The Cholas were Shaivite follower though they were tolerant towards other sects. Their Kuladeivam was Lord Shiva in whose honour they are known to have built the Golden Hall at Chidambaram. Its interesting to note that temple architecture under the Cholas took a new shape. Under the patronage of Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi, the temples were now planned and housed dieties on the niches along its outer wall.
Given the rising power of the minor dieties, the temple had to now save its own vitality and hence give room to minor shrines like the mother goddess within the temple premises. This was definitely not an earlier practise. Its also under the Cholas that the temples now have a gargoyle spout on the North wall. The back wall or the west wall always houses a Lingodbhava murti.
Mother Goddess and Ganesha adorn the other niches of the Shiva temple. The shala kutas and Karna kutas(architectural features) continue to decorate the vimana of these temples. Its also during the Chola times that the Vimana shoots up into the sky which can be seen in Brihadeshwara temple, Tanjore, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Tribhuvanam. Its at Darasuram that the vimana remains at 5 storeys. My next posts will have more on these temples.