Brihadeeshwara Temple
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Thanjavur city of Tamilnadu became a center of learning during 10th to 14th century AD. The Brihadeeswara temple has been a major center of tourist attraction at Thanjavur. Thanjavur is the ancient capital of the Chola kings. The famous Chola King Rajaraja constructed the Brihadeeswara Temple in 10th century AD and the architect Sama Varma designed it.

Significance of the temple
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Among the many other temples the cholas built, the most important one is Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple, built by Rajaraja Cholan, the Great Chola king. The temple, dedicated to Nandi, the Bull is a masterpiece of the captivating Chola architecture. The mount of Lord Shiva i.e. Nandi has been made from a single granite rock.

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple is a great example for the Architectural Masterpiece of Chola Rule in South India, and is unique to have the tallest tower (216 ft) over the sanctum sanctorum unlike the other temples.

Brihadeeshwara Temple
This auspicious Temple is made over a 29 m square base and is surrounded by moat on two sides and Grand Anaicut River on the other side. The compound within the temples inner wall measures about 500 feet x 250 feet. The walls of the sanctum are adorned with the wall paintings of Chola and Nayak periods. The temple has a soaring vimana and a stunted gopuram. The inner sanctum and the gopuram were constructed over a period of 12 years. The temple was constructed from a single piece of granite weighing around 80 tonnes.

The Cholas were great patrons of art and during their reign, the most magnificent temples as well as exquisite bronze icons were created in south India. Sama Varma designed the unique structure because no shadows of the temple were cast on the ground at any time of the year. It has been the symbolic of the fact that the Supreme is considered to be there and yet not there. The temple is the finest contribution of the Chola dynasty to the Dravidian style of temple architecture.

Brihadeeshwara Temple
On entering the temple complex devotees find themselves in a huge rectangular enclosure paved with stones. The corridor here is peaceful and welcoming and unlike other temples does not have shops. Before one can enter the sanctum sanctorum, there are two idols of Ganesha in the corridor. On taping the two, one feels the sound traveling through stone in one idol and through metal on the other.

The temples built under the illustrious Rajaraja and his son Räjëndra carries the early Chola architectural traditions to those of the later Chola period. Other temples of this period are those at Gangaikondacholapuram, Tiruvaji, Mëlpadi, Tiruvalañjuli, Tirumalavadi, Tiruvarangulam, Dadapuram, etc. Most of these temples are ornamented with pilasters at basement, which carry a cornice. The walls here have a greater number of niches and a semi-circular arch (tiruvacci) the center of which is identical with that of' the küdu which appears beneath the architrave and over the niche. The introduction of the kumbhapañjara in between the niches is another feature.

Brihadeeshwara Temple
The inner wall of the garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum has sculpted 108 dance poses called karmas performed by Lord Shiva himself. The Shiva lingam here is called Peruvudaiya Rasjarajeshwaramudvya. It is a huge lingam, which is set in a two-storeyed sanctum. Many inscriptions here at the temple give details about contemporary times while according to experts the visual imagery is reflective of the rites and rituals of Vedic times. Rajaraja Chola crowned it with 12.5 ft tall finial of 9.25 kilograms of choppers plated with 800 grams of gold. Subsequent rulers made their contributions to the temple but they do not give the look of being added later. A huge statue of Nandi measuring 6 m length and 3.7 m in height faces the inner sanctum. The statue of Nandi was created from a single rock piece and weighs 25 tonnes. It is in fact one of the largest statues of Nandi bulls in India. The temple also has a spacious ground, number of pillared halls, shrines and 250 lingams.

The Brihadeeswara temple is been one of the few great Indian monuments listed in UNESCO's World Heritage list of historical sites and monuments.Click here to know the other UNESCO Heritage sites of India.

Time to Visit
The best time to visit this temple is the day of the Ruling star, Satabhishag which is festival day every month as it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of birth of Rajaraja. The annual festival is held for 9 days in the month of Visaka or May according to the English calender. The deity is bathed with the water and soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.
Other places to Visit

Palace Building

The Palace which is situated near the temple, is a cluster of fabulous buildings built partly by Nayaks and partly by Marathas. The two towers here namely Kudagaparam and the Madamaligai are visible from all parts of the city.
Akshardham Temple

The Saraswathi Mahal
Akshardham Temple
The Saraswathi Mahal Library is also located in the Palace, the Library is renowned for its compilation of manuscripts on paper and palm leaves in several Indian and European languages.
Mukteshwara Temple
Mukteshwara Temple which dates back to 10th century is an important transition point between the early and the later phases of the Kalinga architecture. The highlight of the temple is the magnificent torana - the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Orissa.

Art Gallery
Art Gallery is housed in the Palace Building. The gallery has many bronze idols and works of art of the Chola period.

Sangitha Mahal
This monument was built by Raja Sarfoji. It is also called as the Mansion of Music, and a fine auditorium.

Near by tourist places to Brihadeeshwara Temple




Brihadeeshwara Temple

How to Reach the Temple
  1. Through Airways -the nearest airport is situated at Trichy, 65-km from Thanjavur.

  2. Through Railways -The nearest railway station is at Thanjavur, which is well connected with Trichy, Chennai, and Madurai.

  3. Through Roadways -Thanjavur is well connected by road with all the major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu and also with Kochi, Ernakulam, and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Bangalore in Karnataka

  4. There are excellent lodges near by to the temple. Also Rest houses are provided by the Tourism Department.