Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Saivite Temples, Ariyalur District


Brahadeeswara, facing east


Amman facing east in a separate shrine

Other Gods

Ganesha, Durga, Bairava, Kamadaganamurthy, Brahma with Saraswathi and Savithri, Kalakalamurthy, Chandikeswara, Saraswati, Durga, Arthanareeswara and a host of other gods and godesses are present here.

Standing in front of this huge and grand old Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple little does one realize that this place was the capital of the Chola Dynasty under the reign of Rajendra Chola I. The might of the Chola army was so great that the entire south and eastern parts of India was under him. Srilanka, Andaman and Nicobar, Maldives, parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia and more were brought under Chola control and influence by his Navy. Sadly this once glorious town today has nothing else left except this temple and is a forlorn village. If you are a temple enthusiast we recommend that you take a detailed book on the temple with you and be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours to do some justice to the wealth of architecture and sculpture here. Planned to be larger thyan the Big Temple of Thanjavur the base of the sanctum was kept at 100 x 100 feet against the 86 x 86 feet of the Big Temple. However the height was stopped shorter than that of the Big Temple (214 feet) at 186 feet. Though slightly smaller in size than the similar looking Big Temple at Thanjavur, the temple surpasses it in terms of sculptural splendour. The insides of the sanctum sanctorum have been created with Chandrakantha stones to remain cool during summer and warm during winter. The height of the Shiva Lingam here is a colossal 13 feet and 3 inches. Stones for building this temple were brought from two villages called Chitrali and Perali near Perambalur. The Vimana has 8 sides to it and is considered the feminine version compared to the male version with 4 sides at Thanjavur Big Temple. The idol of the 20 handed Durga and monolith Navgraha have been brought from the Chalukya lands. The monolith Navagraha having Sun in the middle in the form of a lotus and the planets around it is unique and such a style and piece is not seen anywhere else. The Nataraja idol looks smilingly at you wherever you see it from. The Narthana Vinayakar idol produces 7 notes of sound from its 7 parts. The sculptures here include an endles list of other works of art all reflecting the heights of excellence.

Holy Water – No information

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – Vanni (Prosopis cineraria)


Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple was built around 1025 CE after King Rajendra Chola’s victorious march till the Ganges. The architect of this temple was Gunavan, the student of Rajaraja Sundaramalla Perunthachan who built the Thanjavur Big Temple. Seeing the planning skill and expertise of Gunavan during the creation of the Thanjavur Big Temple, King Raja Raja Chola gave him the title of ‘Nitha Vinotha Perunthachan’. Highly skilled architects and sculptors including Ilathi Chadayan and Seeralan were the others who provided strong support to Gunavan. After conquering lands up to the Ganges River Rajendra Chola’s soldiers brought the waters of the Ganges in golden vessels to perform the Kumbabishekam for the Vimaana of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple. The numerous palaces and other important buildings have all vanished. It is believed that there could have been a natural disaster in the location ages back as portions of the palaces have been found during excavations. The huge walls of the temple have been torn apart and taken away by the Britishers for building the Lower Anicut dam over Kollidam and the locals for their own needs over time until the Archaelogical Survey of India took over control and maintenance.


Water from the holy Ganges River is said to have been brought down in vessels for the consecration of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple by soldiers of the Chola Army. It is also believed that the height of this temple, though planned to be higher, was puposely kept lower than that of Thanjavur Big Temple as Rajendra Chola wanted his Father Raja Raja Chola’s name to remain high in history.


Gangaikonda Cholapuram can be reached from Ariyalur via Jayamkondan or from the Chennai Kumbakonam highway by taking a right at Meensurutti. The temple will be visible from the highway.

Stay and Food

None locally. But there are lot of snack shops in front of the temple.

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