Later Chola Temples

by S. R. Balasubrahmanyam | 1979 | 143,852 words

This volume of Chola Temples covers Kulottunga I to Rajendra III in the timeframe A.D. 1070-1280. The Cholas of Southern India left a remarkable stamp in the history of Indian architecture and sculpture. Besides that, the Chola dynasty was a successful ruling dynasty even conquering overseas regions....

Appendix: Great Temple-Cities

In the Early Chola period, there was vigorous and enthusiastic temple-building activity during the reigns of Aditya I and Parantaka I; similarly in the Middle Chola period, the reigns of Rajaraja I and Rajendra I witnessed the building of the largest number of temples belonging to this period; so also, the reigns of Kulottunga I and Vikrama Chola in the Later Chola period saw the erection of a large number of temples—much more than in those of their successors. It has to be mentioned that each period recorded certain distinct and remarkable features of stylistic development.

One important feature of this development in the Later Chola period was the expansion of the area of the temple-campus. Chidambaram was one of the sites of this great experiment. During the time of Kulottunga I and his son and successor, the temple area expanded nearly six times. Two walls of enclosure, Kulottungasolan Tirumaligai and Vikramasolan Tirumaligai, were erected. Later, a third wall of enclosure was started on in the reign of Kulottunga II; almost completed in the reign of Kulottunga III, it came to be called Rajakkal Tambiran Tirumaligai, after a surname of his. The four car streets were also formed about this period. But the fourth wall of enclosure called Virappa Nayakar Tirumaligai—and the moat also perhaps - was the contribution of one of the Nayak rulers of the seventeenth century.

The sevcn-sioreyed gopurams were also the handiwork of the Later Choias—in addition to the erection of the 100- and 1000- pillared halls and the independent Amman shrine outside the precincts of the shrine of the main deity. Chidambaram became the first of a series of great temple-cities.

Soon after, other great celebrated centres of religion followed suit; among them may be mentioned the Brahmapurisvara temple at Sirkali, the Tyagarajar temple at Tiruvarur, the Jambukesvaram at Tiruvanaikka, and the Ranganathar temple at Srirangam.

Note: See also The City of the Comic Dance (on Chidambaram) by B. Natarajan (Orient Longman Ltd,).

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