Brihadeeswarar Temple Facts: Details Revealed About The Hindu Temple | Kidadl


Brihadeeswarar Temple Facts: Details Revealed About The Hindu Temple

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The Tamil emperor, Arulmozhivarman, known as Raja Cholan, built the Brihadeeswarar Temple based on a dream he had where a god told him to build it.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple, located in Thanjavur, the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, was built during the Chola reign by Raja Cholan who was a worshipper of Lord Natarajar. Following Rajaraja Chola's demise, his son Rajendra Chola I completed the work, carving its exquisite sculptures and famous stone chariot structure.

The temple is a source of inspiration for many mediaeval-era Tamil poets, who made various references to aspects of its greatness in their poems.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples". The site consists of the Brihadeeswara Temple, Airavatesvara Temple, and Sarabeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadeeswara Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram, and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. All of these temples were built during the rule of the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and have a lot in common architecturally, as all of them are "Dvikuta" plans. The Mundeshwari Temple is one of the oldest temples located in the Govindpur Panchayat area of Jamui District, Bihar State, and is dedicated to the goddess Mundeshwari, also known as Durga.

The Geographic Location Of Brihadeeswarar Temple

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. It is located close to the western coast and is right on the banks of the river Kaveri, with a backdrop of lush greenery all around.

The place was earlier known as 'Thiruvisanallur', which later became popularized by the name 'Thanjavur' or 'Tanjore.' The place is well connected to Chennai, Puducherry, Trichy, and other places in Tamil Nadu. The Brihadeeswarar Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited tourist destinations in South India. UNESCO has included the temple as a part of the 'Great Living Chola Temples'.

The temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I, who reigned from 985 to 1014 A.D. The Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower, which is also referred to as the Vinmaka Vimana or RajaRajeswara (King of Kings) Temple at Thanjavur, has a height of about 200 ft (60.96 m). The additional 15 ft (4.57 m) to this height is due to the fact that it was built on an elevated platform called an 'adivanam.'

The temple lies in the center of a large town, which was historically called Thanjavur. The Nayak governors of this region added many structures around the temple during the 15th and 16th centuries, such as halls and mandapas. The city and the temple are on islands in an inlet of the Kaveri River delta, which is at the mouth of the river, with access to the Bay of Bengal and, through it, to the Indian Ocean.

The History And Origin Of The Brihadeeswarar Temple

The Brihadeeswarar Temple (also known as the Raja Rajeswara Temple) is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. It is also known as the Peruvudaiyar Koyil and the Thousand Pillar Temple. This temple belongs to the period of the Chola Empire.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built by Raja Raja Chola I, or Raja Cholan, between 1003 and 1010 AD. It is considered to be one of the largest temples in India. The main tower (Shikhara) of this temple was built with one single stone. The main tower is about 80 m high and it is one of the tallest structures of its kind in the world. As per the temple, the linga of this temple was worshipped by Rama.

There is a popular belief that the sage, Agasthya, had his ashram here. The main tower is named after him. Lord Shiva is also worshipped in the form of Jyotir lingam, Visalakshi, Yoga Narasimha, and Nataraja. In 1993, this temple was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. The reign of the Chola king, Raja Raja Cholan, coincided with the revival of Hinduism during the late classical period of Tamil history.

Raja Cholan built several temples dedicated to Shiva, and the Brihadeeswarar Temple was intended to rival the Pandya ruler's Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur. The temple was built to grace the throne of the Chola empire by the Tamil emperor Arulmozhivarman, popularly called Raja Raja Chola I, and named "Rajarajeswaram". The temple took 15 years to complete and employed an estimated 100,000 people. Its inauguration was marked by the hoisting of the first "kodi maram".

The Chola temple point, or entrance, has a sacred bull.

Architectural Style And Details About The Brihadeeswarar Temple

The temple building is mainly Dravidian architecture, whose main growth took place during the Chola period.

It reflects the traditional transition from the pre-Chola period to the Chola period of architecture. The original masonry appears to have been built without using any form of cementing material. The later addition of cement concrete has resulted in the slow disintegration of some of the original masonry and plastering surfaces, which were roughly executed.

Much restoration work has been carried out to arrest the ravages of time. The temple complex stands on a raised platform inside a large rectangular walled enclosure with tall gopurams in all four directions. The temple has a garbhagriha, a mahamandapa, and a prakara. There are two mandapas for concerts, one near the main entrance to the temple and the other on the south side.

The gopuram is pyramidal in shape and has shrines of Vinayaka, Murugan, and Vishnu located on its outer walls, as well as Chola paintings. The completed temple is made from granite stone, especially the main temple entrance. The temple's architecture is credited to Kunjara Mallan, Raja Raja Perunthachan, who was the main architect. This is known from the main temple point's inscription. 

The main temple entrance also gives clues about the Chola Temple figures on the wall, which are believed to be non-Indian. The sacred bull can be seen on the main temple entrance of the Brihadeeswarar Temple, which is made from a single stone. This Tanjore Temple has many Chola frescoes, which allows it to be dedicated to the Shaivism Temple.

Significance Of The Brihadeeswarar Temple

The Brihadeeswarar Temple might not be a big temple when compared to other temples in Tamil Nadu, but it is significant for various reasons.

The greatest temple in South India, and probably the crowning glory of Dravidian art, is the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur in the former kingdom of the same name. It is dedicated to Siva, who here bears the name "Periya-Koil", or the Great Shrine. The construction of this temple was carried out in several stages. Raja Raja Cholan was also a worshipper of Lord Natarajar. A separate shrine for Lord Ganesh can be in the temple.

The first stage involved the erection of a grand and towering vimanam, which is now missing. The next stage focused on carving out the various shrines that were to be part of the complex. For these purposes, large quantities of stone were brought to the site, as well as human labor from across India. The final step involved the construction of a circumambulatory passageway around the complex and, finally, the consecration of the temple.

The curse of the Brihadeeswarar Temple of Thanjavur is believed to be related to the story of Tamil King Raja Raja Chola, who built this massive structure in the year 1010 A.D., and his insatiable lust for gold. The base of the Brihadeeswarar Temple's vimana is wider than its peak. The temple tower, or Gopuram, or Vimana, is built in such a way that its shadow vanishes at noon because the Vimana's base is larger than its peak, making it resemble a pyramid. The temple casts its shadow only in morning and evening time.

Kidadl Team
Written By
Kidadl Team

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