the “Pancha Bhoota Stalam” [five Shiva temples each representing five elements of life], Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the most sacred Shiva temples. It represents the element Earth. Shiva is worshipped as Ekambareswarar. The temple is thousands of years old with the current structure being a reconstructed one, around 600 AD by the Pallavas. However the temple displays the works of likely every dynasty that ruled Kanchipuram. The 172 feet Raja Gopuram is a marvelous piece of architectural wonder built by the Vijayanagara Empire. The Cholas made architectural contributions to the temple too.

Legend has it that the lingam here at the Ekambareswarar Temple is made and worshipped by Goddess Parvati herself and that we can still see a mark on the Lingam which holds this legend true. Once Goddess Parvati covered Shiva’s eyes and the world suddenly filled with darkness. With Shiva’s eyes closed, the Sun and Moon darkened without even a beam of light. He opened his third eye and saved the day for the mankind. Parvati was filled with guilt after witnessing all these. Shiva asked her to do penance to free her from wrong karma. Parvati born on earth as Kamakshi and started her penance. She made a Shiva linga out of sand and worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Prithvi Lingam [Lingam made of earth] under an ancient temple mango tree. At the same time, Shiva in order to test her devotion caused a flood where Kamakshi was busy worshipping him.

Kamakshi on realizing about the flood got scared of the Prithvi Lingam being washed off, embraces the lingam. Lord Shiva who literally started melting due to her devotion and love appears in his materialized human form and married Kamakshi. Also this is when Kamakshi accidently left some marks on the lingam as a result of her bangles and kuchas hitting the sand made lingam which can be seen even today.

The “Sthala Vriksham” or the ancient temple mango tree is more than 3500 years old under which Kamakshi worshipped the Shiv Lingam is still present here and is one of the significant landmarks of the temple. It has four branches and each represents one of the four Vedic texts and yield four different flavors of fruits. The other significant features of the temple include the “Aayiram Kaal Mandapam” or the 1000 pillared hall, 1008 Shiv Lingams that adorn the inner walls of the temple and the ten musical pillars at the inner corridor of the temple. Another architectural brilliance is that the sun rays falls directly on the Shiva linga every 19, 20 and 21 of the Panguni month (March-April) which is hen the most important festival of the Ekambareswarar Temple is celebrated, the Panguni Uthiram.

6. Annamalaiyar Temple

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Arunachalesvara Temple (also called Annamalaiyar Temple), is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva, located at the base of Arunachala hill in the town of Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India. It is significant to the Hindu sect of Shaivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of fire, or Agni.

Shiva is worshiped as Arunachalesvara or Annamalaiyar, and is represented by the lingam, with his idol referred to as Agni lingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Unnamalai Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The 9th century Saiva saint poet Manikkavasagar composed the Tiruvempaavai here.

The temple complex covers 10 hectares, and is one of the largest in India. It houses four gateway towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 stories and a height of 66 metres (217 ft), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India built by sevappa nayakkar (Nayakar dynasty). The temple has numerous shrines, with those of Arunachalesvara and Unnamalai Amman being the most prominent. The temple complex houses many halls; the most notable is the thousand-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period.

The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagara rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE). The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twelve yearly festivals on its calendar. The Karthigai Deepam festival is celebrated during the day of the full moon between November and December, and a huge beacon is lit atop the hill. It can be seen from miles around, and symbolizes the Shiva lingam of fire joining the sky. The event is witnessed by three million pilgrims. On the day preceding each full moon, pilgrims circumnavigate the temple base and the Arunachala hills in a worship called Girivalam, a practice carried out by one million pilgrims yearly.

5. Belur Math

Photo: Telegraph India
Photo: Telegraph India

The Belur math is a magnificent temple and international headquarters of Ramakrishna mission founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. The most interesting feature of Belur math is it look like a temple, church or a mosque from every angle. The temple reflects a fusion of Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Rajput and Christian architectural styles. Belur math is also considered as a symbol of unity of all religions in the world.

“The spiritual light that this place will emit will flood the whole universe” Swami Vivekananda said on the occasion of laying the foundation stone of Belur Math in 1898. The entire complex of Belur math covers a vast area of 40 acres.

The Belur Math complex contains temples dedicated for Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Holy mother, Sri Sarada Devi. The main gate of the temple features symbols of different religions. The museum of the Belur math also contains different artifacts used by Sri Ramakrisha and Swami Vivekananda.

4. Thillai Nadaraja Temple

Photo: Pragyata
Photo: Pragyata

Nataraja Temple, also referred to as the Chidambaram Nataraja temple or Thillai Nataraja temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance – in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple has ancient roots and a Shiva shrine existed at the site when the town was known as Thillai. Chidambaram, the name of the city and the temple literally means "atmosphere of wisdom" or "clothed in thought", the temple architecture symbolizes the connection between the arts and spirituality, creative activity and the divine. The temple wall carvings display all the 108 karanas from the Natya Shastra by Bharata Muni, and these postures form a foundation of Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance.

The present temple was built in the 10th century when Chidambaram was the capital of the Chola dynasty, making it one of the oldest surviving active temple complexes in South India. After its 10th-century consecration by the Cholas who considered Nataraja as their family deity, the temple has been damaged, repaired, renovated and expanded through the 2nd millennium. Most of the temple's surviving plan, architecture and structure is from the late 12th and early 13th centuries, with later additions in similar style. While Shiva as Nataraja is the primary deity of the temple, it reverentially presents major themes from Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and other traditions of Hinduism. The Chidambaram temple complex, for example, has the earliest known Amman or Devi temple in South India, a pre-13th-century Surya shrine with chariot, shrines for Ganesha, Murugan and Vishnu, one of the earliest known Shiva Ganga sacred pool, large mandapas for the convenience of pilgrims (choultry, ambalam or sabha) and other monuments. Shiva himself is presented as the Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava ("Dance of Delight") in the golden hall of the shrine Pon Ambalam.

The temple is one of the five elemental lingas in the Shaivism pilgrimage tradition, and considered the subtlest of all Shiva temples (Kovil) in Hinduism. It is also a site for performance arts, including the annual Natyanjali dance festival on Maha Shivaratri.

3. Akshardham

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

The large Akshardham Hindu temple complex is located on the banks of Yamuna river in Delhi. The temple complex spread across an area of 100 acres. It is regarded as an icon of Hindu culture, art and spirituality. The central part of this religious complex houses murtis of Sita Ram, Siv Parvati, Radha Krishna and Lakshmi Narayanan.

The Akshardham temple complex was built by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, The spiritual leader of BAPS organization.The Akshardham temple complex is entirely made of sandstone and marble.

A magnificent gajendra pith of this temple symbolizing the animal kingdom. It features 148 full sized elephants, 42 birds and 125 human sculptures carved in pink stone. The 1070 feet long gajendra pith also represents a deep relation of ancestors of India and with nature.

The main monument of Akshardham temple consists of 234 carved pillars and nine domes. It also includes the carvings of detailed information about Hindu deities, plants, animals and arts.

2. Sri Ranganathaswami Temple

Photo: The roads and beyond
Photo: The roads and beyond

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the Supreme God, Maha Vishnu, located in Srirangam, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India. Constructed in the Dravidian architectural style, the temple is glorified by Alvars in their Divya Prabhanda and has the unique distinction of being the foremost among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to The Supreme God Vishnu.

Srirangpatna had the name of the Srirangapuri in the early ages. The town is an island being surrounded by the river Cauvery. In this town, there is the temple of Sri Ranganatha. Sri Lakshmi Narasimha, Sri Gangadereshwara, Sri Jyothirmaheshwara and other small temples. Among them, the main temple is that of Sri Ranganatha. The inner apartment of Sri Ranganatha temple was built in 817 CE by a lady named Hambi, of the class of dancers in the year 894 CE.

It is the most illustrious Vaishnava temples in South India rich in legend and history. The temple has played an important role in Vaishnavism history starting with the 11th-century career of Ramanuja and his predecessors Nathamuni and Yamunacharya in Srirangam. Its location, on an island between the Kollidam and Kaveri rivers, has rendered it vulnerable to flooding as well as the rampaging of invading armies which repeatedly commandeered the site for military encampment. The temple was looted and destroyed by the Delhi Sultanate armies in a broad plunder raid on various cities of the Pandyan kingdom in early 14th century. The temple was rebuilt in late 14th century, the site fortified and expanded with many more Gopurams in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was one of the hubs of early Bhakti movement with a devotional singing and dance tradition, but this tradition stopped during the 14th century and was revived in a limited way much later.

The temple occupies an area of 155 acres (63 ha) with 81 shrines, 21 towers, 39 pavilions, and many water tanks integrated into the complex making it the world's largest functioning Hindu temple. The temple town is a significant archaeological and epigraphical site, providing a historic window into the early and mid medieval South Indian society and culture. Numerous inscriptions suggest that this Hindu temple served not only as a spiritual center, but also a major economic and charitable institution that operated education and hospital facilities, ran a free kitchen, and financed regional infrastructure projects from the gifts and donations it received.

1. Angkor Wat

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Stretching over a vast land of 500 acres, the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is the largest religious structure in the world. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and icon of Cambodia. The Angkor Wat consist of hundreds of stone temples and remains of the Khmer empire. This largest temple complex was built in 12th century by Khmer king Suryavarman II. Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu and later, it became a Buddhist complex.

Unlike other Hindu temples Angkor Wat faces the West. Archaeologists believed that Angkor Wat is not only a temple but also a mausoleum. The skilled workers of Saurvarman only used sandstones as main material for the construction of the largest religious complex. The Angkor Wat is actually a portrayal of sacred mountain mount Meru. The center tower of the temple stands at a height of 65 meters is surrounded by four smaller towers.

The main entrance of the Angkor Wat on West side has rich decorations with sculptures and carvings. There is also a 3.2 meters high statue of Lord Vishnu made of sandstone. The central complex of Angkor Wat is a three storey structure.

There are three main galleries in the central complex of the temple. Each gallery also has a lotus-bud shaped tower. The gallery of thousands Buddha houses hundreds of images of Lord Buddha. The inner wall of Angkor Wat is also decorated with important scenes from Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

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