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Hindu temples, Tamilnadu

Airavatesvara temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam

Airavateswara Temple, Darasuram - Pinterest collection

* 6 May 2023
A sculptor's dream come alive in stone - Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram, Tamil Nadu. Of the quartet of grand temples built by the Chola kings, this is easily considered the most aesthetic. Built in purely Dravidian architectural style in the 12th century during the reign of Rajaraja Chola II, the temple took 25 years to complete and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
- While one can see the characteristic Chola architectural stamp on the temple, the Pallava influence is clearly palpable in several aspects of the structure.
- There is a separate enclosure for the Nandi next to which is a grilled chamber with the seven "musical" steps providing access to the Nandi. The steps when tapped is believed to produce the seven notes of music.
- The main hall, Rajaghambira mantapa is shaped like a chariot drawn by exquisitely sculpted horses and held aloft by 108 sculpted pillars.
- Particularly striking is the portrayal of Goddess Saraswati emerging from a closed and open lotus, symbolic of the rising and retiring sun.
- The "five-in-one" mythical Yaali is imaginatively depicted, bearing a lion's torso, elephant's tusk, goat's horns, pig's ears and cow's tail.
- A rare piece of art work, supposedly seen only in this temple and in the Shiva temple at Thirubhuvanam, is that of an elephant delivering.
Source:  Temple architecture: Aesthetics, carved in stone by Chitra Ramaswamy, The Hindu, Feb 10, 2012

* 6 May 2023
Airavatesvara temple, located in the town of Darasuram near Kumbakonam is also called the Darasuram Temple. It was built in the 12th century CE by the then-ruler of the Chola Dynasty Rajaraja Chola II. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Airavata and Ambal as Periya Nayaki Amman. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in the year 2004 under the Great Living Chola Temples. Garbhahriha can be approached via Ardh Mandapa and Mukh Mandapa. Mahamandapa is full of pillars. On the side is another mandapa called agra-mandapa, named after the Chola king. It is this mandapa that is in the shape of a chariot. The steps at the entrance are supposed to be musical producing musical notes
The temple is named after Indra’s elephat Airavat. It is said that Airavat took a dip in the temple tank that is connected to sacred Kaveri river. It gained resplendent skin. The legend is carved on in stone in this temple.
The name Darasuram probably comes from Daruka-Vana indicated by the many images of Kanakala and Rishi Patni.
Source: Musical Steps of Airavatesvara Temple At Darasuram by Anuradha Goyal,, Dec 27, 2012

* 6 May 2023
It is believed that the chariot wheels at Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram are actually sun dials, used during mornings and evenings for time calculations. Technically these chariot shaped temples are calle Karakkoil as their inspiration is temple chariots.  Konark Sun Temple in Odisha and Vithala temple in Hampi are two other temples with wheels.
Source: Musical Steps of Airavatesvara Temple At Darasuram by Anuradha Goyal,, Dec 27, 2012

* Jul 2021
According to Kudavayil Balasubramanian, an epigraphist and temple expert, there are many unique sculptures in the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram. They include a 73 panel of sculptures depicting the life history of 63 Nayanmars. "Nowhere one can see in such details the life history of Nayanmars. There are sculptures depicting the life history of Nayanmars at Melakadambur and Thirupanandal temples too.

Other important sculptures of the temple are the 108 Devara Othuvars who sung in the temple during the time of Raja Raja II. There are sculptures for river goddesses like Cauvery, Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and Narmada. "While the sculptures of rivers like Cauvery, Yamuna, Godavari are with human form till hip level and depicted in the form of water circles below, sculpture of Ganges is in full human form with a vessel of water in one hand and lotus flower in the other hand.
Source: Darasuram: architectural marvel from Chola period by G Srinivasan, The Hindu, 20 July 2011

* Jul 2021
Two sculptures found in Darasuram have been brought to the Art gallery at Thanjavur . One is Gajamharamurthy ( Gaja Samhara) in which Lord Siva slains the elephant demon and another is Dwarabalaga brought by Raja Raja I from Kalyan in Maharashtra as a war trophy.
Source: Darasuram: architectural marvel from Chola period by G Srinivasan, The Hindu, 20 July 2011

* Jul 2021
The Airavatesvara temple at Tanjavur was built by the Chola king Rajaraja II (1143-1173 CE.): it is much smaller in size as compared to the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram.  It differs from them in its highly ornate execution. The temple consists of a sanctum without a circumambulatory path and axial mandapas. The front mandapa known in the inscriptions as Rajagambhiran tirumandapam, is unique as it was conceptualized as a chariot with wheels. The pillars of this mandapa are highly ornate. The elevation of all the units is elegant with sculptures dominating the architecture.