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Great Living Chola Temples

Inscribed as world heritage site in 1987, the additions were made to this category in 2004. Brihadiswara temple at Thanjavur belongs to 11th century and was designated as a world heritage in 1987. Two other temples added to the list were built by kings of the Chola Empire in the 11th and 12th centuries and are known as the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram. The former was built by Rajendra I in 1035 and has a 53-m 'vimana' (tower) with recessed corners and an upward curving movement. Six pairs of masonry guards watch its entrances and beautiful bronzes inside the temple qre quite noteworthy. The latter of was built by Rajaraja II and has a 24-m 'vimana' and an idol of Lord Shiva. These temples are legendary examples of architectural, sculptural, painting and bronze casting advancements and achievements during the time of Cholas.

These three exceptional specimens of Chola temples are invaluable evidences of the Tamil civilisation in Southern India and the architectural development under Chola Empire. Their conception is in pure Dravida style of temple architecture. The Brihadeshwara temple was built by King Rajaraja and has a severe pyramidal 65-m vimana. Rich sculpture and wall murals make it hold a unique place in the history of India. It was built between 1003 and 1010 and is built mainly from blocks of granite and partly in bricks. It is surrounded by double enclosures. A bulb-shaped monolith at the top of its sanctum tower looks quite dominating. These temples speak well of the Chola Empire extending all over South India and nearby islands and throw exceptional light on the glory of that period.

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