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Nestled amidst the vibrant cityscape of Thanjavur, is the Brihadeeswarar Temple. It is a Shaivite Hindu Temple and an architectural marvel of the Chola dynasty. This monument of architectural legacy is one of the largest temples in India. Also known as Dakshina Meru (Meru of South), this timeless masterpiece of brilliance and the zenith of Chola architecture, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. With this blog, delve into the magnificence of this structure and ride the waves of devotion.

History Of Brihadeeswarar Temple

An exquisitely carved idol adorning the inner wall of the Brihadeeswarar Temple

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Renowned as the ‘Great Living Chola Temples’, Brihadeeswarar Temple is the grandest creation of Cholas. Constructed predominantly from granite, it is estimated that around 1,30000 tons of stone is used to carve mammoth structures. Consecrated in 1010 AD by King Raja Raja Chola, this monument is a testimony to the Dravidian architecture of the Chola’s reign.

The main shrine of the Brihadeeswarar temple boasts a 13-tier tower, soaring over 216 feet and the sanctum sanctorum houses a huge Shiva Linga. The Shiva lingam in the sanctum is one of India’s largest monolithic sculptures, weighing around 20 tons. Every surface, including the walls, floor, and ceilings is adorned with magnificent sculptures and awe-inspiring murals, offering visitors a spiritually enriching experience. The temple complex also houses beautiful shrines of Parvati, Murugan, Nandi, Ganesh, Dakshina Murthy, Subrahmanya, Sabhapati, Varahi, and Chandeshvara further adding to its religious significance.

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Brihadeeswarar Temple Mystery And Secrets

Stunning and magnificent entrance of Thanjavur's Brihadeeswarar Temple.

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Brihadeeswarar Temple is one of the most brilliant architectural grandeurs of its time. It is not just a relic of the past; it is a living testament to the artistic mastery and engineering prowess of its builders.

No use of binders
The structure is 216m and is entirely made of granite. The temple is unique as it does not contain binders, such as cement or soil. Additionally, interlocking features are carved in the stones making this an architectural wonder!

No shadow
An intriguing fact about a temple many people are unaware of is that it doesn’t cast a shadow despite its towering height, leaving visitors amazed. This indigenous engineering marvel creates an optical illusion. The arrangement of stones on the temple structure prevents shadow formation.

Nandi statue
Nandi, the revered mount of Lord Shiva, greets visitors and devotees at every Shaivite Temple. Carved out of a single stone, this gigantic Nandi statue stands proudly gazing at the main temple tower. Weighing about 25 tons, this magnificent Nandi measures 2m in height, spans 6m in length, and extends 2.5m in width.

20-ton Lingam
The inner sanctum, or garbhagriha, of the Brihadeeswarar Temple houses the divine representation of Lord Shiva in the form of a linga. The devotees admire the temple not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the impressive height of this Shiva Linga. Weighing about 20 tons, this 29-foot (9-meter) Shiva Linga occupies two storeys of the sanctum.

Eco-friendly colours
All the splendid Tanjore paintings on the walls of Brihadeeswarar Temple are painted with natural colours. Artists derived different colours from leaves, flowers, and spices. These eco-friendly hues add vibrance to the paintings and bring them cultural significance.

Carvings and inscriptions
The 81 various dance poses of Bharatanatyam are carved on the outer walls of the Brihadeeswarar Temple. Within the temple, visitors can get a glimpse of the inscriptions and frescoes, which vividly depict the tale, the rise and fall of the illustrious Chola dynasty, and its cultural tapestry.

Brihadeeswarar Temple Pooja & Festivals

The exterior view of Brihadeeswarar Temple.

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The temple’s daily ceremonies follow a predefined schedule. The pooja typically begins with Palabishekam at 8.30 a.m., followed by Vucha Kalai Pooja at noon. The evening offering begins at 6 p.m. with Sai Rakchai Pooja and ends with Arthajama Pooja at 8.30 p.m.

However, these timings may vary on the auspicious days dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the day of Maha Shivaratri, bharatanatyam dancers from all over the world arrive at the temple to perform at the annual dance festival organised by the temple committee.

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3 Attractions Near Brihadeeswarar Temple

Unveil the top places to visit near Brihadeeswarar Temple for the best experience.

1. Thanjavur Maratha Palace

Brihadeeswarar Temple is surrounded by many tourist attractions including the iconic Thanjavur Maratha Palace.

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Originally constructed by Thanjavur Nayaks, popularly known as Sivagangai Fort or Aranmanai, this 16th-century palace served as the Nayak kings’ armoury and watch tower. After the fall of Thanjavur Nayaks, Marathas captured it and enhanced and expanded the palace structure.

2. Schwartz Church

The view of a church in Thanjavur.

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This is one of South India’s oldest churches, built during the British period. Raja Serfoji built this church in 1779 AD as a tribute to the Danish missionary and Reverend Frederick Christian Schwartz. In 1749, the English defeated the Marathas and gained authority in the Thanjavur district.

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3. Saraswathi Mahal Library

The vista of Saraswathi Mahal Library near Brihadeeswarar Temple.

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One of Asia’s oldest libraries, the Saraswathi Mahal Library has a valuable collection of handwritten palm leaf scrolls written in key Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi. The library was recognised as “The Most Remarkable Library” in a Britannica study.

How To Reach Brihadeeswarar Temple

The view of a road in Thanjavur inside the green jungle near Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

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The temple in Thanjavur is well connected by all modes of transport.
By Air: Nearest is the Tiruchirappalli International Airport (TRZ) which is around 60 km away.

By Rail: Chennai has good connectivity to Thanjavur. Tanjore railway station is the nearest. You can also take a train to Trichy and reach the temple via road.
By Road: Many state government and private buses ply to and from Tanjore.

Further Read: Best Tourist Places In Tamil Nadu

A visit to Brihadeeswarar Temple is a tribute to the glory of the Chola empire. The giant Shiva Linga, Brihadeeswarar Temple is a place of heritage and history, a breathtaking architectural masterpiece with towering Vimana and intricate carvings. So, say prayers and seek blessing at Brihadeeswarar Temple during your next trip to Tamil Nadu.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Brihadeeswarar Temple

What are the Brihadeeswarar Temple timings?

6.00 am to 12.30 pm & 4.00 pm to 8.30 pm on all the days.

What is the dress code to be followed to enter the Brihadeeswarar Temple?

There is no specific dress code. However, it is recommended to dress modestly.

Is photography allowed?

Yes, photography is allowed inside the temple premises, but prohibited inside the main chamber, i.e., Sanctum Santorum of Shiva.

What is the best time to visit Brihadeeswarar Temple?

October to March is considered the best time to visit Brihadeeswarar Temple and other attractions near Thanjavur.

How much time does it take for me to take a tour of Brihadeeswarar Temple?

With a guide by your side, the temple tour may take anywhere around 2 to 3 hours maximum.

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