Thanjavur Periya kovil is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram and Brihadeshwara Temple. The Brihadeeswarar temple along with Airavatesvara temple and Gangaikonda Cholapuram is known as the ‘Great Living Chola Temple’ and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This temple is situated on the banks of River of Kaveri and was built by Raja Raja Chola. The construction was completed in 1010 which it means that the temple is more than 1000 years old. The structure is a proof of wealth, artistic expertise and power of the Chola kingdom. According to the inscriptions present in the temple, Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perumthachan was the engineer and architect of this famous temple.
The structure is an example of Dravidian architecture and it represents the ideology of Tamil civilization and Chola Empire. The temple has the world’s tallest vimanam (temple tower). It is 216 feet or 66 meters high. It is also one among tallest tower in whole world in its kind. Kumbam, Chikharam or Kalasha, which is bulbous, or apex structure on top of temple, people believe that it is made out of a single stone carving. Its Kumbam (the structure on the top) weighs approximately 80 tons. The temple has a huge statue of Nandi (sacred bull) at the entrance. The statue is carved out of a single rock and weighs around 20 tons. The Lingam inside the temple is 3.7 meters tall.
Brihadeeswarar temple is one of the few temples that has Ashta-dikpaalakas (Guardians of the directions) idols. Chola frescoes adorn the wall of the temple and these frescoes depict Shiva in different poses. Brihadeeswarar temple is the first complete granite temple in the world. Around 60,000 tons of granite is said to be used to build the temple whose nearest source are near Tiruchchirapalli, which is nearly 60 kms to Thanjavur’s west, where temple is.
Best Hotels and Budget hotels are available for the devotees accommodation in Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli cities.
People treat Day of Ruling star or satabhishag as one festival day in every month during a year, as it symbolizes a ruling star when Raja Raja was born.
In month of May or Visaka according to English calendar, an annual festival took place for nine days. Devotees bath their deity with Champaka flower fragrance soaked water.
Manora Fort, Thanjavur Palace, Saraswathi Mahal Library and Siva Ganga Garden are the attractions near this temple.
Tanjavur temple is at a distance of 56 km from Trichy, 112 km from Chidambaram, 86 km from Nagapattinam, 170 km from Madurai, 326 km from Chennai.
Thanjavur Bus stand is 5.8 km and the Thanjavur Railway Station is just 1.8 km. Tiruchirapalli International Airport is the nearest airport which is 60 km from this temple.
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