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The Brahadeewarar temple : Architectural excellence of ancient India


Panorama of the temple.
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons/Mugilkmv
The Image stood first in Wiki Loves Monuments India 2013 contest.

Situated in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, The Brahadeewarar temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is also known as The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, The Big Temple , The Brihadisvara Temple, Rajarajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram. Built by the great Chola King Raja Raja 1 (985 -1012 A.D), the temple complex is an architectural excellence of ancient India.


Statue of Rajaraja Chola at the Brihadiswara Temple, Thanjavur.

Brihadeeshwara temple is the best example of excellent Chola architectural and engineering skills, finest contribution to Dravidian temple architecture and it has stood the testimony of time with its magnificent central dome; The 64. 8 Mt. tall vimanam (tower over the sanctum sanctorum) is a great attraction for one and all.  It has been notified as India’s most prized architectural sites and it has been part of UNESCO  World Heritage Site and Great Living Chola Temples.


Night view of Brihadeeswarar Temple

The temple has  gigantic “Mahalingam” in the shrine, measuring 4 meters in height.  The second largest Nandhi in India, a monolithic Nandhi chiselled out of a single rock is also facing the sanctum.

Nandhi Mandapam

The Great Nandi facing temple.
Photo credit:

The entire temple is made of granite and it is the first complete granite temple in the world. The granite stone quarry is not available surroundings of the city, It is not known where this massive granite was brought from.


All granite temple: The Brihdeeswarar Temple.


Second gopuram of Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur.
(Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bernard Gagnon)

The most widely belief about this temple is that at noon the shadow of the temple disappears. The Brihadeshwar Temple is One of the outstanding temples in South India and as widely believed it is so designed that 14 tier pyramid shaped vimanam never falls on the ground at noon during any part of the year.


This picture was taken from the left corner of the temple (behind the temple). The staircase which is small in picture will lead you to darshan of God Dakshinamurthy.
(Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons/வணக்கம்)

The Brihadiswarar temple is one of the rare temples which has idols for “Ashta-dikpaalakas” (Guardians of the directions) — Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirṛti, Varuṇa, Vāyu, Kubera, Īśāna – each of whom was originally represented by a life-sized statue. However, only four out of eight -Agni, Varuṇa, Vāyu and Īśāna are preserved today.

Thanjavur can be reached easily by road, rail and air. Hence, tourist can come and watch this true Architectural excellence of ancient India.

Happy Travelling!


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