(Video) Indian Art & Culture in English : Chola Art and Architecture

Indian Art and Culture in English Medium

(Video) Indian Art & Culture in English : Chola Art and Architecture

The Chola Dynasty was one of the greatest dynasties in the southern Indian part. They defeated the Pallavas to come into power. Their dynasty originated in the fertile valley of River Kaveri.

The Cholas had conquered parts of Gujarat, Malwa, Deccan and Indonesia, Lakshadweep, Maldives and Sri Lanka. This expansion of their kingdom only happened because of their amazing and impressive naval power. They had dominance over the Bay of Bengal and named it as Chola Lake. All of this was because of their powerful navy.

The entire coast from Kanyakumari to Bengal was named as Cholamandalam.

Under the Cholas, the Tamil country reached new heights of excellence in art, religion and literature. In all of these spheres, the Chola period marked the culmination of movements that had begun in an earlier age under the Pallavas. Monumental architecture in the form of temples and sculpture in stone and bronze reached a finesse never before achieved in India.

The society and culture saw great developments during the reign of Cholas. Also, during this period Temples were the epicentre of all the social and religious gatherings. Temples and mutts were the centres of learning as well.

Several Gods and goddesses were worshipped .Among these Shiva was the popular source of strength for the faithful ones. Quite a lot of Shiva temples were built along the banks of river Kaveri.

The Cholas continued with the temple building tradition of the Pallavas. The Pallavas majorly used bricks, lion motifs, and gopurams. But the Cholas shifted to using bricks instead of stones. They also contributed a lot to the Dravidian style Temple designs. The Dravidian style of art and architecture reached its perfection under the leadership of Cholas. Numerous temples were built throughout their kingdom.

The magnificent Siva temple of Thanjavur, is a fitting memorial to the material achievements of the time of Raja raja. The largest and tallest of all Indian temples of its time, it is at the apex of South Indian architecture.

The temple of Gangaikondcholapuram, the creation of Rajendra Chola, was intended to exceed its predecessor in every way.

The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes. Among the existing specimens in museums around the world and in the temples of South India may be seen many fine figures of Siva in various forms, such as Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, and the Siva saints. The Bronze sculpture of Nataraja is very important and famous sculptures from this period.

The temples of this time had dvarapalas or guardian figures at the entrance to the mandapa (hall).

Basically, the temple building activity during the Chola period can be divided into two stages. Early Chola Temples and Later Chola Temple.

The early Chola temples were not large. They were known for their simplicity. The purpose of the temple was to transport the onlooker to the world of gentleness which can be found within. Some of the important early Chola temples are-

Vijayalaya Cholisvara Temple: This temple was built by Vijayalaya Chola. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, facing towards west. One of the hands of Lord Shiva displays the gesture of vismaya or wonder.

Brahmapurisvara temple: This temple is located at Pullamangai. The temple represents a tradition which develops further in later Chola temples. The deities are carved in niches on the walls and attendant figures are made in adjoining niches. Every part of the temple wall has dressed stones. A favourite motif in Indian art, from north to south, is seen here: a human figure riding on a vyala or leograph.

Koranganatha Temple: This famous Chola temple is located at Srinivasanallur.

The later Chola Temples

By the beginning of the 11th century, large temples were built, owing to royal patronage, which had already been seen during the Pallava period.

Raja raja Chola, completed the Brihadeeswara Temple. It is dedicated to ‘the Great Lord Siva’. The temple is 5 times the size of previous Chola temples and its ‘Vimana’ stands 216 feet tall. Its stupi, or crowning element, weighs 80 tonnes.

In this temple, Shiva is represented on the walls in many forms such as Bhairava, Ardhanarishvara, Nataraja, Lingodbhava and Harihara.

The temple walls also depict Sarasvati, Gajalakshmi, Durga, Vishnu and Ganesha.

The temple is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site among the “Great Living Chola Temples”.

The other two among these temples are the Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.

One of the important features of the Chola temples were the importance given to the decoration with the help of sculptures. The Chola Temples had the Dvarapalas or guardian figures at the entrance to the Mandapa (hall). Ganas were the most memorable figures made in the temples. The main feature of the Chola temple is the Vimana.

Chola temples had beautiful shikhara stone at the top. It had elaborate and carefully made carvings.

Pilasters - These magnificent architectural designs are carved as projection in walls with placing of deities within it. The pilasters are positioned in both sides of the main devakusthas.

Kumbhapapanjara and kushtapan - these are narrow niches in Chola temple walls with special design for placing sculpted images.

Kudus - These are two lion heads which crowns the curved roof of the pilasters.

Torus - It is a rounded structure placed on the basement of temple sculpture or motif sometimes decorated with ribs.

Yazhi - The base of the walls of Chola temples are decorated with lines of mythical animals called Yazhi.

Mandapa features - Arthamandapa, Nandi mandapa with special decoration are characteristics of Chola temple architecture.

Inscription - The walls of Chola temples are seen with inscriptions with architectural design.

Gopurams become meaningful- In the Chola period simple gopurams evolved into more exquisite and well composed structures with carvings.

Elaborate pyramidal storeys: Pyramidal storey about the deity room depicts the maturity and grandeur Cholas brought in the temple architecture. The

Shiva temple of Thanjavur depicts the material achievement of the Chola Temple.

Monolith shikhara: The Chola temples have evolved beautiful shikhara at the top with elaborate meticulous carving. Octagonal shikhara of Gangaikondcholapuram temple.

Dvarapalas became permanent: The guardian figures (dvarapalas), at the entrance to the mandapa, or hall which started from the Pallava period, became a unique feature of the Chola temples.

Polished sculptures: During this period the architectural development reached its zenith. The temples were decorated with artistic stone pillars and wall decoration. Emphasis was on elongated limbs and polished features. Example: Carvings of the wheel chariot in Airavatesvara Temple are so fine that all the minute details are visible.