On 1000th Coronation Year of RAJENDRA CHOLA !
As a commemoration for his triumphant conquest of the Gangetic plains up to present-day Bangladesh (then known as Vangaaladesham) in 1023 CE, Chola Emperor Rajendra Chola–I built this great city ‘Gangaikondacholapuram’.
The tongue-twisting name means ‘the city of the Chola who conquered the Ganga’. From his triumphant journey, he brought the holy waters of the sacred river to sanctify his Chola land.
Up to the end of the Chola Dynasty rule in 1279CE, this city was the capital for the great Chola Empire for a period of 256 years. This city is celebrated in the literatures of Ottakuttar’s “Muvar ula” and Jayankondar’s “Kalingathuparani”.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Gangaikondacholiswara Temple was built by Rajendra Chola as a replica of the his father’s magnum opus Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, but with great craftsmanship in sculptures.
This gigantic stone temple of mid-Chola period is a rich repository of world’s most gorgeous granite sculptures in the niches – each carved to striking perfection.
“The sculptures of Gangaikondacholeswaram are known for their boldness of conception and excellent execution. They present pleasing and charming faces full of life and rhythm. The images of Saraswathi, Chandesanugrahamurthi and Natarajaar undoubtedly from the dextrous hands of a master craftsman who has carved a permanent place for his creations in the art…” – Dr. K.Nagaswami, former Director of State Archaeology Department, Tamilnadu.
The serenity and sanctity of this temple with great archaeological significance than religious is well preserved here due to meager milling crowds.
This UNESCO heritage site and one of the ‘Great Living Chola Temple’ classified by UNESCO is 35km from Kumbakonam, South India.