Let’s discover the place in her words.
When you observe how the place has no directions given anywhere on roads or how it is not known to locals and how it is not promoted by any tour operators, you might think it to be an ordinary place with just a heavy, long name. But when you approach it, you realize that it an 'Amazing' yet 'neglected' temple.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram gained its name from the fact that was built to commemorate the victory of Rajendra Chola 1 over Pala dynasty in 11th century AD. The name of the temple translates into “The town of Chola who defeated (the kings near) Ganga. It was used as the capital of the widely spread & prosperous Chola kingdom. Once a well-planned city, it now located at a tiny village in the Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu.
It is listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites of India as the group of “Great Living Chola Temples” with other two temples. In spite of being in the world heritage site list, the place is very less known for tourists and locals. When we visited the place, there were only 15 other tourists. The only help you can get is from the good, old Google maps. The road leading to the place is very narrow which takes you through many small villages.
Once you reach the place, the huge 182 feet Vimana arrests your sight from the distance. It is interesting to know that this temple is considered as the feminine counterpart of the Thanjavur Brihadishwara temple.
The temple is surrounded by two walls, outer and inner. The temple is dedicated to Gangaikondacholishwara (a form of Lord Shiva). It is a three storied structure made of burnt brick.
The entrance to the temple is known as “Mahaduvar”. In front of Vimana there is a huge Nandi facing the main shrine and on either side, there are small temples.
There are many sculptures which catch your eye with intricate detailing. There are inscriptions on the rocks in a language I could not recognize. In the north east of the main temple, there is a 'well' called 'lion well' as there is a lion guarding the steps.
How to reach?
You can be reached only by road. It is in the distance of 99km from Pondicherry, 42km from Chidambaram and 73km from Thanjavur. The nearest Airport is Pondicherry, Railway station is Chidambaram.
Buses were very few. Best to take own vehicle.
Entrance- is free
There are no restaurants or even rest rooms unless you reach Chidambaram. Small vendors selling fruits and a small shop which offers soft drinks and snacks is there at the temple.
The entire tour of the temple may take 1-2 hrs. If possible visit this temple if you ever visit Thanjavur, Chidambaram or Pondicherry.
Travel Blogger - Sadhvi Mythili
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