is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Darasuram town, in Kumbakonam, in the
state of Tamil Nadu. It is an ancient temple built by the famous Chola king
Raja Raja Chola II in the 12th
century. This beautiful temple is a stone temple with many carvings and inscriptions. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is worshipped as Airavatesvar. Airavat means white elephant of King Devendra. It is believed that Yama, King of Death, prayed Lord Shiva here and took bath in the sacred tank here and subsequently got rid of his sickness. Since then the tank has been known as Yamateertham.
This ancient temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The main tower is 80 feet in height. There is a big mantap which is in the form of a chariot with large stone wheels and drawn by horses. The pillars in this mantap have intricate carvings. The guide told us that the temple was much larger in size than what we see today. A major part has been destroyed.
The Nandi mandapa and the stambha are found outside of this main temple courtyard. Devi shrine is also outside the main temple.
There are galloping horses with wheels carved behind them also carved on the walls, making the temple look like a chariot. Like all the Chola temples, this temple too has a Shiva figure coming out of the Linga at the rear wall of the temple.
How to reach Airavatesvara Temple
From Kumbakonam it is only 4 kms away.
Nearest Railway station - Kumbakonam (5 kms away)
Nearest Airport - Trichy International Airport which is 99 kms away.
If properly planned, one can visit the other two popular Chola temples - Brihadeeswarar temple and Gangaikonda Chola Temple on the same day or at least in two days.