Top Tourist Attractions in Ariyalur
Ariyalur is the district capital of the Ariyalur district in Tamil Nadu, and it is rich in limestone, with seven cement plants and two sugar mills surrounding it. The town is around 310 kilometres from Chennai, the state capital.
Ariyalur is best known for the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple in Gangaikondacholapuram, the biggest temple constructed during the reign of Rajendra–I
Best Places to Visit in Ariyalur
- KARAIVETTI BIRD SANCTUARY
- GANGAIKONDA CHOLAPURAM
- MELAPALUVUR & KEEZHAIYUR
- Meenatchi Sundareswarar Koil – Melapalur
- Pair of Temples – Keezhaiyur
- Vaithiyanaatha Swami Thirukkoyil – Thirumazhapadi
- Statues in Vaithiyanaatha Swami Thirukkoyil -Thirumazhapadi
- Karkodeshwarar Thirukkoyil – Kamarasavalli
- Buddha Statues – Vikkiramangalam
- SENDURAI, SENNIVANAM AND SRIPURANDAN
- GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM, GANGAIKONDACHOLISVARAR TEMPLE
- Sculpture – Kangaikonda Cholapuram
- ARIYALUR – KODANDARMASWAMY KOVIL
- VETTAKUDI – KARAIVETTI BIRD SANCTUARY
- Elakkurichi Temple
KARAIVETTI BIRD SANCTUARY
As per Government Order No.219 E&F (FR.VI) Dept dt. 10.06.1997, the Karaivetti Birds Sanctuary with an area of 453.71 hectares has been notified under section 18(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The sanctuary is essentially an irrigation tank that gets water from the Mettur dam beginning in September and is augmented by the northeast monsoons from October to January. The sanctuary is one of Tamil Nadu’s most significant fresh water feeding grounds for migrating water birds. It is one of the largest tanks in the state and boasts the highest gathering of water birds of any tank in the state. Water birds make up 82 of the 188 bird species reported in the sanctuary. The endangered Bar Headed Goose is one of the tank’s most significant visitors. The ideal months to visit the refuge for bird viewing are October through March.
Ariyalur is mainly known for the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple at Gangaikondacholapuram, the largest temple built during Rajendra–reign I’s in the Ariyalur area. In memory of his conquest of the Gangetic plains in A.D. 1023, Rajendra–I erected a large city named Gangaikondacholapauram, as well as a Siva temple called Gangaikondacholisvarar and a lake called Chola Gangam. The location, the temple, and the lake (Chola Gangam) are live representations of the Tamils’ valour in raising the Chola’s Tiger banner on the banks of the Ganges. He also relocated his capital from Thanjavur to this freshly constructed town. From his reign till the end of the Chola family’s power in A.D.1279, this city served as the Chola Empire’s capital for 256 years. The massive stone temple he erected in this location is a treasure trove of exquisite sculptures from the middle Chola era.
This city is mentioned in the works of Muvar ula of Ottakuttar and Kalingattuparani of Jayankondar. The Ariyalur district is rich in historically significant sites and temples.
MELAPALUVUR & KEEZHAIYUR
This settlement was once known as Mannuperumpaluvur, Periyapaluvur, and Melaipaluvur. It was the capital of the Paluvettaraiyar Chiefs, who dominated the Ariyalur district as feudatories of the Chola Kings from Aditya I to Rajendra Chola I. Among the prominent Kings of this line were Paluvettaraiyar Kumaran Kandan, Kumaran Maravan, Kandan Amudan, and Maravan Kandan. The Sundaresvarar temple in this location goes back to Aditya Chola – I’s reign. Pagaividai Isvaram was its name.
The eastern half of this village is known as Kilaiyur, and it was known as Avani Kandarvapuram during the Chola dynasty. It was a trading town with nomadic trade guilds. The Avani Gandarva Isvaram Siva temple in Kilaiyur was established in A.D. 884 during the 13th year of Aditya –I by Paluvettaraiyar chief Kumaran Kandan. This temple is one of the finest stone temples and one of the best preserved early Chola temples, featuring a variety of architectural styles and attractive sculptures. The Paluvettaraiyar family established marriage connections with the Chola Kings. Parantaka Chola married Arumolinangai, the daughter of Paluvettaraiyar Chief Kumaran Maravan, and to this princess was born the Chola King Arinjaya Chola. Uttamachola (970-986) married a princess from this lineage as well. Panchavanmadevi, Rajaraja–wife, I’s was from Avani Kandarvapuram. The Chola Kings appear to have possessed a mint at their capital.
This location was a component of the Paluvettaraiyar capital. Sirupaluvur, a Brahmadeya hamlet in Kunra Kurram, was the name. Thirugnanasambandar performed poems to the Alanduraiyar shrine here in the 7th century A.D. It is stated that the Sage Parasurama conducted penance here and atoned for his crimes of murdering his mother. During the reign of Saint Sambandar, the Malayali Brahmins worshipped at this shrine. It was constructed of stone during the reigns of Parantaka Chola – I and Uttama Chola.
This location has a long history dating back to the Sangam Period. It was the heroic Malavar’s army camp. Malavar-padi, a Sangam Age clan, was afterwards known as Thirumalapadi. The Devaram Nayanmars, Appar, Sambandar, and Sundarar, worshipped and sang at the Vaidyanatha Swami Siva temple at this location. It was also visited by Ayyadigal Kadavarkon, who lauded it in his Shetravenba hymns. This saint has been linked to Pallava monarch Simhavarman (540-558), Mahendra Varman Pallava’s grandfather (598-630). It is said that the Deity of this location appeared in Saint Sundarar’s dream and urged him to come here and thank Him, therefore the saint came here and sang peons in one of his renowned Devaram hymns, ‘Ponnar meniyane.’
Statues in Vaithiyanaatha Swami Thirukkoyil -Thirumazhapadi
During the Aditya–I era, the Siva temple was erected of stone (871-907). Rajaraja–I ordered its reconstruction, which was finished by his son Rajendra–I. In A.D. 1235-36, the Hoysala ruler Viranarasimha rebuilt it once more. The Queens of Aditya–I, Rajaraja–I, and Rajendra–I presented the shrine with lands and decorations. The first and second gopuras of this temple were erected during the Pandya and Chola dynasties, respectively. The marriage of Nandi is the most prominent celebration observed in this Temple (nandi kalyanam). It is a widely held notion in this area that seeing the marriage celebration of Nandi Devar can help people overcome obstacles to marriage.
Karkodeshwarar Thirukkoyil – Kamarasavalli
The Soundaresvarar temple in this hamlet, dedicated to the goddess Valambal, was established in A.D. 962 during the reign of Sundra Chola. According to local legend, it was here that Rathi performed penance and reclaimed her husband Manmatha, thus the village name Kama-rathi-valli. This settlement is located to the east of Alagiyamanavalam. It is said to have been called after Rathi’s gorgeous spouse, Alagiyamanavalan (beautiful husband-manmathan.) This temple also has a stunning bronze figure of Rathi. Another legend perpetuated in this temple is that Karkotaka, the snake King, was freed from his curse by worshipping Lord Siva in this hamlet, and so the temple’s God is known as Karkodaka Isvaram. This temple also has a stone with figurines illustrating this storey.
This temple contains around 40 inscriptions from the Chola, Pandya, and Hoysala dynasties. Tirunallur Srikovil Mahadevar, Tirunallurparamesvarar, and Tirukkarkotaga Isvarattu Mahadevar are the names given to this temple in inscriptions. This settlement is referred to the inscriptions as Kamadavallichaturvedi Mangalam a brahmadeya in Mirai kurram. This temple contains exquisite Chola era sculptures and bronzes.
Govindaputtur, a hamlet in the taluk of Udaiyarpalayam, is situated on the northern bank of the Kollidam River. The Siva temple in this hamlet is known as Ganga Jadadisvarar, and Saint Appar and Sambandar, who lived during Mahendravarma Pallava’s reign, lauded the temple’s Deity in their Devaram songs. According to their songs, Parthan (Vijayan, son of Mahabharatha King Pandu) worshipped Siva at this location and received a blessing from the God.
The heavenly cow (kamadenu) also worshipped the God at this location by spilling its milk over the Sivalinga, and so the location was named ko–karanda – puttur, which eventually became Govindaputtur. On the temple’s walls are inscriptions of Chola, Pandya, and Vijanagar rulers. The current temple was erected of stone in A.D.980 during the reign of Uttamachola (970-986) by his officer Ambalavan Paluvur Nakkan, a Kuvalalapuram local (modern Kolar in Karnataka). Beautiful sculptures and bronzes from the early Chola period have been preserved at the temple. This location is known as Vijayamangalam, a Brahmadeya hamlet in Sri Parantakachaturvedimangalam, according to inscriptions. In this temple, a Devaram song of saint Sambandar is inscribed at the commencement of a record of Rajendra – III.
Buddha Statues – Vikkiramangalam
This hamlet was founded during the time of Rajendra I and was named Vikkiramacholapuram, after the king’s surname. Inscriptions of Vikramachola, Kulothunga–II, and Kulothunga–III show that this was a sub-capital for the Chola monarchs, who lived in the royal palace here and issued royal orders donating lands to various temples around the Chola nation. Vikramacholapuram was also a well-known trading and mercantile centre of the itinerant trade guilds during the Chola dynasty. This town also has beautiful Jain and Buddha sculptures from the Chola period. The village’s current Siva temple, Rajendra Cholisvaram, dates from the Rajendra Chola – I era (1012-1044).
SENDURAI, SENNIVANAM AND SRIPURANDAN
Epigraphic evidence indicates that the Siva temples in Sendurai, Sennivanam, and Sripurandan date from the Rajaraja-I (985-1014), Rajendra–I (1012-1044), and Kulothunga–III (1178-1218) eras, respectively.
GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM, GANGAIKONDACHOLISVARAR TEMPLE
Ariyalur is widely known for the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple at Gangaikondacholapuram, the largest Kangaikonda Cholapuram temple built in the Ariyalur district during the reign of Rajendra–I. In memory of his conquest of the Gangetic plains in A.D. 1023, Rajendra–I erected a large city named Gangaikondacholapauram, as well as a Siva temple called Gangaikondacholisvarar and a lake called Chola Gangam. The location, the temple, and the lake (Chola Gangam) are live representations of the Tamils’ valour in raising the Chola’s Tiger banner on the banks of the Ganges. He also relocated his capital from Thanjavur to this freshly constructed town. From his reign till the end of the Chola family’s power in A.D.1279, this city served as the Chola Empire’s capital for 256 years.
The massive stone temple he erected in this location is a treasure trove of exquisite sculptures from the middle Chola era. This city is mentioned in the works of Muvar ula of Ottakuttar and Kalingattuparani of Jayankondar.
Sculpture – Kangaikonda Cholapuram
By his 11th year as king, Rajendra’s Gangetic expedition had come to a halt (A.D.1023). The first reference to Gangaikondacholapuram is a record of him from A. D. 1027. As a result, it is certain that the city was erected to commemorate his tremendous triumph between A.D. 1023 and 1027. The freshly unearthed Esalam Copper plates of Rajendra–I from A.D. 1036 provide clear proof that he constructed the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple. Another document from A.D. 1068 of Virarajendra at Gangaikondacholapuram, which is the temple’s oldest record, recounts Rajendra-I granting villages to the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple in his 24th year (A.D. 1036). These evidences suggest that the siva temple was established between A.D. 1023 and 1036, yet the first known record in this large temple dates from Virarajendra’s reign in A.D. 1068.
This temple has a living history of the Cholas in stone from Rajendra-reign, I’s as well as a stunning collection of Chola art and architecture. Many sculptures brought as battle trophies from Andhra, Karnataka, and Bengal are also preserved in the shrine and adjacent villages. The most exquisite sculptures in the temple are Chandesura Anugraha Murthy and Sarasvathy.
It is currently under the supervision of ASI and the HR&CE, and UNESCO has designated the temple as a world heritage monument.
ARIYALUR – KODANDARMASWAMY KOVIL
In Ariyalur, there is a Vishnu temple named Kondandaramaswamy kovil. Despite the fact that the main deity at this temple is Srinivasaperumal, it is also known as Kodandaramaswamy kovil due to the presence of a shrine where Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita are housed.
The temple is oriented eastward. Srinivasa Perumal and His two consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, are honoured at the main temple. There is a garbagruha (15 feet square), ardhamandapa (17 feet long), and Mahamandapa.
The Kodandaramar shrine is a later addition made of chalk stone that is connected to the main temple’s ardhamandapa by facing south. Inside the shrine, there are stone statues of Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita on Pithas, as well as metal depictions of them. The statues are reported to have been discovered on the Kollidam river bank near Vikramangalam and transported here by a Chief of Ariyalur, who erected a shrine and enshrined the deities. Dasavatara mandapa is a large mandapa erected in front of the main temple.
In the mandapa, four rows of pillars (20 feet tall) with ten pillars in each row are set up. The depictions of Vishnu’s ten incarnations are engraved onto these pillars. The figure is around 6.6 feet tall. The statues of a Chief and his Queen are likewise carved out at the row’s entrance. The entire complex is enclosed by a raised compound wall, and the entrance is marked by a six-story Gopura (90 feet in height). The Gopura’s basement is made of chalk stone, while the above storeys are made of brick and mortar. In front of the Gopura, a temple to Garuda is constructed. A tank known as Kodanda pushkarani is being dug on the temple’s southern flank.
This temple has two inscriptions and one copper plate. The earliest record is etched on the south base of the main temple and dates from A.D. 1635. It is damaged and alludes to an order issued by Ariyalur Arasu nilaiyitta Oppila Malavarayar, who promised not to collect certain taxes in Anju Parru Nadu in Vitta Parru. A copper plate charter dated A. D. 1729 and issued during the reign of Arasu nilaiyitta Rangappa Malavarayar refers to the shepherd community’s decision (called Ayppadi Gopala vamsattar) to contribute one panam per head and house of their community to this temple during the time of marriages in their families. Finally, a brahmana Venkatapathi Ayyan is mentioned in an inscription from A.D. 1742 by Vijaya Oppilada Malavarayar, son of Rangappa Malavarayar and grandson of Vijaya Oppilada Malavarayar. However, the final two documents have since vanished from this shrine.
According to the chronicles, this temple was built during the reign of Arasu Nilaiyitta Oppilada Malavarayar. The portraits in the Dasavaratara mandapa might be of this Chief and his Queen. The excellent ornate workmanship of the adhishtana, kumbapanchara in the sanctuary, Dasavatara statues, and the Gopura all contribute to this temple being a lovely centre of the Ariyalur Chief’s architectural achievements.
VETTAKUDI – KARAIVETTI BIRD SANCTUARY
As per Government Order No.219 E&F (FR.VI) Dept dt. 10.06.1997, the Karaivetti Birds Sanctuary with an area of 453.71 hectares has been notified under section 18(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The sanctuary is essentially an irrigation tank that gets water from the Mettur dam beginning in September and is augmented by the northeast monsoons from October to January.
Birds – Karaiyavetti
The sanctuary is one of Tamil Nadu’s most significant fresh water feeding grounds for migrating water birds. It is one of the largest tanks in the state and boasts the highest gathering of water birds of any tank in the state. Water birds make up 82 of the 188 bird species reported in the sanctuary. The endangered Bar Headed Goose is one of the tank’s most significant visitors. The ideal months to visit the refuge for bird viewing are September through March.
Elakurichi is a well-known location in the Ariyalur district. It is a sacred pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics of the Elakkurichi Temple. Between A.D. 1710 and 1742, Constantine Beschi (popularly known as Virama Munivar) of Italy arrived to the Ariyalur district and propagated Christianity. He erected the Adaikala Matha temple here. He treated a serious ailment of the Ariyalur Palayakarar with the blessings of the Holy Mother Mary. The Chief, pleased with Virama Munivar’s service, awarded the temple 60 acres of land. This donation is mentioned in an inscription carved on a stone slab written in A.D. 1763 and kept in this Church.
Best Time to Visit in Ariyalur
Ariyalur is best visited between September and March.
How to Reach West Ariyalur
The nearest International airport is Trichy Airport (75Km).
Trichy Airport is the closest international airport (75Km). Ariyalur Railway Station is part of the Trichy Railway Division and is connected to Trichy (70 kilometres) and Chennai (267 kilometres) through the Chord Line segment.
Ariyalur is 65 kilometres from Trichy, 30 kilometres from Perambalur, and 44 kilometres from Thanjavur on National Highways NH45 and NH226.