Dravida Temple Architecture Under Chola

  • The Cholas formed one of three ruling families in Tamil-speaking south India during the first two centuries CE.
  • Temple architecture evolved from the early cave temples and Monolithic temples of Mamallapuram to more elaborate and complex in the Chola period. Example: Brihadeshwara temple.
  • Stones replaced bricks and this added aesthetics and value to its temples.
  • Simple gopurams evolved into more exquisite and well composed structures with carvings and series of effigies on them.
  • Pyramidal storey about the deity room depicts the maturity and grandeur Cholas brought in the temple architecture. Example Shiva temple of Thanjavur depicts the material achievement of the Chola Temple.
  • Monolith shikaras: The Chola temples have evolved beautiful shikharas at the top with elaborate meticulous carving. Example: Octagonal shikhara of Gangaikondacholapuram temple.
  • Guardian figures (dwarpalas), at the entrance to the mandapa, or hall which started from the Pallava period, became a unique feature of the Chola temples.
  • The temples were decorated with artistic stone pillars and wall decoration. Emphasis was on elongated limbs and polished features. Example: Carvings of the wheel chariot in Airavatesvara Temple are so fine that all the minute details are visible. This was later followed by Vijayanagar style of architecture.
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Fig: Brihadeshwara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram

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