Introduction of Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
The main credit for building the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple goes to the Chola king Rajendra Chola. The construction work had started in 1020, and it exactly took nine years to be through with the building process. The temple located in Thanjavur sought to celebrate the achievement of Raja Raja Chola. His son laid the foundation stone of this temple in 1020 AD to celebrate his father’s achievement.
Spiritual and religious importance of the Temple
Divine energy has different manifestations to present. Incidentally, the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple represents the duality that is there in divine energy. The temple, like many other South Indian temples celebrates the essence of Lord Shiva. But the sculpture of the lord that takes on the form of ardhanareeeshwar, or half masculine and half feminine, is of paramount importance. As said before, it reflects the duality that exists in divinity. The spiritual significance of the Suryapita is equally significant. The iconic representation of the sun means a lot to devotees and disciples. Similarly, if you look forward to overcoming the planetary defects that exist in your birth chart; then you can make a special offering to the Navagrahas that are present in the temple.
Predominant deity of the temple
The temple celebrates the essence of Lord Shiva. The phallic representation of the Lord happens to be the cult figure of worship. Incidentally, the lingam manifestation is uniquely different from those that are there in other Shiva temples. The Gangaikonda Cholapuram Thanjavur has the biggest lingam.
Detailed description of the deity
The temple is much renowned for the existence of the biggest Lingam. In this context, it is interesting to note that the phallic representation is four meters in length. Though the phallic image happens to be the presiding deity; the entrance way to the shrine greets you with an awe-inspiring image of the Goddess Saraswati. In fact, too many sculptures embellish the internal part of the main shrine. They all reflect the style statement of the Chola art and architecture. The notable sculptural masterpieces that merit mention are the cosmic image of Lord Shiva, emblematic representation of the sun God, and the sculpted version of the Goddess Parvati, and the dancing form of Lord Ganesha.
Presence of other shrines
The temple is marked by the presence of the main sanctum sanctorum. Over there, you can make your offering to the presiding deity. What is striking about the temple is the presence of the massive tower. In and around the tower, you will come across a few shrines. One of the shrines accommodates the deity of Chandikesvara.
Ritualistic practices of the temple
Singing of hymns is a part and parcel of the daily ritualistic practice. The phallic representation of the Lord is venerated with auspicious offering. As a devout follower of Shiva, you will not mind being a part of the Abhiseka ceremony. The practice takes place, on a regular basis. Since the time of the inception, the temple authority has been found reciting the hymns of Tevaran- a renowned Saivite saint. Even in the current scheme of things, the priests and followers are found singing the hymns of Tevaran. As far as the gangaikonda cholapuram timings are there, it is important that you take note of the following offerings. The morning puja or the Kala Sandhi takes place at nine in the day. The mid noon puja or Uchi Kalam takes place at twelve in the noon. Satyarchi and the Artha Janam are the evening and the night Pujas. The timings are eight and twelve in the night respectively.
Special occasions of festivity
As a true follower of the Lord Shiva, you will have reasons to join the festivity of the Annabhisekam. The Food-bath ceremony takes place in between the months of October and November. The ceremony happens to be a special part of the gangaikonda cholapuram puja. The specialty relates to the offering made in cooked rice. In fact, the lingam finds itself covered with multiple layers of cooked rice. The purpose of this grand ceremony that covers almost two to three days is to thank the omnipotent power, for providing people with the food grain. The ceremony is also referred to as the Annavisekham. Conducting an elaborate bathing ceremony or abhisekam is an important part of this festive celebration. The priests and the followers, work together, to venerate the lingam with milk, honey orange juice, sandalwood paste, sacred ash and yogurt. The formal cooking of rice takes place on the second day. The devotees who come in large numbers are provided with the sacred offering.
Pilgrimage value of the temple
The celebration of the Annavisekham ceremony attracts people, in large numbers. The temple premise is found swirling and teeming with the devotees and disciples. The real value of the pilgrimage is to be found if you visit the temple during the rice-bath ceremony. Above all, you can give a meaningful expression to your devotion by paying homage to the biggest phallic representation of the Lord.