In Indian history, the Imperial Cholas count among the most important dynasties. The rulers of this family established a powerful empire that dominated a larger part of the peninsular India for about 450 years: c. 850 – 1250 CE, with Thanjavur as their capital. The Cholas’ 450-year reign was an age of continuous improvement and refinement of the Dravidian art and architecture. They utilized their prodigious wealth, earned through their extensive conquests, in building big cities, grand palaces with huge banquet halls, and many long-lasting stone temples. Indisputably the great connoisseurs of art, they are known for their immense contribution to the development not only of architecture and sculpture, but paintings, dance, music and literature as well. Significantly, the Chola sculptures and bronze images are today acclaimed the world over for their classic grace, grandeur and immaculate taste. The best example of this can be seen in the form of Nataraja: the Divine Dancer.
And, besides all else, the Great Temple of Thanjavur – also known as the Great Temple of Rajarajesvara and Brahadisvara Temple – is a standing monument exemplifying the glories of Chola art and architecture. Recognized by UNESCO, since 1983, as a World Heritage Monument, this great temple was built by the Chola Emperor Rajaraja 1 in 1010 CE. In September 2010, an exhibition was organized to commemorate the 1000th year of its construction. Accompanying the exhibition, this volume showcases the masterpieces of Chola art, architecture, paintings, royal copper plates, gold and silver coins, inscriptions, and vessels – and with emphasis on Chola bronzes. The book, ostensibly in the nature of a catalogue, carries about 250 beautiful, colour photographs.
Dr R. Nagaswamy (b. 1930) : a widely recognized authority on Tamil Art and Archaeology, is former Director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu.