Tanjore Brihadeeswara Temple is one of the best temples in South India, built by Chola emperor Raja Raja I (985-1013 AD). This is the chola dynasty's finest contribution to Dravidian art. The construction is unique : the vimanam, known as Dakshina Meru, soars high while the gopuram remains stunted. The 64.8 metre-tall, 14-tier and pyramid-shaped vimanam rises from a square base and is topped by a huge monolithic cupola weighing 81.3 tonnes. The shadow of the cupola never falls on the ground.
Special Attributes of Tanjore Big Temple
The most interesting part of this temple is the shadow of the temple, which surprisingly never falls on the ground at noon. The Brihadeshwara Temple is one of the tallest temples in the world and is so designed that the viman does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year.
Brihadeeswarar Temple Architecture
Monumental in concept, design and execution, this temple is the greatest architectural achievement of the Chola era. It was a royal foundation inaugurated by Rajaraja I (c.985-1012), who personally donated the glided pot final at the summit of the tower.
The temple stands in the middle of a large rectangular court partly occupied by other smaller shrines. It is enters on the easy through two gateways. The square sanctuary, which is surrounded by a narrow passageway, adjoins an antechamber and a long columned mandapa on the east, approached through an open porch. The double-story plastered walls of the sanctuary are raised on a high basement. This is adorned with yalis and makaras (top molding) and covered with inscriptions relating the origins, construction and endowments of the temple. A seated gana supports a spout emerging from the sanctuary basement (north). In the middle of each side of the walls is a doorway flanked by guardian figures with clubs. The wall projections have niches occupied by fully model images, mostly of Shiva. Among the fines figures are Bikshatanamurti (east end of south wall), dancing Shiva (west end of north wall), Harihara (south end of west wall) and Ardhanarishvara (west end of north wall). Other divinities are carved in the semicircular niche tops. Attendant figures flank pilasters in pots that stand in the recesses.
The steeply pyramidal stone tower rises to height of about 66m (217ft). Thirteen diminishing storeys, each with pilastered walls, an eave and parapet, ascend dramatically to octagonal dome-like roof. Rajaraja's pot finial is still in place at the apex. The projection on the front (east) is partly obscures by later additions.
Built in the year 1010ce by Raja Raja Chola in Thanjavur, Brihadeeswarar Temple popularly known as the "Big Temple" turned 1000 years old in September 2010.
How to Reach Brihadeeswara Temple?
Thanjavur can be reached easily by road, rail and air. Tamil Nadu state government runs frequent public buses from nearby Trichy, Chennai, Kumbakonam, Pudukkottai, Pattukkottai, Tirunelveli, Karur, Nagapattinam, Coimbatore,Erode and many other cities in the state. From the state capital Chennai, a National Highway (NH 45-A) linking Chennai with Chidambaram, Mayavaram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur,Thiruvarur and Nagappatinam provides convenient access to tourists who come to visit Thanjavur and the adjoining towns. There are also several buses operated by private bus operators.
Rail services are run by Indian Railways from many cities across India including Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Erode, Tirunelveli, Madurai and Nagore. The train station is Thanjavur Junction.
Tiruchirapalli Airport is the nearest airport, located 65 km away.
Tanjore Brihadeeswara Temple (also called Big Temple) have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Siva Lingam here is gigantic, more than 12 feet tall. The Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height and the dwarapalaks (the guardians deities of temple) and deities around the main shrine look elegant.. The main attraction here is the huge tower above the sanctum which is about 216 feet. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore.
Brihadeeswara is a gigantic Lingam (about 8.7 meters high). There is a massive Nandi at the portals of the temple. It is the second largest monolithic Nandi in the country, next only to the colossal Bull at the Lepakshi Veerabhadra temple in Andhra Pradesh. The divine consort, Brihannayaki, is in a separate shrine. The shrine of Lord Subramanya is an exquisite piece of decorative art. There are excellent sculptures of Siva in different forms and other gods and goddesses besides several interesting Chola paintings.
Brihadeeswara Temple Inside Map
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Photos
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