Brihadisvara Temple was built by Rajendra Chola I (1012-1044) to commemorate his successful expedition and conquest of the Gangetic plain. The great temple of Thanjavur, which also has Brihadisvara as its deity, influenced its construction in several ways, especially in the layout and the high tower. Although it is a close replica of the Thanjavur temple, another Unesco heritage site, the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple does not even attract half the attention and attendance that the temple of Thanjavur receives.
Located on the Jayankondam-Chidambaram NH, it has no sign or direction indicator to entice passers-by to stop. The highway is dotted with many restaurant signs, but not one to promote the temple. Due to inadequate lighting, few would know that the architectural marvel managed by ASI is a Unesco Heritage Site. While the local panchayat collects Rs 50 as a parking fee for a car, one of the highest in small town landmarks, there are no tourist amenities such as sheds and toilets. “The arrival of tourists will help locals earn some money, but without proper lighting and information boards, who will feel the urge to visit here? Cholagangam, a huge lake dug by Rajendra Chola near the temple, is also overlooked,” said C Panneerselvam, Representative, Thiruvalluvar Gnana Mandram, Jayankondam.
Despite the absence of promotional initiatives from ASI, HR&CE and tourism departments, some tourists from various parts of the country take the trouble to visit the monument. But if there are disabled or elderly people among them, there is no ramp to facilitate their entry since the temple is located below road level. Although it is located close to Kumbakonam, Trichy and Thanjavur, international tourists rarely visit the Unesco heritage center. When asked about the complete neglect of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple, District Collector P Ramana Saraswathi said she would remedy the failings.