Gangai Konda Cholapuram – The imperial capital of Rajendra Chola!

The kids of celebrities sort of go through a social pressure that their life stories are constantly being compared with their parents’ and they are stamped ‘unsuccessful’ if their scores are not on a par with their parents’. Looks like even the great king, Rajendra Chola was not spared of this ugly comparison. Because, one of the folklore I remember having heard during my childhood days used to mention that Rajendra Chola got so jealous about the magnum opus, Brihadeeshwara Temple aka the Big Temple built by his father Raja Raja Chola at Thanjavur that he wanted to construct a similar structural wonder at his capital town of Gangai Konda Cholapuram but failed miserably because the Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple could no way match the architectural excellence or aesthetic aspects of Big Temple, Thanjavur.

However, having read about the glory of King Rajendra, the way he successfully expanded his territory all the way from Indo-Gangetic Plain in North to Sri Lanka in South; his conquest of some of the south east Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and having visited and cherished the beauty of both the temples multiple times, I could now realise how nonsensical that folklore can be.

Although it is true that Rajendra Chola had taken the inspiration from the magnum opus, Brihadeeshwara Temple at Thanjavur, the Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple can never be considered as a poor replicate of Thanjavur temple like it used to be gossiped in the past. There are many similarities and differences one could make out between the architectural aspects of both the temples. As the western historian, Percy Brown beautifully expressed, “There is a voluptuousness in the later structure (Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple); the beauty of ripe feminity in contrast to the masculine strength of the earlier type (a Thanjavur temple).”

Like the other two “Great Living Chola Temples”, Gangai Konda Cholapuram too has many beautiful sculptures that speaks of great craftsmanship and epigraphs of historic importance. All in all, the beauty and elegance of Gangai Konda Cholapuram temple is unparalleled and one needs to visit the place physically to appreciate the same.

Travel Tips:

Please refer to the travel tips mentioned in my other post on ‘Great Living Chola Temples’. I have covered these over there.

https://wordsofawanderlustwoman.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/the-great-living-chola-temples/

15 Comments

  1. Very nice, adding to this, the fact much of it’s entrance grandiose for constructing a dam and embankment for the flooding river on the orders of an English collector, we would never know the real beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kathir! True, the granite rocks of entrance were said to be used for the construction of the lower Anaicut dam! We could not be more proud about the rich heritage of the past!

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  2. Super Shobhi excellent, I heard few comments, Tanjur temple kopura has male attributes and GKC is with female attributes. Rajendra Chola became a king when he was almost 40 years+ and was regent for Rajarajan for last two years of the great king’s reign. There is always a debate among historians, who was the greatest. However in my mind there is no doubt Rajendra was the greatest and achieved so much that no other Indian kings achieved.

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    1. Thank you Anna for taking your time out to read the post and share your thoughts. Truly means a lot! Yeah, unless we travel back in time we cannot truly conclude who was the greatest of the emperors. To me, that analysis is unsolicited now. We have to cherish the beauty of both the temples equally without outweighing one over another!

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  3. Very well written. The starting lines create interest and make one to read the whole. I think that it is too small a write up and a little more description should have been there to make it a perfect write up about any place

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sir! Appreciate your thoughts. If you have read my other blog posts, my idea is not to give too much description about the places which people would anyway get from Wikipedia and travel sites but a simple reasoning as to why a particular place is worth a visit or what I see interesting about that place. That’s the reason I limit the photographs also to just a handful of them. Otherwise, I share the whole set of pics in FB for a different kinda audience and consumption!

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  4. Good blog on a very important piece of architecture in TN. I have read somewhere that Rajendra (was that in Udayar???) Wanted to build a similar temple but was clear it will not overshadow his father’s life dream and hence kept it smaller than the big temple….as for the feel of feminine brilliance, I have never realised that aspect, got to revisit and see for myself…..thank you for the blog and photos

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    1. Thank you 🙂 Yes, Gangai Konda Cholapuram is hardly 20 kms away from Udayarpalayam. In fact, Udayarpalayam zameen place itself has lot of stories in it! Yeah, there have been such stories about Rajendra and as I had written one such story sort of lower the glory of Rajendra saying he wanted to replicate Big Temple but failed. But when we closely observe the architecture of both the temples, there are lot of differences that proves that those are just cooked up stories and Gangai Konda Cholapuram has a majesty and beauty of its own. Please do visit Darasuram, Airavateshwar temple too. I will be writing about it soon. That is the master piece of Chola period sculpture work!

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