Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the largest temples in India and was built during the Chola dynasty, between the years 1003 and 1010 AD, by the great king Raja Raja Chola I.
The temple is famous for its towering Vimana (the structure above the sanctum sanctorum) which stands at a height of 216 feet, making it one of the tallest structures of its kind in the world. The temple is also renowned for its intricate carvings and sculptures, which showcase the finest examples of Chola art and architecture.
History of Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple:
The construction of the Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple was commissioned by Raja Raja Chola I, who was one of the greatest rulers of the Chola dynasty. He wanted to build a temple that would be a testament to his power and devotion to Lord Shiva. The temple was designed and constructed by the renowned architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan.
The temple was built using granite stones that were brought from a distance of more than 50 kilometers. The construction of the temple took nearly 7 years and involved the work of more than 20,000 workers. The temple was completed in the year 1010 AD and was consecrated by Raja Raja Chola himself.
Architecture of Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple:
The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple is considered to be one of the finest examples of Dravidian architecture. The temple complex is spread over an area of more than 23 acres and is surrounded by a high compound wall. The temple consists of several structures including the main sanctum, the Nandi Mandapam, the Ardha Mandapam, the Maha Mandapam, and the Vimana.
The main sanctum of the temple houses the lingam of Lord Shiva, which is believed to be one of the largest in the world, measuring 13 feet in height. The Nandi Mandapam, which is located in front of the main sanctum, houses a giant Nandi statue, which is carved out of a single stone and measures 16 feet in length and 13 feet in height.
The Ardha Mandapam and the Maha Mandapam are two large halls that are used for various religious and cultural activities. The Maha Mandapam is adorned with exquisite carvings of various deities and scenes from Hindu mythology.
The Vimana of the temple is a towering structure that stands at a height of 216 feet. It is made of 13 tiers of granite stones, each of which is carved with intricate designs and sculptures. The Vimana is topped by a single block of granite stone that weighs more than 80 tons.
Significance of Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple:
The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple is considered to be one of the most important temples in India, both from a religious and cultural perspective. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is believed to be one of the most powerful Shiva temples in the country.
The temple is also renowned for its cultural significance. It is considered to be one of the finest examples of Chola art and architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and pay their respects to Lord Shiva.
Festivals Celebrated at Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple :
The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple is a center of many important festivals and celebrations. The most significant festival celebrated here is the Maha Shivaratri, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. During this festival, thousands of devotees throng the temple to offer prayers and seek blessings from Lord Shiva.
Other important festivals celebrated at the temple include the Arudra Darshan, which is celebrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January) and the Panguni Uthiram, which is celebrated in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April). The temple also celebrates the Brahmotsavam, a nine-day festival that is celebrated in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May).
Apart from these festivals, the temple also celebrates many other important occasions such as the Tamil New Year, Deepavali, and Navaratri. The temple is a center of cultural and spiritual activities, and these festivals provide an opportunity for devotees to come together and celebrate their faith and traditions.
Visiting Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple:
The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple is open for visitors from 6 am to 12:30 pm and 4 pm to 8:30 pm. Visitors are required to remove their footwear before entering the temple complex and follow the dress code, which includes wearing traditional attire that covers the body.
The temple is located in the heart of Thanjavur city and can be easily reached by road, rail, or air. The nearest airport is the Tiruchirappalli International Airport, which is located around 60 kilometers away from the temple. The Thanjavur Railway Station is well connected to major cities in India, and there are regular bus services available from various parts of Tamil Nadu to Thanjavur.
The Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple is a true masterpiece of Indian art and architecture. It is a testament to the glory and greatness of the Chola dynasty and is a source of inspiration and wonder for generations of people. The temple is not just a place of worship but also a center of cultural and spiritual activities, which bring people together and foster a sense of community and harmony.
Visiting the temple is a unique and unforgettable experience, which leaves one with a deep sense of awe and wonder. It is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Indian culture and heritage, and it is sure to leave a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of all those who visit it.
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