Brihadeeswara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
The beautiful Brihadeeswara temple is also called Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and exhibits Dravidian architecture. It was built by the Tamil king Rajendra Chola I of the Chola Dynasty, in 1035AD. It is one of the largest Shiva temples in South India.
One thing to note is that this is NOT the Brihadeeswara Temple of Thanjavur! I happened to pass by this temple, and when I saw the name, I got confused and thought that I had landed up in Thanjavur, even without realising it! The Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple is 70 km away from Thanjavur. The Thanjavur temple also goes by the same name, Brihadeeswara Temple, boasts of similar architecture, and is a Shiva temple as well!
Though it is a Shiva temple there are other deities represented here as well-Vishnu, Durga, Harihara, Surya,& Ardhanarishvara.
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It has a tall tower that is carved with images of deities, and it really is a sight to behold, especially if you haven't seen the Thanjavur temple, you will be awestruck by the beauty and the architectural prowess of the artisans involved in building this temple!
The grounds of the temple are maintained beautifully with large areas converted to lawns, where people come to spend time with their families.
The architecture of the temple is breathtaking- considering the height of the tower, and the carvings on it.
There is a large sculpture of the Nandi near the entrance
A visit to this temple is a very relaxed affair- it isn’t overly crowded, and the sprawling lawns make for a great spot to relax post the afternoon, or early in the morning.
It is open all week long for visitors. It is a functioning temple, so if you want to see the rituals, check timings for the same.
If you like indulging in Indian history, and architecture like I do, you will love the Brihadeeswara temple.
How much time to spend at Brihadeeswara Temple
You could spend anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours here, admiring the architecture.
How to better your experience
If you want a deeper insight into the architecture of the temple, get a government certified guide from outside the temple, who will be happy to answer any of your questions during his tour.
How to get there
Nearest airport-Thiruchirapally Airport is 133km away.
Nearest railway-Trichy Junction is 100km away
Hire a cab from any of the above points to travel to the Gaikondacholapuram Temple, but the best way to see this temple would be to plan a trip to Thanjavur, stay at a hotel there, and to travel here to see it.
Where to stay- Thanjavur which is 70km away has good options for accommodation.
There is a toilet right outside the temple, but you need to request for it to be opened for use. It is quite clean, but very basic. There are very few visitors to this temple as compared to the Thanjavur temple, so that's probably why the toilet is maintained clean, and remains closed, so as to prevent local residents from using it (I was told by the staff who maintains the toilet).
I happened to pass by this temple on the way to Tranquebar.So if you are passing by this area Enroute elsewhere, keep an eye out, and make a pitstop.
Nearby Thanjavur also has many other points of interest
Thanjavur temple, Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur Palace, & the Danish Church- Schwartz Church