Chidambaram, Thanjavur and Kumabakonam – The Chola heritage towns

Chidambaram, Thanjavur and Kumabakonam – The Chola heritage towns

Built by the Chola dynasty between the 11th to 12thcentury CE, the heritage towns of Chidambaram, Thanjavur, and Kumabakonam in today’s Indian state of Tamil Nadu are home to some of most ancient temples in South India. A visit to these heritage towns is a must for travellers, who want to see Dravidian architecture at its best.

This article lists the must-visit temples in each of these heritage towns.


Located around 230 kms to the south of Chennai, the ancient town of Chidambaram is famous for its ThillaiNataraja temple and the annual chariot festival held in December to January. Located in an area of 40 acres, the Nataraja temple is dedicated to Lord Nataraja and is known for its unique Panchaboothasthala, depicting Lord Shiva in idol form rather than the traditional lingam. The northern tower of the temple rises to a height of 42.4 metres, with the roof covered with gold plates.

Another famous temple is the GangaikondaCholapuram temple, located 50 kms from Chidambaram. Built by the RajendraChola and completed in the year 1035, this temple campus covers an area of 6 acres and was built using granite rocks.


Known as the temple town, Kumbakonam rose to prominence during the 7th to 9th century AD when it became the capital town of the medieval Chola dynasty. Located around 273 kms from Chennai, this ancient town has around 188 Hindu temples within the city limits. Famous temples in Kumbakonam include the AdiKumeswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and built during the Chola rule in the 9th century. The temple is also famous as the 26thPaadal Petra Sthalam of the Chola kingdom that spread to the south of the River Cauvery.

Other noteworthy temples in Kumbakonam include the Ramaswamy temple and the Sarangapani temple. On the outskirts of Kumbakonam is the Airavateshwar temple in Darasuram, which was built by Raja RajaChola II. The highlight of this temple is its frontmandapa built in the shape of a large chariot with stone wheels.


Located around 346 kms from Chennai city, Thanjavur has been ruled by several dynasties including the Cholas, Pandyas, and the Thanjavur Marathas. This historical city is most famous for its Brihadisvara temple, which is among the largest temples in South India. Built by Raja RajaChola I in the years 1003 and 1010 AD, this historic temple is situated in a temple complex covering 33,000 sq.ftarea. Some of its notable attractions include the 12-foot high Nandi mandapa, the 13-tier mandapa above the temple, and a massive 80-ton vimana.

Hire a rental car from Savaari

Thanks to good road connectivity, one can easily plan and visit these Chola heritage towns by booking a cab service in Chennai. Savaari offers the best of Chennai car rental services by providing a variety of cabs driven by trained and experienced chauffeurs. Along with prepaid booking services to avoid last-minute travel hassles, Savaari offers a variety of rental vehicles including Indica, Sedan and Innova to its customers.

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