Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

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Brahadisvara temple  is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva in the city of Tanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the largest temples in India and an architectural example of the Chola dynasty.
Thanjavur is one of the oldest cities in South India. Its heyday falls on the IX-XII centuries, when it was the capital of the powerful Chola Empire. In the 17th century Tanjavur became the capital of the principality of the same name within the Maratha state. From the middle of the 17th century, this principality was ruled by maharajas – the descendants of Prince Ekodzhi, brother of the founder of the Maratha state, commander Shivaji. The Tanjavur principality was liquidated by the British in 1855.
Brahadisvara  temple in Thanjavur (South India) dedicated to Shiva. Built around 1110. The Brahadisvara ensemble includes a high shikhara pyramid, placed on an almost square base of the sanctuary, gate gopuram towers (height 60 m). Brahadiswara is a prime example of the art of the Chola dynasty. The temple is distinguished by the utmost simplicity and clarity of planning, the clarity of the silhouette; sculptural decor (images of dancing Shiva, door guards – dvarapala, heavenly dancers) is strictly subordinate to the architectonics of the building. Numerous wall paintings have survived.
Brahadisvara temple  is considered to be one of the most important temples in South India and is one of the three “great temples of the Chola dynasty” (together with the Brihadishvara temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavateshvara temple in Darasuram). Chola is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temple is now a popular tourist attraction and a donation is expected upon entry.

Access : Coordinates: 10.782778, 79.131667 / The Brihadeswara Temple is located in the city of Thanjavur, about 350 kilometres (220 mi) southwest of Chennai.

Highlights :

  •  Its pinkish stone gopuram – a pyramidal tower covered with a stone pattern, traditional for South Indian temples – rises 60 meters and reigns over city streets, flat roofs and the palace of the former rulers of Thanjavur.The construction of the temple was started around 985, and completed in 1009 (according to other sources – in 1012). Its creation is one of the most outstanding achievements of the art of the Chola era.
    The rectangular lower tier of the gopuram, which serves as a pedestal for the entire structure, is covered with stone carvings and sculptures. The statues, many of which reach grandiose proportions, are installed in shallow niches. In the first place, of course, are the numerous statues of the dancing god Shiva, his wife Parvati and other gods of the Indian pantheon.
  •  The temple is located inside a double rectangular enclosure of 270 meters by 140 meters, probably built in the sixteenth century.The temple’s vine is 65 meters high3 and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. There is a large statue of Nandi, the sacred bull, carved from a single stone. It is located at the entrance of the temple and measures around 5 meters long and 4 high.
  •  It consists of the main shrine covered by the Vimana preceded by a vestibule (antarala) with stairs on each side. As well as two halls with columns: artha mandapa (36 pillars), maha mandapa (approximately 70 pillars). They were used to bring together the assembly of the faithful or for public ceremonies. There is also a pavilion for the Nandi bull and secondary temples within the enclosure.
  •  The monolithic block at the top weighs 81 tonnes. According to a local legend, a dirt ramp of more than 6 km would have been installed to climb this block to the top of the vimâna.
  •  Since 1987, the temple has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the intact large Chola Temple. The reason given is that the Brihadishvara Temple is the first good example of Chola architecture, was built in an extraordinary and creative architectural style and represents the art of Chola. In 2004 the World Heritage Site was expanded to include the temples of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram.

Activities : sightseeing / Photography, Architecture Photography / Ancient Culture Study / guided tours.

Go next : The city of Tanjavur / The city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu state in South India / Tiruvannamalai, also known as Arunachala, is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamil Nadu.

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