There are so many olden day architectural marvels that exist around us even today. While many monuments are beautiful and nice to visit, some of them make you go “WOW”. If you are living in and around Tamil Nadu or plan to visit this Southern State of India, and if you love exploring ancient temples in Tamil Nadu, add this list to your bucketlist. Nothing can be more sweeter than visiting these places, knowing their history and be glad you have been a part of an amazing history of more than 1000 years old. Scroll below to know more about these old but gold monuments of Tamil Nadu.
Also known as Pancha Rathas, this was constructed during the reign of Pallava Dynasty. The rulers during the reign were King Mahendravarman I and his son Narasimhavarman I. The five monuments are dedicated to the five characters in Mahabharata. Each of these five structures is shaped like a chariot (rathas) and the entire place as such is said to be incomplete. The story behind the construction is still unknown.
Approximate Date: 630–680 A.D.
Location: Mahabalipuram, East Coast Road, TN
Also, don’t miss the Butterball – a huge rock that defies gravity and the Shore Temple nearby.
*Gangai Konda Cholapuram*
This is a temple that is now etched in my heart. The vibration in this place is evident and there is so much history behind this great construction. The son of Raja Raja Chola – Rajendra Chola built this temple. It is said that he famously went all the way upto Bengal – Bihar, fought the battle with Pala Dynasty and won the war. To celebrate the victory, he brought some water from the holy Ganges into the well within this temple complex, hence the name Gangai Konda Cholan – Gangai (River Ganges) Konda (the act of winning) Chola (the descendant of the clan). The story is that even today the holy water is used to perform pooja on the idol.
The Nandi facing the main shrine is something that attracted us a lot. This is one of the biggest Nandi statues in India.
Did you know?
- The biggest Shiva Lingam is in this temple
- One of the biggest Nandi statues in the world is here
- The Navagrahas is made out of one stone, unlike 9 separate idols that you can find everywhere else.
Approximate Date: 1012-1044 A.D.
Location: Ariyalur, near Thanjavur
Talk about imagination, beauty, art and storytelling! Airavatesvara Temple is a dream that we lived and the cells in our body were awed with every passing inch. Again, a temple which is more than 900 years old, Raja Raja Chola II built this beauty in Darasuram Town.
Situated three kilometres away from Kumbakonam and very close to Swamimalai, this temple was called Raja Rajachuram and over a period of time became Darasuram. Don’t miss the chariot structure, the Nayanmaras and entire temple in itself actually. Every corner has a story and every stone is a piece of art.
Approximate Date: 1160 – 1162 A.D.
*Brihadeeshwar Temple aka Big Temple*
When you see this temple, every time, from a distance, you will wonder how something this majestic was pulled off in those olden, non-technology and non-google days. Just 1000 years old built by Raja Raja Chola I, this temple has used 1,30,000 tons of granite and is 216 feet high. Now, that’s a major feat in itself.
The entrance reminded me so much of Angkor Wat and only later did we come to realize that the Chola’s played a huge role in conquering Cambodia and thereby the influence. Everything in this temple is bound to give you goosebumps.
The sculptures are impeccable too.
The topmost structure above the sanctum sanctorum (above the vimanam) called Kumbam is 81 tons and is believed to be made out of a single rock. To position this rock on top, a 6 km ramp was built to all the way up, pulled by many elephants and horses for almost 6 years – 6 years ladies and gentlemen. The Nandi is also believed to be made from a single rock. The Shivan idol and the Nandi are one of the biggest idols in South India.
If you want to experience Magnum Opus – then this is it.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Earlier, the temple was called Rajarajeshwar while the Marathas changed it to Brihadeeswar.
- This was a place for Bharatanatyam dancers to showcase their talent.
- There is no granite quarry within 50-60 km which only makes one wonder, how these stones were brought here in those days.
Approximate Date: 1003 and 1010 A.D.
All these four are UNESCO Heritage sites and with care taken by the Archaeological Survey of India. Don’t miss any opportunity that comes your way to visit these places. Go on and travel back in time. No glue, no screws, no adhesives, no hinges, no nothing to keep them all together. IMAGINE 🙂 We can promise that this time is all about art, brilliance and pain but at the same time magnificent beauty. I’m proud to be born in this land 🙂
Also, if you want to know more about Thanjavur – where to stay, what to eat etc – click here 🙂