village in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu, India

Gangaikonda Cholapuram (கங்கைகொண்ட சோழபுரம் Kaṅkaikoṇṭa Cōḻapuram) is a village in Central Tamil Nadu and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the capital of the Chola Empire for 250 years. The Shiva temple in the village is one of the largest temples in South India and an example of a Dravidian-style temple. Unfortunately, except for the temple, the once capital of a powerful empire for over two centuries along with its other major Chola-era Hindu temples have been completely destroyed, leaving a desolate place.

Front view of Gangaikonda Choliswarar Temple

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Gangaikonda Cholapuram is about 125 km (78 mi) northeast of Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ IATA).

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Map of Gangaikonda Cholapuram

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  • 1 Gangaikonda Choliswarar Temple (Tamil: கங்கைகொண்ட சோழீசுவரர் கோயில் Kaṅkaikoṇṭa Coḻīcuvarar Koyil). The main temple and subsidiary shrines have a square plan. Though the main temple is dedicated to Shiva, it reverentially includes other Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Durga, Surya, Harihara, Ardhanarishvara, and others. It opens to the east and its sanctum, as well as the mandapas, are aligned on an east-west axis. In addition to the main shrine, the temple complex has a number of smaller shrines, gopura, and other monuments, with some partially ruined or restored in later centuries. The temple is famed for its sculptures, artwork on its walls, inscriptions, depiction of Nandi and the scale of its tower.    

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