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India is a large country where language, culture, and history are similar but varied from region to region. Southern India has had a history that dates back thousands of years and the Chola Dynasty has played a critical role in shaping the history and traditions of the region. The Great Living Chola Temples are a group of temples throughout Tamil Nadu and neighboring areas which are a symbol of the culture and architecture of Southern India’s glorious past.

The Great Living Chola Temples are a list of many temples that were built in the Chola Dynasty and are now collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This includes three Chola Temples in southern India all known for their historic architecture and cultural significance to the region. The Brihadisvara Temple Complex in Thanjavur, The Brihadisvara Temple Complex in Darasuram, and the Airavatesvara Temple Complex in Gangaikondacholapuram are very popular tourist destinations in this region.

Hindu culture flourished in southern India for centuries and the Chola Dynasty was a symbol of Tamil architecture and Tamil Hindu culture of the last two millenniums. These are great destinations to visit for exploring the Great Living Chola Temples' history, architecture, and understanding the culture and traditions of the region.

Moving to the best time to visit here. Southern India receives high rainfall in the monsoon and the temperature is extremely high during the summer months. These temples are spread out across Tamil Nadu and it takes a few days to travel from one temple to another. To see the Great Living Chola Temples, at least a three-day trip makes sense. The best time to visit Chola Temples is in the winter months between November and February. The rainfall is relatively low and the temperatures are pleasant for both domestic as well as international travelers.

History of Great Living Chola Temples

These temples were built during the Chola Dynasty in the 11th and 12th century CE and are a representation of Hindu traditions and architecture of this dynasty during this time. The Chola Dynasty was one of the longest surviving dynasties of southern India and while they were known to be innovative builders, the Chola temple architecture had a totally distinct style. 

The temples, which were built in veneration for Lord Shiva, are known for their bronze casting, sculptures, and paintings. They are a symbol of the Dravidian Temple architecture of the region and have become historical pilgrim sites in the region. The Great Living Chola Temple's images and sculptures depict deities as well as showcase the traditions, rulers, and warriors of the Chola Dynasty.

Places To Visit in and Around The Great Living Chola Temples

1. Kodaikanal

Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill station in Tamil Nadu located within driving distance from these temples. This hill station is known for the famous Kodaikanal Lake, beautiful waterfalls like Silver Cascade, and the splendid natural beauty of the trees, flowers, gardens, and parks of the region.

2. Marina Beach Chennai

When it comes to places to visit in Tamil Nadu, Marina Beach in Chennai is a must-visit for tourists. It is one of the largest urban beaches in the world and is known for its pristine beachside experience, spacious promenades, beachside seafood restaurants, and its stunning sunsets.

3. Ooty

In the famous Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, the famous Ooty hill station is known for its scenic views. This is a quintessential tourist destination near the Chola Temples popular with tourists. Some of the attractions include the Government Rose Garden, the famous Doddabetta Peak, lakes, waterfalls, and even churches. 

4. Meenakshi Temple Madurai

The Shri Meenakshi Temple is one of the most famous temples in southern India located in Madurai. This is a large temple complex built by the Pandya Dynasty in Madurai and is known for the art, paintings, and architecture of the temple complex.

How to Reach 

The three temple complexes that make up the Great Living Chola Temples are all located in three different towns of Thanjavur, Darasuram, and Gangaikondacholapuram. These towns are located in the central-eastern region of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is located around 350 km from Chennai. The other two temples are located 70 km and 40 km respectively from Thanjavur.

By Air

Tamil Nadu is a progressive state in India with many domestic and international airports that connect these temples to the world. The Tiruchirappalli International Airport, the Chennai International Airport, and the Coimbatore International Airport are connected to airports around the world, and the Tiruchirappalli International Airport is closest to the site of the Great Living Chola Temples. The city of Thanjavur is also connected to other domestic cities through its local airport.

  • Tiruchirappalli – Mumbai flights are available with a round trip fare starting at Rs. 8500.
  • Tiruchirappalli – Delhi flights are available with a round trip fare starting at around Rs. 9,300.

By Road

Tourists can drive a private vehicle or use the bus service available to reach the Great Living Chola Temples Tamil Nadu. Some of the bus routes available to reach these temples include national highways, local roads, and state highways. There are cab and auto options in the area and the Thanjavur New Bus Stand is the largest in the region. Though there are air and railway transport options available, as these temples are located in smaller towns, tourists have to travel some distance of the journey by road.

By Train

The nearest railway station to this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Trichy Railway Station. The Trichy Junction is a major railway station in the area and there are regular trains to other places in Tamil Nadu and the rest of India, to and from this railway station. Another major railway station in the area, where tourists think about the question of how to reach Great Living Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu, can use the Thanjavur Railway Station. This is a major railway station in the area and has regular trains to other places within the state for the tourists to use.

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here

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