Brihadeeswarar Temple is a famous Shiva temple located on the banks of River Cauvery in Thanjavur district Tamil Nadu, India. Thanjavur is known to have been derived from the word “Tanjan” a demon, who is believed to have been killed in this place by lord Vishnu. Temple is more than 1000-year-old and was built in 1010 AD by Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola 1 and was named as “Rajarajeswaram”. The temple popularly known as “Thanjavur Periya Kovil” was named as Brihadeeswarar Temple by the Marathas and Nayakas who invaded Thanjavur at a later stage. Temple is also known as “Peruvudaiyar Kovil” or “Rajarajeswara Temple” and is one of the largest temple in India and showcases the brilliance of Tamil architecture of the Chola’s period.
The architecture of the temple is what makes it unique when compared to the others. The temple tower also known as “Dakshina Meru” is built by interlocking the stones without using any binding material and is 216 feet high which makes it the tallest towers in the world of its kind.
The temple is completely constructed in granite and the octagonal shaped shikara gopuram rests on a single rock weighing 81 tons. The main deity inside the sanctum Brihadeeswar Linga is 3.7 meter in height and is set on a two storied sanctum and the walls are decorated with frescoes, popularly known as Thanjavur paintings.
The big statue of Nandhi at the entrance is made of a single rock and is 16 feet long and 13 feet in height.
It is because of this archeological beauty it is declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temple”.
Thanjavur is 190 kms from Madurai and 383 kms from Chennai. Thirucharapalli Airport is the nearest airport, located 65 kms away. Thanjavur city is very well connected by train and buses from all the major cities.