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Enchanting Airavateswara Temple

Written by: Akshatha
Published: Thursday, August 18, 2016, 9:30 [IST]
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It is interesting to know about the tales behind the names given to the temples. Likewise, Airavateswara Temple in Darasuram is named after the elephant Airavatha.

Though it is small when compared to the other shrines under the Great Living Chola Temples, Airavateswara has some splendid architecture.

 Airavateswara Temple

Airavateswara Temple
Photo Courtesy: Varun Shiv Kapur

Legends of Airavateswara Temple

Airavata is the mythological white elephant of Lord Indra. Once Airavata was cursed by Sage Durvasa and this curse changed his white colour. So, Elephant Airavata took a holy bath in the water tank of the temple. He gained his white colour back and worshipped Lord Shiva.

It is from then on the temple was named as Airavateswara Temple. The presiding God Shiva is worshipped as Lord Airavateswarar.

 Airavateswara Temple

Airavateswara Temple
Photo Courtesy: Karthikeyan.raghuraman

Another legend says, once Lord Yama was cursed by a sage and his skin started to burn. In order to wash off the curse, he is said to have taken a holy dip in the water tank here. His curse washed away and from then it got the name as Yamatheertham.

Architectural Elegance of Airvateswara Temple

The design and stucture of Airavateswara is awe-inspiring. The intricate sculptures carved at every nook and corner of this temple looks elegant and luxurious. Airavateswara Temple also has a lot similarities with the other two temples, Brihadeshwara Temple and the Gangaikondacholiswaram Temple.

 Airavateswara Temple

Airavateswara Temple
Photo Courtesy: Supraja kannan

Airavateshwara Temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th Century. It is also the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a tall temple tower (Vimana), Mandapam (hall) and sanctum.

A speciality of this temple is the Front Mandapam (hall); it is built like a chariot pulled by the horses in front. The temple complex comprises of various shrines, the main sanctum for Lord Shiva and a separate shrine for Periya Nayaki Amman (the consort of the presiding deity). Several renovations and additions have also been made in the later years of Chola rule.

The detailing of each figures and the design of Airavateswara Temple shows the talent of the artisans of the period. The temple follows the Saiva or Shaiva tradition and has many mythological stories etched on the walls of this great architecture.

 Airavateswara Temple

Airavateswara Temple
Photo Courtesy: Varun Shiv Kapur

Airavateswara Temple was included under the Great Living Chola Temples in 2004. Definitely, these structures of ancient India shows the richness of our land and a great deal of love towards art and architecture.

How to Reach Airavateswara Temple

Darasuram is 5km from Kumbakonam. Kumbakonam is around 50km Thanjavur, it is a well-developed town in Thanjavur district. It is accessible from all the major cities of Tamil Nadu.

Click: How to Reach Darasuram

A visit to Airavateshwara Temple is a must in Kumbakonam! It is one of the most popular temples in Tamil Nadu.

Read more about: temples, religious travel, tamil nadu
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