Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is the oldest among the Group of Chola Temples, World Heritage Site in Tamil Nadu, India. It was built in 1010, that is exactly ten centuries back! Raja Raja I of Chola empire (985 – 1014 A.D.) dedicated it to Lord Shiva, as Nataraja, the king of cosmic dance.
Architecture of Brihadeeswarar Temple
The temple is a 13 storey tower made out of granite. Shikhara (dome) alone is believed to weigh almost 80 tonnes. No matter wherever you are in the city of Thanjavur you can see this Big Temple. It is a great point of reference if you get lost. Walls are very high and the entrance is built like a fort, along with a moat. The sheer size and the detailed sculptures on the facade just swept me off my feet. At the top of the shikhara is a metal vase with a lotus design. The pot has inscriptions mentioning the names of various kings.
Most unique factor about the chola temples is that tower over the sanctums is taller than towers over the gopuram(tower) at entrance. The temple tower is 70m high and is credited to be the highest of its kind in the world. It is said that the central stone of the Vimana weighed 235 lbs (plus 35 lbs of gold plating on it). It was carried to the top by a scaffold built especially for this purpose. Length of this was 4 miles long!
We watched the sunset of 26th Dec 2009 here. It was mesmerizing watching the darkness set in and the moon rising over the gopurams. It wasn’t a full moon night yet the soft glow enhanced the evening. We revisited the temple next morning again just to see how it reflected the early rays of sun.