Brihadeeshwara Temple is one of the largest Hindu South Indian temples dedicated to Lord Shiva based in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu state, in India.
It is also known by other names as Rajesvara Peruvudaiyar or Brihadeeswarar Temple.
Brihadeeshwara temple reclaimed name as the `Great Living Chola` temples along with Airavatesvara temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple of Chola dynasty era.
It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site now. It is one of the highly attractive tourist spot in Tamil Nadu.
The temple is one of the Most Numbers of Visitors attractions in Tamil Nadu.
It is believed that Raja Raja Chola I have built this magnificent and big temple about 1000 years ago.
It was built during the 11th century to celebrate military victory and also as a tribute and an identity of the power of Raja Raja Chola I.
Incorporated with the classical Dravidian architectural design the temple represents the ideology of Tamil civilization and Chola Empire.
The original monuments of the temple were built around moat surrounded by Grand Anaicut River on the other side.
The temple architecture predominantly is related to Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism. The 11th century temple contains the main shrine, huge Gopurams, massive tower along with ancient inscriptions and frescoes and sculptures respectively.
One can witness Vimanam (temple tower), which is one of the tallest in Southern India and its ‘Kumbam’ or ‘Chikharam’ or ‘Kalasha’, (the structure on the top).
It also boasts of a massive colonnaded corridor- ‘prakara’.
The temple had witnessed ruins and was damaged amidst the fortified walls added during 16th century. The artworks contained in the temple also were damaged. The mandapam and monuments seen today was later added on during 16th century.
Brihadeeswara Temple hosts one of the largest Shiva Lingas in India. A huge Shiva lingam more than 12 feet tall welcomes devotees with huge statue of Nandi (sacred bull) at the entrance.
It is also renowned for its rich sculpture and acclaimed as the prime location of brass idol of ‘Nataraja’- the form of Dancing Shiva dated 11th Century A.D.
The surprising fact about the architecture is that the shadow of the temple never falls on the ground at the Noon.
The complex also included other deities in various shrines- the Shiva Family- Ganesha, Parvati, Kartikeya, and mount Nandi. Other deities include
Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandeshvara, Varahi and others.
The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other temples of the Chola Dynasty era situated towards north east such as Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple (70 kms) and Airavatesvara temple (40 kms) respectively.
How to Reach
By Air- Tiruchirappalli (TRZ)– 48 Km away from Thanjavur
By Train- Thanjavur Junction (TJ)
By Bus- Thanjavur Bus station
1003 and 1010
Raja Raja Chola I
Style : Chola Architecture