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  • Writer's pictureKarthik Nagappan

Gangaikonda Cholapuram-A Historic Gem in Tamil Nadu

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Nestled in the heart of Tamil Nadu, Gangaikonda Cholapuram is a hidden treasure that offers a glimpse into the rich history and architectural wonders of the Chola Dynasty. While the big temple in Thanjavur gets all the limelight when it comes to the architectural excellence of the Cholas ,Gangaikonda Cholapuram continues to be the hidden gem with a lot of historical significance deeply rooted to the Chola dynasty.


In this blog, we will take you on a journey through time, exploring the historical significance, breathtaking temple architecture, and the best hotels near Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Whether you're a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a traveler in search of hidden gems, Gangaikonda Cholapuram has something extraordinary to offer.


A view of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
A view of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple

History of Chola Dynasty


Before diving into the wonders of Gangaikonda Cholapuram, it's crucial to understand the historical context. The Chola Dynasty, which ruled South India for centuries, left an indelible mark on the region's history and culture. This powerful dynasty was known for its art, architecture, and military conquests.

One of the most prominent rulers of the Chola Dynasty was Rajendra Chola I, son of the great Raja Raja Chola who built the Tanjore Big temple . Rajendra Chola I extended the empire's boundaries to distant lands, earning him the title "Gangaikonda Chola (The King who captured the Ganges)." To commemorate his victories in the north, he built the magnificent city of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and its grand temple. Cholas were the first to have a blue water navy under Rajendra Chola with over 1 million sailors and 100 plus vessels. He went on to capture the entire Srilanka and made it a Chola colony. He did not stop at that , he went on to capture the present day Malaysia and Indonesia which were ruled by the Srivijaya Kings.


While Raja Raja Chola had Thanjavur as his capital there are no concrete evidences of why his son Rajendra Chola moved his capital 80 kms north to Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Theories say he wanted to move the capital to a Gangaikonda Cholapuram as he wanted a base better suited to launch military expeditions to the North. While Thanjavur had fertile lands that were used to cultivate paddy to feed the huge army the Cholas had , Rajendra Chola didn't want to disturb the region and hence the shift. Rajendra Chola built this beautiful city which was glowing in all terms in those days , the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple was visible from anywhere in the town that was built in the banks of river Kollidam. Near the temple Rajendra Chola built a beautiful palace for himself. After him the Cholas ruled for 100s of years but never returned back to Thanjavur.



An old photograph of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple
An old photograph of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple

Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple


The heart of Gangaikonda Cholapuram is the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple ,one more architectural masterpiece that reflects the grandeur of the Chola Dynasty. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a testament to the brilliant craftsmanship of the Chola architects.

The temple's architecture is characterized by its towering vimana (shrine) and intricately carved sculptures that adorn its walls. The temple's design reflects the Dravidian architectural style, with a majestic gopuram (entrance tower) and a vast courtyard that captivates visitors with its grandeur.



Nandi at the entrance of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple
Nandi at the entrance of Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple

The temple's sanctum sanctorum houses a Lingam, representing Lord Shiva, and is a place of worship and reverence for both locals and tourists. The inner sanctum is adorned with beautiful inscriptions that provide insight into the Chola Dynasty's history and achievements.


View this Vlog to know more about the region



Hotels near Gangaikonda Cholapuram

When planning a visit to Gangaikonda Cholapuram, it's essential to choose the right accommodation to make the most of your trip. Here are some options for hotels and resorts near Gangaikonda Cholapuram:


Lakshmivilas Heritage Resort:

For an authentic and immersive experience, consider staying at the Lakshmivilas Heritage Resort. This resort offers comfortable rooms, traditional South Indian cuisine, and a serene atmosphere that allows you to connect with the region's history. Rooms are available from Rs.3500 onwards


For booking click the link


Front view of lakshmivilas heritage resort in Gangaikonda Cholapuram
Front view of lakshmivilas heritage resort in Gangaikonda Cholapuram


Hotel Sangam


Located in nearby Thanjavur, Hotel Sangam is a well-appointed and comfortable option for travelers exploring Gangaikonda Cholapuram. It offers modern amenities and is conveniently located for day trips to the temple.


For bookings Click the link



Front view of Sangam Hotel Thanjavur
Front view of Sangam Hotel Thanjavur

Ponniyin Selvan

Gangaikonda Cholapuram is not just a place of historical significance; it's also famous in literature, particularly in Kalki Krishnamurthy's epic Tamil novel, "Ponniyin Selvan." The novel is set during the Chola Dynasty and tells a gripping tale of power, intrigue, and love.

As you explore Gangaikonda Cholapuram, you'll find connections to the characters and events from this novel, making the experience even more engaging for those who have read "Ponniyin Selvan" or are inspired to do so after their visit.


Conclusion

Gangaikonda Cholapuram is a living testament to the grandeur of the Chola Dynasty and its remarkable architectural legacy. With its historical significance, breathtaking temple, and comfortable accommodations, a trip to this hidden gem in Tamil Nadu is a journey back in time. Uncover the secrets of the past and create lasting memories in this enchanting destination.


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