The Brihadeeswara Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram Temple, is a famous ancient Hindu temple located in the city of Thanjavur (Tanjore) in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant temples of South Indian architecture and culture.
The temple was built during the Chola dynasty, specifically by Emperor Raja Raja I, also known as Raja Raja Chola I, in the 11th century. Construction of the temple began in 1003 AD and was completed in 1010 AD. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is an exemplary example of Dravidian architecture.
Tower: The temple is renowned for its massive Vimana (tower) that stands at around 66 meters (216 feet) tall. It is one of the tallest temple towers in India and is known for its grandeur and architectural excellence.
Nandi: At the entrance of the temple, there is a large Nandi (sacred bull), a sacred vehicle and devotee of Lord Shiva, carved out of a single stone. This Nandi statue is one of the largest in India.
Temple Complex: The temple complex is vast and well-preserved, with various structures like the main sanctum, Nandi pavilion, pillared halls, and courtyards. The architecture reflects the Dravidian style with intricate carvings and sculptures.
Frescoes and Inscriptions: The walls of the temple are adorned with exquisite frescoes depicting various mythological stories and scenes from ancient Hindu scriptures. There are also numerous inscriptions on the walls that provide valuable historical information about the temple and the Chola dynasty.
Lingam: The main deity in the sanctum is a massive Lingam (an abstract representation of Lord Shiva), which is a significant religious symbol for Shaivites.
The Brihadeeswara Temple is not only an important pilgrimage site for devotees but also a remarkable heritage site that attracts history enthusiasts, architecture admirers, and tourists from all over the world. Its architectural brilliance, cultural significance, and historical value have earned it a well-deserved place among the most iconic temples in India.