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Airavateshwara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Darasuram near Kumbakonam in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the largest surviving Chola temples along with the Brihadeeswar temple at Thanjavur and Gangai Kondacholapuram. Built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century, the temple is known for its impressive architecture and rich craftsmanship.
The Airavateshwar Temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II (1146-1173 AD) during the later period of the Chola Dynasty.
The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture, characterized by its vimana (tower), intricate carvings and detailed sculptures. The Cholas were known for preserving art and this temple is a testament to them and their architecture.
A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, and named after Airavata, the mountain god of Indra's white elephant. According to legend, Airavata worshiped Lord Shiva at this place, which led to the dedication of the temple.
The Airavateshwara temple vimana is a smaller version of the Brihadeesvara temple vimana at Thanjavur. The temple has a mahamandapa (great hall) with beautifully carved pillars and a large ardhamandapa (facade).
The symbolic image of Shiva in the shrine is a lingam. The walls inside the shrine are beautifully decorated with paintings.
The temple is famous for carvings depicting various mythological figures, deities and phenomena. The depiction of Lord Shiva as "Gangadhar" (carrying the river Ganga on his head) is particularly noteworthy.
The temple is said to be of astronomical importance, with elements corresponding to solar and lunar elements.
The Airavatesvara Temple, along with other Chola temples in the region, is part of the "Great Living Chola Temples," a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple is located in Darasuram, near Kumbakonam, in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, India.
The Airavateshwar Temple is an artistic and cultural treasure, showcasing the contribution of the Chola dynasty to Indian architecture and sculpture. It attracts visitors and devotees alike, offering insight into the region’s rich history and artistic heritage.