The Big Temple, Thanjavur - India's Greatest Architectural Wonder! A magnificent glory of Chola!

History

The greatest of Chola emperors Rajaraja-I (985 A.D - 1012 A.D) the son of Sundara Chola (Parantakaa-II) and Vanavanmahadevi built this magnificent temple named Brihadisvaram at Thanjavur - the capital of Chola dynasty.

From the epigraphical evidence it is known about Rajaraja-I started building this temple on his 19th year and completed on 275th day of his 25th year. It took just 6 years to complete this work on 1010 A.D.

Rajaraja-I named this temple as Rajarajesvaram and the deity Shiva in Linga form as Peruvudaiyar, the temple is also known in the deity's name as Peruvudaiyarkovil (in Tamil language). In later period Maratta and Nayaks rulers constructed various shrines and gopurams of the temple. In later period when the Sanskrit language was more popular during the Maratha rule the temple was named in Sanskrit as Brihadisvaram and the deity as Brihadisvara. Now-a-days it is called as Thanjai Periyakovil (Tanjore Big temple).



Keralaanthagan Gopuram

Rajaraja Chola assumed the title of Keralaanthakan meaning Destroyer of Kerala (Chera's). after his victory over Kerala king Baskararavivarma This gopuram is named after this title .

This is a five stage gopuram. In the front side of the gopuram one can see various forms of Shiva - Rudhrathandava pose (a fierce Shiva in dancing form), Shiva with Parvathi, Bichadanar (Shiva as beggar).



In the rear side of the gopuram one can see Krishna Leela, MahaVishnu in the first stage, Narasimha combating with Hiranyakasibu in one side and Hiranya Samkara on the other side. On the top stage Shiva and Vishnu idols are seen.

The Keralaanthakan gopuram is constructed on the same architectural concept of the Srivimana. Firstly, the load is distributed on two huge granite walls and the walls are merged into single structure as it approaches the height. Secondly, the Ball and Lock of the huge granites locks themselves with the neighboring rock, one can see the small projections evenly distributed on the base of the structure. Thirdly, the huge base platform distributes the load to the ground with the minimum foundation depth.



Rajarajan Gopuram

This gopuram is built by Rajaraja-I and depicts the mediaeval chola architecture where the Raja gopuram (the entrance gopuram) diminish in size and the Karpagraham (the main deity's gopuram) is significant.

The two huge 15 feet monolithic Dwarapalas on either side of this entrance is seen The 15 feet huge monolithic stone sculpture of the Dwarapala revals the Thattva (concept) that God is Everywhere as shown by the upper two hands and the pose of right hand index finger denotes that God is one and only one. On keen notice one can see a Elephant is being swallowed by a snake and the Lion standing behind. This denotes even if one faces such a big problem as of this magnitude a strong stand (a firm belief in God) similar to that of a Lion's strong standing posture will lead ways to realize God.