Thanjavur History

Raja Raja Chola I, was clearly the greatest of the Chola Monarchs.  During his reign (985 to 1014 AD) he brought stability to the Chola Kingdom, and restored from obscurity the brilliant Tevaram hymns of the Saivite Nayanmars from obscurity.  Raja Raja was a great builder, and the Sri Brahadeeswarar temple or the Big temple at Thanjavur was his creation.

Rajendra Chola the son of Raja Raja Chola (1014 to 1044 AD) was a greater conqueror who marched all the way to the banks of the Ganges. This march was commemorated with a new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram and another “Big Temple”.
Gangai Konda Cholapuram was the capital of the Cholas for about two centuries, although it is nothing more than a village now with this rather well maintained magnificent temple.  35km from Thanjavur lays Darasuram, one known as Rajarajapuram a part of the Chola’s secondary capital of Pazhaiyarai.  Here is the Airavateeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja II (1146 to 1173).  It was during the reign of Kulottunga III (1178 to 1218) that the Kambahareswarar temple at Tribhuvanam was built.

These four temples under discussion stand out from the others in Tamil Nadu in that; it is only in these that the Vimanam towers over the entrance Gopurams. After these four temples, the Cholas went back to their traditional style of building temples with larger Gopurams are smaller central Vimanams.  These temples are fitting memorials to the glory of the rulers that built them, as well as monuments of piety and a commitment to art and architecture.

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