Airavateswara Temple | History, Things To Do & Timings

In Darasuram near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, Airavateswara Temple is a revered Hindu and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Airavateswara Temple timings are from 06:00 am to 08:00 pm.

Temple Overview

The Airavateswara Temple was built in the 12th century CE by the Chola king Rajaraja Chola II as part of the famous trio known as the Great Living Chola Temples and the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur and the Gangaikondacholeswara Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Presided over by the Hindu god Shiva, this temple is one of the eighteen medieval Hindu temples in the Kumbakonam region. The shrine displays the Vaishnava and Shakti legs of Hinduism and the traditional Nayanars- the holy saints of Shaivism.

History of Airavateswara Temple

Built-in the Ratha architecture and built of stone, the temple has small shrines dedicated to several Vedic and Puranic deities like Indra, Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Brahma, Surya, Vishnu, Saptamatrikas, Durga, Saraswati, Sri Devi (Lakshmi), Ganga. , Yamuna, Subrahmanya, Ganesha, Kama, Rati and others. 

There is a small shrine to the consort of Lord Shiva on the north side of the temple premises known as Periya Nayaki Amman. Recently, some temples have fallen into complete disrepair, leaving the gopurams in ruins. 

However, the main shrine and associated sanctums are still intact. The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and devotees annually, especially during Magha, for many special pujas.

Legend of Airavateswara Temple

The most prominent legend associated with this temple is that Airavat, the white elephant of Indra, worshipped Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Sage Durvasa was cursed for disrespecting the Airavat monk. 

Airavateswara Temple

The curse went on to discolour the elephant’s pearly white skin. Airavat regained her colour by bathing in the water tank of this Shiva temple. That is how this temple got its name. 

There is still a water tank here, and pilgrims believe that taking a shrine dip in its waters will wash away their sins. This story had also carved in stone in the inner chambers of the shrine.

History of Airavateswara Temple

The Airavateswara Temple had built by the Chola King Rajaraja II between 1146 – 1172 CE during the Chola Empire. Ayrattali was the Cholas’ second capital and part of the Darasuram city complex. 

The king patronised Tamil art and architecture and built many new temples and monuments during his reign. This temple was huge in ancient times.

The existing temple inscriptions reveal that this temple has seven streets and seven courts, just like the Srirangam temple. All significant structures are damaged and destroyed; Only the court, where the main shrine locates, will stay. 

The gopurams are also in ruins. However, the cause of this destruction is unclear. The temples came under later Hindu kings who restored and repaired them.

Construction of Airavateswara Temple

The Airavateswara temple is one of the four temples built entirely on stone planes by the Cholas. The complex had built on a square plan; Nandi Mandapam and Stampa are located outside the shrine and aligned with the temple’s east-west axis. 

The sanctum sanctorum has thick walls, and the Vimana superstructure is suitable in the middle. But the circumambulation path builds around something other than the sanctum sanctorum, like other temples, but around the outer courtyard.

The shrine has solid pillars with elaborate carvings on them. On the temple’s east side is a chariot-shaped structure called Rajagambhiran-thiru-mandapam, after the king. The rooms are decorated with stone horses and wheels, richly carved and decorated. 

This ratha mandapam has an intricately carved staircase leading from east to west. They believed in producing pleasant music when they walked on. That is why they are called ‘singing steps’.

Facts and Trivia about Airavateswara Temple

  • This temple, the Brihadeeswara Temple and the Gangaikondacholeswaram Temple, are collectively known as the Great Living Chola Temples.
  • The Mandir is in the form of a chariot.
  • It contains 108 inscriptions about the life and principles of Saivite saints.
  • There are records that the temple restores by the ruler Kulothunga Chola.
  • It also has sculptures of 108 Devara Otuvars and statues of various river deities.
  • Balipitha, a seat for sacrifice, is adjacent to Ganesh’s shrine.
  • It had believed that Yama bathed in the adjacent water body to eliminate his curse. Hence the tank is called Yamatirtha.

Timings of Airavateswara Temple

Visiting Time: 6 am to 8 pm (Daily).

Monday6 am to 8 pm
Tuesday6 am to 8 pm
Wednesday6 am to 8 pm
Thursday6 am to 8 pm
Friday6 am to 8 pm
Saturday6 am to 8 pm
Sunday6 am to 8 pm

Entrance Fee: No entry fee for this place of worship

Things to do at Airavateswara Temple

  • Marvel at the magnificent architecture of this quiet temple with its inscriptions and carvings around the courtyard.
  • A rough background provides a certain brightness that makes it perfect for experimenting with photography.
  • Visit various shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Periya Nayagi Ammal and Lord Ganesha.
  • Also, see the sculpture of Indra seated on his vehicle Airavatam.
  • Visit the nearby town of Kumbakonam, which boasts history and architecture.
  • Try the local cuisine at the eateries, and take advantage of the famous Kumbakonam degree coffee for which the region is widely known.
  • A small museum attached to the temple should explore.
  • Shop at the local markets to collect some souvenirs from the trip.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Kumbhakonam City is during the winter months, from November to February. The summers of this place are typical for this region and are hot and humid. Winter is when both heat and humidity are at an all-time low, leading to warm and pleasant weather for touring around the city. The temple left in the morning and evening for a good visit.

Nearby Attractions at Airavateswara Temple

This mesmerising spot, filled with history and breathtaking architecture, is a lesser-known but worthwhile place for history buffs and architectural enthusiasts to spend time in. Devotees should undoubtedly visit this serene temple, which stands tall in all its grandeur within a splendid background.

Nearby Restaurants

  • Singh Bakery
  • Saravana bakery
  • Murari Sweets
  • Chennai Restaurant


Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Dharasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612702

How to reach?

By Air:

Tiruchirapalli International Airport is the nearest airport which is 87 km away.

By Train:

Kumbakonam Railway Station is the nearest Railway head which is 5 km away.

By Road:

Kumbakonam Bus Stand is the nearest Bus Stand, 5 km away, and direct buses and many private Vehicles are readily available to the temple.


Who built the Airavateswara temple?

The Airavateswara Temple is a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture in Darasuram near Kumbakonam in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Rajaraja Chola II built the Mandir as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 12th century CE. 

How old is Airavateswara Temple?

The Mandir dates back to the 12th century CE and had built by the famous Chola king Rajaraja Chola II. 

Airavateswara temple had located in which state?

Tamil Nadu State

When was Airavateswara temple?

The Airavateswara Temple at Thanjavur had built by the Chola King Rajaraja II (1143-1173 CE.): It is much smaller than the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram.