Gangaikonda Cholapuram  was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra Chola I, the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola, the great Chola who conquered a large area in South India at the beginning of the 11th century C.E. It occupies an important place in the history of India. As the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 C.E. for about 250 years, the city controlled the affairs of entire south India, from the Tungabhadra in the north to Ceylon in the south.

Rajaraja’s  son Rajendra I extended the Chola empire even further. He also made the first victorious campaign of a southern ruler into North India. Holy water was brought back from the river Ganga and a new capital was founded near Thanjavur. It was named Gangaikondacholapuram, the city of the Chola who captured the Ganga.

He followed the example set by his father and made a temple on a vast scale in his new capital. This was also dedicated to Brihadisvara. It is, however, not as tall as the earlier temple. The vimana has an unusual concave shape. Numerous niches made around it house a large number of iconic sculptures. Among the finest is one of Siva conferring grace on Chandesha, a great devotee of his. It has been suggested that this depiction has a hidden meaning, relating to Siva’s blessings to Rajendra I.

The city was founded by Rajendra Chola to commemorate his victory over the Pala Dynasty. The name means The town of the chola who defeated the Pala's. It is now a small village, its past eminence only remembered by the existence of the great Siva Temple




ARDHANARISVARA,(see up)  another form of Shiva seen in BRIHADISVARA TEMPLE, Gangaikondacholapuram.Deities are the personifications of qualities and ideas. The Ardhanarisvara representation of Siva combines his male and female aspects(here I funded what you seek yesterday ,my sweet Danielle!!!).

The Ardhanarishwar form of Lord Shiva represents both duality of divine energy, with its one half having masculine characters and the other being that of an ornamental female. Inside the sanctum sanctorum is a four meter high Shiva Lingam. Surrounding the sanctum are two walls, which were meant to provide a private worship area to the royal family