Great Living Chola Temples

Great Living Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu: Address, Phone Number, Great Living Chola Temples Reviews: 5/5

Great Living Chola Temples

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12 reviews
Very good

Narayanan S
chennai242 contributions
Jayakondan - Victorious
Jun 2018
Jayakondan temple on route to Mayavaram / Kumbakonam is yet another master piece of Chola architecture. It is simply - unbelievably great temple. This temple built as a copy to the great Tanjore temple. One must visit it to appreciate it and fall in love withe temple
Written January 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

987 contributions
World Heritage Site
Oct 2017 • Business
I went to Great Living Chola Temples. Built during the 11th and the 12th centuries, the Living Temples at Thanjavur are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tamil Nadu. It is great place to go.
Written October 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Montpellier, France34 contributions
Nice new restaurant in front of the entrance near the parking
Feb 2017 • Family
Very nice simple restaurant just open since few weeks. A family kitchen. Clean and very good. Coffee is fantastic. Very correct price.
Written February 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Orso R
Sde Boker, Israel249 contributions
Airavateshwara Temple
Feb 2016 • Friends
Since TripAdvisor does not seem to recognise the existence of the Airavateshwara Temple in Darasuram despite it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I am adding my review here. For the other temples, please see the appropriate temple entries.

We chose to visit Darasuram after Chidambaram because the Airavateshwara Temple, unlike others on our itinerary, was not a functioning temple. Sure, there is an aarti at certain times of the day but there were no rituals performed at the temple that would mark this temple as functional. Largely, this meant that it would remain open in the afternoon for us to visit.

Airavateshwara Temple was built by Raja Kambeera Mamannan, also known as Rajaraja Chola II, in the mid-12th century when he moved his capital from Gangaikondacholapuram to Palaiyarai, renaming the town Rajarajapuram. Over time, the name evolved to its present form. The temple was also called Rajarajeshwara but had been renamed by the 15th century. Dedicated to Shiva, the deity here is known as Airavateshwara because of a legend that tells how Airavata, the chief among Indra’s elephants, was granted relief from Durvasa’s curse: the poor thing had lost its white colour and was restored to its former beauty by bathing in the sacred waters of this temple. Similarly, Yama also bathed in the waters of the Airavateshwara Temple to escape from a rishi‘s curse that caused a burning sensation all over his body.

Airavateshwara Temple is a small structure by any stretch of imagination. Its vimana rises barely 85 feet and the entire complex can be contained in a couple of acres. The main mantapa does not even have a circumambulatory path. Nonetheless, Airavateshwara Temple is one of the most exquisite temples for my money. It contains dozens of spectacular and intricate sculptures, some betraying Pala influence as well. Of particular note are the Vishnudurga, Dakshinamurthy, and Ganga figurines. There is also a panel of miniatures depicting the lives of the 63 Nayanars in great detail. There is a clear theme to all the engravings and miniature sculptures in the temple – music and dance. The temple has three main mantapas, the mukha mantapa depicted as a chariot with wheels and stone horses, the maha mantapa, and the ardha mantapa. Shiva’s consort at this temple is known as Periya Nayaki Amman which was probably part of the temple but now stands alone as a detached temple. Outside the eastern entrance is a large Nandi, behind which are a set of musical stone steps; these steps have now been sealed off in a metal grill to protect them from local children.

The temple at Darasuram was never a focal point of religious practice or debate as Chidambaram was but royal patronage ensured it remained active. As the other Great Chola temples attest, it had become common practice to build royal shrines. While it may be a stretch to say that the Chola emperors sought to elevate themselves and their ancestors to quasi-divine status, the builder’s mark on these temples is unmistakeable. The four Great Chola temples are probably the only ones in which the central vimana towers over the gopura.

To escape the Tamil Nadu sun – yes, even in January! – we found a nice shady and windy spot in the prakara of the Airavateshwara Temple for a short snooze. After all, that was one of the purposes of the colonnaded halls! It is incredible how cool the corridors were, with plenty of shade and wind tunnels. In fact, I have half a mind to go around Tamil Nadu taking an afternoon nap in all the major temples…I should probably get an extra thread for this achievement :-D We left Darasuram for Tribhuvanam around 4:00 PM after the aarti.
Written February 10, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

murugesan k
Bengaluru, India69 contributions
Dec 2015 • Family
Probably the greatest emperor of south India built Thanjavur temple and its a living testament to the architectural capabilities of the empire. Spell bound beauty.
Written January 9, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kochi (Cochin), India750 contributions
amazing historical temple
Jul 2015
we have been there in july . The temple is amazing structure and lots of natural paintings . on the first look its wowoo.Take a guide in your visit .The chapels are not allowed in this temple for visitors. its better to keep timings on morning to visit hear its too hot at noon time. Its architecture is unbelievable and fully made by stone and hand paintings are every where .Advisable to those who loves history and pilgrimage.
Written August 14, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Laura C
Southend-on-Sea, UK15 contributions
Amazing Temples
Nov 2012 • Solo
All three Chola temples are beautiful. As a non-Hindu western tourist I agree with everything said by previous reviewers about the atmosphere, history and importance of the three UNESCO listed temples. They are amazing!

The only reason I have not given this a five star review is the sad way at two out of the three temples I was immediately targeted by the tour guides. I did not want a tour guide (not because of money etc but simply because I wanted to walk round on my own peacefully with time to contemplate) but no amount of 'no thank yous' worked. At one stage I nearly had to run away! One man in particular was quite rude about the fact I did not want a guide and followed me round the entire time making comments loudly behind me. This is a real shame and was not happening to the Indian tourists. I may well have been an easy target being a woman on my own but I suspect it had more to do with me being obviously European...

All of that said the temples are a must see if in Tamil Nadu and are very special indeed! The history and the sense of importance is strong and the wide and open courtyards/grounds at all three temples provide many opportunities to take the scale of these beautiful sites in,
Written November 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mumbai, India51 contributions
The Bigggg Temple!!!
Jun 2012 • Couples
*Perriya Kovil" (The Big Temple) is what it is called in Tanjore. This one piece of art is a gift by the Cholan Dynasty. Very huge in size and perfectly done.
This one temple is really well maintained by the Government. Try visiting in the evening (dusk) to avoid the heat and also you could see the view of the temple with lights as well.

The Shiva temple I believe is open till about 8 30 to 9 in the evening. But never mind, the entire complex would take about 1 hour even if the temple is closed.

The dome of the temple is made by a single rock weighing about 18 tons. Its still a wonder as how that piece of stone was placed on the top without modern technology.
Would recommend you to read about the temple a bit in wiki or google and then visit.

I am not sure about the fee. Remember it was free for Indians.
Written November 26, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

186 contributions
Amazing architecture
Jan 2011
This is an incredible temple. Also known as "Big Temple".

I visited with my mom. Both of us did not have the mind to leave!! Every little nook and corner was just a piece of art.

Needless to say, I took a huge number of photos!!

There is no fee to enter the temple. You have to leave your shoes outside (they give you a token number which is the receipt).

Guides are probably available if you want. However, we did not use them.

Suggest you devote at least 4 hours to visit..
Written December 29, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

India2,622 contributions
Magnificent treasure houses of art
Oct 2010 • Couples
The magnificent Shiva temples at Gangaikodacholapuram, Darasuram and Thanjavur are collectively the “Great Living Chola Temples” with UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

The Brihadeeswarar or Pragadiswarar temple at the sleepy village of Gangaikondacholapuram lies just off National Highway-45C, approximately 35km north of Kumbakonam. It is a scaled down replica of the Big Temple of Thanjavur, but magnificent in its own right. The temple was built to celebrate the Chola emperor’s journey to the north of India from where he brought water from the river Ganga to fill in the temple’s tank. Ergo the name : city of the Chola who brought the water of the river Ganga. Exquisite stone carvings of Lord Siva in his various forms, adorn the outside walls of this temple.

Kumbakonam is the preferable place to stay, with easy accessibility by bus or taxi.

Proceed further south along the NH45C to Darasuram – a nondescript village and silk weaving centre, just 2km before Kumbakonam. There are two temples here, the main Airavateswarar of Lord Siva and the Periya Nayaki Amman, his consort. These temples are outstanding examples of exquisite Dravidian art. We could spend days here and still find something new to marvel at. Carved panels on the columns of the main hall depict scenes from daily life. No two are the same. A musical staircase is at the entrance near the Nandi bull. The ASI employees here double up as guides. Again, Kumbakonam is the ideal place to stay with several hotels to fit all budgets.

Follow NH45C again, all the way to Thanjavur – Tanjore, the home of the Periya Kovil [Big Temple]. The splendid Brihadeeswarar temple of Lord Siva has a huge cupola installed on top of the 66m high Vimanam [tower]. Built by Emperor Raja Raja Chola, the temple celebrated 1000 years of existence in 2010. Apart from sculptures, the Big Temple also has a sizeable number of frescoes.

The Periya Kovil can be visited from Kumbakonam, or with Thanjavur as a base. Thanjavur has hotels to fit all budgets.

The temples are managed by the Archaeological Survey of India and open throughout the day except for the sanctums which close between 12 noon and 4 pm. The best time to visit is in the morning as early as possible, or in the evening when the ground is relatively cool. As with all Hindu temples, footwear must be left outside. Those who are not used to walking barefoot on hot stone should carry a pair of socks with them. Avoid visiting during festivals if you cannot handle crowds. April to June are unbearably hot.

Serious lovers of art and things ancient can spend days here, with plenty left undiscovered. For the average visitor, estimate around 3 hours per temple.

We have visited these magnificent temples and many more, twice. We could return any number of times to the ancient lands of the Cauvery Delta.

This is a perfect holiday for those who enjoy ancient art in a rural ambience - and just stepping back in time...
Written August 2, 2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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