(Last Updated on : 23/08/2010)
Tamil Nadu is a state of India, which is full of lot of temples wherein lots of deities live. There are over 30,000 temples in Tamil Nadu. There is hardly any hamlet, a village, a town or a city here without a temple. Each of these temples of Tamil Nadu has its own presiding deities.
All the temples of Tamil Nadu have almost similar features. The gopuram or the Portal Tower from all four directions, the vimanam or the Tower over the sanctum sanctorum, spacious halls and corridors are about same in all the Tamil temples. These temples of Tamil Nadu also serve as a community centre apart from being a place of worship. In these temples, various activities like education, fine arts, functions, marriages, festivals, etc. were performed. They also served as hospital, dharmasala and storehouse and it acted as a fortress during emergencies and wars. The temples at Thiruvannamalai and Chidambaram were used as barracks for a prolonged period by the Marathas.
Lord Muruga is the main deity of the Tamils, who is also called 'Seyon' in Tamil literature and is the God of hills. The God of forests is known as 'Mayon' or Vishnu, Siva is worshipped in the form of 'Lingam' in Tamil Nadu. There are also various deities in Tamil Nadu residing in their temples. 'Kottravai' or 'Kali' is the Goddess of 'Palai' or arid lands of Tamil Nadu. Indra is considered as the God of fertile lands and Varuna is the God of rain in Tamil Nadu. In the Sangam period, only these deities were worshipped. In this day, Vinayaga or 'Pillaiyar' is the most worshipped God and is a later addition brought to Tamil Nadu by Mahendra Varman, the Pallava king, from Badami. Now, no temples for Indra and Varuna can be found in Tamil Nadu. There are umpteen numbers of lesser deities and local 'devathas' can also be seen.
Arupadai Veedu of Lord Muruga-Thiruttani, Swamimalai, Palani, Thiruparamkundram, Pazhamudirsolai and Thiruchendur and the Pancha Bootha Sthalam are important temples of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Vaishnavaites have 108 sacred residences of Vishnu in Tamil Nadu. Most of these sacred Vishnu temples are located in various places like Kanchipuram, Madurai and Srirangam etc. In various places of Tamil Nadu, the temples of the deities like Sridevi and Bhoodevi, Lakshmi, the consorts of Vishnu, and the consorts of Siva, Parvathi, Kamatchi, Abhirami and Meenakshi can be found. The diverse temples of the deity Kali, like Durgai Amman, Mariamman and Angalamman etc are also seen in Tamil Nadu. They can be seen all over Tamil Nadu. These temples and the deities are visited by people of all religions and sects.