All you need to know about the magnificent Brihadeshwara Temple, Thanjavur
Built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 AD, Brihadeshwara Temple is an ancient temple at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. The deity of the temple is Lord Shiva—in his dancing pose—who is called the Nataraj. The temple is also known as Rajeswara Temple, Rajarajeswaram and Periya Kovil. The temple was built, like a fortress on the shores of a river, by the king to grace the Chola Empire. This thousand-year-old temple is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site adding to its exceptional historical and cultural value.
The temple is a magnificent architectural construct that will never stop surprising anyone visiting the temple. Built using over 130,000 tons of granite, this fabulous structure shows the architectural prowess and affinity of the South Indian kings.
The major attraction of the temple is the 216-feet-tall tower that is built above the Sanctum of the temple. This flamboyant tower can be seen by anyone entering the city from afar. Another breathtaking thing that will sure stupefy the visitor is the magnificent Nandi statue built at the temple; it is about two meters in height, six meters in length and two-and-half meters in width, and weighs around a whopping 20 tons for a statue built from a single stone. Various postures of the famous classical dance, Barathanatyam, are carved carefully on the exterior walls of the upper storey of the temple.
There are several shrines added to the temple by most of the following rulers such as the Pandyas, the Vijayanagara rulers and the Marathas, too. The temple architecture marvels at housing a myriad of surprises for everyone taking a look at this great temple. Another important architectural feature of the temple is that the shadow of the temple never falls on the ground at noon. The architecture of the temple is done so cleverly that the temple casts no shadow on the ground when the sun is at its peak. This is a phenomenon that attracts thousands of tourists and architectural enthusiasts from across the world to unravel the architectural mystery of the temple.
Brihadeshwara Temple is also the first all-granite temple in the world, and the fact that granites are not available within the 100-mile radius of the temple only makes it all the more astonishing. Granite is as heavy a stone to carry as it is to carve, but none of that seemed to have shied the king from realizing the temple the way he envisaged.
When the temple was built in AD 1010, it was the tallest temple in India hitherto, and it took only seven years to complete. The topmost structure of the temple, called Vimana, weighs around 80 tons, and it is a mystery how the builders got it up there. There are several musical pillars, which make different sounds when taped, at the temple. Upon visiting, anyone can understand that the temple is a brilliant testimonial of the opulence of grand South Indian architecture.