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August 27, 2007

The Amazing Chola Temple.

Today I went to the 12th century Airavateswarar temple in Darasuram built by the Cholas. Just a few miles away from home. Since it has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, work is progressing to renovate the temple and since so much money is flowing in, it is being maintained superbly. But the temple itself is just amazing. No words can describe its beauty. The sculptures are out of this world. I visited the place twice within 2 weeks and I was just speechless both the times. The amount of details that has gone into it, the amount of work and labor, oh my God! And to think that even with so much technically advanced world, we have problems to move a rock from one place to the other and here 3000 years before, this temple has been built as if someone just flicked their finger and by magic, it appeared. Every nook and corner has been sculpted. Theres not a plain surface. The pillars are carved, the steps are carved, the gopuram is amazing, the windows have intricate designs, ... Theres the mythical animal Yaazhi, elephants, bulls, horses, snakes, folk dances, yoga postures, radha krishna, ganesha, muruga, ... There was this carving of lord Ganesha in one of the pillars. The ganesha was only an inch tall but the details were just amazing. Then there is this big statue of Goddess Annapurni with a vessel in her hand. If you flick on the vessel, you get a different sound even though the statue is made of one stone. Then theres Saraswati with a wisdom eye in her forehead, theres a huge Nandi, ... I was spell bound. A sculptor would have spent his entire life time just on one pillar, I guess. Awe inspiring, really.

I could nt help but remember this chocolate shop in Zurich which was opening shortly and for 6 months I saw the men with drills carving the shops name on stone at the entrance. And they had just about got the shape of S on it. And then to see such a temple built 3000 years ago with just uli and suthiyal (chisel and hammer), its unbelievable. And to think that I spent thousands of Euros seeing the roofs of Sistine Chapel and the statue of David and went gaga over them but never had the inclination to visit this landmark temple in my own backyard. I am glad I did it now. I am super glad.

My home town is a temple town. The name itself means that you will see a Temple tower from any angle of the town because of the number of temples crammed in this small town. If you have the habit of touching both your cheeks when you cross a temple like I do, then your hand will be permanently on your cheeks if you are in this town!

This is the famous Kumbeswarar temple where Ashu gave a banana to the temple elephant and took blessing from the elephant bravely while I stood a good 5 feet away!

This is the Sarangapani temple, the tallest in town.

And these are some of the Darasuram photos.

The rest are here. Check them out.


timepass said...

Lovely pics Boo. I agree with u..we spend tons to watch places abroad, but dont bother abt the beautiful places in our own country..I have visited Kumbakonam, its a lovely place.

F e r r a r i said...

Ok. My next trip is to my Kumbakonam. Your photos has inspired me :D Kumbakonam la andha ARR hotel innum irukka? :)

Dee said...

LOL on your second para :)). I have visited all the temples of Tamilnadu thru my childhood and I can bet there is nothing more nostalgic than going back in time with these structures. The amazing artwork just shows the richness in mind and material at that time.

the mad momma said...


Anusha said...

ditto Dee. all of our LFCs (summer vacations) were centered around temples...and I didnt complain once. I loved and still love visiting, reading, learning abt how each little sculpt of stone has a geometrical or astrological significance.

I disagree that you wasted money on the art of the world - you needed to see that to truly appreciate from your heart what you have at home - or this post might have said 'I had another yawning temple visit...' :)

mnamma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mnamma said...

Beautiful beautiful pictures Boo. My maternal Grandparents are from Kumbhakonam and we still have some relatives there. I have been to almost all the temples in and around Kumbakonam,Thanjavur and Mayavaram in my childhood. Like you said each and every one of them is awe inspiring and has so much ornate art work, that it is sometimes mind boggling to think of the devotion, hard work and the vision that the people of that generation must have had! You are lucky to be born in such a punniya bhoomi!

Sunita said...

Co-incidence!!! I visited lonavala recently(my backyard) and had the same observation about the 2nd/4th century sculptures. Beautiful indeed.

B o o said...

Timepass - Thanks. So true. The grass is always green the other side. "We can see the places in India anytime, lets see Europe first" seems to be the common reason!

Prabhu - You should visit. ARR is still there and even more better hotels have come up. Try the Sterling Swamimalai if you want to indulge. Awesome place!

Dee - Even I was shuttled to lots of temples but somehow I could nt appreciate them then. May be because I have traveled quite a bit now, Im able to appreciate more.

MM - Will do as soon as Hd and I get back together! ;)

B o o said...

Kodis mom - No no, I did nt say I wasted the money. I dont regret it one bit. Just that I did nt take time to see this temple before. And there are many more places to see.

mnamma - My mom says that often about this being a Punya Bhoomi! :) And you are so right about the feeling of awe. I was spell bound!

Sunita - And to think what we are leaving for our future generation! Blogs? ;)

Unknown said...

Nice to read your article. Btw the Thanjavur big temple was built by Raja Raja Cholan in AD1010 (and not 3000 years ago.)

It is really sad that Raja Raja Cholan and Rajendra Cholan, 2 of the greatest kings in Indian history and the only Indian kings to have ruled foreign countries across the seas, that too right upto Cambodia, are hardly known in India now.

You may like to read (if you havent already) Kalki's Ponniyinselvan (available in English too) and join the yahoo groups - ponniyinselvan.

If any of you havent read this book or others depicting our history, there is a treasure waiting to be explored.
Regards, Sandeep (

Viji said...

Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KMU!
Thanku thanku thanku!!!!! :-)


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