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Hidden Treasures of Thanjavur

Updated on February 4, 2014

Big Temple - Thanjavur

Thanjavur Big Temple
Thanjavur Big Temple | Source

Hidden Treasures

The encyclopedia Britannica describes the Tamil speaking people as 'perhaps the greatest temple builders in the world'. It describes the mighty BIG TEMPLE in Thanjavur, conceived by the Emperor Raja Raja Cholan and built by his master architects, as the "grandest temple in India".

Unfortunately, the temple has gained fame within the state, but it grandeur is still not well known to the rest of the world. The tower is built in the pure Dravidian style and raises to a height of 66meters. A massive, monolithic bull, chiseled out of a single rock - a big one in the state of Tamil Nadu.

A recent discovery made in the inner courtyard of the temple has delighted connoisseurs of art-fresco paintings of the Chola period, similar to those in the Ajantha Caves and Sigiria in Sri Lanka.

Thanjavur Saraswathi Mahal is one among few ancient libraries surviving in the world. The Encyclopaedia Britannica in its study of the Libraries of the world specifies Saraswathi Mahal as "the most exceptional Indian manuscript collection".

Thanjavur Saraswathi mahal is one among the age-old libraries in the Asian continent. It has on presentation a rare gathering of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in Tamil, Hindi, English, Telugu, Marathi, and a several different Indian languages.

The biggest share of the manuscripts (39,000) is in Sanskrit (inscribed in texts such as Grantham, Deva-nagari and Telugu). Tamil palm leaf manuscripts number over 3500, containing titles in literary works, music and medical science.

Big Temple of Thanjavur

At the core of the Chola dynasty power formation, in the capital of Thanjavur, Emperor Raja Raja Cholan constructed his magnum opus, the Rajarajeswaram Udayar, to sanctify his protector god Lord Shiva and in compensation for the killings he had created in numerous wars.

This temple was dedicated in 1010 BC, and few besides its name has transformed in the centuries since. During the rule of Nayak dynasty, who followed after the Cholas, the temple was named Periya Udayar Koil, it's Sanskrit translation is Brahadiswara.

But, now the Tamils around the world greet it as Periya Koyil or Big Temple. The central shrine or sanctum Sanctorum has a circumambulated step way between its inner and outer walls.

But this is shut down to public and tourist will need to get a special permit from the Archaeological Survey of India to observe the 1000 years old, delicate Chola murals that are portrayed on these walls.

This Big Temple was dedicated with the fixing of an 80 tones monolith on the top of the tower, which is 60.96 meters tall.

As you approach the city, the great Big Temple with its lofty tower are a wonderful object to view, impressive and elegant. It's base measures eighty feet square and the pyramid raise fourteen stories to the height of two hundred feet.

The top stone is a huge monolith, beautifully carved and weighing eighty tones. The court are not covered over as any other temples in South India, but are open to light and air and within the precincts is an open square six hundred feet by two hundred. There is a huge statue of Nandi in the temple which is carved out of a single rock.


Big Bull Statue

In front of the sanctum Sanctorum, there is an amazing colossal Stone bull (Nandhi), fifteen feet long and twelve feet high, in a couching posture.

This huge and beautiful bull statue, sacred carrier to Lord Shiva faces the magnificent temple, an oblong building of red sandstone, with the huge tower raising nobly over the shrine.

The Stone Nandhi rests upon a platform which you ascend by twelve steps, and has over it a large canopy supporting by granite pillars. Further on the left, but within the enclosure, is another but much smaller shrine, of beautifully carved stone, and cloisters surround the court, covered with coarse pictures of heroes of those days.

Subramanya Temple

To the right, within the court, is the temple of SUBRAMANYA "as exquisite a piece of decorative architecture, as is to be found in the whole India". To steps up to its entrance are supported by small carved elephants with men, in singular altitudes, sitting on or falling from their trunks.

If you can go back to those days, the Thanjavur temple is not just an architectural monument, it is a happening, an inspiration gone but still testifying to the greatness of the dynastic power and the devotion of the people.

It is good not to remember that how much of the rice production and of the military loot were required for this construction.


Big Temple View

Big Temple View
Big Temple View | Source

Big Temple to Turn 1,000.

The successful completion of 1000 years of the construction of the architectural marvel and world heritage site, ‘Brahadeeswara Temple' popularly known as ‘BIG TEMPLE' by King Raja Raja Cholan, will be celebrated in a grand manner in Thanjavur shortly. A decision to this effect was taken during the advisory committee meeting convened by the District Administration to chalk out the plans to commemorate the special occasion.

According to the Archaeology survey of India (ASI) sources, the construction of the temple - the structural marvel - started in 1006 AD and was completed in 1010 AD. The related festival of the Big Temple is now due in October. So the District administration has now decided to celebrate the valediction of 1000 years of the construction of the Big Temple for a period of one week by June of July before the onset of the monsoon. The local administration decided, to recommend to the Government, to release the special postal stamp, coins and currency notes bearing the emblem of Big Temple. The District Administration would organize a photo exhibition, seminar, debate on the Big Temple and the history of Emperor Raja Raja Cholan on this occasion.

Big Temple of Thanjavur

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Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India

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