By- Khushi Bisht
Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, is an ancient Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva. RajaRajeswara Temple and Periya Kovil are some of the other names for the temple. King Rajaraja Chola I, a devout follower of Lord Shiva, established this formidable structure in the 11th century. The structure was built over a seven-year span from 1003 to 1010AD, and it was finished in Rajaraja’s reign’s 25th year. It was built to symbolize the King’s influence and power during the Chola dynasty.
The temple is a great representation of Dravidian architecture, and it reflects Tamil culture and the Chola Empire’s ideologies. The paintings and creative stone artwork of the 1000-year-old temple are still well-known. The paintings have stood the test of time, illuminating the delicate features with vibrant colors.
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The Brihadeeswara temple is the world’s first fully constructed granite temple and is said to have been built with about 1,30,000 tonnes of granite. Even though granite is more difficult to carve than marble, the temple has a great architectural appearance. Holes were drilled into the granite stones and then filled with water, for a period of time, causing them to crack and afterward carved into an astounding creation. Archaeologists and Historians are baffled by the fact that there were no granite quarries within a 100-kilometer radius of the temple. This fact just adds to its awe.
What’s more remarkable is that the uppermost section of the temple is carved from a single stone block, weighing 80 tonnes. On the foundation, a huge stairwell of rollers was built to help men and elephants lift 80 tonnes of stone. The inclined plane was built from Sarappalam, a village located 7 kilometers outside of town. A massive Nandi (Lord Shiva’s gate-guardian deity) stands at the front of the temple. It stands two meters tall, six meters long, and two and a half meters wide, and weighs a staggering 25 tonnes for a sculpture made of a single block.
The primary Shiva Lingam stands at a height of 13 feet. It is constructed from single river rock. Various positions from the famed traditional dance, Barathanatyam, are meticulously engraved on the temple’s upper story’s outer walls. There is also proof that the shrine served as a stage for skilled dancers to perform. These are the very first representations of this kind.
More than a hundred underground tunnels are said to link the large Brihadeeswara temple to numerous other locations. It was commonly recognized as a survival trap for the monarchy. It was constructed for kings and royalty.
The temple’s extensive carvings in stone provide insight into the temple’s architecture, rites, and rewards, as well as the many offerings it once got. These carvings, including the shrine’s splendid architecture and sculpture, and speak volumes about its creator, one of the most famous Chola Kings, Rajaraja Chola I, and how successful his kingdom was.
This temple commemorates a glorious era of South Indian history. It is regarded as one of India’s most important temples. It serves as a sign of past glory and a reason to cherish it.