Great Living Chola Temples-World Heritage Sites In India

Great Living Chola Temples: World Heritage Sites In India

This UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India includes three temples: the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, and the Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram. They are outstanding examples of Chola architecture.

World Heritage Sites In India

The Great Living Chola Temples refer to a group of temples located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, which were built during the Chola dynasty’s reign (9th to 12th centuries CE). These temples are renowned for their architectural grandeur, exquisite craftsmanship, and historical significance, and they collectively represent some of the finest examples of Dravidian temple architecture.

The Great Living Chola Temples comprise three main temples, all of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites In India:

  1. Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur: Also known as the Brihadeeswara Temple or Big Temple, this grand temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built by Emperor Raja Raja Chola I in the 11th century. It is renowned for its massive gopuram (entrance tower), which rises to a height of around 216 feet (66 meters), making it one of the tallest temple towers in India. The temple’s main sanctum houses a towering lingam (an abstract representation of Lord Shiva) and features intricate carvings and sculptures depicting various Hindu deities and mythological scenes.
  2. Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram: Constructed by Emperor Rajendra Chola I in the 11th century, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is similar in architectural style to the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur. While slightly smaller in scale, it shares many of the same architectural features, including a towering gopuram and intricately carved sculptures. The temple complex also includes a large Nandi (sacred bull) statue and several smaller shrines.
  3. Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram: This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built by Emperor Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century. It is known for its architectural elegance and intricate stone carvings, including depictions of celestial beings, dancers, and mythological scenes. The temple’s main sanctum features a lingam and a unique mandapam (hall) supported by intricately carved pillars.

The Great Living Chola Temples are not only architectural marvels but also significant religious and cultural sites that continue to attract devotees, scholars, and tourists from around the world. They exemplify the Chola dynasty’s patronage of the arts and their contributions to South Indian temple architecture, which have left an indelible mark on India’s cultural heritage.

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