In South India, you will find several old temples which are dedicated to Hindu Gods. One such temple that we are going to talk about today is Brihadisvara Temple. It is one of the largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. In addition to this, the temple is located in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
The temple depicts amazing Dravidian Architecture and Brihadisvara Temple is also referred to as Dhakshina Meru. Let us learn more about the Brihadisvara Temple below.
During 850 AD and 1290 AD, Chola was a dominant dynasty and they developed several temples in South India. This was mainly because they had large territories in South India.
Talking about the history of Brihadisvara Temple, the very first thing that you must know is that the temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I and the temple was built between 1003 and 1010 AD. There are several inscriptions on the temple which are in Tamil and Grantha Scripts.
Today, the temple is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is known as Great Living Chola Temples. There had also been several attempts to repair the temple in past. The temple had been damaged during the wars with Muslim rulers but the rulers of that era renovated the temple. There had also been the addition of shire in 16th and 17th century in the temple. Like for example, Shrines of Kartikeya, Parvati, Nandi and Dakshinamurti were added in the later part of the century.
- The area occupied by the temple is 44.7 acre and there is also a buffer zone of 23.7 acres. The complex is in a rectangle shape and it is divided into 5 different sections.
- The face of the temple is in the east with a water moat around it. The water moat has now been filled up and you might not be able to notice it at all. As mentioned earlier, there are two gates to the temple
- At the entrance of the temple, there is a statue of Nandi Bull which is 2 meter high, 6 meters tall and 2.5 meters It is known that the statue of Nandi bull is made of single stone.
- There are pictures of many deities in the temple but since the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the first thing that you will notice is a 3.7 meter tall Shiva Linga inside the temple. It is also known that there is another Shiva Linga in the temple with a height of 8.7 meter
- There are two entrance to the temple and the height at which the temple was built is 5 meters. The outer walls of the temple have a deep moat and they resemble the walls of a fort.
- The total height of the temple is 60.96 meter and you must also know that the temple has two mandapas.
- The first mandapa in the temple is known to be pillared while the second one is the assembly hall.
- There is also a Pradakshina in the temple which is made with the help of the inner and outer wall.
- Apart from the information listed above, we know that there are several more statues in the temple and most of them are at least 6 feet tall.
- There are sculptures and mural all around the temple.
Interesting Facts about the Laxmi Narayan Temple
1. One of the most interesting facts that we found out about the temple is that there is a chamber inside the temple which is called Karuvarai. It does not clearly know what is inside this chamber because the only a priest is allowed to enter this chamber.
2. Earlier, there was a different Nandi Bull in the temple which was removed and replaced by the new one. As per one of the story, the Nandi kept growing in the size and hence it was bolted to the ground to stop the growth.
3. The structure is massive and it required a lot of planning. It is known that each and every detail related to construction, ceremonies and gifts received was documented. All this was documented as an inscription on the walls of the temple.
4. As you might know, the temple is made of granite and it is one of the hardest material known to man. Presently, diamond tipped tools are used to work with granite and it was surely an archaeological wonder to build the temple in that era.
5. It is also known that Vimana has hollow interiors and it was made with the help of interlocked material. The structure is very stable even when it was constructed without any binding material
Things to Do
- One of the major festivals at Brihadisvara Temple is Mahashivratri so you can visit the temple during this time and witness the rich heritage and culture. The celebrations are grand.
- There are also some cultural events organized at Brihadisvara Temple during the year. Brihadisvara Temple Is fixed venue for annual dance festivals which are organized around Mahashivratri. The festival lasts 10 days and it is something that you can’t miss.
- You can explore the architecture in and around the temple if you plan to visit the Brihadisvara Temple. For example, you can visit Gangaikonda Cholapuram, The Serfoji Saraswati Mahal Library, Tirunallar Saniswaran Temple, Thanjavur Royal Palace, Vijayanagara Fort etc.
The temple is well connected by road and train but you need to plan your visit according to the time of the temple. The visiting hours for the Brihadisvara Temple are 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
Since the temple is huge, you would need 2 to 3 hours to complete the whole tour of the temple. It should be noted that the temple is open for 365 days a year.
There is no entry fee for the temple and anyone can visit the temple in the right faith.
I hope the information about the great Brihadisvara Temple will help you understand its significance and the beauty of its modern architecture blended with Indian mythology.