Back view of the ruined entrance gopura of the Brihadishvara Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the ruined entrance gopura of the Brihadishvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram, taken by Alexander Rea around 1892. The great Brihadishvara temple at Gangaikondacholapuram was erected by the Chola emperor Rajendra to rival the homonymous temple at Thanjavur constructed by his predecessor Rajaraja I. The temple is situated in a large courtyard entered through a gopura and consists of a square sanctuary surrounded by a circumambulatory passageway. Two halls or mandapas precede the shrine and are approched by two flights of steps. Two large figures of dvara-palas or guardians guard the entrance. The outer walls are decorated with fine Chola sculptures representing various aspects of Shiva and have double pilasters elevated on a moulded basement. The sanctuary is covered by a nine-storey tower. In the temple enclosure there are two subsidiary shrines dedicated to Kailasanatha.