This district houses many monuments and temples that were constructed by the Cholas. The Siva temple in the Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Kallankurichi Kaliyaperumal temple are the most important ones.
The Cholas were the super power in Southern part of India in the later centuries of the first millennium and a couple of earlier centuries in the second millennium. The great Rajaraja Chola I (985 AD to 1014 AD) was the most successful ruler in their dynasty. He expanded their limits far from Ceylon in south towards the Ganges in the north and north-east. To commemorate this victory, the Rajendra Chola I, son of Rajaraja Chola I, built a new city in this district and named it as Gaingaikonda Cholapuram, which means the city of Cholas who defeated the Ganges. They shifted their capital from Thanjavur to this new city from then. He selected this place to honour a large number of brave warriors from this place, who assisted the Cholas in their invasions.
Almost all the symbols of the Cholas were ruined by the Chera-Pandya invasion later. There is a Siva temple still exists in this place as a silent spectator of all these historical events. The Brihadeeswara (Siva Temple) is one of the protected monuments declared by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is believed to be built by Rajendra Chola I at the same time he shifted their capital here. It is assumed that they took three decades to completely build the temple.
The architecture of the temple is so similar to the Big Temple in Thanjavur that it looks like a miniature of the Thanjavur temple. It is worth mentioning that the sivalinga in Gagaikonda Cholapuram temple is bigger than the one in the Thanjavur temple.
We should bow our heads before them who constructed the tons heavy dome at the top of the main temple without even cranes. The idol of navagraha (nine planets, as per the Hindu mythology), is carved on a single stone, which is different from other temples. Another architectural excellence to mention about this temple is that the idol of Nandi placed in front of the main temple is positioned in such a way that the sunlight gets reflected on the forehead falls on the sivalinga inside the main temple at any point of time in the day. This temple also has a rare idol of goddess Durga with 20 hands.
The temple still has all the elegance since the carvings shows no sign of wear and tear against wind, water and other atmospheric elements over a millennium. Also thanks to the temple management for keeping the holiness of the temple without fault.
Anakarai is a neighbouring place of Jayankondam at about 20 km in the Kumbakonam-Chennai State Highway. It is an island developed in the Cauvery river basin, known as Kollidam River. It is connected with the mainland with two regulator-cum-bridges. This century-old regulator irrigates most of the parts of this and neighbouring districts. The other one is now very weak and restricted for heavy vehicles. A new bridge proposed at this place is waiting for its green flag.
Nearly 2000 families reside in this island. The main source of income of these families is agriculture and fishing. This place is very famous for its rich source of fresh water fishes.
Another major attraction in Anakarai is the Villi Andavar temple in the western bank of the river. The Cholas built this temple in the west side of the island during their rule.
Crocodile which lives in the river along with their respective families are very dangerous and silent by nature
Sri Kaliuga Varatharaja Perumaal Temple
The Sri Kaliyaperumal temple is one of the important temples in Ariyalur, which is about 5 km away from Ariyalur town. The Car festival conducted in this temple during March-April every year is well known and attracts devotees from various places. Saturdays in the month of Purattasi (September-October) are special days for this temple. Special devotional activities like poojas and abhishekams are conducted during these Saturdays.
Elakurichi Adaikala Matha Shrine
This is a beautiful shrine of Our Lady of Refuge in the Elakurichi town of Ariyalur district. This shrine was built by one of the Christian Missionaries, Father Joseph Beschi in early years of 18th century. He was popularly known among the people in this place as Veera Mamunivar. In 1785, the then king of Ariyalur donated 175 acres of land for this shrine. Now about 40 acres are still under the possession of the shrine. The shrine was renovated in the year 1984 and was declared as an important tourist spot in Tamil Nadu by the state government in 2001. Since then, the place Elakurichi is known as Thirukkavalur. The second and third Sundays after the Easter are the most important days for visiting this shrine.
Vettakudi – Karaivetti Lake
Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary situated in Ariyalur District (Vettakudi) located just 35km from north of thanjavur and 65km from Tirchy. Water birds are mostly attracted by the karaivetti sanctuary after the Pt. Calimere Sanctuary in Tamilnadu.The total area cover by sanctuary comes close to 454 Hectare.
By November of every calender year the Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary becomes center of attraction when 2.5 lakhs birds arrive in sanctuary Nearly 50 types of resident and migratory water birds visit the seasonal lake. Important participants include the highflying Barheaded Goose, Ibis, Whitenecked stork, Spoonbill, Shoveller, Rosy and Grey Pelican, etc. Another important aspect of this sanctuary is the presence of water till the month of May as other water bodies dry up by the month of March, this sanctuary offers home to the water birds till May end.
Wildlife viewing :- The best time to visit the sanctuary is in February and November , but it remains open throughtout the year
Entry Fee : – Its abolsutly free for every visitors and accomodations are very much available in tamilnadu guest house and also in private hotels in thanjavur.
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