Heritage Centres Two Day Trip Guides

Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu | Seek Divine Blessings with this Step-by-step guide

Last updated on May 1st, 2024 at 03:29 pm

Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu in South India are considered very auspicious for Hindus. Each of these Navagraha temple dedicated to 9 planets in Indian mythology are thronged by devotees seeking their blessings.

Having been to these Navagraha temples twice – we will give you a detailed step-by-step guide to help you plan your trip to these temples.

As the name suggests there are nine temples dedicated to Navagrahas or nine planets. These are Surya, Chandra, Mangala or Angaraka, Bhudha, Guru, Shukra, Shani, Rahu and Kethu. One can visit all temples or may visit individual temples based on one’s requirements.

These Navagraha temples are located in the Cauvery delta region of Kumbakonam – Thanjavur. Traditionally these are Shiva temples with a shrine for one of the planets. But in most of the temples, Shiva has taken a backseat giving prime importance to the planet!

Weather Alert – This is summer and day times are hot and humid. Cover well and drink a lot of water and be well hydrated.

Please follow the details in this post to make it a memorable Navagraha temples tour.

Base

We suggest that you make either Kumbakonam or Thanjavur the base to explore these temples. Our recommendation is to make Kumbakonam as the base. If you are also planning to visit Thanjavur as part of your trip, then you can make Thanjavur the base.

Reaching there 

By air – The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli which is well-connected to other cities in India.

By Train – Thanjavur and Kumbakonam are well-connected to other cities in the country.

By Bus – Thanjavur and Kumbakonam are well-connected to other cities by bus.

Stay options

Both cities have multiple options to stay depending on one’s budget.

Mode of transport

The best mode of transport to visit Navagraha temples is in a car. You can either drive in your own car or hire a taxi at either Kumbakonam or Thanjavur

Best time to visit

Winter months – October to February – are the best time to visit as temperatures will be bearable. Summers will be very hot and humid. Tamil Nadu gets rainfall in the winter months of October to December.

If you are traveling in Nov – Dec make sure there are no cyclones passing through the region which bring heavy rainfall/flooding. Monitor the weather forecast by India Meteorological Department or on Skymet.

Please cover yourself with a good hat and keep drinking a lot of water as temperatures are hot and sultry, especially in the summer months.

Travel Information

  • Navagraha temples are located in two clusters as given in the picture below. Thus, it is always better to complete one cluster at a stretch before starting with the other. The following are the Navagraha temples with location and distance from Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. All distances in Kilometres. We have mentioned the local name of the planets in brackets.

The complete circuit can be completed in one day if properly planned. We will help you with a detailed itinerary. However, if you feel it is a bit of a stretch, then you can do it over two days.

  • All temples open at 6.30 AM and close around 1.30 PM. Opens again around 4.00 PM till 9 PM. Sometimes if it is a special day, the timings may be extended or it may not be closed in the afternoon. Please check with your hotel concierge on this.
  • Shani and Rahu temples are the most crowded temples in the circuit.
  • Each planet god has a special offering – for example, it is Lotus for Surya and Gingelly seeds (Til) for Shani – which can be bought at the shops near the temple if one wishes to.
  • If you are planning to special puja in these temples, please allow more time in your itinerary.
  • Popular temples like Shani, Rahu, Guru, and Surya have special Darshan tickets. One can buy them to beat the rush.
  • Each day is auspicious to one god. For example, Saturday is auspicious for Shani and Thursday for Guru. Expect more people in these temples on these special days.
  • Doing the circuit on two days will help to club other Chola temples and also the famous shrines of Velankanni and Dargah of Nagore in the circuit.

Itinerary for Cluster 1 of Navagraha Temples

  • We recommend you complete the circuit in the morning before it gets hot.
  • Start from your place of stay at 6 AM. Not later than 7 AM in any case.
    • Staying in Thanjavur
      • Itinerary  :- Thanjavur – Raghu sthalam (Rahu) – Guru Bhagwan (Guru) – Surriyanar temple (Surya) – Shukran temple (Shukra) – Chandiran temple (Chandra) – Thanjavur
      • Total Distance – 157 Km
      • Follow this Navagraha temple map from Thanjavur – https://goo.gl/maps/wRdr2LdJC7M2
    • Staying in Kumbakonam
      • Itinerary:- Kumbakonam – Raghu sthalam (Rahu) – Guru Bhagwan (Guru) -Chandiran temple (Chandra) – Surriyanar temple (Surya) – Shukran temple (Shukra) – Thanjavur
      • Follow this Navagraha temple map from Kumbakonam – https://goo.gl/maps/P5gAogtV7Z22
  • Road conditions are excellent in the region.
  • We are suggesting that Raghu Sthalam (Rahu temple) be visited first as it is the most crowded of the temples in cluster 1. It is good to complete the visit to this temple first and then continue the visit to others.
  • Breakfast break – After visiting the Raghu temple
  • Late lunch in your place of stay or in Kumbakonam city.

Itinerary for Cluster 2 of Navagraha Temples

  • We recommend you to complete the circuit in the morning before it gets hot.
  • Start from your place of stay at 6 AM. Not later than 7 AM in any case.
    • Staying in Thanjavur
      • Itinerary – Thanjavur – Shani Temple (Shani) – Kedhu temple (Ketu) – Budhan temple (Budha) – Angarakan (Mangala or Angaraka) – – Thanjavur
      • Total Distance – 249 Km
      • Follow this Navagraha temple tour route map from Thanjavur – https://goo.gl/maps/YRf9BoUiDjo
    • Staying in Kumbakonam
      • Itinerary – Kumbakonam – Shani Temple (Shani) – Kedhu temple (Ketu) – Budhan temple (Budha) – Angarakan (Mangala or Angaraka) – Kumbakonam
      • Total Distance –
      • Follow this Navagraha temple tour route map from Kumbakonam – https://goo.gl/maps/vFRhYj2ZRBT2

Road conditions are excellent in the region.

We are suggesting that the Shani temple be visited first as it is the most crowded of the temples in cluster 2. It is good to complete the visit to this temple first and then continue the visit to others.

Breakfast break – After visiting the Shani temple depending upon the crowd. If the crowd is large and darshan would be delayed, then have breakfast and then go to the temple.

Late lunch in your place of stay or in Thanjavur.

Information on temples

Suriyanar Temple (Surya)

Entrance to the temple

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Shrines for graha devatas

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Emblem of Surya

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Located at Aduthurai, this is not the largest in the chain. But it is fairly big. Avoid going here on Sundays as it is auspicious for the Sun god and there would be a large crowd. This is the only temple that also has shrines for other graha devatas or planet gods.

Chandiran temple (Chandra)

Main shrine

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Entrance to the temple

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This is the smallest of navagraha temples. The temple is located in the middle of rural Thanjavur amidst green fields.

Mangala (Angaraka)

Temple entrance

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Interiors of temple

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We were there on Krithikkai day. There was a special puja for Lord Muruga

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Temple tank

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  • This is in the well-known Shiva temple – Vaitheeshwaran Koil. This is the only temple where we saw equal importance given to Shiva along with the graha devata!
  • Vaidyanathaswamy as Lord Shiva is called here is known to help cure incurable diseases. This place is also famous for Nadi Jyotishya. You will find hordes of shops advertising for Nadi Jyotishya services.

Raghu Sthalam (Rahu temple)

Entrance to temple

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Devotees have a tradition of tying a holy thread to this with a belief that it will bring them good luck

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Nicely carved pillars

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One of the largest temples in the circuit. This also gets crowded.

Kethu Temple (Ketu)

Temple entrance

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Devotees tie small cradles for good luck

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A small temple in the list of nine temples.

Budhan temple (Budha)

Entrance to temple

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Temple tank

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Budha shrine

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Temple tower in light from the west

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One of the largest temples in the circuit. The main temple for Shiva is huge. The shrine for Budhan is at the rear side and is smaller in size.

Guru Bhagvan Temple (Guru)

navagraha temples

Guru temple is of modest size. One can expect a slight rush on Thursdays as it is considered auspicious, especially with students.

Shukran temple (Shukra)

Temple entrance

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Shukran temple is also not big. But considered generally auspicious for those who start a new business etc.

Shani temple (Shani)

Entrance to Temple

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A long line of devotees

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This is the largest and also busiest! What a transformation from what we had seen five years back!

We strongly suggest avoiding Saturday and also on weekends when you will find huge crowds and have to wait at least an hour for darshan. Go for special darshan by buying a ticket which is quicker.

Important Travel Advice

  • As we said, you can combine both clusters of Navagraha temples in one day. After finishing Cluster 1, you can proceed to complete Cluster 2 starting from Angaraka Temple first (Vaitheeshwaran Koil) and Shani Temple last going in the reverse direction. You can have lunch in Mayiladuthurai on the way – Mayura restaurant will serve you excellent vegetarian lunch on Banana leaf – and then proceed to Vaitheeshwaran Koil.
  • If you are doing Cluster 1 and 2 on separate days, we recommend you cover Dharasuram and Sarangapani temples in the evening after Cluster 1.
  • You can combine the shrines of Velankanni and Nagore dargah while doing Cluster 2. In this case, it is better to do a reverse circuit and visit the Shani temple last and then proceed to Nagore and Velankanni. See the route map here
  • If you are not keen on Velankanni and Nagore, then you can visit the lovely Danish fort and town of Tranquebar or Taragambadi as it is locally known. This will be before the Shani temple and fits perfectly into the itinerary. See the route map here
  • If anyone is more interested to know about these individual temples in detail, please check out this excellent link – Navagraha Sthalams of Tamil Nadu
  • If you are travelling from Bangalore or Chennai by road and want to do this Navagraha temple tour, add two more days for onward and return journeys. Follow this route

Postscript

We strongly recommend keeping another day to explore Brihadeeshwara temple – A UNESCO World Heritage site – Thanjavur and other Chola temples, the palace in Thanjavur, etc More on it here in this post in this blog

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple – Big, Beautiful & Divine!

Lastly, the road conditions may change due to various factors. It will be good to join a road trip enthusiasts’ FB group HVK Forum managed by H V Kumar, the doyen of road trip in India. You can get the latest updates on road conditions in this very active group.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1 Where can I see the Navagraha temples route map from Kumbakonam? – We have provided route maps from Kumbakonam and Thanjavur. Please check all about it above.

2 What is the order for visiting Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu? – There is no specific order as such. You can visit them at your convenience. However, for easy navigation, we have provided the order for visiting these temples above.

3 How many days are required to visit all Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu? – Though it can be done in one day, it will be very tiring. We would recommend you keep two days to cover all the temples as given in the itinerary above.

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