Airavatesvara temple illuminated

What is Special About Airavatesvara Temple

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Airavatesvara Temple is renowned for its outstanding architectural beauty. Also, the temple is a part of the Great Living Chola temples group and UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple is under the care of Archeological Survey of India and is undergoing renovation. Read on to know the reasons why you should make a visit to this marvel.

Chola Architecture

Airavatesvara Temple was built in the 12th century during the period of Rajaraja Chola. Consequently, it is a magnificent example of Chola architecture. The temple design resemble a chariot in which the deities are taken around in South India. The vimana tower of Airavatesvara temple has a height of 79 feet. This contains the sanctum sanctorum (Garba Griha) which is connected to various Mandapas with decorated roofs supported by beautifully carved pillars.

Singing steps

Another unique and fascinating aspect special about Airavatesvara temple is a small stair with steps leading to the Bali Peedam. These steps are said to be sculptured in such a way that they produce musical notes when walked upon or tapped.

Frescos and sculptures

Airavatesvara Temple is abundant with sculptures and carvings that depict mythological stories and aspects of life during the Chola period. These frescos and sculptures have amazing detail and artistry. You can also find micro carvings of very small idols on the walls and pillars inside the temple, which are perfect examples of the skill of the artisans of that era.

Why it is called Airavateshwara Temple

According to the legend, Airavata, the elephant vahana of Indira, lost it’s white colour due to a curse by Sage Durvasav for disrespecting him. To mitigate this curse, Airavata came to this place and prayed to Lord Shiva. Airavata was advised by Lord Shiva to take a dip in the temple tank. As a result of this, the curse was cleared and Airavata got its pristine white color back. Because of this, the deity of this temple is called Airavatesvara, the God of Airavata. Another aspect which makes Airavatesvara temple special is that the devotees believe that a dip in the temple tank can cleanse their sins.

Elephant columns and carvings

Another thing which is special about Airavatesvara Temple is the mandapam hall with numerous stone columns and steps on which which beautiful elephant shapes are etched into. This elephants on the columns are meticulously and intricately carved sculptures. These might have been carved as a tribute to the devine Airavata elephant.

Living Temple

From the day the temple was constructed and sanctified, daily rituals, and festivals have been conducted here till date. This makes it probably one of the oldest living Hindu temples.


In addition to above factors special to Airavatesvara temple, the cultural and historical significance of the temple and its unique and outstanding features attract many visitors from all over the world. Being one of the old lord Shiva temple in the region it attracts several devotees also.


When you are visiting the temple, please avail the services of an official guide of the Archaeological Survey of India. These guides are available near the entrance of the temple. They will help you understand in detail about the marvelous architecture and various aspects of the temple. It is also advisable to visit the temple in the evening so that you can enjoy the beautiful illumination after sunset.

How to Reach

Airavateshwara Temple is located in the small town of Dharasuram near Kumbakonam City in Tamilnadu India. Kumbamkonam easily accessible by road rail and air. Kumbakonam is 282 km from Chennai and takes around 7 hours by road. Kumbakonam also has direct rail services from various cities in Tamilnadu. The nearest airport is at Tiruchirappalli which is at a distance of 104 km. Airavatheshwara Temple is at a distance of 4 km from Kumbakonam Town Centre.

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