Magnificent miniature carvings and historical legends of zillions of Indian temples made every tourist make a beeline to India. Every nook and corner of India showcases the architectural brilliance of ancient eras. To cherish the true essence of exemplary architectures of ancient India one must need to visit Indian temples which narrate the great tales of ancient Indian lifestyles and cultures. Today, we Touringwala have come up with a UNESCO heritage listed site, Airavatesvara Swamy temple of Darasuram, a perfect example of the Great Living Chola Temples of Tamil Nadu.

Legends behind Airavatesvara Temple -Darasuram

The beautiful carvings and tranquil environment of the temple drench the devotees into a spirituality. The temple is an abode of Lord Shiva and appeared as an incarnation of Airavatesvara. According to a mythological legend, a white elephant of Lord Indra named as ‘Airavatam’ disrespected the saint Durvasura and angry with Airavatam, Durvasura cursed Airavatam. Therefore, Airavatam lost its colour and suffered from decolouration. Later, Airavatam got its colour back by taking a dip in the sacred waters of the temple. From then on, the temple is called after Airavatam and the Lord of this temple worshipping as Airavatesvara. The exquisite carving of Airavatesvara carrying Lord Shiva in the inner sanctum captivates the devotees. Another legend says that Yama, the king of death cursed by a saint which led to a burning sensation of the skin. Yama did penance for Lord Shiva here and gets cured after dipping in the temple pond. From then on, the pond is called Yamatheertham.

The architecture of Airavatesvara temple

Situated in the heart of Darasuram, Kumbakonam of Tamil Nadu, Airavatesvara temple was constructed by the great Chola king Rajaraja II in the 12th century. The UNESCO heritage listed Airavatesvara temple is considered as one of the Great Living Chola Temples and stands with two other Chola temples Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram at Airyalur. One can also catch a glimpse of sculptures of Yalis on the pillars of the temple. Yalis are a mythical creature with a bull’s body, ram’s horns, elephant’s trunk, pig ears and lion’s head. The temple was declared as World Heritage Monument in the year 2004.

Listen to the music through rock steps…

To your surprise there exist musical rock steps on the premises of the temple. Baffled right!! It is a perfect place to satiate your inner thirst of enjoying architectural carvings and music too. Besides the small temple of Lord Ganesh on the temple premises, the musical rock steps render musical notes when we strike the steps. It is one of the examples of an exemplary architectural brilliance of the Chola period.

Can you guess either is it an Elephant or Bull?

Here comes an interesting carving and resonate the architectural skills of the architect. Just observe the image and say whether it an elephant or a bull? Few of you might say it as an elephant and some may say it is a bull. But, to your surprise, it is one of the beautiful carvings which resembles both like an elephant as well as a bull. The architect carved a single head but looks like both elephant and bull. Words fall short to praise the architectural skills of the architect and one must have to visit the temple to capture the unique vistas of this carving.

Every carving on the temple wall is a masterpiece and the carving of a fighting wife and husband throbs the hearts of every visitor. One can catch a glimpse of carvings of 64 Nayanmars, saints of Lord Shiva on the temple walls. The rare idols of river goddess-like Godavari, Ganga, Cauvery, Yamuna and Narmada in the human form remains as the cynosure of the temple.

How To Reach

Nearby Railway Station: Kumbakonam is the nearest railway station to the temple and is just 3 km away from the temple.

Nearby Airport: Nearest airport to the temple is Tiruchirapalli International Airport.
By Road: Numerous buses are available from major bus stations of Tamil Nadu.

Nearby places to visit
· Brihadeeswara Temple (40 kilometres)
· Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple (30 kilometres)
· Thanjavur Palace (36 km)
· Adi Kumbeswarar Temple (3 km)
· Mahamaham tank (4 km)
· Chidambaram (76 km)

Never give a miss to visit this temple if you are in Tamil Nadu tour, a trip to Airavatesvara temple will make your trip more memorable.

Pic Courtesy: Tamil Nadu Tourism Website