The Chola rulers were the best builders and during their rule, built many of the most magnificent temples in South India. The temples became a center of importance when they ruled for nearly 1500 years. Many official ceremonies were held in the Chola temples which are splendid in architecture. They also became the center of economic, political, and cultural activities.
The architecture and design of these temples are excellent. They speak of the success and eminence of Chola sovereignty. It must be said that the rulers of the Chola dynasty were often lovers of Lord Shiva. There are many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in the areas they ruled.
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These Chola temples are located in Tamil Nadu, South India. The Chola rulers were truly great innovative builders. These Dravidian structures reflect the ability of the Chola Empire. Below are the major Chola temples:
- Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
The first of the famous Chola temples, it was built during the reign of King Rajaraja Chola, and was designed by the famous architect Sama Varma between 1003 and 1010 CE. The vimanam of the temple is very high and made of a single stone.The height of the Siva-lingam in this temple is 3.7 meters. The simplicity of the design of the temple has inspired other buildings in Southeast Asia.
- The Temple of Gangaikonda Chozhapuram
The Gangaikonda Chozhapuram Temple was built by Rajendra Chola I, son of the Chola Emperor Rajaraja Chola. It is described as the counterpart of the feminine of the Thanjavur temple. The Gangaikonda Chozheeswarar temple was chosen in the Chola Empire as the center of administration and development. The temple has a 4 meter high Shivalingam. It’s a taller Shivalinga than in other Chola temples.
- The Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Thanjavur
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Smaller than the other ‘Great Living Chola Temples’, it acts as an excellent example of the architecture of the Chola temples. It was built by Rajaraja Chola II. Also the vimanam of the temple is 24 meters high. According to mythology, the Indra’s elephant Airavat came and worshiped the deity. So the temple is called the Airavadeswara temple. It has a unique temple design and is recognized as a nitya-vinoda, ‘perpetual entertainment in mind’.
The main deity of the Chola temples is Lord Shiva and most of the temples are carved into the temple walls.
The Chola period is considered one of the most creative and formative periods of Tamil culture. Most of the Chola temples were constructed entirely of stone and hard granite without the mortar in horizontal courses. Book your holiday to Tamil Nadu to improve the general knowledge of the Chola period.