An enormous Tamil style temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with exceptional Dravidian Architecture putting on show elevated walls, forts like entrance, separate rooms inside, and long corridors is worth traveling in the Southeastern part of India in the province of Tamil Nadu famed for its stature and detail yet a perplexing architecture – Brihadeeshwara Temple also recognized by other names like Rajarajeswaram or in its native language Peruvudaiyar Kovil.
Brihadeeshwara Temple’s history springs from the Chola Dynasty, back in time temples were symbolic of the strength of a ruler, his accomplishments, and the prosperity of a place. Foundations of the first among incredible buildings of Chola were laid down by emperor Raja Raja Chola I during 1002 CE who after returning from his visit to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) appointed its fabrication in honor of his dynasty. It took nine years to finish off and was in 1011 AD.
Brihadeeshwara Temple is specified as a cultural UNESCO heritage site perceived as great living Chola Temple also listed in southeastern Asian religious structure of Hindus. This temple testifies to Cholas’s brilliant achievement in architecture painting, bronze casting, and sculpture. Administration of this temple was always a bait which kept on juggling from Cholas downpour to surge of Pandyas to Vijayanagara in 1535 later on to Marathas and was ultimately conquered by Britishers.
The Tale Attributed To Lord Shiva
The second facet of Brihadeeshwara Temple is that tale of the building is attributed to aliens, sorcery, or even the lord Shiva himself due to the source of resources consumed in the formation of the temple which compels the community to think this way. But in actuality, more than one thousand elephants carry the slabs of granite to Thanjavur from miles away.
The layout of the Brihadeeshwara Temple is quite grand and intimidating from the entrance itself but fairly straightforward once you understand. Temple possesses three Gopurams (doors/gateways) magnified with structures and a pair of Dvarpalas (guardian figure) guiding to the main square. In front of the gopuram, we see a cow shrine -Nandi. Along the boundary of the wall are open corridors Mandapas (worship rooms). In the interior stands Vimana with an elevated tower encompassing the central shrine.
Here are the few enigmas and facts about Brihadeeshwara Temple that have constantly raised the eyebrows of archaeologists in amazement and will make you inquisitive enough to explore the place.
- Source of Granite: Thanjavur is a valuable red soil area, where there is no cue of granite stone but the entire temple is achieved by utilizing granite on contrary evidence reveals that there was no granite cutting quarry or even sources to get the stone through Thanjavur. In actual fact, Granite stone is not available within 50kms around to source the granite. Don’t know from where and how it was sourced for the arrangement of the temple.
- No Tying Up Material: One can hardly believe one’s eye upon seeing the tall structure that goes on standing. Vimana is built adopting the strategy of interlocking bricks and the fortunate part is that it has withstood for so many centuries and even catastrophes like an earthquake. What an exemplary equilibrium the temple has is praiseworthy.
- Capstone: The elevation of the Vimana is moderately around six stories tall and was an enormous layout in Southern India. Here the remarkable part is the topmost structure of the Brihadeeshwara Temple is a single stone weighing 80 tonnes but how it was positioned up there back in the time when the wisdom of escalators or machine was not comprehended.
- Wall Paintings: Truly a sight to behold! High-quality paintings and frescoes on the walls of this temple portray the rise and swoop of the city’s prosperity. Explicitly reflect the cultural excellence of the Chola kingdom but the intriguing facet is that the colors are still very bright and fresh even after thousands of years!
- No Shadow: Surely this is going to whoop you! This architectural marvel by Raja Raja Chola has an unusual characteristic or some population like to acknowledge it as a bizarre fact that the shadow of gopuram doesn’t fall on the ground. No matter what season you explore. However, the substantial fact is that shadow of such a huge structure does not fall within the perimeters of the temple but throws a shadow exterior from the main ground towards the periphery consequently one cannot catch a glimpse of it because of the lush green belt surrounded the temple.
- Underground Passage: Beneath the soil of the temple lies more than hundreds of corridors navigating you to different spots. This has been interpreted as a confidential passage or a protected passage to make way for the kings to other significant places. Some of the tunnels steer to hazardous spots as the map of these subsurface pathways is foreign. Currently, all the tunnels are sealed.
- Contradicting Structural Design: Brihadeeshwara Temple has smaller gates (gopurams) and a large temple building (vimana) which is completely conflicting with its South Indian temple culture where gates (gopurams) are bigger than the main temple (vimana).
How to Reach Brihadeeshwara Temple
- By Air: Nearest airport comes about to be Tiruchirapalli Airport (65kms)
- By Rail: Thanjavur is the nearest rail station to this temple which is only 1.9km away.
- By Road: Easily accessed from nearby cities through a bus. 1km away from Thanjavur’s old bus stand and 5.2km far from the New Trichy Central bus stand. Buses are frequently running throughout the day (both government and private)
Timing – 05:30AM to 12:00PM & 04:00PM to 08:00PM
Also Visit: Jaipur, the Pink CIty of India