Airavatesvara Temple

Hindu Temple in Around Kumbakonam

Only 3km west of Kumbakonam, this late-Chola Shiva temple was constructed by Raja Raja II (1146–73). The steps of the Rajagambhira Hall are carved with vivid elephants and horses pulling chariots. This pavilion's 108 all-different pillars have detailed carvings including dancers, acrobats and the five-in-one beast yali (elephant's head, lion's body, goat's horns, pig's ears and a cow's backside). Inside the main shrine (flanked by guardians), you can honour the central lingam and get a tilak (auspicious forehead mark) for ₹10.

On the outside of the shrine are several fine carved images of Shiva. Four mandapas frame the corners of the courtyard-like complex.