Gangai Konda Cholapuram was established by Rajendra Chola to memorialize his conquest of the Pala dynasty. The city served as the capital of the Chola dynasty for nearly 250 years. The name literally translates into the town of the Chola who defeated the Ganges. Not much of the town that was once the Capital of an empire survives to this day. The opulence of the Shiva temple is but a shadow of what the capital city was during the eleventh century. The Shiva temple in the capital city took a total of nine labor intensive years to build. The temple survives to this day as an excellent example of the superior art and architecture of the Cholas. The temple is not only significant for being a Chola temple, but also for being the only temple in South India with the biggest Shiva lingam. A four meter high lingam graces the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
Meticulous accounts of the Chola dynasty and their Kingdom depicted in inscriptions on copper plates on the walls of the temple provide a glimpse into history far more interesting than any text book interpretation of the Chola dynasty. Beautiful carvings, awe inspiring architecture and the astounding age of the temple (nine hundred and eighty four years old) make the Gangai Konda Cholapuram a destination that has to be experienced.