The tongue-twisting name means ‘the town of the Chola who took the Ganges’.
Developed as the centrepiece of a city, it was built by the Chola king Rajendra I to celebrate his conquests. The magnificent Brihadishwara Temple (a replica of the Tanjore temple) stands in the tiny village of GANGAIKONDACHOLAPURAM in Ariyalur District, 35km north of Kumbakonam. This temple was built in 11th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Under Rajendra I, the Chola empire did indeed stretch as far as the great river of the north, an unprecedented achievement for a southern dynasty.
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. He assumed the title of Rajendra during his coronation and continued to rule along with his father Rajaraja-I for a while. He was awarded the supreme title of the Cholas known as Parakesari.
His empire included the whole of southern India to the river Thungabathra in the north. For administrative and strategic purposes he built another capital and named it Gangaikondacholapuram. The Gangaikondacholapuram temple he constructed consists of 3 stories and was surrounded by a huge fort-like wall, the outer wall largely destroyed during the English rule (1896) to reuse the building material (granite rocks) for constructing the Lower Anicut the dam built across river Kollidam. He built around 10 temples at various places.
He assumed the title of Gangaikonda Cholan and named his new capital as Gangaikondacholapuram and he also constructed a huge Lake known as Chola Gangam that spreads 22 km mainly used for drinking and irrigation. A statue of Rajendra-I is found in Kolaram temple at Kolar of Karnataka state in India.