|Entrance to the Gangaikonda cholapuram Shiva temple, Tamil Nadu.m.google.com|
|Brihadeeswara temple,Gangaikonda Cholapuram Tamil Nadu. en.wikipedia.org/|
Rajendra Chola I made Gangaikonda Cholapuram the new capital of the Cholas . He, as a great king, conquered a large area in South India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Sumatra, Kadaram (Kedah in Malaysia), Cambodia and others in the beginning of the 11th century A.D, thus carving a niche for himself as a powerful ruler in the annals of the medieval history of India. He reigned vast areas in Southern India stretching from the Tungabhadra river in the north to Ceylon in the south and other SE Asian countries and ran the affairs successfully from his new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram which remained the capital for 250 years from about 1025 AD. Unfortunately, once a famous capital is now a small dusty town without sheen, wearing a melancholy look. A sense of desolation and depression hangs in the air and visitors can not escape from it.
The temple, it is believed, was built in 1020 during 6th regnal year, however stone inscriptions indicate 20th regnal year (ie 1035). Rajendra Chola I built this temple to commemorate his victory in the Ganges region over the Pala Dynasty, hence he assumed the name of Gangaikonda Cholan, meaning the one who conquered the Ganges.
|Brihadeeswara temple,Gangaikonda Cholapuram Tamil Nadu. modeled on the Thanjavur temple. raxacollective.wordpress.com|
|Thanjavur Brahadeshwar temple. www.thehindu.com|
|Stone Nandi (bull), Gangaikondacholapuram Shiva temple, Tamil Nadu www.shutterstock.com|
The Hindu temple Gangaikonda choleeswaram dedicated to God Shiva was completed in 1035 AD and Rajendra Chola I used the Thanjavur Big temple as a model and emulated his dynamic father Rajaraja Cola I. It is also one of the largest Shiva temples in India built in impressive Dravidian architecture.
Unfortunately the temple remains incomplete with dilapidated walls, uncovered entrance to the temple, roofless Nandi (bull), etc., There are many huge disfigured stone figures in the open near the temple. It was the hadiwork of the vandals and anti social characters. Now, it is well protected. The vimanam (temple tower) is 55 m (180 ft) high and is modeled after the Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur. The temple is a major attraction in Tamil Nadu and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also included in the list is Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram (near Kumbakonam temple city, T.N.) and they are referred to as Living Chola temples. Presently it is being administered by the Archaeological Survey of India as a protected monument.
As for the daily puja protocol, four kaala pujas are held with out fail as per temple regulations. The major temple festivals that are celebrated with devotion and fanfare are the Shivarathri - (Tamil month of Masi February - March), Aipassi Pournami (October - November) and Thiruvadirai during Margazhi (December - January).
Like the Thanjavur temple, this temple also became a center of social, economic and political activities and discussion. Besides much emphasis was placed on Cultural activities like music, dance and art in the form of bronzes. Many of these were staged here within the temple prescient. It was a golden age of the Chola rulers.
The following are the engaging features of the temple:
01. Brihadeeswara temple is built on an elevated structure with the courtyard measuring 560 ft (170 m) by 320 ft (98 m).
02. The sanctum or Sri Kovil or Garpagraha (100 sq ft; 9.3 m2) is accessed through the prayer
hall (Mukhamandapa) and hall of sacrifice (Ardhamandapa). The sanctum, as in other Hindu temples, is guarded by large stone statues of Dvarapalas on either side of the entrance. It is believed that inside the Sri kovil - Sanctum a special stone called Chandrakanta is laid in order to keep the sanctum cool during summer and warm during winter. There are innumerable relief works on the walls.
03. The presiding deity is in form of Lingam (an iconic representation of Shiva) and is 4 m (13 ft) tall and is the largest for any Shiva temple.
|Lion well (Singak kenaru), Gangaikondacholapuram Shiva temple en.wikipedia.org|
05. The consort of Shiva Periyanayaki Amman (Parvati) has a south facing shrine 9.5 ft (2.9 m) tall.
06. The Nandi (bull), a ubiquitous feature in all Shiva temples is 200 meters away from the sanctum, facing the main shrine and is made of stucco and fallen stones.
|Brihadeeswarar temple, Gangaikonda_Cholapuram. A shrine with relief on the walls. en.wikipedia.org|
|Lord Shiva blessing the devotee Gangaikondacholapuram statue commons.wikimedia.org|
09. Kulothunga Chola, successor to Rajendra Chola, built the fortification around the temple.