Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple

About The Temple

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.

How To Reach

You have made up your mind to reach the holy destination. Now is the time to come up with a useful traveling plan. The place is well connected by airway, roadway and the railway. So, you can use one of the three options.


  • By airway: Make it a point to reach the Chennai airport. From there, you can take either a car rental or a private taxi to reach Thanjavur.
  • By railway: The temple destination finds its location on the railway station of Ariyalur. The station in turn is connected to Chennai and its surrounding areas. The local station at Ariyalur doesn’t run short of the commutation options. It has a fair share of bus and taxi service. You can use these to reach the temple
  • By bus: Not only from Chennai but also from the different parts of Tamil Nadu; the temple destination finds itself connected by a widespread mesh of bus service. So reaching the temple is not a big deal.


Nearby Attractions

As a tourist cum devotee, your focus will be on seeing a couple or more of temples and the other significant sightseeing destinations. Here is a brief snapshot of the options that you can avail

  • Brahadeshwara Temple: It will be unwise to give a miss to this particular temple as it happens to be another architectural marvel of the Chola Dynasty. The enormity of the main shrine is the leading facet of attraction
  • Vijaynagar Fort: The fort is just a couple or more kilometers away from the temple destination. It testifies to the historical exuberance of the Nayak dynasty. The majestic structure houses the palace of Tanjore and the garden of Shiva Ganga.
  • Alangudi Temple: Do make it a point to visit the said temple on a Thursday. It is supposed to be the most auspicious day for visiting the temple that celebrates the essence of Mahadeva.
  • Chandra Bhagwan Temple: Up here, you can overcome the adverse effects of the affected Moon. If your personal horoscope upholds the malefic nature of Moon; then, you can think of visiting the temple to make offering to the Moon God

The place is replete with religiously and culturally significant shrines and sites. It is up to you to make your selection from the Lord Murugan Temple, Thirunageshwaram Temple and the Sani Bhagwan Temple.


History Of Temple

Not only as a devout follower of the Lord Shiva, but also as an avid academician and researcher; will you like noting the gangaikonda cholapuram history. The architectural, as well as the engineering marvel, merits your attention. It is one of the most ancient constructions but you will be amazed to note that the leading tower’s shadow doesn’t find the reflection. The ground doesn’t reveal the shadow, and this aspect is noticeable, all the year round. The aspect is truly unique and goes to reflect the stately craftsmanship of the Chola kings.

The rulers of the Chola dynasty were active patrons of art and architecture. If you take a historical insight; then you will find that the creation of the temple and the development of the capital of the gangaikonda cholapuram commemorate the victory of the Chola kings over the Pala ruler of Bengal. The original objective was to give shape to an elaborately planned out archaeological complex. The complex included the temple that is almost a replica copy of the nearby located Brihadeeswarar Temple.

The most appealing part of the temple revolves around the presence of the exotic vimana. The towering Vimana has corners that are recessed. The vimana poses a sharp contrast to the pyramidal tower of the gangaikonda cholapuram archeological complex. The leading tower is the force and fulcrum of attraction and what adds to the total appeal is presence of the massive image of Chakravorty Emperor, who himself was a devout follower of Lord Shiva.