Lord Shiva’s great Living temples

Posted On February 25, 2010 


The three temples that are grouped together to form the Great Living Chola Temple are located in Tamil Nadu, which is the Southern region of India.


UNESCO declared The Living Chola temples as the world heritage site in the year 1987. Originally in 1987 only the Brihadiswara temple at Thanjavur was declared as the world heritage site later in the year 2004 another two temples were added to the same category. The construction of the Brihadeshwara temple was ordered by King Rajaraja. The Brihadiswara temple belonged to the 10th century where as the later added Gangaikondacholisvaram temple and the Airavatesvara temple belonged to 11th and 12th century respectively. The temples of Airavatesvara and Gangaikondacholisvaram are located at Darasuram. The Gangaikondacholisvaram temple was been constructed by Rajendra I in 1035 AD where as the other one was constructed by Rajaraja II. An idol of Lord Shiva is placed in the temple of Airavatesvara. All the three temples are well-known illustrations of painting, architectural, sculptural, and also the achievements and the progress the have seen during the chola period

The Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur

The Brihadisvara temple is located at Thanjavur. The temple was been constructed by the famous ruler Rajaraja Chola who belonged to the Chola dynasty. The temple was declared as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987. The temple was constructed in 10th century AD. The architecture of the temple is very much inspired from the Dravidian temples. The wall that fortified the fort was later built in the 16th century. Peryil Koyil which is a central temple is placed inside the fort. The tower which is commonly known as Vimana is constructed inside the temple. The height of the tower is about 70 meters. It is the considered as the world’s biggest tower. The Sikaram that is the crown of the temple is octagonal in shape. The weight of the crown is about 82 tonns. Lord Shiva in a form of Shivaling is worshipped in the temple. The Shivaling at Brihadisvara is the considered as the world’s largest Shivaling. The height of the Shivaling is about 8.7 meters. The stone bull commonly known as Nandi is another prominent characteristic of the temple.

Brihadisvara temple ot Thanjavur
The weight of the nandi is around 27 tonnes. It is known to be the world’s second largest nandi. The temple is of a huge size also the interior of the temple is decorated with designer painting mostly of the Thanjavur style. The walls of the temple are adorned by the full scale images of Laxmi, Durga, Saraswati as well as numerous forms of Shiva. The Lord Ganesh shrine in the interior of the temple was been constructed by a Maratha ruler, Sarfoji. It is observed that fine arts have got a huge encouragement in the temple.

Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram :

Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram is one of the important architectural monuments in the Chola dynasty. The temple was consytructed by Rajaraja Chola who was the son of Rajendra Chola. The Cholas had established their rule over the northern India areas of Ellum and Madurai were conquered by them. Later the Chola kingdom was extended on River Ganga’s banks The local water supply body that belonged to Rajendra Chola was been purified by adding the water of Ganga river to it. The Gangaikondacholapuram temple was constructed during the glorious period of the Chola dynasty. Rajendra Chalo expected to construct a temple which was similar to that of the Brihadwisvara temple in its magnificence.

Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram
The construction of the Gangaikondacholapuram temple was started in 1020 AD and was completed by 1029 AD. The total height of the temple is 55 meters. The temple has delicate curves. The carvings on the temples tower are very much complex. Also the architecture of the temple has taken its impression from the Northern Chalukya. The temple of is built out of granite stone. The entrance of the temple is very much ruined. A nandi is placed beyond the entrance. A figure of dancing Shiva or Natraja is also found in the temple. A image of Lord Ganesha dancing as well as a figure of Shiva were half of his body is male while remaining is female, commonly known as Ardhanarisa is also seen. A shivalingam which is 5m tall is placed inside the temple.

Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram:

It is the last temple among the trio. Rajaraja Chola II built the Airavatesvara temple. The temple has a Vimana that is a tower. The height of the tower is 24 meters. A Stone figure of Lord Shiva is placed inside the temple. All the 3 temples are excellent examples of impressive art and exotic architecture that belonged to the Chola reign.

Airavatesvara temple

How to reach:

The nearest airport to visit the great living Chola temples is Tiruchirapalli airport. It is located at a distance of 65 Km from the The Brihadisvara temple of Thanjavur. You can reach the remaining temple by taking a metered taxis or traveling through the state transport bus. Also you can take a direct train from a number of cities in India and reach Thanjavur. You can also rent cars for traveling in the interiors of the city.

When to go:

The best time to visit the three temples located in South India is from September to January. The climate during this period is quite cool.

Opening timings:

All the three temples are open from 6 am ton 12 pm and later 4 pm to 8 pm through out the year.

Entrance fees:

The entrance to the temple is free to its every visitor.

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7 Responses to “Lord Shiva’s great Living temples”
  1. Ubeyoa says:

    Lord Shiva is known as the world saver. There were stories that he had saved the world when it was dieing.

  2. Veronica says:

    When you are declared as world heritage site then there are no other comments which can suit this temple.

  3. Warnie says:

    Lord Shiva is considered the most strongest of all Gods. His powers were the most mighty of all.

  4. Xavier says:

    This temple has got a huge property. Last year I had visited India and I had visited this place. Its very big and very well maintained.

  5. Ziggy says:

    I am amazed with this site. They explain history exceptionally beautiful. You can get everything on Google but summarizing it is a very big task.

  6. Arjen says:

    All the 3 temples are very beautiful inside and outside. It has been the tourist attraction from many years.

  7. vareeja says:

    I have been to Brihadeeshwara Temple once.
    Only in India one can witness the marvel of MUSIC COMING OUT OF CARVED STONES that too SAPTHA SWARAS.
    This clearly shows what stones are made of.

    They say the stones have life and it really is as depicted in the carved musical instruments held by stone musicians carved out of same stones.
    It is believed a complete Raga Composition was possible to be played in the same MRIDANGAM.

    Lord Shiva bless all!

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