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The Later Chola temples:

Temple construction under the later Cholas witnessed skilful developments under able rulers who ruled the kingdom from the \(11^t\)\(^h\) century. This period also saw the temples with grand architecture, which served as icons of the Chola empire.

Some of the finest engineering marvels in temple architecture are seen under the later Cholas, such as the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur and the Gangai Konda Cholapuram Temple at Jayamkondam.
Brihadeeswara Temple (Tanjore/Thanjavur):

The Brihadeeswara temple was built under Rajaraja Cholan, who was considered one of the greatest rulers of the Chola empire.

He was a staunch devotee of lord Shiva for whom the gigantic temple was built for. Rajaraja completed the temple around \(1009\) \(AD\).
Susheel Samuel Chandradhas Shutterstock.jpg
Brihadeeswara Temple
During the reign of Rajaraja I, the territorial expansion saw a great upsurge and reached its glory, which was also continued under his son Rajendra I.
Vimana: The Vimana is a structure above the main Sanctum of the deity. The Vimana of the Brihadeeswara temple is \(216\) feet high, making it one of the tallest temples in the world.
One of the greatest aspects of this temple was the technology that was employed to construct this giant structure. The king used the “Interlocking stones” where one stone is kept above the other.

The crowning structure above the main temple weighs around \(80\) tons, and due to its towering presence, the temple earned the sobriquet “Dakshina Meru”.
Karuvurar: He was a saint and scholar who was the contemporary of king Rajaraja Chola. The king also considered the saint as his spiritual guru, the portrait painting of Rajaraja with Karuvurar was found in the premises of the Brihadeeswara temple.
The architect of this magnificent edifice was “Kunjara Malla Rajaraja Perumthachchan”, who was the close confidant of king Rajaraja. The Nandi of this temple was carved from a monolith that is \(13\) feet high.

This temple also holds another uniqueness as it was designated as a “Great living Chola temple” by UNESCO.

2. Gangai Konda Cholapuram:
This temple was established by Rajendra I, the son of Rajaraja I. He displayed his military might by capturing the lands of Sri Lanka, Kadaram (modern-day Malaysia), Java, Sumatra and Sri Vijaya (modern-day Indonesia).

He also captured the lands of North beyond the Ganges, which earned him the title “Gangai Kondan”. Hence the name of the temple was kept after king Rajendra I.
Pandita Cholan: Rajendra I was a great patron of arts and literature and patronised many scholars, who gave him the “Pandita Cholan” title.
The Brihadeshwara temple, constructed by King Rajendra is considered an ideal successor to the temple constructed under his father in Thanjavur.
The temple is 55 meters tall, which has its Vimana with intricate carvings and a unique concave shape. Numerous niches are found in the outer walls of the temple.
Gangai Konda Cholapuram

It also contains sculptures of the highest quality, like the bronze sculptures of Bhoga Shakti and Subramanya deities which are exceptional examples of the Chola architecture.