Tamil Nadu is a Southern most state in India, which is very well known for its ancient historic temples. It has more than 33000 temples. Most of the temples located in Southern location are more than 800 to 2000 years old. This Temple is well known as the Tanjore Big Temple in Tamil Nadu. It marvels out with its giant structure and striking architecture. The Big temple is considered as one of the oldest ancient temples in India and is offered to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is considered one among the Three God heads in Hinduism. The master giant temple was constructed by the great king Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 AD. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
UNESCO declared the Tangore Big temple as one of the Oldest World’s Heritage. They nest the marvel under the “Great Living Chola Temples”. Airavateeswarar Temple and the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple in Tamil Nadu were also declared as one of the greatest heritage monuments.
The temple is built up to a height of 216 feet and the temple is carved out of granite stones which weigh about 130,000 tons. The wondering aspect about this temple architecture is the technology used behind it. The entire temple is made by the method of interlocking stones, in which one rock is kept over the other without using the joint mortars and in some cases, they have used lime mortar for binding of rock pieces. The vast foundation of the temple is made without excavating the earth with a single grain of sand and yet the temple stands in its position and hence it is named as Big Temple. The temple is made with absolute zero degree inclination which makes the temple stand straight for more than 1000 years.
One of the most fascinating features of the temple is its Vimana. It is beautifully carved out and Kumbam is placed at the top most part of the Vimana. This Kumbam weighs almost around 81 tonnes.
Another architectural marvel of the Raja Gopuram is the shadow of the whole gopuram never falls on the ground. This excellent construction done during the historic period is considered as geometrically perfect since it was constructed late 1000s of years ago. The perfect balance and construction technique which made the temple to stand against natural calamities.
The Nandhi statue which is located in front of the temple, sculptured during the Raja Raja Cholan period, kept growing in the size. It could be even because of the unique weather condition and to control its growth, so it was kept aside and nailed to the grounds. However, the current statue before Lord Shiva is a single stone statue and was gifted by the Maratha rulers in the 17th-19thcentury.
Beautiful paintings on the temple structure
The great Cholas have also carved many inscriptions which are made in Tamil signature. These signatures were carved on the walls of the temple. These Tamil signatures convey the rituals performed for Lord Shiva and it also narrates the entire story of the king Raja Raja Chola I and the way he planned and executed the marvel construction of the Big Temple in granite.
More interesting facts about the Tanjore Temple
- The Shiva Lingam centered in Big Temple in Tamil Nadu is considered as one of the World’s largest Lingam. Nandhi, considered as Lord Shiva’s Bull is 13 feet tall Nandi located outside the main temple structure. A single stone piece is carved for making the great Vaahana “Nandhi”. Adding more to its unique beauty, there are a lot of paintings which portrays Lord Shiva and other evil gods like Asuras who are called as “demons”. To relate human with animals, a lot of animal paintings are picturized in the world famous Thanjavur temple. Natural dyes were used in paintings and because of its unique, magnificent work the painting art still remains intact even after crossing 1000 of years.
- In another main temple structure one can spot is two figures which they indicate that they does not look Indian. From the historical references, the 2 figures indicates two European men, one English and the other of French. This statue indicates that during the Chola’s period, the overseas trade was well established.
It is believed that with more than hundred underground passages, leading to various spots, that it makes way to the king’s palace, other temples, important places near Tanjore and many other regions. The most mysterious thing about these tunnels is some paths may also lead to dangerous spots and since the map of the tunnel is unknown, all of them are sealed. Making such an underground tunnels, particularly during war is considered as one of the safety traps of Raja Raja Chola.
There is much more that one have left unseen in this greatest Tanjore Temple. Tanjore, Brihadeeswarar temple is considered as one of the most visited temples rated in India because of its 1000 year old heritage value and construction value.