Brihadeeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
Brihadeeswara Temple is also known as Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram. It is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Dravidian architecture during the Chola period.
This Temple was Built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 AD, the temple turned 1000 years old in 2010.
The temple is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Brihadeeswara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.
The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The temple tower is 216 feet high and is the tallest in the world.
The apex or the bulbous structure on the top of the temple is carved out of a single rock and weighs around 80 tons.
There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 ft (4.9 m) long and 13 ft (4.0 m) high at the entrance.
The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are about 60 km to the west of temple. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.
The temple complex sits on the banks of a river that was channeled to make a moat around the complex’s outer walls, the walls being built like a stronghold.
The complex is made up of many structures that are aligned axially. The complex can be entered either on one axis through a five-story gopuram or with a second access directly to the huge main quadrangle through a smaller freestanding gopuram.
A widely held belief is that the shadow of the Vimana never falls on the ground. However, several photographs exist showing the shadow on the ground. The temple is said to be made up of about 60,000 tons of granite. The capstone itself is made of four pieces of granite and weighs about 20 tons, on top of the main gopuram is believed to have been taken to the top by creating an inclined slope to the height of 66m to the top of the gopuram.
To mark the occasion, the state government organised a Bharathanatyam Yajna, classical dance show under noted dancer Padma Subramaniam. It was jointly organised by the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India (ABHAI) and the Brhan Natyanjali Trust, Thanjavur.