Top Ten Indian Temples

Top Ten Indian Temples

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  1. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Madurai
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             Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai in India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is known here as Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord, and his consort, Parvati who is known as Meenakshi. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built in 1600. The tallest temple tower is 51.9 m (170 ft) high.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meenakshi_Sundareswarar_Temple,
  2. Ellora Caves and Kailash Temple

           Ellora is an archaeological site, 29 km (18 mi) North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura (in the Rashtrakuta literature). Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” – actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12), 17 Hindu (caves 13–29) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.
    Links: Top Ten Rock-Cut Architecture, Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellora_Caves,
  3. Ajaṇṭā Caves
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           The Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India are about 300 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments which date from the 2nd century BC to about 480 or 650 AD. The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as “the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting”, which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The caves were built in two phases starting around the 2nd century BC, with the second group of caves built around 400–650 AD according to older accounts, or all in a brief period of 460 to 480 according to the recent proposals of Walter M. Spink. The site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. The caves are 100 km (62 miles) from the Ellora Caves, which contain Hindu and Jain temples as well as Buddhist caves, the last dating from a period similar to Ajanta. The Ajanta caves are cut into the side of a cliff that is on the south side of a U-shaped gorge on the small river Waghora (or Wagura), and although they are now along and above a modern pathway running across the cliff they were originally reached by individual stairs or ladders from the side of the river 35 to 110 feet below. The area was previously heavily forested, and after the site ceased to be used the caves were covered by jungle until accidentally rediscovered in 1819 by a British officer on a hunting party. They are Buddhist monastic buildings, apparently representing a number of distinct “monasteries” or colleges. The caves are numbered 1 to 28 according to their place along the path, beginning at the entrance. Several are unfinished and some barely begun and others are small shrines. Further round the gorge are a number of waterfalls, which when the river is high are audible from outside the caves. The caves form the largest corpus of early Indian wall-painting; other survivals from the area of modern India are very few, though they are related to 5th-century paintings at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. The elaborate architectural carving in many caves is also very rare, and the style of the many figure sculptures is highly local, found only at a few nearby contemporary sites.
    Links: Top Ten Caves, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajanta_Caves,
  4. Srikalahasti Temple, Andhra Pradesh
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           Srikalahasti Temple is located in the town of Srikalahasti, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the most famous Shiva temples in South India, and is said to be the site where Kannappa, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanars, was ready to offer both his eyes to cover blood flowing from the Siva linga before the Lord Siva stopped him and granted him mukti. Sri Kalahasti temple, situated 36 km away from Tirupati is famous for its Vayu deva temple, which is the only shrine for the God of Wind in India. Constructed in the 12th century by the Chola king, Rajendra Chola, Vayu is incarnated as Lord Shiva and worshipped as Kalahasteeswara.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalahasti_temple,
  5. Konark Sun Temple, India
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    Konark Sun Temple is a 13th century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 AD) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty. The temple is one of the most renowned temples in India and is one of the Seven Wonders of India. Legend has it that the temple was constructed by Samba, the son of Lord Krishna. It is said that Samba was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father’s curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honor he built the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten Hindu DeitiesTop 100 SculpturesTop 100 Asian Sculptures, Top Ten RelievesTop Ten Asian Relieveshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konark_Sun_Temple,
  6. Lotus Temple, Delhi
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           The Bahá’í House of Worship in Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahá’í House of Worship and also a prominent attraction in Delhi. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent. It has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.
    Links: Top 100 Flowershttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_temple,
  7. Punjab and the Harmandir Sahib (“Golden Temple”)
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           The Harmandir Sahib, also Darbar Sahib, the “Golden Temple,” is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. It was built by the 5th Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, in the 16th Century. In 1604, Guru Arjun completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the Gurdwara. There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions. The present day Gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls. In the early 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the Gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmandir_Sahib,
  8. Annamalaiyar Temple, Tamilnadu
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           Annamalaiyar Temple is a noted Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at the bottom of the Annamalai hill in Thiruvannamalai town in Tamilnadu, India. It is the home of Annamalaiyar or Arunachaleswarar (Lord Shiva worshipped as a Shiva Lingam) and Unnamalaiyaal (Apitakuchambaal – Parvati), and is one of the largest temples in India. It occupies a special place in the Saivite realm and is regarded as one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams (one of the five grand temples associated with the five basic elements), associated with the element Fire; the other four being Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (sky), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). It is said that the Saivite saint poet Manikkavasagar composed the Tiruvempaavai while at Thiruvannamalai.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annamalaiyar_Temple,
  9. Chidambaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Chidambaram Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the heart of the temple town of Chidambaram, 78 km south of Pondicherry and 60 km north of Karaikal in Cuddalore District, the east-central part of the Tamil Nadu state of southeastern India. The Sangam classics refer to Viduvelvidugu Perumtaccan, respected clan of traditional Vishwakarmas, as being the chief architect of the temple renovation. There have been several renovations in its history, particularly during the days of Pallava/Chola emperors in ancient and pre-medieval periods. In Hindu literature, Chidambaram is one of the five holiest Shiva temples, each representing one of the five natural elements; Chidambaram represents akasha (aether). The other four temples in this category are: Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Kanchi Ekambareswara (earth), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind).
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, Top 100 Indian Sculptures,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chidambaram_Temple, 
  10. Buddhist Pilgrimage of Lumbinī, Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath
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           Lumbinī, “the lovely,” is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. It is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama and where he lived roughly between 623 and 543 BC and founded Buddhism as Gautama Buddha. Lumbini is one of four magnets for pilgrimage that sprang up in places pivotal to the life of the Buddha, the others being at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath. Lumbini, where the Buddha lived until the age of 29, has a number of temples, including the Mayadevi temple and others under construction. Also located here is the Puskarini or Holy Pond where the Buddha’s mother took the ritual dip prior to his birth and where he, too, had his first bath, as well as the remains of Kapilavastu palace. At other sites near Lumbini, earlier Buddhas were, according to tradition, born, achieved ultimate awakening and finally relinquished earthly form. Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala). For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha. Sarnath is the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Sarnath is located 13 km north-east of Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh, India. Singhpur, a village one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the 11th Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site. Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason. It was also the site of the Buddha’s Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it. Kushinagar is a town and a Nagar Panchayat in Gorakhpur district of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is an important to Buddhists, as it is the site, where Gautama Buddha attained Parinirvana after his death.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumbinihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarnath, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodh_Gaya, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kushinagar,
  11. Khajuraho Group of Monuments
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    The Khajuraho Group of Monuments in Khajuraho, a town in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, located in Chhatarpur District, about 620 km (385 mi) southeast of New Delhi, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Khajuraho has the largest group of medieval Hindu and Jain temples, famous for their erotic sculptures. Between 950 and 1150, the Chandela monarchs built these temples when the Tantric tradition may have been accepted. In the days before the Mughal conquests, when boys lived in hermitages, following brahmacharya until they became men, they could learn about the world and prepare themselves to become householders through examining these sculptures and the worldly desires they depicted. The name Khajuraho, ancient “Kharjuravāhaka,” is derived from the Sanskrit words kharjura = date palm and vāhaka = “one who carries.” Locals living in the Khajuraho village always knew about and kept up the temples as best as they could. They were pointed out to the English in the late 19th century when the jungles had taken a toll on the monuments. In the 19th century, British engineer T.S. Burt arrived in the area, followed by General Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham put Khajuraho on the world map when he explored the site on behalf of the Archaeological Survey of India and described what he found in glowing terms. The Khajuraho Group of Monuments is considered to be one of the “seven wonders” of India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments,
  12. Srisailam Temple, Andhra Pradesh
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           Srisailam is a holy town and mandal, situated in Nallamala Hills of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located on the banks of River Krishna, about 232 km south of Hyderabad. Bhramaramba Mallikarjunaswamy Temple dedicated to Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy (a form of Shiva) and Devi Bhramaramba (a form of Parvathi) is located here and it is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Srisailam Dam, located about 245 km from Hyderabad and 132 km from Nandyal, is a multipurpose dam has been built across River Krishna and caters to the irrigation and power needs of the state.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srisailam,
  13. Ekambareswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Ekambareswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams (each representing a natural element) representing the element Earth. The other four temples in this category are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (ether), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). All of the four revered Saivite Saints have sung the glories of this temple. Legend has it that once Parvati was doing tapas under the temple’s ancient Mango Tree. In order to test her devotion Lord Shiva sent fire on her. Goddess Parvati prayed to her brother, Lord Vishnu, for help. In order to save her, he took the Moon from Lord Shiva’s head and showed the rays which then cooled down the tree as well as Parvati. After that, Lord Shiva again sent the river Ganga (Ganges) to disrupt Parvati’s tapas. Parvati devi prayed to Ganga and convinced her that both of them were sisters and so should not harm her. And so Ganga did not disturb her penance after that. Then Parvati made a Shiva Linga out of sand and got united with Lord Shiva. According to another legend, it is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam (or a Lingam improvised out of sand), under a mango tree. Legend has it that the neighboring Vegavati River overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam. Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as Tazhuva kuzhainthaar (“He who melted in Her embrace”) in Tamil.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekambareswarar_Temple,
  14. Kanyakumari Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Kanyakumari is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India, sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin. Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is the geographical end of the Indian mainland. The district in Tamil Nadu where the town is located is called Kanyakumari District. The closest major cities are Nagercoil, the administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District, (22 km) and Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala (85 km). The town is a popular tourist place in India.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanyakumari,
  15. Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Rameswaram is a town in Ramanathapuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on Pamban Island separated from mainland India by the Pamban channel and is about 50 kilometres from Mannar Island, Sri Lanka. Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, is connected to mainland India by the Pamban Bridge. Rameswaram is the terminus of the railway line from Chennai and Madurai. Together with Kashi, it is considered to be one of the holiest places in India to Hindus, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages. Hence, it is a bustling pilgrim centre. It is situated in the Gulf of Mannar at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. According to legend, this is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge Ram Setu (also known as Adam’s Bridge) across the sea to Lanka to rescue his consort Sita from her abductor Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage centre which is known as the Varanasi of the south. Ex-president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, hails from a fishing hamlet called Dhanushkodi situated on this island.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rameshwaram,
  16. Thiruvanaikaval Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Thiruvanaikaval is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy), located in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan (Kochenga Chola), one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is adjacent to the Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam. Thiruvanaikal is one of the five major Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu(Panchabhoota Sthalams) representing the Mahābhūta or five great elements; this temple represents the element of water, or neer in Tamil. The other Panchabhoota Sthalams are located at Chidambaram (sky/ space), Kalahasti (wind), Tiruvannamalai (fire) and Kanchipuram (earth).
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jambukeswarar_Temple,_Thiruvanaikaval,
  17. Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India
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           The Sun Temple, Modhera, at Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty. The Modhera sun temple is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati, 25 km from Mehsana and 102 km from Ahmedabad.
    Links: Top Ten Sun Temples, Top Ten Columns/Pillars,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple,_Modhera,
  18. Tiruchendur Temple, Tamil Nadu
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            Thiruchendur is a panchayat town in Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This town has a different name called Thirucheer Alaiwai.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiruchendur,
  19. Nellaiappar Temple, Tamil Nadu
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           Nellaiappar Temple is one of the famous Shiva Temples situated at the heart of Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India.
    Links: Top Ten Pillars/Columns, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellaiappar_Temple,
  20. Great Living Chola Temples
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    The Great Living Chola Temples are temples built during the Chola rule in the south of India. These temples are the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Gangaikonda Cholapuram was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola who conquered a large area in South India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Kadaram (Kedah in Malaysia) at the beginning of the 11th century AD. It occupies an important place in the history of India. As the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 AD for about 250 years, the city controlled the affairs of entire southern India, from the Tungabhadra in the north to Ceylon in the south and other Southeast Asian countries. The great temple of Siva at this place is next only to the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur in its monumental nature and surpasses it in sculptural quality. The Gangaikondaan temple is an architectural and engineering marvel because the shadow of the main tower never falls on the ground throughout the year. Airavatesvara Temple is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD.
    Links: Top Ten Pillars/Columns,   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadisvara_Temple,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangaikonda_Cholapuram,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airavatesvara_Temple,
  21. Brihadeeswarar Temple
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    Thanjavur is a city in southern India state of Tamil Nadu. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire. It has been a part of independent India since 1947 and an important center of South Indian religion, art and architecture. The foremost among these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. The city is an important agricultural center located in the Cauvery Delta and is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu.” Roadways are the major means of transportation, while the city also has rail connectivity.  The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and an art of the work achieved by Cholas in Tamil architecture. This is the largest temple in India and one of India’s most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The vimana or (temple tower) is 216 ft. (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 ft. long and 13 ft. high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, where the temple is. Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I in Thanjavur, Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple,’ turned 1000 years old in 2010.
    Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanjavurhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadeeswarar_Temple,
  22. Yaganti, Andhra Pradesh
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           Sri Yaganti Uma Maheswara Temple or Yaganti is a temple to Lord Shiva in Kurnool District in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Sculptures, Top 100 Asian Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaganti,
  23. Hampi and Vijayanagara
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    Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka state, India. It is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious center, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old city. In around 1500 Vijaynagar had 500,000 inhabitants, probably making it the 2nd largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and twice the then size of Paris.
    Links: Top Ten Columns/Pillars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijayanagara,
  24. Links: Top Ten Indian Attractions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/India,