(Last Updated on : 16-09-2010)
The Shiva temple of Airavateswar is situated in Dharasuram a small town in Thanjavur
district of Tamil Nadu
. Built in the 12th century by Raja Raja II of the Chola dynasty, this temple is dedicated to a form of Shiva called Airavateshwara as it is believed that Airavata , the white elephant of Indra worshipped Lord Shiva. King of Death , Yama also worshipped Lord Shiva here. The presiding deity Airavateswarar cured Yama who was under the spell of a rishi's curse with burning sensation all over the body. Yama took bath in the sacred tank and got rid of the burning sensation and therefore the tank is known as Yamateertham.
Airavata worshipped the Shiv Lingam and therefore the lingam is named after him as Airavateswara. The Goddess in this temple is known as Deva Nayaki. The carvings on the wall depict different gymnastic postures shown by females. Dancing poses of Bharatnatyam are carved on stone which are very skilful and bear ample testimony to the workmanship of that period. The stone image of Ravana carrying Kailas is another brilliant sculpture.
At the entrance of the temple there is the statue of two Dwarapalakas, Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi who display ebullience of youth. In front of the temple there is a small mandapa linked by three steps in the form of a ladder. These steps are made up of stone and produce different musical sounds when tapped.All the seven swaras can be heard at different points. On the corridor walls there are carvings of Nayannar saints singing the praises of Lord Shiva. The garba griha of the temple is surrounded by a beautiful Mandapam. The Mandapam is decorated with many pillars with carvings and decorations of images of gods and goddesses , singing and dancing women and many miniature sculptures.
The Temple Board takes care of the Garbha griha while the rest of the complex is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.