Whether you are a domestic or international tourist, you aren’t supposed to ignore the importance of visiting temples. There are various temples in India to visit, but the most significant are Great living Chola Temples. These temples are certainly a fine example of ancient Indian architecture, workmanship and art. So, let’s go through stated below complete details about this world heritage group of temples. There are various ancient temples such as Brihadisvara temple situated at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholisvaram temple and Airavatesvara temple located in Darasuram in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Tanjore Temple - Great Living Chola Temple(India)

Tanjore Temple – Great Living Chola Temple(India) | By Prajbtech (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History of Great Living Chola Temples

The sacred Saiva temple situated at Thanjavur, also known as Daksinameru and Brihadisvara, is certainly the great work of the then Chola king called Rajaraja (from 985 to 1012). The inauguration of the temple was done by King in 1009-10. He named the temple after his own name i.e. Rajesvara Peruvudaiya.  It is certainly one of the greatest temple constructed using granite especially in terms of architecture. It is also considered as the living landmark in the great construction art in the ancient south India. The sacred structure is located within a spacious Prakara of 240 meters long especially in the east-western direction. It is about 122 meters wide especially in the north-south direction. The temple Prakara is covered by a double-story malika along with a parivaralayas. The sacred worship place with its wide proportions and authenticity of design offered inspiration for upcoming designs and architecture not only in southern part of India but for whole Asia.

Architecture of Great Living Chola Temples

When you decide to unveil the beauty of a historical monument or building, you first want to go through its architecture. The same situation can also be observed when it comes to unveiling the beauty of Great Living Chola temples. These ancient temples are famous for their amazing architecture, historical design and durability. A cupolic done along with Sikhara is octagonal. It offers a great granite appearance to the overall structure of the temple.

It is found that a single square is weighing about 80 tons. The mesmerizing upapitha as well as adhishthana are usual to all the axially positioned entities such as mukha-mandapas and ardha-maha. They are also attached to the central sanctum, but positioned to the north-south direction. The moulded plinth is certainly extensively engraved along with inscriptions by its great builder who usually refers to his various pious acts, endowments and organizational occasions linked to the sacred temple. The brihad-linga or Siva linga within the sacred sanctum is about 8.7 meter in height. The life-like iconographic resembles the inner passages and wall niches include Sarasvati, Bhikshatana, Durga, Lakshmi, Kalantaka, Virabhadra, Natesa, Alingana and ardhanarisvara forms of Lord Shiva. The ancient mural paintings lower ambulatory and on the walls are the finest specimens of Chola architecture that simply depict the contemporaneous situations along with mythological ones.

Tiruuvanamalai nattiya karanam | Great Living Chola Temples

Tiruuvanamalai nattiya karanam | Great Living Chola Temples | | By Gopalakrishnan A.P (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

11th and 12th Centuries Chola Temples

There are two amazing Chola temples constructed during 11th to 12th centuries. These temples have been included to the current 11th century famous Brihadisvara temple situated at Thanjavur. It is inscribed in the year of 1987. Kings of Chola dynasty constructed the famous Great Living Chola Temples. These sacred worship structures were stretched over all of the southern area of India as well as neighboring islands. Presently the site includes the famous 3 chola temples of 11th and 12th century respectively. These temples are called Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram temple and Darusuram famous temple Airavatesvara.

The famous Gangaikondacholapuram temple was constructed by King Rajendra first. It was completed in the year of 1035. The sanctum tower of the temple is about 53 meter in height. It simply contrasts with various other towers at Thanjavur. The main tower has total six pairs of monolithic, massive Dvarpaalas statues. Moreover, the famous temple situated at Darasuram called Airavatesvara was constructed by king Rajaraja second. It features a Vimana of about 24 meters and stone deity of Lord Shiva. The amazing temples simply testify to the greatness of Cholas exceptional achievements in sculpture, architecture, painting and design.

Ticket Rates for Great Living Chola Temples

  • There is no admission charge or fee.
  • However, there is no fee for motion as well as still photography done by traditional handheld cameras, but for professional photography, there are certain fee or charge needed.


  • Visitors can visit temples from morning to evening.

How to Reach Great Living Chola Temples

Tourists can easily find out desired types of transport facility to witness the beauty of great chola temples.

By Air

Chennai airport can help visitors connecting the site with rest of the country and world. International tourists can easily grab direct flights from Delhi to Chennai.

By Train

Indian railway can be a right option to go with if you don’t want to struggle with changing transportation. The nearest railway station is situated at Tanjavur, which is only 330 km far from Chennai.

By Road 

Tanjavur is well-connected with neighboring towns, cities and villages via road. Visitors or tourists can easily find out buses, cars and taxis to reach at the world heritage sites.

Best Time to Visit at Great Living Chola Temples

However, tourists can easily visit the heritage site whenever they want, but the best time to visit these temples is during festive season. The best part of visiting these temples during religious festivals such as Shiva Ratri, Durgra Puja, etc. is that visitors can also know about the mythological importance of these sacred structures.

Tips for Tourists

  • You are highly suggested that you should first arrange your accommodation before leaving your hometown.
  • If you are an international visitor or tourist, you are suggested to first grab as much information about these temples as possible.
  • If you are from a different climate condition, you are advised to first go through a health checkup.
  • Do not forget carrying your digital camera so that you can capture beautiful images or videos of these ancient temples.
  • If your main aim is to create professional videos, you are advised to first get in touch with competent authority to grab permission for professional photography.

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