Airavatesvara Temple of Shiva Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Darasuram, Kumbakonam-612702

This temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. This temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Gangaikonda cholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram that are referred to as the Great Living Chola Temples. Here ,Lord shiva is worshipped by Airavata , the white elephant of the King of the Devars, Deva Indra.The King of Death, Yama worshipped Lord Shiva here.

Temple Etiquette

  • Footwear not allowed inside

    Footwear not allowed inside
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    Footwear to be left outside the temple. In summer be careful of the hot paving stones.

  • Prasad and donation

    Prasad and donation
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    Use your right hand to accept prasad and give donations. The left hand is considered unclean in India.

  • Dress conservatively

    Dress conservatively
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    Avoid shorts, skirts, tanktops and do not expose legs.

  • Restricted entry

    Restricted entry
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    Entry is normally restricted to temple priests in the sanctum sanctorum. Some temples restrict the entry of non-Hindus

  • Avoid cellphones

    Avoid cellphones
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    Use of cell phones is restricted normally. Photography is restricted in some temples.

  • Circumambulation or pradakshina

    Circumambulation or pradakshina
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    Devotees are to walk around the sanctum sanctorum in a clockwise direction


About Airavatesvara Temple

The Airavatesvara temple, built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is a detached temple situated to the north of the Airavateshvarar temple. At present, it stands alone as a detached temple with the shrine of the Goddess standing in a single large court.

Here, Lord Shiva is worshipped by Airavata , the white elephant of the king of the gods,Indra.Airavata, while suffering from a change of colour curse from Sage Durvasa, had its colours restored by bathing in the sacred waters of this temple. The King of Death, Yama  worshipped Shiva .  Yama, who was suffering under a Rishi's curse from a burning sensation all over the body, was cured by the presiding deity Airavatesvarar. Yama took bath in the sacred tank and got rid of the burning sensation. Since then the tank has been known as Yamateertham. 

The renovation of the shrines by Kulottunga Chola III.The north wall of the verandah consists of 108 sections of inscriptions, each containing the name and description and image of the Saivacharya  listing the principal events in their life.Another inscription close to the gopura,indicates that an image was brought from Kalyani, then known as Kalyanapura by emperor Rajadhiraja Chola I after his defeat of the Western Chalukya king Someshwara I, his sons Vikramaditya VI and Someshwara II his capture of the Chalukyan capital. 

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