Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The city of Gangai Konda Cholapuram is situated at 70 kilometres from Tanjore. It was built in the early 11th century by King Rajendra Chola, the son and successor of King Rajaraja Chola. The city has a prominent place in the history of India as the capital of Chola dynasty for about 250 years. The foundation stone of the Gangai Kinda Cholapuram temple was laid in 1020 AD, to represent the essence of Lord Shiva. This temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Great Living Chola Temples’.
History of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The name Gangai Konda Cholapuram means “The town of the Chola who captured Ganges” marking the victorious march of Rajendra Chola to the Ganges. It epitomizes the accomplishments of the King. The temple is built equivalent to the magnum opus of Brihadeeswara Temple of Tanjavur.
Significance of the temple
The Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple has the biggest Shiva Lingam in South India. The temple is the abode of the 4 metre high lingam of Lord Shiva in phallic form. The unique idol of the Lord in the form of ardhanareesshwar (half masculine, half feminine) reflects the duality that exists in divine energy. The temple is adorned with beautiful sculptures of ‘Suryapita’ and ‘Navagrahas’.
Architecture of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The architectural excellence found in the Gangai Konda Cholapuram Temple is second to none. The 182 feet tall tower (Vimana) is the second biggest after Thanjavur Big Temple. The temple’s incredible sculptures and carvings, rich and intricate artistry makes it a famous historical spot.
Deities of the Temple
- The temple has the biggest Lingam (13.5 feet high). The Lingam manifestation in a dual form is different from the shrines of other Shiva temples.
- The entrance way to the presiding deity is adorned by a magnificent image of Goddess Saraswathi.
- The statue of Nandi (the vehicle of Lord Shiva) is bigger in size than that of Tanjavur. The Nandi is made of line stone.
- The other notable masterpieces that embellish the sanctum are the cosmic image of Lord Shiva, emblematic representation of the Sun God, the sculpted version of Goddess Parvati and the dancing form of Lord Ganesha.
- A rare stone by name Chandrakanta has been installed under the main shrine which possesses the characteristic of making the sanctum sanctorum warm in winter and cool in summer.
Temple Timings – Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
- 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Pooja Timings – Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
|Morning Pooja/Kala Sandhi||9:00 AM|
|Mid Noon Pooja/Utchi kalam||12:00 Noon|
|Evening Pooja/Sayaratchai||6:00 PM|
|Night Pooja/Artha Jamam||8:00 PM|
Temple Festivals – Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The major festivals observed in the temple are:
- Maha Shivrathri in February-March
- Aipasi Poornima full moon day in October-November
- Panguni Utsav in March-April
- Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December-January
How to reach Gangai Konda Cholapuram?
Gangai Konda Cholapuram lies on NH 227 from Chidambaram to Trichy and is well connected to all major cities by road. The place is at a distance of 42 kilometres from Chidambaram and 40 kilometres from Mayiladuthurai. Nearest rail head is at Kumbakonam (34 kilometres).Nearest airport is at Trichy (135 kilometres away), Chennai International Airport is at a distance of 245 kilomteres.