Airavateswara Temple

4.7195 Votes Currently Open [Closes at 07:00 pm]
  • Address: Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Map
  • Timings: 05:00 am - 07:00 pm Details
  • Time Required: 01:00 Hrs
  • Tags: Religious Site, Temple, Historical Site, Architecture

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 Travel Tips

  • 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

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

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

Love this? Explore the entire list of places to visit in Thanjavur before you plan your trip.

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  • Airavateswara Temple Address: Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Airavateswara Temple Timing: 05:00 am - 07:00 pm
  • Best time to visit Airavateswara Temple(preferred time): 10:00 am - 07:00 pm
  • Time required to visit Airavateswara Temple: 01:00 Hrs
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  • 40.71% of people who visit Thanjavur include Airavateswara Temple in their plan

  • 49.02% of people start their Airavateswara Temple visit around 08 AM - 09 AM

  • People usually take around 1 Hr to see Airavateswara Temple

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

95% of people prefer to travel by car while visiting Airavateswara Temple

People normally club together Gagaikonda Cholapuram and Great Living Chola Temples while planning their visit to Airavateswara Temple.

* The facts given above are based on traveler data on TripHobo and might vary from the actual figures

Airavateswara Temple Reviews & Ratings

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  • It’s a magnificent temple depicting Hindu culture. The pillar structure and intricate carving are beautiful. God airavatheeswaran is still worshipped everyday. A must visit place. Some portions needs cleaning and better management... Hopefully UNESCO will handle it well.

  • Great historical place to visit. Need to maintain drainage inside the temple properly. Amman temple needs some attention. Superb garden maintained outside.

  • Non crowded and beautiful chola temple. Loved the intricate work around the temple. The temple is very clean and well maintained. Avoid going between 1 pm and 4 pm as the main temple shrine is closed. You can however, tour the Complex. There are snacks and water available. Rest rooms are also available.

  • Intricate and unbelievable craftsmanship throughout the temple. Would suggest to take a good guide as the detailing and stories on the wall can be better understood this way

  • Temple is under the Control of Archaeological Department. Neatly Maintained. Resemblance with Tanjore Temple. It was drizzling evening and climate was so good. Beautiful Temple. We can spend whole day along with family.

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