Brihadeeswarar Temple Big Temple (locally known as “Thanjai Periya Kovil”) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Siva Peruman located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram and Peruvudayar Temple. Thanjavur named after the legendry asura “Tanjan”, is one of the ancient temples in India. The 1000 year old temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I to grace the throne of the Chola Empire in 1 to grace the throne of the Chola Empire in 1010 AD and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Peruvudaiyar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.
The vimanam (temple tower) is 198 ft (60 m) high and is one of the tallest in the world. The Kumbam (the apex or the bulbous structure on the top) weighs around 80 tons.There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 ft (4.9 m) long and 13 ft (4.0 m) high at the entrance. This is the second largest Nandhi in India and is carved out of a single stone. Everything about this temple is big, majestic. No wonder it is referred as The Big Temple.The structure is a proof of wealth, artistic expertise and power of the Chola kingdom. According to the inscriptions present in the temple, Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perumthachan was the engineer and architect of this famous temple. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore. The temple is entirely built of more than 130,000 tons of granite.
The temple was built to grace the throne of the Chola empire by the Tamil emperor Arulmozhivarman, popularly called Rajaraja Chola I, in compliance to a command given to him in a dream. This is the Chola dynastys finest contribution to Dravidian art. The Big Temple was an expression of the success of Raja Raja Chola’s empire. This temple is also called as Brahadeeswara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram. The emergence of such features as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals signal the arrival of the new Chola style. The style of construction of temple resembles the temple in Bhuvaneshwar. The temple is built over 29 square base and is surrounded by moat on two sides and Grand Anaicut river on the other side. The walls of the complex are adorned by beautiful paintings belonging to the Chola and Nayak period. The temple is entirely built of more than 130,000 tons of granite. Intended to display the emperor’s vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order, the temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointing the emperor and linking him with its deity, Siva Peruman, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. The temple “testifies the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
The architect and engineer of the temple was Raja Raja Rama as stated in inscriptions found at the temple. The temple took 12 years to complete, and King Raja Raja Chola – I, performed the Kumbhabhishekam (consecration ceremony) in 1011 AD. The temple was built in honour of his victorious reign, during when the Chola kingdom (10th to 14th centuries AD) extended till Ceylon and some parts of the Malaya archipelago. The fresco painting can be seen in the ceilings of the corridors and also in the ceilings of the many sub-shrines. They are an invention of the Cholas and the painting, which are about 1000 years old are still brightly colourful. The Temple, like many others built during this period served many functions; the walls are very high and the entrance is built like a fort, along with a moat. On the inside, there are separate waiting areas for musicians, workers etc and the periphery served as a meeting place for the public. Built towards 600AD, the architecture is considered ‘modern’ in the scale of Dravidian architecture. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.
How To Reach:
By Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy (45 km), which is well connected to all major city of India.
By Rail: Thanjavur railway station is well connected to all major city of India
By Road: Thanjavur is well connected to all major city of India, Regular buses to Thanjavur from other major cities of the country are always available.
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