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Great Living Chola Temples

Great Living Chola Temples

The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The site includes three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Les grands temples vivants Chola

Les grands temples vivants de Chola ont été construits par les rois de l’Empire de Chola qui s’étendait sur l’ensemble de l’Inde méridionale et sur les îles voisines. Le site comprend trois grands temples de Chola des XIe et XIIe siècles : le temple de Brihadisvara de Thanjavur, le temple de Brihadisvara de Gangaikondacholisvaram et le temple d’Airavatesvara de Darasuram. Le temple de Gangaikondacholisvaram, érigé par Rajendra Ier, a été achevé en 1035. Son vimana (tour sanctuaire) de 53 m est caractérisé par des angles disposés en retrait élégamment incurvés vers le haut, contrairement à la stricte et droite tour du temple de Tanjore. Le temple d’Airavatesvara, érigé par Rajaraja II à Darasuram, comporte un vimana de 24 m et une image en pierre de Shiva. Ces temples témoignent des brillantes réalisations de l’ère chola en architecture, peinture, sculpture et statuaire en bronze.

معابد شولا الكبيرة الحية

شيّد ملوك إمبراطورية شولا التي امتدّت على مجموعة الهند الجنوبية وعلى الجُزر المجاورة معابدَ شولا الكبيرة الحية. ويتضمّن الموقع ثلاثة معابد شولا كبيرة عائدة للقرنين الحادي عشر والثاني عشر: معبد برهاديسفارا في ثانجابور ومعبد برهاديسفارا في كانكايكونداشوليزفارامGangaikondacholisvaram ومعبد إيرافاتيسفارا في داراسورام . أُنجز معبد كانكايكونداشوليزفارام الذي شيّده راجيندرا الأول عام 1035. يتميز برج المعبد الذي يبلغ ارتفاعه 53 متراً بزوايا موزعة بطريقة غائرة معقوفة بلباقة نحو الأعلى خلافاً لبرج معبد تانجور الشيق والمستقيم. أما معبد إيرافاتيسفارا الذي شيّده رجا رجا الثاني، فيتضمّن برجاً يبلغ طوله 24 متراً ورسماً حجرياً للإلهة ِشيفا. وتدلّ هذه المعابد على الإنجازات اللامعة التي حققتها حقبة شولا في مجالات الهندسة والرسم والنحت والتماثيل البرونزية.

source: UNESCO/ERI

朱罗王朝现存的神庙

11世纪和12世纪修建的两个朱罗王朝神庙已加入坦贾武尔的布里哈迪斯瓦拉神庙,该神庙建于11世纪,并在1987年列入《世界文化遗产名录》。朱罗王朝现存的神庙由朱罗王朝国王修建,横跨整个南印度地区和临近的岛屿。该遗址现有三个11世纪和12世纪的朱罗王朝神庙:坦贾武尔的布里哈迪斯瓦拉神庙,康凯康达秋里斯瓦拉姆神庙和达拉苏拉姆的艾拉瓦德斯瓦拉神庙。康凯康达秋里斯瓦拉姆神庙于1035年完工,是由拉彦德拉一世修建的。它的53米高的圣塔优雅地呈曲线上升之势,并有多处凹角,与坦贾武尔直立庄严的塔形成鲜明的对比。六对高大坚固的门卫神雕像守护着入口和内部美妙绝伦的铜像。罗阇罗阇二世在达拉苏拉姆修建了艾拉瓦德斯瓦拉神庙建筑群,这里有一个24米高的圣塔和一尊湿婆神的石像。这些神庙见证了朱罗王朝在建筑、雕刻、绘画和铜像铸造方面的辉煌成就。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Великие храмы империи Чола

Большой храм Брихадисвара в Танджуре (Танджавуре) был сооружен между 1003 и 1010 гг. во времена правления царя Раджараджа, основателя империи Чола, которая охватывала весь юг Индии и прилегающие острова. Окруженный двумя стенами, имеющими в плане форму квадрата, этот храм (построенный из гранитных блоков и частично из кирпича) увенчан пирамидальной 13-ярусной башней – «виманой», имеющей высоту 61 м, с монолитом-луковкой на вершине. Стены храма богато украшены скульптурой. В 2004 г. в объект наследия были включены еще два храма, также относящиеся к временам империи Чола: Гангайкондачолисварам и Айраватесвара в городе Дарасурам. Храм Гангайкондачолисварам, построенный Раджендрой I, был закончен в 1035 г. Его 53-метровая «вимана» имеет заглубленные углы и грациозные, устремленные вверх изогнутые формы, контрастирующие с прямой и суровой башней в Танджавуре. Шесть пар массивных монолитных статуй «дварапала» охраняют вход, а внутри находятся исключительно красивые предметы из бронзы. Храмовый комплекс Айраватесвара, построенный Раджараджа II в Дарасураме, известен 24-метровой «виманой» и каменной скульптурой Шивы. Храмы являются свидетельством великолепных достижений государства Чола в архитектуре, скульптуре, живописи и бронзовом литье.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Grandes templos vivientes cholas

Los grandes templos vivientes fueron construidos por los reyes del Imperio de Chola, que llegaron a dominar toda la parte meridional de la India y sus islas adyacentes El sitio comprende tres grandes santuarios cholas de los siglos XI y XII: el Templo de Brihadisvara en Thanjavur, el Templo de Brihadisvara en Gangaikondacholisvaram y el Templo de Airavatesvara en Darasuram. El Templo de Gangaikondacholisvaram, edificado por orden de Rajendra I, fue terminado el año 1035. Las esquinas de su vimana (torre-santuario) de 53 metros de altura están rebajadas, gracias a lo cual el edificio cobra un gracioso movimiento ascensional ondulante que contrasta con las líneas rectas y austeras de la torre del templo de Thanjavur. El conjunto arquitectónico del Templo de Airavatesvara, construido por el rey Rajaraja II en Darasuram, posee un vimana de 24 metros de altura, así como una escultura en piedra de Siva. Los tres templos constituyen un testimonio de los brillantes logros del Imperio Chola en los campos de la arquitectura, la escultura, la pintura y el arte de trabajar el bronce.

source: UNESCO/ERI

大チョーラ朝寺院群

source: NFUAJ

Great Living Chola tempels

De Great Living Chola tempels werden gebouwd door de koningen van het Chola Rijk, dat zich uitstrekte over Zuid-India en de naburige eilanden. De plek bevat drie grote 11e-en 12e-eeuwse tempels: de Brihadisvara Tempel in Thanjavur, de Brihadisvara Tempel in Gangaikondacholisvaram en de Airavatesvara Tempel in Darasuram. De tempel van Gangaikondacholisvaram, gebouwd door Rajendra I, werd voltooid in 1035 en heeft een 53 meter hoge vimana (heiligdomtoren). Het Airavatesvara tempelcomplex, gebouwd door Rajaraja II, heeft een 24-meter hoge vimana en een stenen beeld van Shiva. De tempels getuigen van de briljante prestaties van de Chola in de architectuur, beeldhouwkunst, schilderkunst en het brons gieten.

Source: unesco.nl

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Great Living Chola Temples
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The great Cholas established a powerful monarchy in the 9th CE at Thanjavur and in its surroundings. They enjoyed a long, eventful rule lasting for four and a half centuries with great achievements in all fields of royal endeavour such as military conquest, efficient administration, cultural assimilation and promotion of art. All three temples, the Brihadisvara at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara at Gangaikondacholapuram and Airavatesvara at Darasuram, are living temples. The tradition of temple worship and rituals established and practised over a thousand years ago, based on still older Agamic texts, continues daily, weekly and annually, as an inseparable part of life of the people.

These three temple complexes therefore form a unique group, demonstrating a progressive development of high Chola architecture and art at its best and at the same time encapsulating a very distinctive period of Chola history and Tamil culture.

The Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur marks the greatest achievement of the Chola architects. Known in the inscriptions as Dakshina Meru, the construction of this temple was inaugurated by the Chola King, Rajaraja I (985-1012 CE) possibly in the 19th regal year (1003-1004 CE) and consecrated by his own hands in the 25th regal year (1009-1010 CE). A massive colonnaded prakara with sub-shrines dedicated to the ashatadikpalas and a main entrance with gopura (known as Rajarajantiruvasal) encompasses the massive temple. The sanctum itself occupies the centre of the rear half of the rectangular court. The vimana soars to a height of 59.82meters over the ground. This grand elevation is punctuated by a high upapitha, adhisthana with bold mouldings; the ground tier (prastara) is divided into two levels, carrying images of Siva. Over this rises the 13 talas and is surmounted by an octagonal sikhara. There is a circumambulatory path all around the sanctum housing a massive linga.  The temple walls are embellished with expansive and exquisite mural paintings. Eighty-one of the one hundred and eight karanas, posed in Baharatanatya,are carved on the walls of second bhumi around the garbhagriha. There is a shrine dedicated to Amman dating to c.13th century.

 Outside the temple enclosure are the fort walls of the Sivaganga Little Fort surrounded by a moat, and the Sivaganga Tank, constructed by the Nayaks of Tanjore of the 16th century who succeeded the imperial Cholas. The fort walls enclose and protect the temple complex within and form part of the protected area by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram in the Perambalur district was built for Siva by Rajendra I (1012-1044 CE). The temple has sculptures of exceptional quality. The bronzes of Bhogasakti and Subrahmanya are masterpieces of Chola metal icons. The Saurapitha (Solar altar), the lotus altar with eight deities, is considered auspicious.

The Airavatesvara temple at Tanjavur was built by the Chola king Rajaraja II (1143-1173 CE.): it is much smaller in size as compared to the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram.  It differs from themin itshighly ornate execution. The temple consists of a sanctum without a circumambulatory path and axial mandapas. The front mandapa known in the inscriptions as Rajagambhiran tirumandapam, is unique as it was conceptualized as a chariot with wheels. The pillars of this mandapa are highly ornate. The elevation of all the units is elegant with sculptures dominating the architecture. A number of sculptures from this temple are the masterpieces of Chola art. The labelled miniature friezes extolling the events that happened to the 63 nayanmars (Saiva saints) are noteworthy and reflect the deep roots of Saivism in this region. The construction of a separate temple for Devi, slightly later than the main temple, indicates the emergence of the Amman shrine as an essential component of the South Indian temple complex.

Criterion (i): The three Chola temples of Southern India represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the dravida type of temple.

Criterion (ii): The Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur became the first great example of the Chola temples, followed by a development of which the other two properties also bear witness.

Criterion (iii): The three Great Chola Temples are an exceptional and the most outstanding testimony to the development of the architecture of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilisation in Southern India.

Criterion (iv): The Great Chola temples at Thanjavur, at Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram are outstanding examples of the architecture and the representation of the Chola ideology.

Integrity

These temples represent the development of Dravida architecture from Chola period to Maratha Period. All three monuments have been in a good state of preservation from the date of the inscription of the property and no major threats affect the World Heritage monuments. These monuments are being maintained and monitored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The tradition of temple worship and rituals established and practiced over a thousand years ago, based on still older Agamic texts, continues daily, weekly and annually, as an inseparable part of life of the people.

Authenticity

The three properties are considered to pass the test of authenticity in relation to their conception, material and execution. The temples are still being used, and they have great archaeological and historical value. The temple complexes used to be part of major royal towns, but have remained as the outstanding features in today’s mainly rural context.  The components of the temple complex of the Brihadisvara at Thanjavur, declared a World Heritage property in 1987, includes six sub-shrines which have been added within the temple courtyard over a period of time. The later additions and interventions reinforce the original concept embodied in the main temple complex, in keeping with homogeneity and its overall integrity. The traditional use of the temple for worship and ritual contribute to the authenticity. However the periodic report of 2003 noted a number of conservation interventions that have the potential to impact on authenticity e.g chemical cleaning of the structures and the total replacement of the temple floor; highlighting the need for a Conservation Management Plan to guide the conservation of the property so as to ensure that authenticity is maintained.

Similarly at the Brihadisvara complex at Gangaikondacholapuram, the sub-shrines of Chandesa and Amman were originally built according to the plan of Rajendra I, as well as the Simhakeni (the lion-well).Over time The sub-shrines of Thenkailasha, Ganesha and Durga were added. The authenticity of these additions is supported by the Agamictexts concerning renewal and reconstructions of temples in use.

At Darasuram, archaeological evidence since gazettal enhances the authenticity of the property. The Airavatesvara temple complex itself has been entirely built at the same time with no later additional structures, and remains in its original form. The Deivanayaki Amman shrine built a little later also, stands in its original form within its own enclosure.  

Protection and management requirements

 

The three cultural properties, namely, the Brihadisvara Temple complex at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara temple complex at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara temple complex at Darasuram have been under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India from the years 1922, 1946 and 1954 respectively. Further, all of them were brought under the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act from the year 1959, at the time of its enactment. The management of these cultural properties can, therefore, be divided into two distinct parts: (1) The conservation, upkeep and maintenance of the properties, covering physical structure, architectural and site features, environment and surroundings, painting, sculpture, and other relics; and, (2) Temple administration covering staffing structure and hierarchy, accounting and bookkeeping, records and rules.

The management authority in relation to (1) is solely vested with the Archaeological Survey of India while the aspects covered in (2) are entirely looked after by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Therefore, it is evident that the property management is, in effect, jointly carried out by these two agencies, one a Central agency, the other belonging to the State.

The practice has been for the two agencies to prepare their own management plans independently, and review them from time to time. When necessary, joint discussions are held and any apparent contradiction or points of conflict are given due consideration and sorted out. In the case of the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur and the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram, the agencies consult the Hereditary Trustee of the Palace Devasthanam when necessary to finalise any issue which requires the Trustee’s input.

However, since the nomination of the extended property , the Archaeological Survey of India the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Government of Tamil Nadu, have, in principle, agreed to draft a joint property management plan encompassing the specific requirements of both while meeting the fundamental objectives of protecting and promoting (1) the three cultural properties while enhancing their Outstanding Universal Value; (2) the Vedic and Agamic traditions and their significance in the life of the people; (3) the arts (sculpture, painting, bronze casting, dance, music and literature) inseparable components of traditional culture; and (4) the ancient science of vastu and silpa shastras, the fundamental guidelines to the construction of temples and religious structures, and to sculpture and painting.

Since the inscription of property as World Heritage property, the monuments have been maintained in a good state of preservation and no major threats affect the monuments. Periodic maintenance and monitoring of the monuments by Archaeological Survey of India keeps the monuments to the expectation of tourists. However a Tourism Management and Interpretation Plan and a Conservation Management Plan are required to guide future work and determine priorities for conservation and interpretation effort. Basic amenities like water, toilets, etc. have been provided attracting more tourists to the place. Improving landscaping and tourist amenities are some of the long term plans. The temples have been centres of worship for the last 800-1000 years and continue to serve in this way. Monitoring of visitor numbers and impacts is necessary to ensure that they do not threaten the Outstanding Universal Value.

Long Description

The Great Chola Temples of southern India are an exceptional testimony to the development of the architecture and the ideology of the Chola Empire and the Tamil civilization in southern India. They represent an outstanding creative achievement in the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravida type of temple (characterized by a pyramidal tower).

The Cholas were the second great historic dynasty of the Tamil Nadu, the Tamil country, which was the home of the ancient Dravidian culture whose influence was so considerable in the whole of south-east Asia. The great temple of Tanjore was built in a few years, from 1003 to 1010, during the reign of the great king Rajaraja (985-1014), true founder of the Chola Empire which spread throughout the whole of southern India, part of Ceylon and the Maldive and Laccadive archipelagos. Richly endowed by the sovereign, the sanctuary, which also bears his name - it is sometimes called Rajarajesvaram - had a permanent staff of several hundred priests, 400 devadasi (sacred dancers), and 57 musicians, according to inscriptions and chronicles. The Brihadisvara's income in gold, silver and precious stones during the Chola period has been precisely evaluated. These vast resources were efficiently managed and provided not only for the upkeep and improvement of the buildings (which was continued until the 17th century) but also for real investments to be made. The temple lent money, at rates which could sometimes reach 30%, to shipowners, village assemblies and craft guilds. Dedicated to Shiva, the Brihadisvara stands to the south-west of the historic city. A first rectangular surrounding wall, 270 m by 140 m, marks the outer boundary.

This is dominated on the east side by a 30 m high entrance gateway (gopuram). A second wall, with its entrance in line with the first and crowned with a smaller gopuram decorated with two dvarapala (gatekeepers), surrounds a colonnaded inner courtyard. The temple itself, built from granite blocks and, in part, of bricks, is oriented east-west like the courtyard. The layout takes its inspiration from the Pallava tradition, and especially from the layout of the Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram. There is a succession of halls and vestibules (mukta-mandapa, maha-mandapa, ardha-mandapa) leading to the shrine, which is crowned with a 13-storey pyramidal tower. This vimana, which is 60.95 m high and, in turn, crowned with a bulb-shaped monolith weighing an estimated 70 tonnes, is rightly considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of India. The intricately carved decorations covering the outer walls of the temple are continued inside by the well known representations of the 108 poses of the Bharata-Natyam, the classical Indian dance, mimed by Shiva in person.

The iconographic programme, inspired by Shiva mythology, also consists of a series of murals from the Chola period which decorate the corridor around the shrine. The famous series depicting Rajaraja in conversation with his guru, Karuvur Devar, gives a good idea of the graphic quality, the delicacy of the colours, the expressiveness of the characters which make this sequence one of the great masterpieces of Chola art. Inside the inner courtyard, the Nandi-mandapa, a pavilion which houses the colossal statue of Nandi, the bull mounted by Shiva (vahana), is of very great interest. The temple of Devi, built in the 13th century by the Pandya king Konerinmaikondan, the temple of Subrahmanya, built and covered with carvings in the 17th century by a Nayak king of Madurai, together with additional temples and chapels of a later date (temple of Ganesh, mandapa of Nataraja) complete this remarkable religious architectural group.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Notes
  • The "Brihadisvara Temple, Tanjavur", which was previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, is part of the "Great Living Chola Temples".