Brihadeeshwara temple (The Big Temple)
Popularly known as “Thanjavur Periya Kovil”– is the largest temple in India and is one of the greatest temples with an outstanding architecture in the country. The 1002 year old temple dedicated to the major Hindu deity, Lord Shiva, was built in 1010 AD by the Chola Emperor, Rajaraja Chola I.The temple represents the brilliancy and excellence of Cholas who scaled major heights in large scale as well as intricate architecture.The magnificent edifice not only has sculptures, a majestic temple tower and frescoes, but also has inscriptions disclosing the richness and wealth of Tamil people during those days.
The temple has survived the ravages of climactic changes, six recorded earthquakes and a major fire. Recognizing its unique architectural excellence.
UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Monument.
Arulmozhivarman, the Tamil emperor, popularly known as Rajaraja Chola I, ruled entire South India, east and a part of the western coast. He laid the foundations for the temple in compliance with the command received in his dreams when he was crowned as an emperor in Sri Lanka. The Chola originally named the temple as “Rajarajeswaram” and he conducted all important festivals in the temple regularly. The Thanjavur Periya Kovil and the capital had close business relations with the rest of the country and acted as a centre of both religious and economic activity.
Thanjavur Periya Kovil is almost 40 times bigger than that of any known temple of its time. The magnificent temple tower stands to a height of 216 feet (66m) and it is one among the tallest towers in the world. Standing to such a great height, the tower is also referred as “Dakshina Meru”, reveals the particulars of the temple through the inscriptions left by the King himself. The tower was built hollow by the master designers by interlocking the stones without using any binding material. The big statue of Nandhi (sacred bull), measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high is at the entrance and it is made up of a single rock.