The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil or the Big Temple, is a remarkable monument situated in the city of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. This magnificent temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built in the 11th century by the great Chola emperor, Raja Raja Chola I. It is renowned for its architectural grandeur and artistic excellence, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This article will take you on a journey to discover 18 surprising facts about the Brihadeeswarar Temple. From its massive size and architecture to its religious significance and unique features, you will uncover fascinating details about this ancient temple that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Big Temple, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. It was built in the 11th century during the Chola dynasty and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture.
The temple is famous for its grand architecture, immense size, and intricate sculptures. The main structure stands at an impressive height of 66 meters (216 feet) and is one of the tallest temples in the world.
Giant Nandi Statue
Within the temple complex, there is a colossal statue of Nandi, the sacred bull and vehicle of Lord Shiva. The Nandi statue measures about 16 feet long and 13 feet high, carved out of a single stone.
Ingenious Shadow Play
One of the remarkable features of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is that the shadow of the main temple never falls on the ground throughout the day, regardless of the position of the sun. This architectural marvel has baffled experts for centuries.
Inside the temple’s main mandapa, there are a set of musical pillars known as the Saptaswara Mandapam. When struck, each pillar produces a unique musical note, creating a melodious ensemble of sounds.
The walls of the Brihadeeswarar Temple are adorned with beautiful frescoes depicting various mythological scenes, deities, and celestial beings. These intricate artworks have managed to withstand the test of time.
Carved Granite Structures
The entire temple complex, including the Vimana (tower), mandapas (halls), and gopurams (gateways), is made of solid granite blocks intricately carved with intricate motifs and sculptures.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a lingam, a representation of his divine energy. The lingam is worshipped by millions of devotees who visit the temple every year.
The temple is a vibrant hub of celebration during major Hindu festivals like Maha Shivaratri and Arudra Darshan. Devotees flock to the temple to offer their prayers and witness colorful processions.
Several inscriptions and scriptures found within the Brihadeeswarar Temple provide valuable insights into the history, culture, and architectural techniques of the Chola dynasty.
Integration of Astronomy
The temple is aligned to the cardinal directions and is strategically designed to symbolize the cosmic elements, reflecting the deep connection between Hinduism, architecture, and astronomy.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple complex not only houses the main temple but also includes several smaller shrines dedicated to other deities, adding to the spiritual significance of the place.
The construction of the Brihadeeswarar Temple showcases the advanced engineering skills of the Chola architects, who managed to create such an architectural marvel in the 11th century.
Influence on Art and Literature
The temple has had a profound impact on South Indian art, literature, and culture. It has inspired numerous poets, writers, and artists throughout history.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple has undergone meticulous restoration and preservation efforts to protect its rich heritage and ensure its longevity for future generations.
For devotees, the Brihadeeswarar Temple holds immense spiritual significance as it is believed to be a place where one can attain spiritual enlightenment and experience the divine presence of Lord Shiva.
Symbol of Tamil Nadu
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is considered a symbol of Tamil Nadu and its rich cultural heritage. It is often featured in travel brochures and promotional materials showcasing the state’s architectural splendor.
The temple attracts a large number of tourists from around the world who come to marvel at its grandeur, admire its architectural beauty, and immerse themselves in its spiritual aura.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is truly a marvel of architectural and engineering excellence. With its rich history, stunning design, and unique features, it continues to captivate both locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a spiritual seeker, a visit to this remarkable temple is sure to leave you in awe. From its gigantic granite structure to its remarkable frescoes and sculptures, every aspect of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is a testament to the brilliance of the Chola dynasty. It stands as a testament to the skill, ingenuity, and devotion of its creators, and is undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks in India.
1. What is the significance of the Brihadeeswarar Temple?
The Brihadeeswarar Temple is of great cultural and religious significance. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered one of the largest and most important temples in India.
2. How old is the Brihadeeswarar Temple?
The temple was built in the 11th century AD, making it over a thousand years old.
3. What is the architectural style of the temple?
The Brihadeeswarar Temple showcases the Dravidian architectural style, characterized by its towering gopuram (entrance tower), intricate carvings, and elaborate mandapams.
4. Can visitors enter the temple?
Yes, the temple is open to visitors of all faiths. However, certain areas may be restricted for non-Hindus.
5. Is the Brihadeeswarar Temple a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Yes, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
6. Are there any unique features of the temple?
Yes, the temple has a massive monolithic Nandi statue, a 3.7-meter-tall lingam, and a unique shadow phenomenon during certain times of the year.
7. Can I take photographs inside the temple?
Photography is generally allowed outside the main sanctum area, but it is prohibited inside the inner sanctum.
8. Are there any festivals celebrated at the temple?
Yes, several festivals are celebrated at the Brihadeeswarar Temple, including Maha Shivaratri, Thai Poosam, and Arudra Darshan.
9. How long does it take to explore the temple?
On average, it takes about 1-2 hours to explore the temple complex and appreciate its architectural wonders.
10. Is there an entry fee for visiting the temple?
Yes, there is a nominal entry fee for both domestic and international tourists.