Great Living Chola Temples
The Great Living Chola Temples were built by the kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The site includes three great 11th and 12th-century temples: the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavateswara (Airavatesvara) Temple at Darasuram; all of them representing the outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravidian type of temples.
The Temple of Gangaikondacholapuram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53 m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur.
The Airavateswara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24 m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.