Brihadeeshwarar Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram
Shiva and Parvati sculpture at Brihadeeshwarar Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram
About this sculpture
Siva seated on a throne with four arms carries axe and antelope in his upper arms; towards the bottom the Lord is seen crowning Chandesa with a garland of flowers, a symbol of affection and stewardship. Chandesa is seen seated in front and with folded arms receiving the pride of place bestowed on him by his Lord. Chandesa is the embodiment of devotion and piety and the place he attained is considered the highest, a devotee of Siva is privileged with. It is called the Chandisa padam, the abode of deliverance. According to Saiva Siddhanta Siva bestows this grace, in the company of Sakti, His consort. In the sculpture under reference, Parvati or Uma Parameswari as she is often described, is seated by the side of Her Lord. The treatment of ornaments, the portrayal of limbs and affection with which Siva is seen taking the garland around the head of Chandesa are suggestive and truly convey the supreme message of Saiva Siddhanta, the image seeks to depict. In the figure of Chandesa, Rajendra Chola has carved his own image. Sri C. Sivaramurti in his work 'the Chola temples' states that "The most remarkable carving here, the Chandesanugrahamurti panel, is almost a suggestion of the laurels won by Rajendra through the grace of Siva and he humbly presents himself as a devotee of Lord, who blessed Chandesa".
On the side walls is shown the story of Chandesa; Chandesa worshipping Siva as a Linga; the cows standing by the side; his father watching the happenings hiding himself behind the branches of a tree; disturbing Chandesa's worship; purturbed Chandesa throwing his axe at his father and Siva bestowing grace on both.
About the temple
Rajendra Chola-I (1012-1044 A.D) son of the Great Rajaraja-I, established this temple after his great victorious march to river Ganges on Northern India.
This is one of the outstanding monuments built by the Chola kings. Although most of the features of this temple resemble the one at Thanjavur, there were significant innovations and artistic granite carvings. The temple stands in the middle of a rectangular enclosure entered from the east through a gateway, now in ruins. During the British rule of India, the British engineers removed the stone slabs for construction of dams. So very little structure remains of the eastern gopura. Like the Thanjavur temple the sanctuary is elevated on a molded basement. The main gopura is 9 tiers high and is slightly concave in profile. Numerous sculptures, some restored are carved on the walls beneath the parapets. The sculpture panels around the main shrine represent the thumbnail pictures shown on the left side. They are arranged in clockwise direction starting from the door next to the Kailasanatha shrine.
Note: Information extracted from multiple sources. For a detailed account of the history and architecture of the temple visit this website