Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur
The beautiful Brihadeeswara temple is also called Rajarajeswaram or Peruvudaiyar temple. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and exhibits Dravidian architecture. It was built by the Tamil king Raja Raja Chola of the Chola Dynasty, between 1003-1010AD. It is now a UNESCO World heritage Site as part of the Great Living Chola Temples.
The inscriptions & sculptures on the walls of the temple predominatntly portray Shaivism, which is a reference to those who revere Lord Shiva as the supreme being, the creator and destroyer of the world.
There are aspects of the architecture that are related to Vaishnavism, (which refers to those who worship Lord Vishnu as the supreme being) and Shaktism (which refers to the belief that Shakti (goddess Sita) is the supreme power) as well.
The walls of the temple also have Tamil & Sanskrit inscriptions. There are inscriptions from 1011 CE mentions the names of over 600 people supported by the temple, and their salaries.
It has a tall tower that is carved with images of deities, and is said to have been one of the tallest structures in the world at the time of its construction.
It is one of the most visited sites in Tamil Nadu. The grounds of the temple are maintained beautifully with large areas converted to lawns, where people come to spend time with their families.
The architecture of the temple is breathtaking- considering the height of the tower, and the carvings on it.
There is a large sculpture of the Nandi near the entrance, and it also boasts of one of the largest Shiva lingams in the world.
A visit to this temple is a very relaxed affair- it isn’t overly crowded, and the sprawling lawns make for a great spot to relax post the afternoon, or early in the morning.
It is open 7 days a week, from 6AM-12.30 PM, and then reopens in the evening. 4.30-8.30 PM
If you like indulging in Indian history, and architecture like I do, you will love the Brihadeeswara temple.
How much time to spend at Brihadeeswara Temple
You could spend anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours here, admiring the architecture.
How to better your experience
If you want a deeper insight into the architecture of the temple, or the culture of Thanjavur, get a government certified guide from outside the temple, who will be happy to answer any of your questions during his tour.
How to get there
Nearest airport-Thiruchirapally Airport is 59km away.
Nearest railway-Trichy Junction is 58km away
Hire a cab from any of the above points to travel to Thanjavur.
Thanjavur also has many other points of interest
Saraswati Mahal Library, Thanjavur Palace, & the Danish Church- Schwartz Church