The Dravidian architectural style is renowned for its association with the temples of southern India or Deccan, prevalent in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and northern Tamil Nadu.
Characteristics of Dravidian Temple Architecture:
Temples are enclosed within a compound wall, creating a sacred and protected space.
The front wall features an entrance gateway, commonly known as a gopuram, positioned in the center.
The main temple tower, known as vimana, is designed in a stepped pyramid shape, showcasing a geometric rise.
The crowning element at the top of the temple, called shikhara, is often shaped like a small stupika or an octagonal cupola.
Temple complexes frequently include large water reservoirs or temple tanks within their boundaries.
Subsidiary shrines are either integrated within the main temple tower or placed as separate, smaller shrines beside the main structure.
Some temples, such as the Srirangam temple in Tiruchirapally, boast multiple concentric rectangular enclosure walls, each adorned with gopurams.
Contribution of the Chola Dynasty to Temple Architecture:
The Chola Dynasty, ruling over most of South India and neighboring islands, constructed the Great Living Chola Temples, which stand as exceptional examples of their architectural prowess.
Temples evolved into focal points of urban architecture, with Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Madurai, and Kumbakonam becoming renowned temple towns in Tamil Nadu.
The Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, a monumental creation of the Cholas, exemplifies their artistic brilliance and architectural accomplishments.
Other notable examples include the Brihadeshvara temple complex at Gangaikondacholapuram and the Airavatesvara temple complex at Darasuram, showcasing Chola achievements in sculpture, painting, bronze casting, and architecture.
The Chola Dynasty, reaching the pinnacle of its grandeur under Rajaraja I and his successors, left an enduring legacy through their remarkable temple architecture, embodying the concentrated resources and cultural richness of the empire. The temples not only serve as spiritual centers but also stand as testaments to the brilliance of Chola architectural achievements, securing an important place in their history.