Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

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Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur
Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadisvara temple is a peerless piece of architecture and a remarkable Hindu temple built in between 1003 and 1010 AD by the Tamil ruler, Raja Raja Chola I on the southern bank of river Kaveri in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Locally also familiar as Rajarajeswaram which literally means, “the temple of the god of Rajaraja” or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, it’s one of the largest temples in the South and is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. The temple is predominantly related to Shaivism but proofs of Vaishnavism and Shaktism can be witnessed. Though the main temple ages back to the 11th century, mandapam and monuments were added in the following centuries. This thousand-year-old temple is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site adding to its exceptional historical and cultural value.

The vimana tower which is up to 216 feet tall above the temple is a huge attraction and is one of the tallest in South India and one of the tallest structures in the world when it was built. The temple also has one of the largest Shiva Linga in India and a brass monument of Nataraja- Shiva as the lord of the dance. The magnificent Nandi statue is another attraction in this place. Standing two-meter tall, six-meter in length and two-and-half meters in width weighs almost 200 tonnes which is a lot considering that it was sculpted from a single stone. The architectonics of the tower is so brilliant that it never casts it’s own shadow on the ground at noon which remains a mystery. It’s also really astonishing how the temple was built entirely from granite which almost weighs 130,000 tons and there is no sign of granite within a 100-mile radius around the temple site. Looks like nothing could kill the king’s will power to build this structure.

The topmost structure called the vimana almost weighs 80 tons and is made up of a single stone. Nobody can tell you how it got up there on the 216 feet tall tower. There are several musical pillars, which make different sounds when taped, at the temple. Mandapas (worship chambers), an Antarala (antechamber) and Dvarapalas (guardian figures) are also present. The temple is one of the most visited places in South India and can be reached by road from all major cities and also by rail. It is also approachable by air till Trichy and then by road. Upon visiting you will realize the brilliance richness of South Indian architecture.