Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple Information

Sri Gangaikondacholesvara temple, in Gangaikondacholapuram, is a testimony to the greatness of Rajendra Chola (1014-44), the son of the illustrious Raja Raja. The temple is regarded as the second Sri Brihadeeswarar temple (the original being in Thanjavur).  Gangaikondacholapuram means "the Chola town, the abode of the Ganges." It was built by rajendra to commemorate his victorious march to the north up to the Ganga, the reason why he gave the town its name.  Besides building the temple, he dug a reservoir and called it "Cholaganga," for it contained water brought from the Ganges in a goldne pot.  Te emperor also shifted his capital from Thanjavur to the new town.  From, possibly, 1025 CE, it was the capital of the Cholas for the next 250 years or so.  Most of Rajendra's successors ruled from the lofty palaces here, traces of which have been unearthed by the ASI, which controls this temple.  The palaces have long gone, the succeeding dynasties having abandoned Rajendra's capital in favor of Thanjavur.  All that now stands in the desolate landscape is the wonderful temple complex, majestic and solitary, a World Heritage Site.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple Mythological Information

Shiva is worshipped here as Gangaikonda choleswara, in the Lingam form.  The entrance, to the east, was probably enhanced by another tower, now gone.  The main temple is flanked by smaller shrines for Durga and Chandikesvara, Shiva's aide, while the Nandisits facing the temple.  the huge Nandi, the bull mount of Shiva, is not a monolith, like in Thanjavur.  To the west is a shrine for Mahishasuramardhini, undoubtedly, a later addition, for it is in the Chalukyan style.  To the north is the shrine for Sri Brihannayaki, the Divine Consort.  The Vimana is not a straight pyramidal pillar as in Thanjavur.  The corners are recessed, as it climbs 49m (about 160 feet) shorter than the Thanjavur temple, but still good enough to be called its feminine counterpart.  The basement of the vimana, which is consonant with standard architectural practices that ensures structural stability, without compromising on the height, is replete with the sculptures of lions.  Each niche on the vimana is a shrine for a deity that includes such Vaishnava icons as Vishnu.  The deities were obviously made independently and fitted in later.  The temple reaches a height of 55m, and is almost like the Thanjavur temple in arrangement, though the nine-tiered tower is 3m shorter.

The main shrine is accessed b a flight of steps. The Shiva Lingam, at nearly 4m (13 feet), is taller than its Thanjavur counterpart.  The mandapam leading to the sanctum can be accessed from the north and south, and also from the east.  Imposing figures of dwarapalakas greet you at the entrance.  The walls of the mandapams depict scenes from Shaiva puranas, including Ravana being conferred boons by Shiva, while another shows Vishnu plucking his eye to offer it to Shiva.  Yet another depicts the marriage of Shiva with Uma, while a fourth displays the Kirtarjunya episode, feature Arjuna and Shiva as a hunter.  Only a portion of the mahamandapa remains, the rest having succumbed to age.  Outside the temple complex is a museum, which contains some original Chola period bronzes.

How to get there:

Gangaikonda Cholapuram is approximately 60km from Chidambaram via Jayamkondan or Jayankondacholapura.  It is 100km from Trichy. the nearest airport.

Accommodation:

Chidambaram, or Jayamkondacholapuram, if you are coming from the north.  Ariyalur, if you are coming from the south or west.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple Photos

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple Gopuram
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Nandi Photo
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Nandi Image
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Sculpture Photo
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Lion Well

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