The Great Living Chola Temples
The Great Living Chola Temples – identified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO – offer an interesting opportunity to visit the progressive society that the Chola Empire built in South India. The Chola Empire stretched almost all over the South India and the neighboring Islands of Sri Lanka, Andaman Nicobar and Malaysia.
These temples are a representation of the Chola age which successfully ruled for 4 centuries starting in the 9th Century. Known for a highly flourishing society during this age, these three temples demonstrate the Chola age of architecture, art and Tamil literature.
Staunch devotees of Lord Shiva, all the 3 big temples were built for Lord Shiva. They made magnificent structures and the style involves usage of granite to create designs of deities, dancers and kings.
1. Brihadeeswara Temple
Where is it located? 60 Kms to the west of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu (India)
When was it made? Possibly inaugurated in 1003-1004 and consecrated in 1010
Any special highlights?
- The temple tower, a great representation of most temples located in South India, is called Vimana is about 216 ft high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world.
- A giant Nandi which was carved out of a single stone, measuring 16 feet long and 13 feet high adorns the entrance
How to get there? The nearest airport to Thanjavur is Tiruchirapalli (Trichy). There are flights from Chennai. Alternatively it is also connected by rail and road from several towns of Tamil Nadu. Within Thanjavur, you can get around by hiring tourist taxis, auto rickshaws or cycle rickshaws.
2. The Great Temple of GangaikondaCholapuram
Where is this located? This is located in the Perambalur distrinct, in the town called GangaikondaCholapuram (also called the lost city of GangaikondaCholapuram) (Tamil Nadu, India)
When was this made? This was completed in 1035.
Any special highlights?
- The temple is an architectural as well as engineering marvel because the shadow of main tower never falls on the ground throughout the year
- The bronze sculptures of Subramnya and Bhogasakti are master piece of Chola metal icons
How to get there? The best way to get there would be to hire a taxi from Kumbakonam or Chidambaram. It is 30 km from Kumbakonam and 48 km from Chidambaram. The nearest airport is Trichy again.
3. Arivatesvara Temple
Where is this located? This temple is located in the town of Dasuram, near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu (India)
When was it made? This was built in the 12th century CE
Any special highlights? The labeled miniature friezes that explain the events that happened to 63 shiva saints is one of the masterpieces of Chola art.
How to get there? The easiest way it to take a taxi from Kumbakonam.