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.

Chola Frescoes at Tanjore Big Temple
Krishna Mandapam, Mahabalipuram

34 Responses to “Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

  • Beautiful photo's and nice writeup Indrani and hey do u mind if i call you indra?

    people standing near the gopuram in the second and the last photo gives the scale of these mamoth towers and i like the way you have cropped/composed the 3rd and the 4th photo. One of my friend have mentioned about this place a few times and i wanted to visit this place.

    I recently visited shravanabelagola and will be post some photo's soon and was wondering if i can backlink your post on this place in my blog post, let me know if that's ok

    Have a nice week ahead


  • Amazing Indrani
    You let us see the beauty from your country 🙂
    They are so big and high ..

  • Such gorgeous images! 🙂

  • Wow wow wow… magnificent temple and I love the photo of its silhouette with the moon!

  • Fantastic captures as always, Indrani! You always manage to take my breath away with your photos of the amazing buildings/temples/towers in your country! Would love to be able to see them myself one day. Hope you have a great week!


  • How buildings this magnificent were built so long ago is mind boggling! It;s incredibly beautiful at night.

  • IMHO the entire country of India should be a UNESCO world heritage sight.

  • Hi Indrani! Sorry for another long absence, but after a busy start of the year I decided to make a break during the Carnival week, anticipating new hard weeks ahead!!

    Wonderful place!! Yourpictures are excellent! As always…

    Meanwhile, Blogtrotter 2 is at sea. Hope you enjoy and have a great week!!

  • Fabulous photos! Such impressive architecture…unbelievable!

  • It is indeed one of the most beautiful temples in Inida… i remember the feeling the minute I laid eyes on it… after years of waiting….. u can spend the whole day there.. and even more, actually,… and did u know that if u ask, u can also get permission to climb up the inside of the gopuram???? my sister-in-law did that and came back impressed! now i want to go there again just for that!

  • nice shots.. It is one of my favourite places.

  • This is truly magnificent temple. You have captured it very beautifully.

  • Amazing and going back all the way to 1010. India has an incredible cultural history.

  • A M A Z I N G !!!!

  • Thank you for the account.Beautiful pictures.

  • Amazing, indeed. These people are not bulliedby the number 13, I see. The stories these images tell are great. The humble and the grand combine.

  • Indrani,

    I love *traveling* with you! The temples are magnificent with their distinctive towers. My two favorite shots: the one with the moon and the one in the evening.

  • Such timeless beauty!

  • I spent just about a little more than an hour at this place. I hated to leave. Such a beautiful place. And it is different from the temples in the south. And what I liked best is that it not painted the garish blue and pink, but are left in their original state.

  • The temple is spectacular and your photographs are amazing. I love the way you showed it to us at different times of day and in different lighting conditions. They are all great but the next to the last is my favorite.

  • So beautiful. I love it at night espsecially.

  • Amazing how this temple survive the ravages of time. Immortal structure, must be. Thankfully because an inheritance from the past well preserved. Great post and photo here.

  • A friend went on a pilgrimage recently and he visited the temples around Chennai. Very impressive!

  • These are simply gorgeous! I can only imagine how magnificent it was in person.

  • Amazing architecture 🙂 I liked the third image very much 🙂

  • Magnificent pictures of a magnificent temple.

  • Fascinating structure! What a temple!!

  • Awesome architecture…!

  • Wow. I think this temple was built before the very first people even set foot on New Zealand. It really boggles the mind how they could build such huge and heavy buildings so long ago.

  • Wonderful photographs. The photography opportunities from Brihadeeswarar Temple look incredible. I’d love to visit and zoom in a bit and really pick up the details on these imposing buildings.

  • Such a stunning and magnificent structure! The carvings are extraordinary. The sheer size and weight of the top part of the temple is astounding. An architectural feat. Have not really spent much time here, but would love to get there.

  • This temple is truly stunning! The architecture is awesome! Is it possible to enter it inside?

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