Airavateeswara Darasuram

Airavateeswara Darasuram

Saivite Temples, Thanjavur District


Airavateeswarar, facing east


Periyanayagi Amman, facing east

Other Deities

Ganesha, Yama, Sapthamadar, Dakshinamurthy

Airavateeswara Darasuram is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and known as one of the “Great Living Chola Temples”, the other two being Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Brahadeeswara, Thanjavur temples. Airavateeswara Darasuram temple is a storehouse of art and architecture and has some exquisite stone carvings. Although this temple is much smaller than the Brihadeesvara Temple or the Gangaikondacholapuram Temple, it is more exquisite in detail. This is because Airavateeswara Darasuram temple is said to have been built with Nitya-Vinoda, “perpetual entertainment”, in mind.

The main entrance is on the eastern side. The Vimana over the sanctum sanctorum is 80 ft tall. The sanctum does not have a circumambulatory path and axial mandapas. The front mandapa is known as the Rajagambhiran Thirumandapam with its southern exterior in the form of a huge chariot with large stone wheels drawn by horses. There is a small mantapa with three steps and when tapped in different spots the Saptha Swara’s (7 musical notes) can be heard. Inscriptions containing the name, description, and images of the 63 Saivacharya (Saivite saints), sculptures for river goddesses Cauvery, Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and Narmada, Buddha, Bhikshatana, Saraswathi without her Veena, Ardhanarishwara Brahma and Surya are a few to mention in this art gallery of a temple.

Holy water (Theertham) – Yama Theertham

Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) – No information


Airavateeswara Darasuram was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE. Several inscriptions pertaining to the periods of Chola and Pandya Dynasties are found here at Airavateeswara Darasuram. There were several additions to the temple in later years including the Goddess Shrine.


Legend has it that Airavata, while suffering from a change of color due to a curse from Sage Durvasa, had its colors restored by bathing in the sacred waters of Airavateeswara Darasuram temple. This legend is commemorated by an image of Airavata with Indra seated in an inner shrine. Airavateeswara Darasuram temple and the presiding deity derive its name from this incident. It is believed that the King of Death, Yama also worshiped Shiva and took bath in the sacred tank to get rid of a curse of burning sensation. Thus the Holy Water here at Airavateeswara Darasuram is Yama Theertham.


Airavateeswara Darasuram is on the western outskirts of Kumbakonam Town.

Stay and Food

Kumbakonam has several excellent Restaurants and Hotels. Our particular favorite is Mangalambika Mess in the passage leading to Kumbeswara Temple. Another very good place to eat is Venkataramana.

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