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Thanjavur   Thiruthani
     
 
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Ramanatha
swamy
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kundram

Tamil Nadu - Temples - Thanjavur Temple - History of Thanjavur Temple

History of Thanjavur Temple

The temple had its foundations laid out by the ambitious emperor Chola king Rajaraja Chola I in 1002 CE, as the first of the great Chola building projects. According to tradition, the temple was built by the Chola king Rajaraja in compliance of a command given to him in his dream . The scale and grandeur is in the Chola tradition. An axial and symmetrical geometry rules the temple layout. Temples from this period and the following two centuries are an expression of the Chola wealth, power and artistic expertise. The emergence of such features as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals signal the arrival of the new Chola style.

The Brihadishwara Temple was built to be the royal temple to display the emperor's vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order. The temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointed the emperor and linking him with its deity, Shiva, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. The temple maintained a staff of 600 people in various capacities . Besides the Brahmin priest, these included record-keepers, musicians, scholars, and craftsman of every type as well as housekeeping staff. Even today, the Brihadishwara Temple remains India's largest.

The temple is an example of the architectural conception of the pure form of the Dravida type of temple architecture and representative of the Chola Empire ideology and the Tamil civilisation in Southern India. The temples "testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

Temple complex Temple gateway

The temple complex sits on the banks of a river that was channeled to make a moat around the complex's outer walls, the walls being built like a fortress. The complex is made up of many structures that are aligned axially. The complex can be entered either on one axis through a five-story gopuram or with a second access directly to the huge main quadrangle through a smaller free-standing gopuram. The massive size of the main sikhara (although it is hollow on the inside and not meant to be occupied), is 63 meters in height, with 16 severely articulated stories, and dominates the main quadrangle. Pilaster, piers, and attached columns are placed rhythmically covering every surface of the shikhara.

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