The Chola dynasty was a prominent Tamil dynasty that ruled primarily in the south of India until the 13th century. Among the rulers, Karikala Chola was the most famous among the early Chola kings, while Rajaraja Chola, Rajendra Chola and Kulothunga Chola I were well known among the medeival emperors. They were famous for developing Tamil literature
along with art and architecture. They built temples not only for religious activities but also economic purposes. The Cholas continued with the legacy of the Pallavas, which have an impression in their art and architecture. Lofty temples and sculpture in stone and bronze acquired heights in excellence like never before, during the Chola domination.
Development Of Architecture:
The Cholas were great pioneers in temple building; they incorporated characteristics of the Pallava temple- building traditions. A large number of temples were built al through their kingdom, which carried the significance of the Dravidian temple design. Architectural trend that followed during the Chola rule, consisted mostly of the temple architecture. And it got hype from the conquests and the genius of Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola I. Most of the features of the early chola architecture can be spotted in the later architectural monuments which were the temples only. The two temples of Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram are evident of the maturity and splendor of the Chola architecture. Improvements were made on the styles of these temples later on like, the `torus moulding` in the basement, which was rounded and then had a smooth surface, though in a few cases it is ornamented with vertical grooves or ribs. The `makaratoranas` become tall with narrow reverse curves on each side. Other features like the `kumbhapanjaras` were also developed and carried on top over the abacus, the structure of a `panjara`. The `phalaka` also transformed to thinner types and the padma below it, which was inverted and smooth in earlier, later had petals.
Sculpture duting chola dynasty :
The Chola dynasty has some of the best speciments in bronze and other sculptures. Among the existing specimens in museums and in the temples itself we find sculptures or fine figures of Shiva
in various forms of Hindu incarnations. The Chola sculptural medium was bronze which was based on style and technique of the Andhras. The technique during that period was cire perdue, or the lost wax process in which a model of the object complete in all details is first made in wax with wax stems projecting from it at strategic points. The statues were all distinct since the mould were destroyed. When the strict rules of measurement and iconography laid down in the shilpa-shastras were followed, they became similar. The great image of Shiva-Nataraja in his cosmic dance pose, was the most famous among these which not only symbolises the creation and destruction of the universe, but also believed a visual sermon by the devotees.
Style of Chola art and architecture:
Chola art and architecture is distinguished into three groups which helps to classify the styles which are different in each group of architecture. The first group belonging to the period from the accession of Vijayalaya to the accession of Rajaraja I where the stylistic uniqueness detach itself from the structural temples of the Pallavas. The torus moulding in the basement, which is chamfered, is
found in the earlier Chola temples
, later it got rounded. The cornice was of a flexed shape, and the exterior of the shrine walls had no extravagant sculptural decoration. Sub shrines for attendant divinities (parivara-devatas) were another feature that helped in the development of the temple complex. Two significant changes in the temple complex were the augmentation of parivãra shrines and the introduction of a separate shrine for the goddess. The final phase of the chola architecture revealed a much more mature style. Dãräsuram, Tribhuvanam, Jambukesvaram and Chidambaram bear testimony to this fact.
The Cholas have a rich history in art and architecture and their specimens still exist among us either in museums or temples. They have acquired fame not only in India but abroad as well. Their style was unique which gave an impetus to the whole style of temple building.