The Living Chola Temples - Testimony of the Imperial Cholas

24th Jul 2016
I am never tired of saying that Tamil Nadu is a state with the most humongous and magnificent temples. The Three Living Chola Temples designated as World Heritage site is really an architectural marvel which stands as a testimony of the Architectural Prowess of the Imperial Chola Dynasty, one of the greatest dynasty to rule the Indian sub-continent

So my plan was to visit all the three living Chola temples in a single day using the public transport which is available in the nook and corner of the state. After a hectic work schedule in Chidambaram, I started on Sunday morning and boarded bus to reach the Brihadeeshwar Temple in Gangai Konda Cholapuram in Ariyalur District of Tamil Nadu

Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Ariyalur

Gangaikonda Cholapuram is a town which was named after the victory of the Chola king Rajaraja Chola over the Pala king Mahipala in order to procure the water from the Ganges river. In simple words it means the Cholas who procured the water from the Ganges. The current town is located in the Ariyalur District.

To reach – this temple can be reached easily from Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Kattumannarkoil and Jeyamkondan. Buses are the most and easiest way to reach from nearby railway stations.

Importance of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and temple

1. Administrative capital of the Chola Kings

2. Considered as the female counterpart of the Thanjavur temple

3. Stunning view of the Vimana from any corner of the temple or from the road

4. Underground tunnel which leads to nearby royal palace . The entrance to the tunnel is called as Lion Water Well or locally as “Singhakeni”, but has been locked to prohibit public entering

5. A amazing sculpture of Arthanareeshwara the form of Shiva and Parvathi in the East side of temple

After spending as hour in the temple, took another bus to reach Airavateshwara Temple in Darasuram, Kumbakonam

Airavteshawara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam

Airavateshwara Temple in Kumbakonam town of the Thanjvur District is named after Airavata the white elephant of the Lord Indra is another architecture marvel of the Chola king Rajarajachola II

To reach – this temple can be reached easily from Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Trichy, Chidambaram, Kattumannarkoil and Jayamkondan. The best way is to take Private Minin buses from the Kumbakonam Town Bus stand.

Importance of Airavteshawara temple

1. It is one of the temples where the consort of the main deity Airavteshawara is present in a separate temple behind the main temple complex

2. There is a shrine of Lord Ganesha in the Inner court of the deity which when tapped is said to produce musical sounds

3. The inscriptions in the temple in Tamil shows the deep influence of Shaivism

After Airavteshawara temple my next destination was to visit one of the greatest Architectural Marvel in India, the Brihadeeswara or the Peruvudaiyar temple or simple the Big Temple

Brihadeeshwara Temple, Thanjavur

Words are not enough to describe this architectural marvel of the Chola Dynasty. During the construction of the temple the architecture of the Cholas reached greater heights and this temple is considered to be the masterpiece of Dravidian Architecture and the center piece of South Indian Architecture. The best time to visit the temple is during the evening when the temple is illuminated with lights and is a treat to watch. There are facilities to store your belongings and your shoes/chappals

To reach – this temple stands in the heart of the Thanjavur town. Thanjavur can be easily reached from Trichy, Chidambaram and Kumbakonam

Importance of Brihadeeshwara temple

1. The largest temple built 1000 years ago by king Raja Raja Chola

2. Temple with tallest vimana in the world at 216 feet

3. The dome of the temple is said to weigh around 80 tonnes installation of which was an arduous task during that period

4. The temples was mainly made of granite which was not found anywhere near the temple. So it is believed that granite was brought to the site using elephants at least 50 km away from the temple

5. Statue of Nandi the vehicle of Lord Shiva is said to be carved out of single rock weighing 20 tonnes is just mind blowing

I left the place the temple by 7.p.m and had a sumptuous dinner in the famous Bombay Sweets near the Thanjavur old bus stand which a traveler should never miss. The sweets available are very famous and delightful to taste. Different variety of Chat foods and South Indian street foods are available in the evenings. Make sure you visit the Bombay Sweets when you visit Thanjavur.