Dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva, the Brihadeeswarar Temple, which is known by the locals of the state of Tamil Nadu in India where it is located as “Big Temple”. This temple is also called with the name Peruvudayar and RajaRajeswara Temple RajaRajeswaram. Situated in the city of Thanjavur this is one of the most ancient and largest temples of India. It showcases the architecture of Dravidians who existed during the Chola period. Having been built in 1010 CE during the reign of Raja Raja Chola I, the temple had already completed almost 1000 years. Brihadeeswara temple is also one among the three entries of the “Great Living Chola temples” of the UNESCO world heritage site.
The Brihadeeswara temple came into being to showcase the power and relationship of the emperor. In order to get the vimana crowned during 1010 A.D that is during 25th regal year’s 275th day Raja Raja Chola handed over a gold plated copper pot called Kalasam for the final sanctification. This temple having been located in the centre of the Chola Empire, it attracted merchants, musicians, craftsmen and scholars. Particularly, it attracted the trained excelled dancers of the form Bharatha Natyam. The Pandyas were the one who ousted the Cholas and later one the Pandy as were followed by the Vijayanagara Empire. In the later years in 1674, Tanjore got conquered by Marathas and consequently much like the other parts of the country, Tanjore also got trapped into the hands of the Bristish. The rise and fall of the Tanjore city has been explicitly inscribed on to the walls of the temple.
The temple has a base of about 29 square cm with a small Gopuram and an elevated Srivimana. It took around 12 long years to build the sanctums and the gopurams inside the temple. The astounding fact about the construction of these Gopurams is that they were constructed from a single piece of granite which weighed around 80 tonnes. The Srivimana is among one of the tallest Vimanas in the world with a great many of 16 tiers which has a height of around 216 ft.
The temple is famous for worshipping the great Lord Shiva and Lingam of Shiva called Rasjarajeshwaramudvya, Peruvudaiya. This colossal Shiva Lingam has been built into a 2-storeyed Garbhagriha. On the inner side of the walls of the sanctum or the garbhagriha feature108 poses of dance which has been performed by Lord Shiva himself. Besides that, a colossal Nandi statue is present and is around 6m in length and 3.7 m in height and it weighs around 25 tonnes. This statue is one of the hugest Nandi statues. You can see two idols of Lord Ganesha in the temple premises before entering the sanctum. In addition to that, there is a Lord Subrahmanya temple of around 55 ft which is believed to be one of the best architectures of Southern India. This temple is one of such temples listed among the list of UNESCO’s World heritage historical monuments and sites.
Satabhisag of every month is considered as a festival of ruling stars and is considered as the birth time of Rajaraja. As per the Hindu calendar, in the month of Visaka, celebration at the temple takes place for a period of 9 days. People worship the Deity by bathing them with Champaka fragrant water.
By Air: The nearest of all the airports present in the nearby area is, Tiruchirapalli Airport which has been connected by the Indian Airlines and is 58 kms away from the temple. In addition to that, Trichy has also been connected to Chennai and Madurai by Indian Airlines.
By Road: Thanjavur has been conveniently connected to all the important cities.
By Train: The nearest railway station to the Brihadeeswara temple is Tanjore.OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN TANJORE
1. The palace: There is a huge temple near the temple which was believed to have been built by Nayaks and Marathas. There you will see on the first floor of the palace a hall of Music (Sangitha Mahal ).
2. The Art Gallery: There are a number of statues of Bronze and Granite of the Chola period and it opens throughout the week except Wednesdays from 9 AM to 1 PM.
3. Schwartz Church: It was built by Raja Serfoji in the garden area of the palace as a token of affection for C.V Schwartz.