Nandhi (bull), the vahana of Brihadisvara (Lord Siva) in front of the sanctum sanctorum was built by the Nayaka rulers in the early 16th century CE.
|Nandhi - the vahana (transport) of Lord Shiva - SOOC|
The sheer size of the Nandhi itself is impressive. Again, the mandapam (hall) is filled with artistic sculptures, including the Nayaka king himself!
|Nayaka ruler, who built the Nadhi Mandapam - Shadow Shot Sunday 2 and Sky Watch|
Story telling sculptures in different colored granite stones! These sculptures either reflect day-to-day life in those days or scenes from Hindu puranaas (epic).
Here is the story of the above sculptures
1 - Hanumaan carrying Sanjeevi hills as per Hindu Epic Ramayana
2 - Siva devotee
3 - Night watchman - note the stone carved cloak covered from his head and the stick
4 - Dancing girl - holding a creeper
Maratha rulers invaded Thanjai during 17th/18th Century CE. They further adorned the temple with bright paintings, including the ceiling of Nandhi mandapam!
More art work in the pragaaras (buildings/halls around sanctum sanctorum)...
Goddess Gaja Lakshmi is one of the 8 forms of Lakshmi, and represents prosperity and good luck. You can see that this deity sits in Padmasana, one of the best yoga postures!
Goddess Kaali is an incarnation of Parvathi or Sakthi, Consort of Lord Shiva. Kaali is associated with destroying evil and She is believed to be the redeemer of life.
It is amazing to see these time tested art and architecture. Every time I visit this temple, I guess I will have more pictures and stories to tell!