The Chola Dynasty Splendour
The Cholas were a major dynasty of Southern India who, at the peak of their reign, ruled all of South India and also parts of Eastern India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. The first Chola dynasty, was called the Sangam Cholas and the second Chola dynasty is known as the ‘Imperial Cholas’ or the ‘Medieval Cholas’. This experience will explore the architecture, art and culture during the reign of the latter.
My heritage has been my grounding and it has brought me peace.Maureen O'Hara
- Destination: Tamil Nadu
- Location: Thiruchirappalli/Thanjavur
- Google Map Co-ordinates: 10.8050° N, 78.6856° E
- Nearest City (Airport): Thiruchirappalli
- Nearest City (Railway Station): Thiruchirappalli
- Duration: 3D/2N – 4D/3N
- Dates: On request and Fixed Departures: 10 – 13 Dec, 23 – 26 Dec
- Guide: An experienced subject matter expert will be the guide
- Price: On request
The Cholas were master builders who erected a large number of temples and other mega structures within their empire. One such temple is the Brihadeeshwara Temple of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, one of the three Great Living Chola Temples as declared by UNESCO. Built in 1010 CE by Rajaraja Chola I, this temple was built to represent the Himalayas in the South of India. This temple with its massive size, life-like sculptures and beautifully rendered frescoes is a brilliant example of the building skills of the Cholas along with their aesthetic sensibilities.
Led by a scholar in South Indian art, architecture and history, the trip ‘Mega Structures: The Age of the Cholas’ focuses on the history of the Cholas, some of the most magnificent structures built by them and also their patronage of the arts. We will be visiting all of the three UNESCO sites.
• Visit structures built by the Cholas that range in its antiquity from 2,000 yrs. to 800 yrs., the former exists in an extensively renovated form though.
• Visit all three Great Living Chola Temples as declared by UNESCO and learn about the grand vision of their makers.
• Bronze idol making demonstration which the Cholas were so well known for and which today proudly represents the zenith of Indian art at museums around the world as well as in India.
The trip will be led by a subject matter expert from our panel. Our panel has experts who are historians, archaeologists, authors, architects, art historians, musicologists, naturalists, who are well known experts in their chosen field of work. They have written books, they speak often on national and international platforms, they write extensively in the leading newspapers and journals of the day and are conducting regular research in their field. More than anything they are good storytellers who are very passionate about their work and are only happy to share their knowledge with others.
- Day 1
- Arrive at your hotel in Thiruchirappalli (Trichy) by evening. Meet the trip expert and rest of the group over dinner.
- Day 2 / After Breakfast
- 9.00AM-10.00AM – An introductory lecture by the trip expert on the history of Southern India and specifically the illustrious history of the Chola dynasty. | 10.30AM-12.00PM – Leave for Narthamalai, “Vijayalacholesvara Temple”, the first temple built by the first ruler of the Imperial Chola dynasty (850 CE). Back to the hotel for lunch and then check-out. | 2.30PM – On the way to Thanjavur visit “Kallanai Kalvai”, a stone dam across the Kaveri river, built by Karikala Chola in the 2nd BCE (Sangam period). This is the only structure of the Sangam Cholas to have survived to this day, although extensively renovated in modern times. | 4.00PM – Visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple, the second major temple of the Imperial Cholas (1010 A.D.), built by Rajaraja I. | 7.00PM – check-in to the hotel at Thanjavur. Rest of the evening at leisure. |
- Day 3 / After Breakfast
- 9.00AM – visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple, Rajaraja Chola’s grand masterpiece and one of the three Great Living Chola Temples as declared by UNESCO. | 11.30AM – Gangaikondacholapuram Temple—the third major Imperial Chola temple, built by Rajendra Chola around 1040 A.D. The tongue-twisting name of the town ‘Gangaikondacholapuram’ actually means ‘the city of the Chola who conquered the Ganga’. | 1.00PM – Have lunch at the lawns of the temple. | 2.30PM – After lunch, drive to a little-known archaeological site (1½ km from the temple) that has ruins of a Chola palace, probably built by Rajaraja’s son, Rajendra Chola. | 4.00PM – leave for Darasuram to see the fourth major temple of the Medieval Cholas (1150 CE), the Airavateeshwara Temple. The temple boasts of sculptures similar to those in Borobodur and Prambanan in Indonesia. This was the direct result of the close commercial and cultural contacts between the Imperial Cholas and the Indonesian Archipelago. | 6.30PM – Back to the hotel.
- Day 4 / After Breakfast
- 9.30AM – visit the last important Chola temple, Kampaharesvara Temple, the last major Chola temple built by Kulottunga III, one of the last rulers of the dynasty (1178-1218 CE). The temple, with its crude plastering and sculptures, clearly reflects the decadent stage of the Chola empire. | 11.00AM – After the temple, walk down to see the demonstration of a traditional silk-weaving unit (and shopping for silk sarees and dhotis, if you please!). This has been specially arranged because Tirubhuvanam was a textile centre right from the days of the Cholas. | 12.30PM – Return to the hotel for lunch. | 2.30PM – Demonstration of the traditional bronze icon making, a major craft of the Chola period. | 4.00PM – The trip comes to an end!
- Accommodation – on Twin sharing basis in a 3 star hotel.
- Activities – entrance fees to any monument that requires a ticketed entry, charges for arts/crafts demonstration.
- Services of a professional trip expert who will be a subject matter expert.
- All applicable toll fees, parking charges, etc.
- Food & Beverages: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea.
- Transportation: A vehicle, in keeping with the group size, will be arranged from Day 2 onwards for travel over the next 3 days. If all participants are part of the same group a vehicle can also be arranged from Chennai or Trichy airports/railway stations. At the end of the trip participants will have to arrange their own transport to get to the airport or railway station of choice for their onward journey.
- Any expense that is not mentioned in the Inclusions list above. These will have to be paid at actuals directly by the guests.
- Service Tax.
- Porterage, gratuities, personal expenses, etc.
- Cost: The above costs are valid for a limited period.
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