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.