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The Great Living Chola Temples are a World Heritage Site recognising the ruins of the Chola Empire of India. They are temples built during the Chola rule, and are found scattered in different locations in southern India. The Great Living Chola Temples comprise the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple, both at Darasuram. The Brihadisvara Temple was first to be inscribed, in 1987, while the other two were added in 2004.

The Brihadisvara Temple, also written Brihadeeshwarar Temple, is located in Thanjavur, in Tamil Nadu. It is the world's first complete granite temple, and stands as a testament to Chola architecture, and a reflection of the power of the ruler at that time, RajaRaja Chola I. Its temple tower, or Vimana, stands at a height of 66 m (216 ft), making it one of the tallest structures of its kind in the world.

Brihadeeshwarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Brihadeeshwarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Bernard Gagnon

The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, or Gangaikonda Cholapuram, was built by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor to Rajaraja Chola I (AD 1012-1044). It is surpassed only by the Brihadisvara Temple in its size and sculptural quality.

The Airavatesvara Temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century. The temple of Dravidian architecture is located inn Darasuram, in Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, and is renowned for its exquisite stone carvings.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram
Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Airavatesvara Temple
Airavatesvara Temple

Great Living Chola Temples was inscribed as a World Heritage Site during the 11th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris, France, on 7 - 11 December, 1987.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N10 46 59 E79 7 57
Inscription Year: 1987, extended in 2004
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, III

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