The Chola Temples were built during the Chola rule in south India. The Chola Temples in Tamil Nadu include the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
In 1987, UNESCO has declared the Brihadisvara Temple as a World Heritage Site. Later, the Temple of Airavatesvara at Darasuram and Gangaikondacholisvaram temple were added as extensions to the site in 2004. The site is now known as the "Great Living Chola Temples".
The Great Living Chola Temples were built by the kings of the Chola Empire. These temples were built all over south India and also in the neighboring islands. There are three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples in this site which includes the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram.
The Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple was built by Rajendra I. The construction of this temple was completed in 1035. The temple includes a 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) that has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, which contrasts with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur.
The Airavatesvara temple complex is built by Rajaraja II. There is a 24-m vimana at Darasuram and a stone image of Shiva which is worth visiting. The carvings and sculpture of the temples give evidence of the achievements of the Chola in the field of painting, sculpture, architecture and bronze casting.