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Art & Architecture during Chola Empire

Art & Architecture during Chola Empire

Chola Art


  • Cholas contributed to the growth of both vocal and instrumental music.
  • Instruments such as Kudamula, Vina, Flute were used. Devadasis were expert musicians and singers.


  • Bharatanatyam acquired its basic form under Chola patronage based on rules of Bharatamuni in Natyasastra, a book on dance.


  • Various plays were enacted in the premises of the temples for the saka of entertainment of the people.


  • Paintings on the themes of Puranas were painted on the inner walls of the Raja Rajeswara temple and Gangaikondacholapuram temple and Nataraja temple at Chidambaram.
  • A painting believed to be that of Marco Polo is in the Raj Raja temple (Brihadeeswarar temple) at Tanjore.
  • Lord Shiva in cosmic dance form with celestial dancers is also found on the walls of Gangaikondacholapuram temple.


  • Bronze images of Nataraja (the dancing Shiva) are described as the cultural epitome of Chola period and are the best specimen of Chola art.  Art & Architecture during Chola Empire

Chola Architecture

Chief features of Chola architecture are:

  • Dravidian features initiated by the Pallavas acquired the classical forms and features under the Cholas such as gopurams, mandapams and vimanas.
  • In the beginning, gopuram features was subdued and Vimana feature dominated but in the later stages, gopurams overshadowed the Vimanas.
  • In the beginning, Vimanas were constructed in the cellular mode as in the Raja Rajeshwar temple (Brihadeeswarar temple) at Tanjore where in the Vimana, various storeys were constructed in a graded manner. It had 13 storeys. In the later phase, vimanas began to be constructed in circular concept as in the Nataraj temple at Chidambaram.
  • The Brihadeeswarar temple at Tanjore is surrounded by a rectangular wall protected by 8 vimanas which hosed the 8 keepers of directions called Ashtadikpalas. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known as Dakshimeruvitankar. Art & Architecture during Chola Empire
  • An enormous Nandi which is the second largest in India, carved out of a single block of granite guards the entrance of the sanctuary. The Brihadeeswarar temple at Tanjore is the tallest of all the temples in India in the medieval period.
  • Various public works as cities, roads, irrigation works and artificial tanks were constructed. Rajendra Chola I constructed a city, a water tank and a temple with the same name of Gangaikondacholapuram temple.



Medieval History

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