Glorious and Mighty: Pallavas and Cholas

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Brihadeeswarar_Temple_Thanjavur Pallavas and Cholas

Unveiling the Legacy: Pallavas and Cholas Dynasties of South India

South India boasts a rich tapestry of ancient empires, with the Pallavas and Cholas leaving an indelible mark. This post delves into their fascinating history, architectural marvels, and lasting contributions.

Keywords: Pallava Dynasty, Chola Dynasty, South India, Tamil Nadu, Temples, Architecture

The Glorious Pallavas (3rd-9th Century CE):

  • Emerged in the southern Andhra Pradesh and northern Tamil Nadu regions.
  • Renowned for their exquisite Dravidian architecture, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shore Temple, in Mahabalipuram.
  • Notable rulers: Mahendravarman I (patron of arts) and Narasimhavarman I (expanded the empire).
  • Cave temples of Pallavas, like those in Badami, showcase their artistic brilliance.

The Pallavas were a powerful dynasty that ruled South India between the 3rd and 9th centuries CE. They were known for their exquisite Dravidian architecture, which can still be seen in many temples across Tamil Nadu. Here are some of the most famous temples built by the Pallavas:

  • Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram:This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most iconic examples of Pallava architecture. The temple is carved out of a single granite rock and faces the Bay of Bengal.
  • Five Rathas (Pancha Rathas), Mahabalipuram:This group of five monolithic temples, also carved from granite rock, are named after the five Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. Each ratha is a unique design, showcasing the architectural prowess of the Pallavas.
  • Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram:This is one of the largest and most well-preserved Pallava temples. It is a structural temple, meaning it was built from separate blocks of stone rather than carved from a single rock face. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and features intricate carvings and sculptures.
  • Thiruvandulur Shiva Temple: This temple is located about 30 kilometers from Chennai and is known for its exquisite sculptures and mandapas (halls). The temple complex also includes a number of smaller shrines dedicated to various Hindu deities.
  • Mukteshwara Temple, Kanchipuram:This temple is a later example of Pallava architecture and is known for its apsidal shape, a unique feature in South Indian temples. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and features a number of intricate carvings on its walls and pillars.

These are just a few of the many famous temples built by the Pallavas. Their architectural legacy continues to inspire people today.

The Mighty Cholas (3rd Century BCE – 13th Century CE):

  • Rose to prominence after defeating the Pallavas.
  • Renowned for their maritime prowess and vast naval conquests in Southeast Asia.
  • Grand temples like Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur stand as testaments to their architectural mastery.
  • Effective administration with a well-developed bronze casting industry.
  • Rajaraja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I were emperors who ushered in the golden age of the Cholas.

A Legacy that Endures:

  • The Pallavas and Cholas laid the foundation for a vibrant South Indian culture.
  • Their architectural styles continue to inspire modern-day architects.
  • Their advancements in administration and trade continue to be studied.

Brihadisvara Temple (Big Temple), Thanjavur:This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the crown jewel of Chola architecture. Built by Rajaraja Chola I in the 11th century, the temple is a towering structure with a massive vimana (tower) that dominates the Thanjavur skyline.

  • Brihadisvara Temple (Gangai Cholapuram):Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple was built by Rajendra Chola I, son of Rajaraja Chola I, to commemorate his victory over the Bengal region. The temple shares a similar design to the Big Temple in Thanjavur but has some distinct features, like a slightly recessed vimana.
  • Airavathesvara Temple, Darasuram:This 12th-century temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II, is known for its intricate carvings and harmonious proportions. The temple complex includes a beautifully sculpted chariot (vimana) and a mandapa (hall) with exquisite pillars.
  • Rajaraja Choleswaram Temple, Chidambaram: Built by Rajaraja Chola I, this temple is dedicated to Shiva in his cosmic dance pose (Nataraja). The temple complex is vast and includes several halls and shrines.
  • Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram: While the origins of this temple predate the Cholas, the Cholas made significant additions and renovations during their reign. The temple is famous for its depictions of Shiva’s cosmic dance and is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus.

These are just a few of the many magnificent temples built by the Pallavas and Cholas. Their architectural achievements stand as a testament to their power, skill, and devotion.

Explore Further:

  • Plan your trip to South India and witness the architectural wonders firsthand by Pallavas and Cholas.
  • Learn more about the Tamil language and literature that flourished under the Pallavas and Cholas empires.
  • Delve deeper into the maritime history and trade routes of the Cholas.

There are four international airports in Tamil Nadu:

  • Chennai International Airport (MAA)

The largest airport in Tamil Nadu, Chennai International Airport is the aviation hub in South Asia. It is located 19.8 km from the city center and is Asia’s 47th busiest international airport and the 4th busiest in India after Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

  • Coimbatore International Airport (CJB)

A prominent airport in Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore International Airport is well connected to other cities and towns such as Chennai, Munnar, Bengaluru and Ooty.

  • Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ)

Tiruchirapalli or Trichy International Airport is the smallest international airport in India and is situated close to the center of the city.

  • Madurai International Airport (IXM)

Madurai International Airport is well-connected to major cities across India and abroad.

The nearest airport to Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu is Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ), also known as Trichy Airport. It is located approximately 56 kilometers (35 miles) away from the city center.

The nearest airport to Mahabalipuram is Chennai International Airport (MAA), located approximately 61 kilometers (38 miles) away.

Image Credit

Veera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons