Gangaikondacholapuram located at Thanjavur (Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu, can be reached easily through regular buses that are available from the main towns and cities of Tamilnadu. GangaikondaCholapuram - the name may sound long, but it literally means "The Town of the Chola's who conquered the Ganges". It was the capital of the Chola's when they flourished and their empire stretched from the Bengal to Ceylon.
The Chola emperor Rajendra I (1012-1044) built this Gangaikondacholapuram temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with an imposing gopuram that can be seen miles around. It is a replica of the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur built by his father. There are many beautiful sculptures on the walls of the temple and its enclosures. It was built in commemoration of his victory over the kingdom abutting the Ganges.
The waters of ganges were brought in vessels by vassal kings and emptied into a huge tank more or less a lake named Cholagangam which literally means the Ganges of the Cholas. A big Nandhi in front of the temple made of brick and mortar, a lion-faced well with yawning mouth through which a flight of steps lead to the water beneath and gigantic dwarapalakas (gate-keepers) are the other thrilling features of this temple.
History of Gangaikondacholapuram Temple
For about 250 years, Chola clan ruled over a large part of South India. In those times, the Chola dynasty was at its apex and conquered many a parts of the northern territory. The wealth was brimming due to the outcome of their booming war operations. On one of the expeditions, Rajendra Chola brought Ganga water in a golden pot and consecrated the reservoir "Ponneri or Cholaganga". Consequently, Rajendra was titled as "Gangaikondan" (the one who brought the Ganges). The king wanted to erect a "larger than life" temple correspondent to the Brihadeeswara Temple. During 1020 - 29 AD, Gangaikondacholapuram saw its construction.
The superb architecture of the temple boasts of a 9 story vimanam that extends to the height of 185 feet. Facing the east direction, Gangai Konda Cholapuram embraces incredible sculptures and carvings. Not less than 54.86m in height, the temple structure follows the style of Brihadeswara Temple. The whole temple is thrived with rich and intricate carvings that are exclusive to Chola style of artistry. Known to comprise a little northern style, the structure embraces intricate carvings in the Vimanams.
The architecture is a portrayal of complex carvings on the hard granite stones, irrespective of the simple style of Cholas. Mind-blowing sculptures adorn the walls and ceilings of Gangaikondacholapuram. The creativity of sculptors is reflected in the figures of dancing Nataraja and peaceful Saraswati. However, the sculptures erected here are as artistic as found in any other temples of Cholas. The most interesting are of Shiva-Parvati, Ardhanareshwar (the man-woman manifestation of Lord Shiva) and Ganesha. The colossal shrine also addresses several significant bronzes of the Chola age.
Built by Rajaraja Chozha as his new capital, in the style of the Big Temple at Thanjavur. A large tank was built at this site and filled with water brought from the sacred River Ganga in north India, hence Raja Raja also assumed the name Gangai Konda Cholan.
Gangaikondacholapuram - The Great Living Chola Temple
By the 9th century, during the times of the second Chola monarch Aditya I, his son Parantaka I, Parantaka Chola II itself the Chola empire had expanded into what is now interior Andhra Pradesh and coastal Karnataka, while under the great Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas rose as a notable power in south Asia. The Chola Empire stretched as far as Bengal. At its peak, the empire spanned almost 3,600,000 km² (1,389,968 sq mi). Rajaraja Chola conquered all of peninsular South India and parts of the Sri Lanka. Rajendra Chola's navies went even further, occupying coasts from Burma (now Myanmar) to Vietnam, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Sumatra, Java, Malaya in South East Asia and Pegu islands. He defeated Mahipala, the king of the Bengal, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital and named it Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
Following is pooja timings of Gangaikondacholapuram Lord Shiva Temple. Annaabishegam Festival is the most important festival of this temple.
|Name of the Pooja||Timings|
|Kala Sandhi (Morning Pooja)||9.00 am|
|Uchi Kalam (Mid Noon Pooja)||12.00 pm|
|Sayaratchai (Evening Pooja)||6.00 pm|
|Artha Jamam (Night Pooja)||8.00 pm|
Gangaikondacholapuram Temple Photos
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