Thanjavur Big Temple: The “MUST-SEE” Monument of South India

As you may have noticed, In this blog I try to steer away from India’s well known monuments and sights. India has so much to offer in the realm of architectural monuments and historical edifices, that I tend to focus on the lesser known offerings.

I consider the Peruvudaiyar Koil, or Brihadeeswara Temple of Thanajavur to be a well known monument. A british TV documentary has even been done on it. So why am I featuring it in this blog? I had a dream that I was on a journey to Thanjavur, and the name Brihadeeswara kept repeating over and over again throughout the dream until I woke up.

The Brihadeeswara Temple was conceived by Emperor Raja Raja I (985-1013 AD) as the first of a series of great Tamil Chola building projects, and its foundations were laid in 1002 AD. The temple is the first building fully built by granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchchirapalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur, and finished within 5yrs(1004AD – 1009 AD). The vimana or (temple tower) is 216 ft (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single stone and weighs more than 80 tons.

This temple was the tallest building in the world at the time that it was built.

It is not my intention to make this the “go-to” article on the Brihadeeswara Temple, for that go to the Brihadeeswara Temple Site.

An excellent route by which to see this temple is from Tiruchirappalli. One could do a three to five day exploration of SriRangam, The Rock Fort and other sites in Trichy, the Chola Temples in Thanjavur, Kumbakonam for Nava Graha Yatra, and on to Chidambaram to see the Nataraj Temple there.

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