The Great Living Chola Temples were constructed by rulers of the Chola Empire. These temples are scattered in the all over of southern Indian region and upto the neighbouring islands. The site comprises 3 temples of 11th- and 12th-century namely the, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram (built by Rajendra I, and completed in 1035), Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur and the Airavatesvara Temple (built by Rajaraja II) at Darasuram. The temples justify the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
Pictures of the Great Living Chola Temples:
A. Fatcs about Brihadisvara Temple complex at Thanjavur:
(Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur)
- The celebrated Saiva temple at Thanjavur, appropriately called Brihadisvara and Daksinameru.
- It was built by the Chola emperor Rajaraja (AD 985-1012).
- It is built of granite.
- It has been regarded as a ‘landmark in the evolution of building art in south India’ and its vimana as a ‘touchstone of Indian architecture as a whole’.
- The temple is spread in area of about 240.9 m long (east-west) and 122 m broad (north-south).
- Life-size iconographic paintings on the wall decorates the inner passages includes Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Durga, Bhikshatana, Virabhadra, Kalantaka, Alingana forms of Siva and Ardhanarisvara.
B. Facts about Brihadisvara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, Dist. Perambalur
(Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram)
- Rajendra I (AD 1012-1044), the famous son of the great Chola king Rajaraja I (AD 985-1014) chose this location to build a new a great capital city for the Chola Empire.
- This temple is built during the 11th century in order to commemorate his victory over northern territories.
- The architect of this temple has corrected some mistakes done during the construction of Brihadisvara at Tanjavur like the pleasing elevation by appropriately changing and placing the hara elements etc.
- The temple has sculptures of marvelous quality it includes dancing Adavallan (Nataraja), Dakshinamurthi, Ardhanari, Ganesa, , Harihara, (on south wall niches), Gangadhara, Lingodhbhava, Vishnu, Subrahmanya, Vishnu-anugrahmurthi (west wall), Durga, and Brahma.
- The bronzes of Bhogasakti and Subrahmanya are masterpieces of Chola metal icons.
- A British officer chosen this temple as the best source for stones for the construction of a dam across the Kollidam River so ordered its demolition. But he could not do so because of protest by the locals.
C. Airavatesvara Temple (built by Rajaraja II) at Darasuram-
Facts on Airavatesvara Temple (built by Rajaraja II) at Darasuram:
- It was built by the Chola king Rajaraja II (AD 1143-1173), this temple is assumed as a gem of Chola architecture.
- When compared to the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram, it is much smaller in size.
- The temple consists of a sacred place and axial Mandapas. The front mandapa known in the inscriptions as Rajagambhiran tirumandapam is unique. The pillars of this mandapa are very decorated.
- A number of sculptures from this temple like the full set of Bhikshatana with rishi patnis in different moods (now preserved in the Tanjavur Art Gallery).