Splendid Temples and Sculpture

Dravidian features initiated by the Pallavas acquired the classical forms and features under the Cholas such as gopurams, mandapams and vimanas. In the beginning gopuram features were subdued and Vimana features dominated but in the later stages, gopuram overshadowed the Vimanas. In the begining, Vimanas were constructed under the cellular mode as in the Raja Rajeshwar temple ( Brihadeeswara temple) at Tanjore where in the Vimana, various storeys were constructed in a graded manner. It has 13 storeys. In the later phase, vimanas began to be constructed in circular concept as in the Nataraj temple at Chidambaram. The Brihadeeswara temple in Tanjore is surrounded by a rectangular wall protected by 8 vimanas which hosed the 8 keepers of directions called Ashtadikpalas. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known as Dakshimeruvitankar. An enormus Nandi which is the second largest in India, carved out of a single block of granite guards the entrance of the sanctuary. The Brihadeeswara temple is tallest of all the temples in India in the medieval period.

Rajendra Chola-1 constructed a city , a water tank and a temple with the same name of Gangaikonda CholapuramTemple.These big temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram, built by Raja Raja and Rajendra are sculptural and architectural marvels. Not only places of worship, they were the hub of economic, social and cultural life as well.Amongst the crafts associated with the temples, the making of bronze images was the most distinctive.Chola bronze images are considered among the finest in the world. Lord Shiva In cosmic dance form with celestial dancers is also found on the walls ofGangaikondacholapuram temple.

Bronze images of Nataraja (the dancing Shiva) are described as the cultural epitome of Chola period and are the best specimen of Chola art. Various plays were enacted in the premises of the temples for the sake of entertainment of the people.

Chola sculptures
Bronze Image of Nataraja