With a temple like the Jagannath Puri in Konark taking inspiration from this spiritually enchanting temple, Airavatesvara in Darasuram town, there is indeed something special about it. This famous temple of Tamilnadu got its name from the legend of Airavata, the white elephant of Lord Indra. Settled near Kumbakonam, not only it is one of the 18 medieval era large Hindu temples but also one of the marvels built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE which finds its place in the Great Living Chola Temples which are rewarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other two temples are Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva which also narrates the Legends of the Bhakti movement saints of Shaivism, Nayanars along with being an artistic representation of Shaktism and Vaishnavism traditions of Hinduism.
Stories Associated with the Temple
On your sightseeing tour to Airavatesvara temple, you will come across an image of Lord Indra seated on his elephant, Airavata. If we go by the legend that this temple is named after then it is believed that Sage Durvasa put a colour changing curse on Airavata, Indra's white elephant which it restored only after taking a bath from the sacred water of this temple. According to another legend, it is said that Yama, the King of Death worshipped Lord Shiva here and took a bath in the sacred tank of this temple after which he was relieved of the burning sensation all over his body which was a curse cast on him by a Rishi. The holy water of this tank is of River Kaveri which is connected via a channel and Hindus from all over the country come here every year for a bath.
This stone carved temple was built by the great Chola ruler, Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE and its finely carved walls and ornamented pillars speak for themselves. Sculpted in the typical Dravidian architectural style, this popular temple of Tamilnadu gets the attention of every traveller for its chariot structure and also for the presence of fine sculptures and carvings. Apart from this, what might attract you on your pilgrimage tour here are the “singing steps” that lead you to the temple which denote and make the sound of the seven swaras (notes) of music. Look close enough and you will find the reliefs throughout the base of the temple which talks about the stories of the Nayanars, the sixty-three Shaiva Bhakti saints.
06:30 AM to 08:30 PM
Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612702
Best Time to Visit
The months of November to February are considered the best time to visit Airavatesvara temple.
How to Reach?
The best way to reach Airavatesvara temple is by road. There are regular buses from Kumbakonam to Darasuram which is a journey covering around 30 km. One can also travel via buses from the major cities of the state like Thanjavur and Salem.
Nearby Tourist Attractions
- Uppiliappan Temple
- Adi Kumbeswarar Temple
- Mahamaham tank