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The Chola rulers were great builders and during their reign, the most magnificent temples were built in South India. They ruled for nearly 1500 years and temples became the centre of importance during their power. Splendid in architecture, many official ceremonies were held in the Chola temples. It also became the hub of economic, political, and cultural activities. This great UNESCO World Heritage Site represents an outstanding creative achievement of the pure form of the Dravida type of female which are now known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”.

3 Great Living Chola Temples

The Great Living Chola Temples are situated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. The Chola rulers were really innovative builders. The Dravidian structures truly reflect the property of the Chola Empire. Check out the below list of Great Living Chola Temples with their names.

  • Brihadisvara Temple At Thanjavur
  • The Temple Of Gangaikonda Cholapuram
  • The Airavatesvara Temple At Darasuram
  • Vijayala-Cholesvaram
  • Ayikudi Balasubramanya Swami Temple
  • Nageswaraswamy Temple
  • Moovar Koil
  • Koranganatha
  • Valisvara Temple
  • Kampaheswarar Temple

1. Brihadisvara Temple At Thanjavur

Brihadisvara Temple At Thanjavur 1

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One of the famous Chola dynasty temples, it was built during the reign of Chola king Raja Raja and designed by the famous architect Sama Varma between 1003 and 1010 AD. The Brihadisvara Temple houses the tallest vimanam in the world, a 3.7-meter tall linga of Lord Shiva. The simplicity of the design of the temple has provided inspiration for other buildings not only in South India but also in South – East Asia. It is one of the most prominent temples of Chola dynasty.

Location: Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 613007
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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2.The Temple Of Gangaikonda Cholapuram

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Built by the Chola Emperor Rajendra I, the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram is described as the feminine counterpart of the Thanjavur temple. The centre of administration and development was chosen as the Gangaikonda Choleswarar Temple in the Chola Empire. The temple houses a 4 meter high Shiva lingam. This lingam is tallest among the other Chola temples. Located in Tamil Nadu, this temple is one of the most revered temples in South India.

Location: Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Tamil Nadu 612901
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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3.The Airavatesvara Temple At Darasuram

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Smaller than the other Great Living Chola Temples, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva that acts as the epitome of Chola temples architecture. It was built by Rajaraja II and the vimana of the temple is 24-metres high. According to the legends, the heavenly elephant Airavat worshipped the deity here. The unique temple design is recognized as nitya-vinoda, ‘ perpetual entertainment in mind’. Undoubtedly, it is the most prominent place of worship amongst all the Chola dynasty temples.

Location: Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Dharasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612702
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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7 Other Chola Temples In Tamil Nadu

The principal deity of the Chola temples are Lord shiva and most of the temples were carved in the temple walls. Read below to learn more about the temples built by Cholas with information.


Vijayalaya Choleeswaram1

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One of the intriguing Chola kingdom temples, Vijayala-Cholesvaram in Narthamalai is one of the oldest stone temples in South India. It is a temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. The temple is constructed in the Dravida style and rock-cut architecture. This style of architecture is an early example of Cholan art.  

Location: Narthamalai, Tamil Nadu 622101
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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5.Ayikudi Balasubramanya Swami Temple

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Located in Thenkasi Taluk, in Thrunelveli District of Tamil Nadu, near Kutralam is Ariyar kudi or Arya Kuti – ‘the abode of noble people’, popularly known as Ayikudi, is this beautiful temple for Young Bala Muruga Peruman. The main deity in this temple is a beautiful small mulavar murthy of Balasubramanya Swamy, also popularly known as Rama Subramanya Swamy. Amongst all the temples of Chola dynasty, this temple is certainly one of the most revered places of worship among Hindus.

Location: Ayikudy, Tamil Nadu 627852
Main Deity: Lord Murugan

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6.Nageswaraswamy Temple

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Nageswaraswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. Shiva in the guise of Lord Nagaraja is located in the centre of Kumbakonam. The temple has a holy water tank known as Surya Theertham. It also has colourful gopuram and huge idols with beautiful carvings and scripts.

Location: Nageswaran N St, Gandhi Adigal Salai, Valayapettai Agraharam, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612001
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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7.Moovar Koil

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Situated in the village of Kodumbalur, 36 kilometres from Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu, Moovar Koil or “The three temples” is a Hindu temple complex. These temples were constructed by a 10th century Chola general Boothi Vikramakesari. Currently, only two of the three temples have managed to survive. Kodumbalur was also the venue of an intense battle between the Pandyas and Pallavas.

Location: Agarapatti, Kodumbalur, Tamil Nadu 621316
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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Koranganatha 1

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Koranganatha temple is a Hindu temple constructed by the Medieval Cholas. One of the Great Living Chola Temples, this temple which is not a functioning Hindu temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Located at Srinivasanallur Town in Trichy District of Tamilnadu it has a simple design.

Location: Srinivasanallur, Musiri, Tamil Nadu
Main Deity: Lord Vishnu

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9.Valisvara Temple

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Valisvara temple is a Hindu temple located in the town of Thiruvalisvaram in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. One of the Chola dynasty temples, this temple is dedicated to Shiva where he is depicted in sukhasana pose. It was constructed by the Cholas in the early part of the 10th century AD and is considered to be one of the best examples of Chola architecture.

Location: Tamil Nadu 621004
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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10.Kampaheswarar Temple

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Situated in the town of Thirubuvanam on the Kumbakonam road, the Kampaheswarar temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the God Shiva. The temple follows the Tamilian style of architecture. An unusual feature of the temple is that the vimana is extremely high, unlike other Dravidian-style South Indian temples.

Location: No. 55, State Highway 64, Thirubuvanam, Tamil Nadu 612103
Main Deity: Lord Shiva

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The Chola periods are regarded as one of the most creative and formative periods of Tamil culture. Chola temples were built almost entirely of stone and hard granite laid in horizontal courses with no mortar. Book your holiday to Tamil Nadu to enhance the general knowledge of the Chola period.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Chola Temples

What are the main features of Chola Temples?

There were many important features of Chola temples such as gopuram- the gateway, vimana- the tower, garbagriha, mandapa, and shikhara.

What was the role of temples during Chola kingdoms?

The grand design, beauty, and magnificence of the temples simply added to the architectural splendor of the Chola capital.

Why Brihadeshwara Temple is so famous?

Brihadeshwara Temple is one of the biggest temples that have been dedicated to Lord Shiva. The supreme brilliance of Indian architecture that is showcased by the temple has gained Brihadeshwara temple a lot of popularity amongst the locals and travelers alike.

Why were temples important in the Chola dynasty?

The temples in the Chola dynasty held significance amongst the temples acted as a portrait of the efficiency of the dynasty in architecture and religious beliefs.

Who was the most powerful Chola ruler?

Rajaraja was the most powerful ruler of the Chola dynasty.

Which is the best example of Chola Temples?

Arulmigu Patteeswarar Swamy Temple is one of the best examples of Chola.

What are the temples built by Cholas?

There are three great Chola Temples of the 11th and 12th century, the Brihadisvara temples of Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram.

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Category: Tamil Nadu, Temples

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