Brihadeshwar temple of Tanjour included in UNESCO’s World Heritage

Located in Thanjavur city of Tamil Nadu is the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple of Lord Shiva. The 1000-year-old Brihadeshwara Temple has been declared a World Heritage Site in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. This is the first and only temple in the world which is made entirely of granite stones. Brihadeeswarar Temple is also known as Brihadeeswarar Temple and Rajarajeshwara Temple. Brihadeshwara Temple, one of the largest temples in India, was built by the Chola emperor Rajaraja Chola I on receiving divine inspiration in a dream. The temple was built between 1003-1010 AD. This temple is 13 storeys high and its height is 66 meters. This temple is built on a 16 feet high concrete platform. According to the inscriptions in the temple, the chief architect of the temple was Kunjar Mallan Rajaraja Perunthachan, whose family members still do the work of Vastushastra, architecture.

The Chola rulers named this temple as Rajarajeshwara but the Maratha rulers who attacked Tanjore named this temple as Brihadisvara. The deity of this temple is Lord Shiva. 12 feet high Shivling is installed inside the main temple. It is a classic example of Dravidian architecture.

Temple History

The main temple and the gopuram date from the beginning of the construction i.e. 11th century. Since then the temple has been rebuilt, renovated and repaired several times. The temple was damaged due to war and invasion and sabotage by the Mughal rulers. Later, when the Hindu kings again conquered this area, they got this temple repaired and some other construction works also done. Later kings repainted the old paintings on the walls of the temple and beautified it.

The temple of Lord Kartikeya (Murugan Swamy), the temple of Goddess Parvati (Amman) and the idol of Nandi were built by the Nayak kings in the 16-17th century. Many inscriptions in Sanskrit language and Tamil language are also engraved in the temple.

Secret of temple

Brihadeshwara Temple is a wonderful piece of architecture. The temple is built in such a way that the shadow of the dome does not fall on the ground. The stone Kumbam on its summit weighs 80 tons, which is made by cutting a single stone. How the stone weighing 80 tonnes was carried to the summit of the temple remains a mystery till date. It is believed that a 1.6 kilometer long ramp was built, on which it was moved inch by inch by moving it to the top of the temple.

Temple built in just 7 years

130,000 tonnes of stone has been used to build this temple. It took only a record 7 years to build such a huge temple. After all, how many people were employed in this work and how was the technology in that era that the construction was done in such a short time which is not possible even today. This does not mean that there was any deficiency or mistake in the construction of the temple. This wonderful temple has faced 6 major earthquakes, but it did not suffer any kind of damage.

Wonderful Statue of Nandi

The huge idol of Nandi installed in the gopuram inside the temple is also a unique wonder. This idol of Nandi is 16 feet long, 8.5 feet wide and 13 feet high and weighs 20,000 kg. The special thing is that the idol has been carved out of a single stone. This is the second largest statue of Nandi in India.

Most of the Brihadisvara temple is made of hard granite stone and the rest part is made of sandstone rocks. The nearest source of granite stone is located at a distance of 60 km from the temple.

After all, how the stones of such a large quantity and such a huge size were brought from such a long distance to the site of the temple construction, no one has the answer. There is also no mountain around the temple, from which there is a possibility of taking stones.

Granite rocks are so hard that special diamond-pieced tools have to be used to cut them. In that period, without modern tools, how fine, artistic sculptures would have been made by carving the rocks in the temple, it remains a matter of wonder till date.

Interesting facts about the temple

  1. Known for its distinctive architecture, this temple has been built from approximately 1,30,000 tonnes of granite. Granite is not found around this area and it is still a mystery as to from where such huge quantities of granite were brought.
  2. The main feature of the construction art of the temple is that the shadow of its dome does not fall on the earth. The golden urn is located on its peak which surprises everyone.
  3. Many underground passages are believed to exist under this temple! It is believed that there is an underground tunnel from the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple to the Gangaukonda Cholapuram Temple (which was built by the Gangaikonda Cholapuram king).
  4. During the Millennium Festival organized to commemorate the completion of one thousand years of this temple, the Government of India issued a commemorative coin of one thousand rupees. This coin weighing 35 grams is made of 80 percent silver and 20 percent copper.
  5. For the first time, the chariot of the temple was taken out on 20 April 2015 from the Ramar temple located on the opposite side. Thousands of people took part in this Rath Yatra. After nine days, on 29 April 2015, placing the idols of the deities on the chariot, it was sung again. This Rath Yatra was taken out after a hundred years.
  6. According to the inscriptions in the Brihadeshwara temple, the chief architect of the temple was King Perunthachan, the Kunjar Mallan king, whose people still do the work of Vastu Shastra, architecture. It is said that Emperor Raja Raja donated 4000 cows, 7000 goats, 30 buffaloes and 2500 acres of land to the temple for the uninterrupted supply of ghee for the lamps burning in the Brihadeshwar temple. 192 employees were hired to run the temple system smoothly.