Sunday 14th of August 2022

Brihadeeswarar Temple History (Thanjavur Big Temple)

Read Thanjai Periya Kovil History in Tamil

🛕 People in India always believe that worshipping God and visiting Temples isn’t just a ritual but it is a way of life. Hence, temples are of utmost importance as they are believed to sanctify and purify human souls. Rather than spiritual importance temples always share a major importance in history too and this post aims at describing the history of one of the most famous temples that attracts tourists, also declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO – Brihadeeswarar / Pervudaiyar Temple. Brihadeeswarar Temple has equal share of cultural and spiritual importance in Indian History.

The inevitable History of Brihadeshwara Temple

🛕 The Brihadeeswarar Temple is usually addressed by its nick name “Thanjavur Big Temple”. Before getting deeper into the history of the temple, here are the few interesting facts about the Big Temple

  • The Temple was built by Raja Raja Chola in the year 1010 CE
  • This Grand Structure celebrated its 1000th year in September 2010
  • The Temple has the world’s tallest temple tower (Vimanam)
  • The huge Nandi Statue at the entrance is carved out of a single rock weighing around 20 tons
  • The Statue of the main Deity “Lord Shiva” is about 12 feet
  • It took 34 years to build this Wonder premise

🛕 The Vedas say that in the olden days there were two predominant caste system prevailed in the Hindusthan namely Saiva and Vainava. People who follow Saiva worship Lord Shiva as their Supreme Being while people belonging to Vainava adore Lord Vishnu as their deity. The Saiva religion is believed to be the Divinity of the Tamil Peopleand formerly the Saiva religion is followed by various countries across the world. The People who spread this Saiva religion and its life styles were “Cholas”. The people from Chola Dynasty even considered Bay of Bengal as a small Lake and they spread the glory of Saiva religion across many empires. The Tanjore Brihadeeshwara Temple was constructed by one such great emperor from the Chola Dynasty – Raja Raja Cholan and designed by Kunjara Mallan Raja Rama Perunthachan.

🛕 The crucial and influential emperor Raja Raja Cholan built the Brihadeeswarar Temple as a dedication to Lord Shiva. The rocks necessary for building this Grand Structure has come from various neighboring States. It took nearly 25 years to sculpt those rocks and a 9 years more to arrange them in order and totally it took 34 years to rise this structure.

Sadhaya Vizha

🛕 Every year Sadhaya Vizha is celebrated to mark the Birth Anniversary of the Great Chola King Raja Raja Cholan. It is usually celebrated in the tamil month of Aippasi that is Mid – October to Mid – November. The 1036th Sadhaya Vizha will be celebrated on October, 2021.

The Brihadeshwara Temple Architecture

🛕 This temple holds many wonders within it. The temple follows a rock-cut architecture. The foundation of the temple is laid in a very technical way considering the inclination of the Earth’s Axis. This temple was constructed meticulously using bipolar technique and the temple tower was designed with a light weight monolith. This Grand Structure was designed in such a way that it can adapt itself to the rotation of the Earth and this is the reason that this structure stands erect even after Tanjore had been hit by five Earthquakes.

🛕 The Temple holds creativity and thousands of stories behind each and every brick. This Temple not only serves as a place of spiritual importance but also as a bank, an art gallery and community attraction. The inscriptions in this Temple refer this place as “Rajarajeshwaram”.

🛕 This Grand Structure stands as a time’s witness bearing many natural disasters and foreign invasions even after thousands of years. The construction technique of the Temple made World Experts Wonder.

thanjavur big temple entrance

Who Built Brihadeshwara Temple?

🛕 There existed many controversies for a long time questioning who constructed the Brihadeshwara Temple. A book named “Brihadeeswara Mahamathiyam” stated that the Great Karikala Cholan built this Grand Structure to relieve himself from an incurable disease.

🛕 In 1886, a German Scholar named Heilsch stared analyzing the inscriptions of the temple and after 6 years of his intensive research, indicating an inscription he ensured that the temple was built by the Great Emperor “Raja Raja Cholan”.

The Temple Inscriptions

🛕 During a restoration work a few years back, numerous pebbles found in the foundation of the temple prakaram left everyone astonished as each and every stone has a name engraved on it right from Gold smiths to Stone givers whomsoever related to the construction of the temple. The emperor Raja Raja Cholan had made sure that no name should be left out in the history.

🛕 Though many people were involved in the construction of the temple, there were few significant people to be mentioned among them namely, Chief Designer Kunjaramallan and his asssistants Nitha Vinodap Perunthachan and Kandarathitha Perunthachan, Raja Raja Cholan’s sister Kundavai for her donation, etc.,

The Temple Tower

🛕 The Temple Tower or Vimanam of Peruvudaiyar Temple is one of the tallest in South India standing erect for about 216 feet and it weighs about 80 tons. The construction of the Temple Tower of this Structure fascinates the world experts because of the techniques followed.

🛕 First a tank like structure is made for about 350 feet depth and sands from the rivers of Western Ghats were filled in it and the structure was erected like a double wall. This temple tower construction resembles the structure of the famous “Tanjore Doll” (Thalaiyati Bommai). Thus, the foundation of this structure consists of only sand and is designed in such a way that the structure adjusts itself according to the movement of Earth and hence it stands majestically even after many natural disasters. This kind of construction is called as Dynamic Architecture.

The Maha Nandi

🛕 The Maha Nandi or Holy Bull – the Vehicle of Lord Shiva located at the 16 legged Hall of the Rajarajan entrance is carved out of a monolithic rock weighing around80 tons and is one of the tallest Nandi in Indian Temples. This Nandi Statue was sculptured by Nayak Emperors from the Vijaya Nagar Dynasty in 16th century AD.  The Nandi situated at the South Direction of this 16 legged Hall is the one sculptured for this Temple.

thanjavur big temple nandi

Main Deities of the Thanjavur Big Temple

🛕 Agnithevar Sannathi is located at the Udayar Road which is in the East of the Main Entrance. The Inscriptions of the Temple state that about 240 Shivayogis stayed at the Udayar Road, ate once a day and they also split into 10 Groups and celebrated 24 Festivals.

🛕 The Main Deity of the Temple is Lord Shiva. The Linga Statue is about 12 feet height and is one of the tallest Statues in South India.

🛕 The other Main Deities include Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Dakshinamoorthy and Varahi.

Mystery Temple Shadow

🛕 The Shadow of the Temple Tower will never fall on the ground and that is one of the reasons why many experts around the world wonders the construction of this Peruvudaiyar Temple.

🛕 The fact behind the Shadow is that the tower is constructed perpendicular to the Earth without a single degree inclination and is also stated that the base of the tower is much larger than its Vimanam.

🛕 Many foreign invaders continuously looted the temple while the French and British destroyed the art gallery and even after many natural calamities the Brihadeeswarar / Peruvudaiyar Temple stands chivalrously.

Brihadeeswarar Temple Timings

  • Morning: 6:00am to 12:30pm
  • Evening: 4:00am to 8:30pm

Thanjavur Big Temple Address

Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar,
Tamil Nadu – 613007

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