Thanjavur Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple
The origin of the Magnificent Sri Brihadeeswarar temple goes back late 10th century and early 11th century. This temple stands within a fort, whose wall are later additions built in the 16th century. The towering Vimanam is about 200 feet in height and is referred to as Dakshina Meru. The octagonal Shikharam rests on a single block of granite weighting 81 tons. It is believed that this block was carried up a specially built ramp built from a site 6 km away from here.
Huge Nandi dot the corners of the Shikharam, and the Kalasam on top by itself is about 3.8 meters in height. Hundreds of stucco figures bejewel the Vimanam, although it is possible that some of these may have been added on during the Maratha period. The Shivalingam Peruvudaiyar, is a huge one, set in a two storied sanctum, and the walls surrounding the sanctum delight visitors as a store house of murals and sculptures.
The long parkaram surrounds the great temple (500 feet. 250 feet), and the walls surrounding the prakaram again go back to Raja Raja Cholan’s period. The walls house long pillared corridors, which abound in murals, Shiva Lingams and Nandis.
The Periya Nayaki temple within the temple is a later addition from the Pandya period, and so is the Subramanyar Temple sung later by the Saint poet Arunagirinathar.
Incidents from the lives of the Nayanmars, several of the 108 Bharata Natyam Dance postures, manifestations of Shiva are depicted in sculptured panels or in exquisite Chola murals. Both the interior, and the exterior walls of the temple, are replete with images of the kind described above.
The sanctum, the Arthamandapam, the Mukhamandapam and the Mahamandapam, although distinct, form a composite unit with an imposing appearance that awes visitors, forcing one to wonder how such timeless architectural feat was executed about a 1000 years ago.
Entrances to the mandapams and the towered entrances to the Prakarams are majestic. The grandeur of the Prakarams ae majestic. The grandeur of the architecture and the sculptural finesses speaks volumes of the skills of the Imperial Cholas. Inscriptions refer to Shiva as Dakshina Meru Vitankar and Aadavallan.
The Nandi, which dates back to the Naick period, is housed n its own mandapam and it matches up to the grandeur and size of the temple. It is a monolithic Nandi weighing about 25 tonnes, and is about 12feet high and 20feet long.
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