Tamil Nadu · Travel

Brihadeeswarar temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram: a symbol of triumph and architectural celebration

The ancient town of Gangaikonda Cholapuram dates back to the 11th century when it was founded by the great king Rajendra Chola.  Established to commemorate his victory over Mahipala, the Pala king of Bengal and Bihar, the city was established as the capital of the Chola empire shifting it from Tanjore.   It is said that the triumphant Chola army bought back the holy waters of the Ganga in golden vessels to consecrate the new found land.

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At a distance of around 50 km from Chidambaram, the town is famous for the Brihadeeswarar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. A fine example of Dravidian architecture, the monument is a true reflection of the glorious era of Cholas.  Built on the lines of awe-inspiring Brihadeeswarar temple at Tanjore, the temple is said to house the largest ‘Shivalinga’ in South India.  Since it is a little smaller than the temple of Tanjore, it is often described as the feminine counterpart of the same.

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The tower or the ‘vimana’ of the temple stands at a massive 185 ft and has some splendid carvings and sculptures.  The statues of the holy bull (Nandi) measuring almost 15 ft in length and the lion are totally striking.

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Built on an elevated platform, the main temple is housed within a courtyard and flanked by two guardian deities (Dwarapalas), whose workmanship will leave you totally enthralled. Walls of the temple as well as the complex exhibit fine craftsmanship of yesteryears, with some absolutely splendid stone architecture.

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The temple is believed to be a true engineering marvel in that the shadow of the main granite tower never falls on the ground throughout the year. While the condition of the temple had deteriorated in the recent years, the temple currently under the aegis of the Archeological Survey of India has been renovated and restored beautifully.

This article was originally published in Happy trips; click here to read the full article. To read about other temples in and around Chidambaram click here.

16 thoughts on “Brihadeeswarar temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram: a symbol of triumph and architectural celebration

  1. Wow. I didn’t know this temple existed till I stumbled upon your blog. South India is full of such gems, mostly hidden. The lion figure is dramatic. I hope to visit it someday. Again, great find!

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