Sunday, July 18, 2010

Brihadeeshwara temple- Tanjore

This post on Tanjore 'Big temple' is over due and my trip to Goa delayed it. There are many more posts awaiting on my Goa pilgrimage but I decided to take a detour and get back to South India where I am going to take you to a wonderful temple which is celebrating its millennium of magnificence this year(2010). At present this temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site-" Great Living Chola temples"

Brihadeeshwara temple or the Big temple in Tanjore is the best temple I have seen so far, for its excellent workmanship, grandeur and it has stood the testimony of time with its magnificent central dome which is a great attraction for one and all.. This temple was built by Raja Raja Chola, one of the popular kings of Chola dynasty who was a great devotee of Siva and this temple is also referred to as Rajarajeswaram.
.
The Siva Lingam here is gigantic, more than 12 feet tall. The Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height and the dwarapalaks (the guardians deities of temple) and deities around the main shrine look elegant.. The main attraction here is the huge tower above the sanctum which is about 216 feet. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore.

The temple is situated in a fort surrounded by a moat. It is an architectural marvel with its excellent technology of ancient times. The wonderful central tower i.e the Vimanam is built with bonding and notching technique with out using mortar.The stone atop this huge tower weighs about 80 tonnes and it has baffled architects how this stone could have been lifted up when no machinery was available. It is believed that a ramp was built from a village 4 miles away and this stone was pulled to the top by elephants. The whole Vimana weighs about 43000 tonnes, according to a historian. This tower is called as Dakshina Meru meaning Southern Mount Kailash.

Amman here is known as Brihanayagi and her shrine is on the right side of the Nandi Mandapam .Then there are shrines for Dakshina Moorthy , Vinayaga and Muruga and Chandikeshwara . There are hundreds of Siva Lingams all around the temple and it is real wonder that this temple was built with granite when not even a single granite quarry was in the vicinity.

This temple is a store house of great Chola paintings and sculptures . Raja Raja Chola was a great connoisseur of art and this is reflected in each and every stone here.There are also inscriptions on the walls of the temple mentioning the monarchs reign. One can easily spend a day in this temple which is part of our history and reflects the culture, art and architecture of our heritage.

No artificial colouring is used to brighten the structures and the natural colour of stone, be it pink , brown or sandal is maintained as such. Each and every stone here depicts a story and it would take years to learn and understand more about this temple. This was just my humble attempt. I bow my head to the Lord of the Universe and to the king Raja Raja Chola who could gift this colossal monument for posterity. It is also a real wonder that this temple has with stood the vagaries of nature as even now it looks very new. This temple would amaze anybody with its grandeur and is a befitting tribute to the Lord of the Universe.

How to reach: The temple is situated in the heart of Tanjore town.
Nearest airport is Trichy , distance is 65 Kms.
Tanjore town has a railway station too and is linked major cities.
Plenty of buses ply to Tanjore from various parts of Tamil Nadu.
Accommodation -Decent accommodation of various classes are available in Tanjore and Trichy town.

46 comments:

Anu said...

This is one temple which will take days to cover.... i was there for a few hours, and felt that i could just stay there looking at the beautiful sculptures and paintings for ever! did you know that with permission you can climb the stairs to see the inside of the gopuram? that is one thing i plan to do the next time i visit! IF only it wasnt so far away!!!

Insignia said...

Thank you very very much. I have been thinking to go to Tanjore to get lost in this architectural marvel. I have been there as a kid and dont recall much. It would never be enough to learn entirely about the temple. I hope I can visit it sooner, now that I have read your post, my urge is more. Excellent pictures. Thanks again

KParthasarathi said...

I have seen this magnificent temple years back.Your post has done adequate justice covering all the salient features.I could not see any pictures.Atleast pictures of the temple vimanam and the great Nandi would have given an idea of its beauty

KParthasarathi said...

Sorry , the slide show of the pics came after the comment was posted.It is wonderfully done.Thanks a bunch

chitra said...

Anu
I know that permission would be given. But my acrophobia prevented me from seeking it.

chitra said...

Insignia
When you visit the temple see that you be there before the sun gets very warm. Other wise it would be difficult to move around .

chitra said...

KP
I am happy you could see the slide show. Thanks for the comment.

anupama said...

Dear Chitra,
Good Evening!
Simply beautiful!Wonderful photos and soothing atmosphere!I loved the natural colours and paintings.
Your photos will make the reader visit the temple.
May Lord Shiva Bless You!
Wishing you a lovely night,
Sasneham,
Anu

R. Ramesh said...

good one yar..i have visited years ago...wonderful C..thanks for sharing such good posts with all of us..

chitra said...

Anupama
It was really a lovely experience when I could see Siva's resplendent idol during deepradhana. It was really a grand sight indeed.

chitra said...

Thanks dear Ramesh

SG said...

Nice post. Excellent pictures. It is an engineering marvel. The construction was done in such a way that the shadow of the cupola never falls on the ground.

....Petty Witter said...

My favourite temple yet. So imposing and regal, the decorations are so beautiful it is difficult to believe all the stone work is of natural colouring. How I would love to see this building for myself.

Sushma Mallya said...

This is something very beautiful, very divine...would love to visit this one...

chitra said...

SG
It is not true that the shadow of the cupola does not fall on the ground or that is what many say. I have been reading some articles regarding this and I have come across many, challenging this claim . That is why I didn't mention that in my post.

chitra said...

Sushma
When you make the S. Indian trip include this too in your list.

chitra said...

Dear PW
If you come to my place I would take you to this place, that is a promise.It is only 165 Kms. from my house.

....Petty Witter said...

Just stopping by to wish you well - these viral bugs can be awful. Look after yourself, see you soon. PW.

? said...

Chitra! Lucky you!
Thank you for taking us to this wonderful place; the temples of Shiva in Tamil Nadu have so much to offer and there is so much yet to be discovered about the sculptures and frescos in these complexes

chitra said...

?
Truly said... I think one life is not sufficient to learn,enjoy, explore about various marvels inside these temples.

lostworld said...

Like everyone , even I've always wanted to visit this temple !! It just looks so majestic in pictures I cannot imagine how regal it must actually be ! I saw the photos & loved the Vimaanam, paintings..Entire temple looks like it is made out of sandstone. But there's no picture of the Lingam. Photos not allowed is it?

bettyl said...

As always, your photos and information are awesome!

chitra said...

lostworld
No temples allow cameras near the sanctum. Even if its allowed the the shutter bugs will create problem for people to have a peaceful darshan.

chitra said...

Betty
Thanks for the comment

Anonymous said...

No doubt it is wonderful And rewinds memory when I was at Vrindavan - Bhooto ka mahal. Somewhat similar architecture.
Thanks for sharing.
Keep writing.

Mridula said...

Have to travel to this one day. It looks majestic.

chitra said...

Appu
I want to see Vrindavan too.When I visit I would seek your guidance

chitra said...

Mridula

Really a marvel,must see for anybody.Thanks

Arti said...

The temple architecture is amazingly beautiful!
Looks very grand.. The paintings inside looks very beautiful too!
As you have said above..must see for anybody!!

sm said...

excellent slide show
beauty of temple one can feel it

chitra said...

Arti
Thanks for the comment.

chitra said...

sm
Thanks for the comment.

Neena Sharma said...

Very informative! I haven't seen much of South India and a visit to Tanjore is very much on the cards.

Samvedna said...

last year I had olanned to see this, but then solar eclipse cancelled my visit:(

chitra said...

Samvedana
try to make it this year,This year it is celebration its 1000 years of magnificence.

bettyl said...

Your virtual tours are just great! Will you ever run out of temples to show us???!

HaRy!! said...

tanjavur maniyeduthu..kaveri... song maranthurichi..... china vayasala ithu yelam partha nyabagam!remember my grandma stories

R. Ramesh said...

hey thanks ya:)nanriiiiiiiiii

chitra said...

Neena Sharma
I am sure you would enjoy the trip.Thanks for stopping by

chitra said...

Betty
thanks for the comment.Even five lives won't be sufficient to cover all the temples in India. Now you are seeing only some of the South Indian temples.After this there are East,North, West.One life not sufficient.

chitra said...

Hary
enaku antha pattu theriyadhu. Tanjore is not far from Karur ,you can always plan a trip when you are here.

Traci said...

Celebrating a millenium? Wow! One of the things that I love about reading your travels is that you are celebrating such an old culture. We celebrate churches that are a century or two. You share places of such divine age and history that it gives me chills! I just love coming here!

chitra said...

Traci,
You are most welcome to India , the land of temples, which has a rich cultural heritage. Like I promised Petty Witter I am repeating to you also come here, I will take you this wonderful place.

Unknown said...

thank you for that wonderful narrative. I have been to this temple once & would love to again & again

Venkiteswaran Ranganathavadhyar said...

For some time now I was thinking of visiting this temple. Now after reading this it has developed into an urge. Thank you Chitra

chitra said...

Thank you Mr. Venkiteshwaran , Happy to meet you here.I am sure you would enjoy this marvel. Please go ahead with your plans.