India: in search of the ancient Chola dynasty

“Gangaikondacholapuram may be a small village today, but it was from here that the Chola tribe once ruled almost all of Southeast Asia,” he said.

This film also inspired the creation of a “Ponniyin Selvan” track.. This three-day tour, developed by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation, takes visitors from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, to various highlights of Chola history such as Brihadisvara Templein Thanjavur, or Veeranam Lake.

Travelers who want to forge their own path can take an hour's drive southwest from Gangaikondacholapuram to the remote village of Swamimalai. There, bronze casting is thousands of years old that the Cholas had would enable them to get an idea of ​​how utsava murtis in bronze (portable idol) blessing lost wax techniquea process perfected and popularized by the Cholas.

“You are bound to find at least one or two of these chola bronzes in renowned international museums such as Metropolitan Museum of Art from New York andAshmolean Museum from Oxford,” said S. Vijay Kumar who, as part ofIndian Pride Projectis the head of a team of internet detectives whose goal is to repatriate stolen artifacts.

Rich in fine murals depicting epic tales, beautifully carved granite statues, or even spiers and towers soaring into the sky (some of which are still among the tallest in India today), the 11th temples.e and 12e centuries grouped under the name “Great Living Chola Temples” offer a unique perspective on the evolution of Chola art and architecture over the centuries.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, the giant Brihadisvara temple in Thanjavur, Airavatesvara temple in Dharasuram, and Gangaikondacholisvaram in Gangaikondacholapuram remain active places of worship where people practice the same rituals for thousands of years.

A short walk from the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur, tourists can visit the workshop housing India's national instrument, the Vina from Sarasvatiwhich takes its name from the goddess of learning, arts and wisdom and is her descendant yeahan ancient harp-like instrument discovered during the Chola Dynasty.

For Vijay Kumar, these experiences are just the tip of the iceberg.

“Chola naval skills are a surprisingly neglected area of ​​study, while it cannot be denied that southern Indians, and particularly the Tamils, were pioneers of navigation for a much longer period,” he notes. Excavations in Malaysia, Indonesia and even Burma may have many other surprises for us. »

Serena Hoyles

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