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Art and Architecture

Under the Cholas the Dravida style of temple architecture exclusive to the south, attained its most magnificent form. The main feature of this style was the building of between five to seven storeys above the chief deity room. A large elaborately carved pillared hall with flat roof was placed in front of the Sanctum. This mandap acted as an audience hall and a place for various other ceremonies. Sometimes a passage was added around the sanctum for devotees to walk around it where images of many other Gods were placed. The entire structure was enclosed by high walls with very lofty gateways called gopurams.The Brihadiswara temple at Tanjore built by Rajendra I is an example of the Dravida style. Another is the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.

Temple building activity continued even after the fall of the Cholas. The Hoysalesvara temple at Halebid is the most magnificent example of the Chalukyan style. The temple contained finely sculptured panels which show a busy panorama of life. The ground plan was not rectangular but was star shaped or polygonal within which was accommodated the temple built on a raised platform. The giant statue of Gomteswar at Shravana Belagola is a fine example of the standards attained in sculpture in this period.Chola craftsmen excelled in making bronze figurines. The Nataraja, the dancing figure of Shiva is considered a masterpiece.