The Airavatesvara Temple is in the town of Darasuram, near Kumbakonam completed in 1166 AD. It is one among a cluster of eighteen medieval-era large Hindu temples in the Kumbakonam area. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It also reverentially displays Vaishnavism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism, along with the legends associated with sixty-three Nayanars – the Bhakti movement saints of Shaivism. Named after the White Elephant of Indra, this temple is an exquisite testimony to the grand temple architecture of the Cholan Empire.
It is the last of the three great Cholan temples built by successive generations of kings starting from Rajaraja I. Airavateswara temple was built by Rajaraja II around 1150 AD. One of the striking features of this temple is Rajagambhira Thirumandapam – Royal Courtyard, with intricately carved pillars, long steps made of granite stones, and elegant chariots drawn by horse – again hewn out of stone. You will see finer workmanship in this temple than in the earlier temples. Darasuram is literally a stone’s throw away from Kumbakonam.