Airavateswara Temple Sculptures
The Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is remarkable for its unique style of temple architecture. The Pallava, Chola and Pandya rulers, who ruled the state in different times, have contributed much to the evolution of such a Dravidian style of architecture.
The Airavateswara temple at Darasuram, near Kumbakonam, is no exception. This temple was built by Raja Raja Chola II in the 12th century. This temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been declared as one of the Great Living Chola Temples.
The temple is originally dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to legends, Airavata, the mythical white elephant, worshipped Shiva here and hence the temple gets its name.
Airavateswara temple is home to many exquisite sculptures and carvings. The front mandapam is built in the shape of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The Vimana or the small pyramidal tower consisting of several progressively smaller stories, which is typical of the south Indian temple architecture, is another attraction here. This structure is 85 feet high.
Paintings and sculptured panels abound here, causing this shrine to be a veritable storehouse of art. In front of the temple are stone panels which produce tones of varying pitches when struck.