Thanjai Priya Koil (Brihadisvara Temple) - 10th Century Chola Living Temple

My love for Thanjai temple (Thanjavur Big Temple or Brihadisvara Temple) had flared up after reading the historical fiction 'Ponniyin Selvan', by Kalki. Well, the fiction is deeply rooted in the life and achievements of Raja Raja Cholan the great Indian ruler of the Chola dynasty.

As per the novel, Raja Rajan developed a strong desire to build a huge temple for Lord Shiva after he returned from his successful invasion of Sri Lanka. There, he had seen colossal Buddha statues  all over the country. The monks had told him that lofty Buddha statues represents endless mercy and divine nature of their God Buddha. Attracted by this concept, Raja Raja wanted to build a monumental temple that would befit Lord Siva in his kingdom as well!!!

Lets enter the temple premises...I guess you can feel my excitement.

The Maratha Fort Entrance and Keralanthakan Gopura (tower)

The gopura (tower) you see in the above picture was built in the 10th CE to commemorate the victory of Raja Raja Chola over the Kerala rulers of the Chera Dynasty! However, the Maratha rulers of the 16th/17th Century CE, added the fort that is shown in the foreground of the above shot.

Layout of the temple and the inscription briefing about the temple

This has been declared as World Heritage site by UNESCO, but locally it is yet to gain the due recognition:(

2nd entrance - Raja Rajan Gopuram

Sculptures and inscriptions in the Raja Rajan Gopuram

No words to describe the beauty, and am sure my pics do not justify the grandeur of the granite carvings!

The majestic courtyard with huge Nandhi Mandapam and renowned granite Raja Gopuram (Main Tower) in the background

Before, going into the main temple, you will be awed by the larger than life Nandhi. This will be covered in a separate post.

Side view

Lord Siva resides in this temple in the name of Brihadisvara or Peruvudayar. Like any living temple, cameras are not allowed in sanctum sanctorum.

The dome is a single granite weighing around 81 tonnes!

This tower is built in such a way that the shadow NEVER falls on the ground! Just can't guess how Raja Raja managed to design this architectural wonder, in those days!!!

Let me show you some beautiful sculptures in the external walls...

Goddess - Sakthi on the left and Vishnu Durga on your right

Gate Keeper! - SOOC

Legendary warriors!?

Even the less visible side walls are adorned with sculptures and stone inscriptions. In fact, these inscriptions are a treasure trove that details the life in Chola period.

Here is the abode of Murga, son of Lord Siva

Each step that I took in the temple was nostalgic and I was imagining the days when the temple was built. It felt so good to walk on the same path of the 10th Century CE legendary ruler!


Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous pictures!

Tatjana Parkacheva said...

Very interesting post and beautiful photos.

Regards and best wishes

Southwest Arkie said...

Wow- I feel like I have been on a tour- thanks, I learned a lot on this visit!

LadyFi said...

Gorgeous temple! Amazing architecture.

Kara said...

Very interesting post and lovely pictures. It is amazing that the place is that old!!

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