Airavateswara Temple, Thanjavur

Currently Open [Closes at 07:00 pm]
  • Address: Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Timings: 05:00 am - 07:00 pm Details
  • Time Required: 01:00 Hrs
  • Tags: Religious Site, Temple, Historical Site, Architecture
  • Map

About Airavateswara Temple, Thanjavur

The Airavateswara temple is located in a small place called Darasuram near the town of Kumbakonam. It is known that the original name of the place was Rajarajapuram and later converted into Darasuram. This temple is the main attraction of this place.

According to the legends, Airavata, the white elephant of Lord Indra worshipped Lord Shiva here to get freed from the curse of sage Durvasa. The sage cursed him that his skin colour will change from white. It is believed that Lord Shiva instructed Airavata to bathe in the holy tank of the temple. As soon as he took a bath there he was freed from the curse. This is why the avatar of Lord Shiva in this temple is known as Airavateswara after the name of the white elephant.

Another story behind this temple says that Yama, the death God also worshipped Lord Shiva here to get rid of a curse on him given by some sage. He was cursed with a painful burning sensation all over his body. In the same way Lord Shiva told him to take a dip in the holy water of the tank and he therefore got freed from the curse.

The prime deities of this temple are Lord Shiva, known here as Airavateswara and his consort Periya Nayaki Amman. There is also a shrine with an idol of Lord Indra with Airavata. Now, there is a separate temple for the Goddess with a standing statue of her.

This temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century. The most exclusive feature of this temple is that it is in the shape of a chariot. The main entrance is massive with beautiful stone cutting work all over it. The temple is now a protected site by the UNESCO. It is really a storehouse of rich culture and architecture of the Chola period. There are also references that the Pandya kings had taken huge efforts to maintain this temple also. The front hall is a picture perfect place in the design of a chariot driven by horses. It looks amazing.

There are various inscriptions on the walls of the temple. The place is mostly in ruins but whatever inscriptions are left are mainly in the inner pathway. There are different figurines inscribed on the walls where the women are in various gymnastics positions making circular postures. It is the symbol of the dance of that time. The main hall is known as raja Gambhira because the elephant draws the chariot here. In this hall, the ceiling has a stunning carving of Shiva-Parvati inside a lotus. There are various postures of Bharatnatyam carved on the stone. There are also excellent art works depicting a scene where village women are helping another woman deliver a child while she is resting her hands on the shoulder of the woman who is pressing her abdomen. The thought behind these frescoes are just mind-blowing.

At the main gateway there are figures of two dwarpalakas and two sankhanidhis and padmanidhis which are symbols of youth. It really gives you a royal feel. Most of the remaining of this place were transferred to the Thanjavur Palace museum but then again returned after it was designated as a heritage site. The ancient sculptures include statue of Lord Shiva as Kankala Murti, inscriptions of stories and ancient epics, the statues of Buddha, Bhiksatana, Saraswati without her Veena and a form of Ardhanarishwara Brahma and Surya. Once you move outwards there are two shrines one known as Balipitha and the other a Ganesha temple followed by fleet of stone steps. Once you tap on them they make excellent musical sounds. It is so surprising if you try to think how modern the art and architecture was so many hundred years ago.

Airavateswara Temple Information

  • Pets are not allowed inside the premises.
  • Photography is allowed inside the temole.
  • The temple can be visited the whole year through.

How To reach Airavateswara Temple by Public Transport

  • Nearest airport is at Trichy
  • Nearest railway junction is at Kumbakonam

Restaurants Near Airavateswara Temple

  • Karthik Restaurant
  • Diamond restaurant
  • Shrathas restaurant
  • Ariyabhavan restaurant
  • Sewel Amitha restaurant

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Airavateswara Temple, Thanjavur Reviews

  • Beautiful temple. But less visited by people.with a good outside lawn. Temple is very small compare to 2 other "Great living Chola temples". But here no massive structures but tiny details!to tiny as 1inch,carvings with detailing. If u go there must choose a good guide. No cloak room ,need to arrange yourself ur bag and luggage,it's allowed to take inside the temple. Cameras are allowed. Must visit place!

  • A well preserved temple complex with beautiful architecture in stone, suggest hiring a local guide to understand the master pieces and the story in sculptures. Archaeology is doing a great job here but is it enough are we bringing back these tramples back to life and glory of the past.

  • Fentastic sculptures. Every pillar is having marvelous story. We spent three hours there it was very memorable time

  • A very nice place i have visited. Lovely pleasurable calm to our heart, fabulous dharisanam of lord shiva. I love this place.

  • Just splendid! If you’re a person who is interested in archeology with some ancient scientific goodness and marvellous architectural grandeur, this place is for you! One can easily spend a few days visiting just this temple among all other temples at Kumbakonam. Maintained properly by ASI.

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