Tamil Nadu is famous for its temples famous for their master buildings, articulate detailing and the overall sense of grandeur that astonishes a visitor. These temples constructed years ago have been in worship till date. Since ages these temples have been a centre of spirituality, religious movements and the politics.
The story of royal temples begins from the Pallava temples at Kanchipuram. The legacy of the Pallavas was continued by the mighty Cholas of Thanjavur who defined monumental magnificence. On this journey we will visit the UNESCO nominated Three Great Chola Living Temples and try to understand the polity, society and also the architectural development. These temples are famous not only for the grand structure, but, also for the paintings, sculptures and inscription. We will try to understand the temple in the context of all these.
On this journey we will also visit Shri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangam. These shrines are visited by no of pilgrims and travellers, for the religious significance they behold. Also, the marvellous architecture dating back to 14th century is something one should experience at-least once in their lifetime.
If time permits, we will also visit off-themed attractions like Maratha Palace Museum and evening walks in Kumbhakonam enjoying the scenic nature.
We begin the journey late in the evening from Bengaluru. We will meet at the departure point and travel by overnight bus to reach Thanjavur early in the morning the next day.
After arriving in Thanjavur we will check in to our hotel first. After a brief halt for freshening up we will leave for breakfast. We will then begin our temple trail chronologically. We will first visit the Brihadeshwara Temple at Thanjavur also known as Sri Raja Rajeshwara temple. This is one of the earliest royal temples of the Cholas. It defines the word grandeur.
In the second half of the day, we will visit the Royal Maratha Palace Museum. The exquisitely decorated Darbar hall is something not to be missed. This place was a seat of the Thanjavur Marathas who were a branch of the royal Bhosale dynasty.
Post this we will depart towards the hotel in Thanjavur and retire for the day.
Today we will visit the Brihadeshwara Temple at Gangaikonda Chola Puram. This temple was constructed by Shri Rajendra Chola, the son of Sri Raja Rajeshwara. This was a commemorative temple constructed after the victory of the Cholas over the Gangas. At the same site, the king also constructed a lake like a tank that spreads over 22 km, which was also known as the Jalmay Vijaystambh literally meaning the victory pillar made of water. The inscription tells us Sri Rajendra Chola after his victory of Bengal, brought the water of River Ganga and poured it in this lake. The place gets its name from this incident.
Post lunch we shall visit the Airawateshwara Temple at Darasuram. With this, we will complete our trail of the UNESCO list of three living Chola temples. The temple dedicated to Shiva, the saviour of Airawata, the white elephant of Indra. It is believed that Airawata was cursed by the sage Durwasa with a disease that will change his colour. But after bathing in the blessed waters of this temple he was cured. This was commemorated by placing an idol of Indra seated on Airawata in the sanctum Sanctorum. This temple was constructed by the King Raja Rajeshwara- II.
If time permits, you may be able to go for a walk in Kumbhakonam village before returning to the hotel to retire for the day.
On the last day of our journey, we will check out of the hotel and visit Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Srirangam early in the morning. In the Alwar traditions, this temple is considered to be one of the eight swayambhu kshetras. This temple is also one the largest temple in India with seven prakaar enclosures. We will try to visit it before breakfast. Following which we leave for Bengaluru. We will make a stop midway for lunch.
We will conclude the journey in the evening in Bengaluru at the drop location.