About Brihadisvara Temple

About Brihadisvara Temple

 "Brihadisvara Temple and its Influence on South Indian Architecture and Culture"



Nestled in the vibrant city of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, Brihadisvara Temple stands as a magnificent testament to the artistic prowess and spiritual devotion of the Chola dynasty. This blog delves into the captivating history, architectural splendor, and profound spiritual significance of Brihadisvara Temple, offering a glimpse into its timeless beauty and the rich cultural heritage it embodies.


Who is the god of the Brihadeeswarar Temple?




The main deity of Brihadeeswarar Temple is Lord Shiva, who is worshipped in the form of Lord Brihadeeswarar or Brihadeeswara. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is renowned as one of the largest and most significant Shiva temples in India. The presiding deity, Brihadeeswarar, represents the cosmic form of Lord Shiva, the supreme creator and destroyer of the universe according to Hindu mythology. The temple complex also houses various other deities, including Nandi (the sacred bull and vehicle of Lord Shiva), Goddess Parvati (Shiva's consort), and various manifestations of Lord Shiva's divine forms.



What is special about Brihadisvara Temple?




Brihadisvara Temple, also known as the Brihadeeswarar Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds several unique features that make it a remarkable architectural and cultural marvel:

  • Architectural Grandeur: The temple is renowned for its impressive architecture and is considered a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture. It showcases the skill and craftsmanship of the Chola dynasty, with its towering vimana (temple tower), intricate carvings, and elaborate stone sculptures.


  • Largest Granite Temple: Brihadisvara Temple is one of the largest temples in India that is entirely made of granite. The main vimana, standing at around 216 feet (66 meters) tall, is one of the tallest of its kind in the world.


  • Unique Temple Tower: The vimana of the temple is adorned with a unique octagonal shape. The apex of the tower is adorned with a massive monolithic stone called the Kalasha, weighing around 81.3 tons.


  • Nandi Statue: The temple complex houses a colossal Nandi statue, which is one of the largest monolithic Nandi sculptures in the world. It measures about 16 feet (4.9 meters) in height and 20 feet (6 meters) in length.


  • Frescoes and Paintings: The walls of the inner sanctum of the temple were once adorned with vibrant frescoes and paintings. While most of them have faded over time, remnants can still be seen, depicting various mythological and religious scenes.


  • Spiritual Significance: Brihadisvara Temple is an important pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Shiva. It is believed to be a powerful place of worship where devotees can seek blessings, offer prayers, and experience spiritual solace.


  • Cultural Heritage: The temple represents the rich cultural heritage of the Chola dynasty and serves as a symbol of their patronage of art, architecture, and literature. It is an important site for understanding the history and cultural legacy of South India.


  • Preservation Efforts: The temple has undergone several restoration and conservation efforts to preserve its architectural integrity and historical significance. These efforts ensure that future generations can continue to appreciate its splendor.


Overall, the Brihadisvara Temple stands as a remarkable testament to the architectural brilliance, cultural richness, and spiritual significance of the Chola dynasty, attracting visitors from around the world with its grandeur and timeless beauty.



Which empire built brihadisvara temple?



The Brihadisvara Temple was built by the Chola Empire, specifically by King Raja Raja I (also known as Raja Raja Chola I). He was a prominent ruler of the Chola dynasty, which was one of the most influential and powerful empires in South India during the medieval period. The construction of the temple began around the year 1003 CE and was completed in 1010 CE, under the patronage of King Raja Raja I. The temple stands as a remarkable testament to the architectural and cultural achievements of the Chola Empire.



What is the history of Brihadeeswarar Temple?





The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Brihadisvara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, has a rich and fascinating history. Here is an overview of its historical significance:



  • Construction: The temple was built during the reign of King Raja Raja I of the Chola dynasty. Construction began in 1003 CE and was completed in 1010 CE. The temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva and served as a powerful symbol of the empire's grandeur, artistry, and devotion.



  • Chola Dynasty: The Chola dynasty, particularly during the reign of Raja Raja I, was known for its maritime prowess, military achievements, and patronage of art and culture. The construction of the Brihadeeswarar Temple exemplified the Chola Empire's architectural brilliance and religious fervor.



  • Architectural Excellence: The temple was designed by the renowned architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan. It showcases the mastery of Dravidian architecture, characterized by towering vimanas (temple towers), intricate carvings, and a harmonious blend of spirituality and aesthetics.



  • Religious Significance: Brihadeeswarar Temple has been a significant pilgrimage site for Shaivites, followers of Lord Shiva, throughout history. The temple served as a center for religious activities, festivals, and worship, attracting devotees from far and wide.



  • Dynastic Succession: The Chola dynasty continued to flourish even after the reign of Raja Raja I. Successive Chola kings, including Rajendra Chola I and Rajadhiraja Chola, made additions and renovations to the temple, further enhancing its architectural magnificence.



  • European Influence: In the 17th century, the Brihadeeswarar Temple came under the control of the Nayakas, a regional dynasty. Later, during the British colonial era, the temple faced some challenges, including looting and damage to its treasures.



  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: In recognition of its exceptional architectural and cultural value, the Brihadeeswarar Temple was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It stands as a testament to the artistic achievements and religious devotion of the Chola dynasty.


Today, the Brihadeeswarar Temple continues to be a revered place of worship, a significant tourist attraction, and an architectural marvel that showcases the glorious history of the Chola Empire and the cultural heritage of South India.



What is the story behind Brihadisvara Temple?



The Brihadisvara Temple, also known as the Brihadeeswarar Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, has several interesting stories associated with its construction and significance. One prominent legend revolves around its creation:


  • Legend of Raja Raja and the Divine Vision: According to legend, King Raja Raja I of the Chola dynasty had a profound dream where he saw Lord Shiva bestowing divine blessings upon him. In the dream, Lord Shiva instructed the king to build a magnificent temple in his honor. Inspired by this divine vision, Raja Raja I embarked on the construction of the Brihadisvara Temple.


  • Legend of the Hidden Nayanmar: Another legend tells the story of a hidden Nayanmar (a devotee of Lord Shiva) within the temple. It is believed that during the construction of the temple, one of the sculptures of a Nayanmar came to life and started dancing. Overwhelmed by the divine intervention, the king ordered the sculpture to be hidden within the temple walls, serving as a symbol of devotion and a guardian of the temple.


  • Legend of the Sun and Moon: A popular belief associated with the Brihadisvara Temple is that its shadow never falls on the ground during certain times of the day. It is said that the temple's vimana (tower) and the statue of Nandi (the sacred bull) are so precisely aligned that the shadow of the vimana never touches the ground. This phenomenon is considered a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship and architectural precision of the temple builders.


These legends add to the mystical aura surrounding the Brihadisvara Temple, further enhancing its cultural and spiritual significance. They reflect the devotion of King Raja Raja I and the belief in the divine presence within the temple, making it a cherished place of worship and wonder.



What are the architectural features of Brihadeeswarar Temple?



The Brihadeeswarar Temple is renowned for its architectural brilliance and intricate design. Here are some of its notable architectural features:

  • Vimana (Temple Tower): The main vimana of the temple stands at a towering height of around 216 feet (66 meters). It is an excellent example of the Dravidian architectural style and is one of the tallest temple towers in the world. The vimana is constructed in multiple tiers, showcasing intricate carvings, sculptures, and decorative elements.



  • Shikhara: The vimana is crowned by a dome-shaped structure known as the shikhara. The shikhara is adorned with intricate carvings and motifs, including sculptures of deities, mythical creatures, and divine beings.



  • Nandi Mandapa: The temple complex features a separate mandapa (pavilion) dedicated to Nandi, the sacred bull and the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The Nandi mandapa houses a colossal monolithic statue of Nandi, measuring about 16 feet (4.9 meters) in height and 20 feet (6 meters) in length.



  • Gopurams (Gateway Towers): The temple has several gopurams, which are towering gateways that serve as entrances to the temple complex. These gopurams are adorned with intricate sculptures, carvings, and decorative motifs depicting various deities, celestial beings, and mythological scenes.



  • Sculptures and Carvings: The walls of the temple are adorned with exquisite stone carvings and sculptures. These carvings depict various mythological stories, deities, celestial beings, and intricate patterns. The sculptures showcase the skill and artistry of the craftsmen of the Chola dynasty.



  • Inner Sanctum: The inner sanctum of the temple houses the main deity, Lord Brihadeeswarar (Lord Shiva), in the form of a lingam. The sanctum is a sacred space for devotees to offer prayers and seek blessings.



  • Frescoes and Paintings: While most of the frescoes and paintings on the walls of the temple have faded over time, remnants can still be seen. These artworks depict scenes from Hindu mythology, religious narratives, and cultural motifs.


The architectural features of the Brihadeeswarar Temple combine intricate craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a harmonious blend of spirituality and aesthetics. They showcase the grandeur and artistic excellence of the Chola dynasty and make the temple a celebrated masterpiece of Dravidian architecture.