How many of us have heard or know the Great Living Chola Temples which were built during the Chola rule?

Fondly known as living structures of devotion that have remained active for over a thousand years, they not only symbolise the imperial power of the Chola Empire, but they also serve as a reminder of the supreme devotion of the powerful Chola kings. These living temples are a source of wonder to devotees and visitors from all parts of the world, as they stand as a testament to the power of faith and dedication.

The Chola dynasty of ancient South India was renowned for its magnificent temples, which are architectural marvels and showcase the grandeur of that era. Here are seven ancient Chola temples that are worth visiting to witness the glory carved on stones:

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Known as the Big Temple, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most famous Chola temples. Built by King Rajaraja Chola I in the 11th century, it features a towering vimana (temple tower) and a massive stone sculpture of Nandi (the sacred bull). The intricate carvings and the architecture will leave you awe-inspired.

Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram

Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, this temple was constructed by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is renowned for its intricate stone carvings, exquisite sculptures, and beautiful frescoes. The temple reflects the grandeur and artistic excellence of the Chola dynasty.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple, Jayankondam

Built by Rajendra Chola I to commemorate his victory over the Ganges, this temple is a testimony to the architectural prowess of the Chola dynasty. The temple complex includes a massive Nandi statue, intricately carved pillars, and stunning sculptures.

Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram

This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva as Nataraja (the cosmic dancer), is considered one of the holiest sites for Shaivites. The architectural highlight of the temple is the Chit Sabha (Hall of Consciousness), which features 108 classical dance poses carved on its pillars.

Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram

Situated in the temple city of Kanchipuram, this temple is one of the oldest structural temples in South India. It was built by the Pallava dynasty but expanded by the Cholas. Known for its intricately carved pillars, beautiful sculptures, and grand architecture, it is a must-visit for history and art enthusiasts.

Thiruvanaikaval Temple, Tiruchirappalli

This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located on an island in the River Cauvery. It is renowned for its impressive architecture and the unique presiding deity, Lord Jambukeswarar, who is believed to have manifested himself as a lingam (an abstract representation of Shiva).

Nageswaraswamy Temple, Kumbakonam

Situated in Kumbakonam, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its architectural beauty. The temple complex houses several intricate carvings and sculptures, including the famous stone chariot, which is considered a masterpiece of Chola art.

All seven are the epitomes that provide a glimpse into the glorious past of the Chola dynasty and its architectural achievements. They are not only religious sites but also important historical and cultural landmarks that attract tourists from around the world.

Source: On Manorama , Wikidata, Shiva Mahadeva, Wikipedia , Templepurohit, Wikipedia , Tripadvisor