Great Temple of Thanjavur - An Architectural Masterpiece of Chola Rule in South India

The Pyramidal Tower aboe the Sanctuary of the Temple.
The Pyramidal Tower aboe the Sanctuary of the Temple.

Cholas and Temple Architecture

Thanjavur was the capital of Chola Kingdom during 9th to 13 centuries in Tamilnadu. As the kingdom became powerful the kings patronised arhitects and artisans. This period was one of the important phases in the evolution of Dravidian Architecture. Many temples were built. Mainly Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajaendra Chola, the most powreful kings of the dynasty built two magnificient temples. The Great Temple of Thanjavur is one of them, the other is the temple at Kangaikonda Cholapuram.

This temple is an example for not only for Chola Architecture, but also for sculpture and painting of the period.

Front view of the temple.
Front view of the temple.

The Great Temple of Thanjavur

The Great Temple of Thanjavur was the largest of its time and occupies a site, 800 feet long and 400 feet wide. The compound within its inner wall measures about 500 feet x 250 feet. The Temple is approached by two gateways with towers known as Gopurams. These towers stand on a rectangular base and tapering towards the top. The structure is seen at the middle in Fig. 3. The outer gate tower is a five-tiered construction and the inner one is of three tiers.

A view of the gate towers (gopuram) from inside the compound
A view of the gate towers (gopuram) from inside the compound

Inside the compound the main features of the Temple building are the sanctum sanctorum and the tall tower that stand on it. This tower known as Vimana is the tallest structure in the Temple and rise up to 116 feet from the ground. Sanctum sanctorum is square in shape and the tower above is uniformly tapered towards the top. This can be noticed in the Figures 1 and 2. In front of the sanctum sanctorum there is a long rectangular hall with number of columns supporting the roof.

The Great Temple of Thanjavur

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Comments 31 comments

SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

In my opinion Thanjavur can be considered as a city of marvellous temple architecture. Great photo!


Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

I think this temple is one of the biggest buildings built during that period in India. I visited only once. It is one of my favourite buildings.


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

It reminds me of 'Vat' type of construction, though.


Carol 8 years ago

Having visited The Great Temple last March, I enjoyed the videos very much. Although they are not professional videos, they do give a sense of the size of the Temple grounds and the background sounds certainly brought the experience back.


sweelt  7 years ago

difficult to make it's model . wonder how it was constucted


Works 7 years ago

Me to


sania 7 years ago

i visited there last year &i realy enjoyed the building was fantastically made. And on seing the building only we can guess how much effort every workers have given for making this building.


sania 7 years ago

i visited there last year &i realy enjoyed the building was fantastically made. And on seing the building only we can guess how much effort every workers have given for making this building.


arun 6 years ago

big temple is pride for india


B.TAMIL SELVAM 6 years ago

I am from papanasam in thanjore dt. Big temple is very fentastic artificial gift :)


divya 6 years ago

it is sooooooooooooo beautiful


Vijay 6 years ago

I am proud of Tanjoorian


alice 6 years ago

when we read it and see it it was amazzzzzzzing and marvelous


anjali sharma 5 years ago

when i saw all of these they were fffffaaaaaaaannnnnnntaassssssstttttiiiccccc{fantastic}


sarala 5 years ago

visited amazing art iam proud to say iam an indian. i really hats off to the great artists andthe chola kings. they made us proud


Shreel Garg 5 years ago

IN my opinion Thanjavur is a city of old temples and i think visit to Thanjavur wil be a knowledgeable and a great time .


Eswar 5 years ago

I think Chola is a great builder . I wondered on seeing the temple . its intresting to know that how it was built.


Sunil 5 years ago

I have been to this temple every year, having a dream of constructing similar one,


thillai 5 years ago

I've researched about this temple and want to publish the truth hidden behind the temple so if any one can help to publish it please help me ph-8939389100


sabe 5 years ago

when was it construcyed ??


selva 4 years ago

The temple is very good and the temple is very clean.. It is the tourist place.. It must be maintained properly.. Super.. No words to say about it


Thivya 4 years ago

THE UNKNOWN WONDER OF THE WORLD....


suppu 4 years ago

superb temple


gaurav 4 years ago

it is realy nice.one of the temples whoes name is written in histpry.


shiva 4 years ago

ohyeaohyeaohyeaohyea !!!!! uhuhuhuhuhhuhuhhu !!!


periasamy.s 4 years ago

verynice


PRIYA 4 years ago

IT REALY GREAT


RATHNA PRIYA FROM T.PALLUR 4 years ago

IT REALY GREAT.IT IS HELPFUL TO ALL.FANTASTIC,EXCELLENT...TANJORE BIG TEMPLE IS SO NICE


Pawan Reddy 4 years ago

Yes your information is outstanding!

Thanking you

Pawan Reddy


sonali 3 years ago

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good


good 24 months ago

haaaaaaaaaaa

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