Brihadeeswara Temple in Thanjavur – An Architectural Marvel of Ancient India
The Brihadeeswara Temple or the Peruvudaiyar Kovil is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. This temple is one of the most beautiful architectural sites in India. Raja Raja Chola I had this temple constructed in 1010 AD. The Brihadeeswara Temple was built for royal ceremonies and to display the emperor’s power and vision. The Cholas had a splendid eye for art and architecture, which shows in their temples, which have been constructed in a Dravadian style. Also, the entire temple is built on the rules of axial and symmetrical geometry, displaying an engineering marvel of that time. Almost all the structures are aligned axially. The Brihadeeswara Temple is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the list “Great Living Chola Temples”.
Facts about Brihadeeswara Temple :
- Only granite was used to make the entire temple structure. It is believed that about 130,000 tons of granite was used to construct the Brihadeeswara Temple. The height of the temple tower (vimana) is 216 ft and among such kinds of structures, this is the tallest in the world.
- Just at the entrance of the temple, there is a large statute of Nandi (sacred bull) measuring about 16 feet in length and 13 feet in height. This statute of Nandi facing the inner sanctum is carved out of a single stone.
- The topmost structure of the temple known as “Kumbam” is also carved out of a single granite stone, weighing about 60 tons.
- There are two gateways, known as “Gopuras” on the eastern side of the temple to enter.
- Hundreds of sculptures adorn the exterior of the temple, whereas inside the temple there is a huge idol of Lord Shiva with three eyes. The third eye is closed. The entire compound of the temple has 250 lingams (representative of Lord Shiva).
- 108 dance poses, known as “karmas” performed by Lord Shiva have been sculpted on the inner walls of the sanctum sanctorum.
- The Brihadeeswara temple consists of a pillared hall and an assembly hall known as mandapas and many sub-shrines. The inner Mandapas are the most significant part of the temple. The mandapas are divided into different levels with the help of sculptures and pilasters.
- Idols of “Ashta-dikpaalakas” or guardians of directions, are found in the Brihadeeswara Temple making it one of the rarest temples in India. Six feet tall statues of Agni, Varuna, Indra, Yama, Vayu, Isana, Kubera and Nirriti have been placed in a separate temple.
- It is believed that the shadow of the tower over the gateway of the temple never falls on the ground, especially in the premises of the temple.
Nearby places to visit:
Palace buildings constructed partially by Nayaks and Marathas, the Saraswathi Mahal, an art gallery inside the palace building and the Sangitha Mahal are a few nearby attractions that you can visit.
How to reach Thanjavur?
All three means of transport i.e. road, rail and air can be availed to reach Thanjavur.
There are frequent bus services from nearby cities to Thanjavur. You can either board a Tamil Nadu state government bus or a private bus.
The nearest railway station is at Thanjavur junction, whereas the nearest airport is the Tiruchirapalli Airport which is located at a distance of 65 km from Thanjavur.