Chola Art and Architecture
The greatest achievements of the Kings of Chola Empire were in the field of Art and Architecture.
The Shiva Temple at Tanjore, built by Rajaraja the Great, is the most magnificent example of the Chola architecture. It is known for its spacious courtyards and massive tower. Its tower rises to a height of 190 feet like a pyramid in thirteen successive stories. Its top is crowned by a single block of stone, 25 feet high and weighing about 80 tones. It is really a matter of great surprise as to how such a heavy piece of stone was taken to such a great height. The whole feat must have required a great technical and engineering skill.
Another beautiful specimen of Chola architecture is provided by the temple which was built by Rajaraja’s son and successor Rajendra I in his new capital, Gangai-Konda Cholapuram. This temple is known for its great size huge “lingam” of solid granite and delicate carvings in stone. These structures of the Cholas were no doubt huge and massive while looking from afar but they were decorated with minute sculptures involving “immense labor and infinite pains.”
The art of sculpture also made a great progress under the Cholas. As discussed above, their temples contain some of the best specimens of carvings and sculptures. The Chola artists also made some of the rare specimens of images and statues of gods and life-like portrait-images of their kings.
The Chola rulers were not only mighty conquerors and great administrators but also great builders. They are still remembered for their vast irrigation schemes, huge embankments and dams, well planned cities and above all for their temples whose towers rise on their base like a pyramid.