Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Kumbhakonam

Kumbhakonam was an important city to the Cholas and subsequent rulers as evinced by the large number of temples here, many of which have their beginnings in the Chola period but have been substantially altered in the interim centuries. I visited five of the larger temples, and each was an example of the more dynamic atmosphere that exists in a “living” temple. This dynamism is also seen in the different architectural styles and periods that co-exist in these temples, as opposed to the more “pure” styles in the more “archeological” temple sites. Continue reading

Tamil Nadu Temple Run: Darasuram, Airavateshwara Temple

Darasuram is just outside the town of Kumbhakonam, and is the site of two 12th c CE Chola temples. These two are among the “preserved” temples seen on this trip, and unlike the much altered “living” temples, have a much more cohesive form, with the enclosed courtyard dominated by a single large temple with mandapas (pillared halls) and the sanctum in a single line. The Airavateshwara temple is the larger of the two. There is a cohesive architectural style to all the large Chola temples as Darasuram, Tribhuvan, Gangaikondacholapuram and Thanjavur, and these are distinct to the other temples that have labyrinthine pillared corridors and courtyards around multiple and almost competing sanctums within multiple enclosing walls. Continue reading