A visit to the Thanjavur Big temple was a mandatory stop in my trip to the Mayavaram-Kumbhakonam-Thanjavur trip few years back. Big temple or Sri Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur is known by the name ‘Thanjai Periya Kovil’ locally is dedicated to Lord Siva.
I was amazed by the grandeur of this huge temple, built by Raja Raja Chola I.
This is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Dravidian architecture during the Chola period. The construction of the temple is believed to be completed in 1010 AD and the temple turned 1000 years old in 2010. Brihadeeswarar temple is a part of the UNESCO World
Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Brihadeeswarar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.
The magnificent Brihadeeswarar temple has the vimanam (temple tower) which is 216 ft (66 m) high and is the tallest in the world. The Kumbam or the dome of the temple is carved out of a single rock and weighs around 80 tons. And it is still a mystery how this rock was carved and taken to that height 1000 years back, when humans were not having the modern machines. The entire temple structure is made of granite rocks, and the nearest source of granite is about 60 kms from the temple, which was a long distance in those times when there were no transport facilities.
The huge Nandi facing the main sanctum sanctorum is carved out of a single rock, and is about 16 feet long and 13 feet high.
Here is a painting I did of the Brihadeeswarar temple structure a while back.
The whole temple complex is a magnificent sight to behold. One should not miss this beautiful temple on a visit to Tanjavur area.