Tamil Nadu

Visit to Airateshwar Temple

The Airavatesvara temple, a UNESCO World Heritage at Darasuram, 6 KM from Kumbakonam railway station was built by Raja Raja II (1150 A.D.).

Airavat  was name of elephant chariot of Lord Indra. As per legend there was some skin discolor to Indra and to recover his master elephant worshiped Shiva here until Lord Indra recovered.

A different design was followed by Rajaraja Chola-II than the other two Brihdishwar temples at  Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram stands out for its more intricate, finer and beautiful sculptures. The temple in the form of a chariot being pulled by an elephant and horse with a fleet of steps is no doubt a repository of our art and culture. This part of chariot of horse and elephants and Valli is called Mukha mandapa.

Itinerary

Complete trip

Time
Day 1 Stay at Thanjavur (Night stay) Visit Brihdeshwara temple, Maratha palace. Both are near to each other and 2 KM from Railway Junction station. 2 hours for Brihdeshwara temple and 1.5 hrs for Palace premises
Day 2 Take taxi 8 AM to go to Gangai Konda Cholapiram (65 KM) Visit the Gangaikonda Brihdeshwara temple and palace ruins and small museum adjacent. 2 hours
Move to Kumbakonam by same taxi (34 KM) Visit Airateshwara temple at Dharasuram, 6 KM from new bus stand 3 hours to see this UNESCO world heritage site
Day 3 Visit Kumbkonam temples 5-6 hours

If interested visit navgraha. (start at 5.30 AM and tour will end by 10.30 PM taking you to all nav grahas. Total distance covered is 280 KM.

You can mainly visit Kumbaleshwar temple, Sarangpani temple, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Mahamanam tank and Maths genius Ramajujam house. I think it is enough as there are 188 temples in Kumbkonam. All temples are similar type.

Location

Located in Kumbakonam, Thanjavur district, Tamilnadu, India. It is 40 KM from Thanjavur,  90 KM from Tiruchirapalli. Bounded by two rivers Kaveri and Arasalar. This town is well connected by train from all major cities. Nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli (Trichy). The buses are also available but frequency may not be high so better reserve in advance.

 

 

Horse and Elephant Chariot of the temple

Elephant Chariot

King is shown driving the Valli. Vallis are semi God ( Half God , half animal). They protect temple. In south we can see Valli in all temples.

There are sculptures depicting the life history of Nayanmars. Due to heavy rush I could not get any guide here though there were several guides here. It is really not possible to understand this temple without guide.

Nayanmars is the group of 63 Tamilnadu saints from 6-8 century AD who were shaivas and His poet. Their contemporary were Alwars who were Vaishnavas.

The Mahadwara, which was in ruins, was reassembled by Archaeological Survey of India.

Mahadwar is in ruins and is said to be re-assembled by Archaelogicaal department Of India

 

The Palipeeda and Nandhi come next. Fleet of steps made of stone in the palipeeda are said to produce musical notes.

Nandi is facing the temple and is just in front of entrance of the temple.

It is followed by the second Rajagopuram.

Raja Gopuram is left side in this foto. It is entrance to temple and Nandi faces it.

It is said that there are sculptures of 108 devtas incarnations but I could not locate it in absence of guide. Yamuna, Cauvery, Godavari and Narmada are also shown as Goddess..

Famous Dancing Ganesha

 

 

Famous Lingodbhava – Shiva flanked by Brahma left and Vishnu on right

There are a few paintings in this temple which are actually done by Nayaka dynasty in 12th -13th century.

 

 

 

Periphery all around the temple. It is common feature in all South India temples. Also it probably was built for any natural calamity as assemply point for local public.

Epilogue

Definitely this temple has much much more carvings than its two counterpart Chola temples, Brihdishwar temple at Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. There was lot of devotees and regular daily rituals and drums are played daily here. Therefore there is slight gradual damage to the temple is possible. There is side by “Parvati” temple which is not part of Airateshwar temple  and is not maintained properly. Rain water has collected inside this temple.

 

Neglected Parvati temple. Boys are playing with sculptures and water is logged in the temple.

 

 

 

We just planned to visit all three UNESCO World heritage temples, Mathemetician Ramanujam house and
Comparatively less known but it was second capital of great Chola kingdom in 1000 AD
Nayakas (shevappa Nayak) were actual builders of this palace. Though the palace is ordinary compared
The Brideshwar temple at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu was constructed by Great Chola king Rajaraja-1 about
" Hardy stated that a 'single look' was enough to show they could only have

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Categories: Tamil Nadu

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