In 1002 CE the Tamil emperor Raja Raja Chola (I) laid the foundation of the Big Temple also called ‘Brihadeshvara Temple’. Veerachola Kunjaramalla Perunthagan was an esteemed architect and sculptor who built the Big Temple in Thanjavur, Thousands of other sculptors and architects were brought from Gingee in North Arcot to work with him.
In 1010CE after the completion of the Big Temple, the sculptors settled on the fertile banks of river Kaveri in Swamimalai. During this period many other temples were built in Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Swamimalai, including the Tharasuram Temple. The descendants of these sculptors have kept this traditional art alive.
In 1961, during the reign of the Chola King, Chembian Madheviar promoted the science of sculpture-making. Many idols were donated to temples during this period. This period was said to be the golden era of bronze casting.
Later, the industry began to wane but once again this artistry was given a new life by Kamala Pathi Chattopathyaya.
Today there are 40-45 families practicing this art form in Swamilmalai. They follow the same ancient technique even though there are many modern methods available today.
Since the past 25 years, Swamimalai has been the major exporter of bronze idols in foreign countries.