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850-871 Vijayala Chola 949-957 Rajaditya, Gandaraditya 957-973 Parantaka II Sundara Chola 1052-1064 Rajendra Deva II
871-907 Aditya I 956-960 Arindama 960-965 Aditya II 985-1014 Rajaraja I 1063-1068 Vira Rajendra
907-954 Parantaka I 971-988 Uttama Chola 1014-1044 Rajendra Chola I 1068-1070 Adhirajendra
1044-1054 Rajakesari Rajadhiraja 1070-1122 Kulottunga Chola

Balustrade flanking the steps of the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram, view from the east, 1100-1199 CE.
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View of the intricately carved pillars in the Airavatesvara temple  at Darasuram, Tamil Nadu: Built in the reign of Rajaraja II during the 12 century.  
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The Amman shrine, 12th century, in the compound of Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram, Tamil Nadu, built during the reign of Rajaraja II
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Darasuram. Airavatesvara temple. Sculpture of a royal figure, 12th century.
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Darasuram. The shrine (Vimana), general view from west, built by Rajaraja II (1146-1172).
The Airavatesvara temple, in the inscriptions known as Rajarajesvara temple, was built by Rajaraja II, of Kulottunga’s line, who ruled from 1146 to 1172 CE. It is one of the greatest monuments, and the last Chola enterprise included in this exhibition. The temple faces the east. There is an open court, a double-storeyed cloister with just a single entrance in the east. There was an outer enclosure but it is totally vanished. There is a Nandimandapa, and a Balipitha or platform for offerings. The main temple consists of a vimana, ardhamandapa, a transept, a closed large hall or mahamandapa and a mukhamandapa. Wheels of stone at regular intervals are suggestive of the divine chariot of Shiva. 
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Darasuram. Airavatesvara temple, presently in Tanjore Art Gallery. <br />
Stone Gajantaka, Shiva killing the elephant demon. Although relatively late, this sculpture of eight-armed Shiva dancing violently as he tramples upon the elephant demon (Gajasura) is an expressive work. 12th century, 
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Gangaikondacholapuram, Amman shrine, mid-11th century. 
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Sarasvati, the goddess of learning: At the Brihadisvara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram built in Mid-11th century.
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Gangaikondacholapuram. Brihadisvara temple, east side. 11th century. Shiva’s Chandeshanugraha form. 
 
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Vishnu being lauded by sages: At the Brihadisvara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram. 
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General view from south-west of the Brihadisvara temple, Gangaikondacholapuram, built in the reign of Rajendra 
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Drawings reveal the intricacies and elevation of the Brihadisvara temple‘s sanctuary-tower: West elevation. 
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Subsidiary shrines at the Brihadisvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram. 
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Brhadisvara temple, Gongaikondacholapuram
Chola, Rajendra I, eleventh century/1035AD
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southeast
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Brhadisvara temple, Gongaikondacholapuram
Chola, Rajendra I, eleventh century/1035AD
granite
Southeast <br />
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Brhadisvara temple, Gongaikondacholapuram
Chola, Rajendra I, eleventh century/1035AD
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East <br />
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Brhadisvara temple, Gongaikondacholapuram
Chola, Rajendra I, eleventh century/1035AD
granite
West <br />
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Brhadisvara temple, Gongaikondacholapuram
Chola, Rajendra I, eleventh century/1035AD
granite
Northwest <br />
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Kodumbalur. Muvarkoil. The “King’s” shrine, early 10th century. 
Built by Bhuti Vikramakesari, an Irukkuvel feudatory of the Cholas. Only two out of the original three shrines survive. The statuary on the superstructure, which includes divine and figures and Shiva’s bull Nandi, add to the monument’s appeal.
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God Indra or Skanda on the superstructure of the “King’s” shrine at the Muvarkoil shrines at Kodumbalur, Tamil Nadu, built in the early 10th century. 
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Kodumbalur. Muvarkoil. Early 10th century. General view of the two surviving shrines from north-east.
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Kumbhakonam. Nagesvarasvami temple. Late 9th century. View from south. Apsaras and ascetic figures adorn the rectangular wall niches.
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Sculpture of Naga worshipper on the wall of Amritaghatesvara temple, Melaikkadumbalur. Late 11th century.
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Shiva as Gangadhara, receiving the heavenly river in his matted hair: In a wall niche at the Amritaghatesvara temple, Melaikkadumbalur. Late 11th century. 
Legend of Gangadhara: The sons of King Sagara were burnt to ashes by a sage when they violated his penance. They could only be liberated by the river Ganga, which flowed in heaven. The king’s descendant Bhagiratha pleased Ganga to come down to earth, and persuaded Shiva to receive the mighty stream into his matted hair. Ganga then descended on earth and sanctified the ashes of the dead. This story is very popular all over India; and even bronzes of Nataraja have a tiny figure of Ganga in his hair. 
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Sage Agastya on the frontal mandapa (Ardhamandapa) of the Amritaghatesvara temple, Melaikkadumbalur, built in the late 11th century. 
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Narttamalai. Vijayalaya Cholisvaram. Mid-9th century, built by a feudatory. General view from north. This is a sandhara temple, that is, it has an inner processional passage for going around the sanctum; and the vimana is tritala or three-storeyed. 
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Brahma paying homage to Shiva emerging out of the Linga (Lingodbhava form): Along the west wall of Brahmapurisvara temple, Pullamangai, Tamil Nadu, built during the reign of Parantaka I in the early 10th century CE. 
The legend of Lingodbhava: When two members of the Hindu divine trinity, Brahma and Vishnu claimed superiority, suddenly, a massive column of fire (that is, the Linga) appeared challenging them to discover its top and bottom. Both gods unsuccessfully flew up in the sky or dug down into the netherworld. Then Shiva manifested himself out of the column and convinced Brahma and Vishnu that he was the greatest. This figure of Brahma is a detail of the Lingodbhava panel.
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Celestial female figure or Apsara in a wall niche of the Brahmapurisvara temple at Pullamangai built during the reign of Parantaka I in the early 10th century. All the wall ornaments are articulated with slender figures.
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Ganesha on the south wall of the frontal hall (Ardhamandapa) at the Brahmapurisvara temple at Pullamangai, Tamil Nadu: Large panels of gods have attendant figures accompanying them. Parantaka I, c. 900-925 CE. 
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Naltulai Isvaragriham at Punjai, Tamil Nadu: West view of the sanctum (Vimana); Shiva’s Lingodbhava form is in the niche (Devakoshtha) in the centre. The temple was built during the reign of Parantaka I in the mid-10th century. 
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Ganesha on the south wall of the frontal hall (Ardhamandapa) at the Naltulai Isvaragriham temple at Punjai, Tamil Nadu: Parantaka I, c. 950 CE. 
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Shiva’s Dakshinamurti form on the south side of the sanctum (Vimana) of Naltulai Isvaragriham, Punjai: Built during the reign of Parantaka I in the mid- 10th century. Shiva’s Dakshinamurti form personifies the great teacher of Yoga, Music and sacred learning.
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Punjai. Naltulai Isvaragriham. Period of Parantaka I. Mid-10th century. 
Lingodbhava. This extremely beautiful sculpture shows Shiva manifesting himself from the Linga to convince Brahma and Vishnu that he was the greatest of the three. 
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Thanjavur. Brihadisvara temple. Mid-11th century. General view from north-west.
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The Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu: General view from south-east; built in the reign of Rajaraja I from 985-1014 CE. In Sanskrit, the temple is known as Brihat Esvaram or the Big Temple. Inscriptions in Tamil mention the temple as Sri Rajarajeswaram; it is also referred to as Dakshina Meru. The greatest of the Chola temples, 2015 marks the completion of over 1000 years of the consecration of this temple. 
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King Rajaraja I with his spiritual guru: Mural at the Brihadisvara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. © FIP
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Drawings reveal the intricacies of Brihadisvara temple architecture. West elevation of the sanctuary-tower 
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Temple layout: The subsidiary shrines at Brihadisvara Temple. 
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
southwest
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
west
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
north
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
northeast
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
Ragu enshrined
east gopuram south flank, from west
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
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fortified area and moat from southeast
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
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fortified area and moat from southeast
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
granite
southeast
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
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Makara mouth with flying warrior, west of south side entry to sanctum
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Brhadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Chola, Rajaraja I, eleventh century/1010AD
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south vimana superstructure
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Drawings detail the elevation of the temple’s sanctuary-tower ©EFEO
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Brihadisvara temple architecture details of the south-west corner bay. 
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East elevation: Inner gateway to the main shrine of the Brihadisvara temple: Drawings and elevations
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The Brihadisvara temple complex at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu: Section drawing, longitudinal section 
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Layout of the Brihadisvara temple complex at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. 
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Nandi, Shiva’s bull at the Pushpavanesvara temple in Tiruppunturuntti, Tamil Nadu, c. 850 CE.  
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Nandi, Shiva’s bull at the Pushpavanesvara temple in Tiruppunturuntti, Tamil Nadu, c. 850 CE, and the detailing of the ornamentation. 
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Saraswati, the goddess of learning at the Visamangalesvarar temple, Turaiyur, Tamil Nadu: Adorning the south side of the front hall (Ardhamandapa), of the temple built during the reign of Gandaraditya in the mid-10th century. 
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