Monday, October 4, 2010

A 1000 year old temple Thanjavur (Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Brihadeeswarar Temple)

he Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Brihadeeswarar Temple , also known as Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is the world's first complete granite temple and a brilliant example of the major heights achieved by Cholas kingdom Vishwakarmas in temple architecture. It is a tribute and a reflection of the power of its patron RajaRaja Chola I. It remains as one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples".

This temple is one of India's most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The 'Vimana' - or the temple tower - is 216 ft (66 m) high  and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kalash or 'Chikharam' (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is not carved out of a single stone as widely believed. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The entire temple structure is made out of hard granite stones, a material sparsely available currently in Thanjavur area where the temple is located.
Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola in Thanjavur, Brahadishwara Temple also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple’ has turned 1000 years

 

The Brihadeeswarar Temple was built to be the royal temple to display the emperor's vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order. The temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointed the emperor and linking him with its deity, Shiva, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. The temple maintained a staff of 600 people in various capacities. Besides the Brahmins priest, these included record-keepers, musicians, scholars, and craftsman of every type as well as housekeeping staff.In those days the temple remained a hub of business activities for the flower merchants,milk vendors, oil merchants, ghee merchants, all of whom made a regular supply of their respective goods for the temple for its pujas and during festival seasons.Moreover as evidenced by the inscriptions that found in the compound wall of this temple, the temple had always been serving as a platform for the dancers who excelled in the traditional dance form of Bharatha Natyam. Even today, the Brihadeeswarar Temple remains India's largest.

Features

The temple is made up of 130,000 tons of granite. The 60-metre tall vimana is still the tallest extant in South India. A European-like figure is carved on the vimana, probably a warning of the arrival of the British.And the most important feature of the building is that its belived,at no time of the day the shadow of the gopuram will not fall on the ground. But it has been proven that the myth is wrong.

The temple is also an architectural exemplar showcasing the pure form of the Dravida type of temple architecture and representative of the Chola Empire ideology and the Tamil civilisation in Southern India. The temples "testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting". Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola in Thanjavur, Brahadishwara Temple also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple’ has turned 1000 years.The state government and the town is all set to hold many cultural events. It was on the 275th day of his 25th regal year (1010 A.D) that Raja Raja Chola (who ruled during 985-1014 A.D) handed over a gold-plated kalasam (copper pot or finial) for the final consecration to crown the vimana (the 59.82 metre tall tower above the sanctum) of the temple.

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