At present, Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple is under the control of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and recently UNESCO declared the temple as one of the World Heritage Monument. The temples are classified as Great Living Chola Temples as they are still visited, worshiped in and used as they were when they were constructed.
History of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
For about 250 years, Chola dynasty ruled over a large part of South India. On one of the expeditions, Rajendra Chola brought Ganga water in a golden pot and consecrated the reservoir ‘Ponneri or Cholaganga’. Consequently, Rajendra was titled as ‘Gangaikondan’ meaning ‘the one who brought the Ganges’. The king wanted to erect a ‘larger than life’ temple correspondent to the Brihadeeswarar Temple. During 1020 – 1029 A.D., Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple was constructed.
Architecture of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The architecture of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple boasts of a 9 storey ‘Vimanam’ that extends to the height of 185 feet. Facing the east direction, Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple embraces incredible sculptures and carvings. The whole temple is thrived with rich and intricate carvings that are exclusive to Chola style of artistry. Many sculptures brought from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal as war trophies are also preserved in the temple.
The sanctum sanctorum embraces the 4 meter high Lingam of Lord Shiva. To provide a private worship area for the royal family, the sanctum is encircled with two walls. The stately entrance of the sanctum is adorned by the beautiful image of Goddess Saraswati. The influence of Chalukyas is also reflected from the icons of ‘Suryapita’ (Sun worship) and ‘Navagraha’ (Nine planets).
Visiting Information of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple can be reached easily through regular buses that are available from the main towns and cities of Tamil Nadu.