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Tamil Nadu - Temples - Thanjavur Temple

Thanjavur Temple

The Brihadishwara Temple also known as Rajarajeswaram , at Thanjavur, is the world's first complete granite temple and a brilliant example of the major heights achieved by Cholas in temple architecture. It is a tribute and a reflection of the power of its patron RajaRaja Chola I. It remains as one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples" and this temple is an ultimate testimonial for the Vishwakarmas architectural cognizance in planning and sculpting this temple.

This temple is one of India's most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The 'Vimana' - or the temple tower - is 216 ft (66 m) high (about 70 meters) and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kalash or 'Shikhara' of the temple is of monolithic granite weighing 81.25 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high . The entire temple structure is made out of hard granite stones, a material sparsely available currently in Thanjavur area where the temple is located.

Templenet focuses this week on the glorious temples attributedto the reign of Raja Raja Chola and his successors in the Thanjavur Cauvery belt of South India.

Historically speaking, these temples are not as ancient as the 274 odd Saivite temples and the 108 Vaishnavite Shrines sung by the Nayanmars and Alwars of the 7th through the 9th centuries, however they stand out as towering monuments proclaiming the glory of the Chola regime and its committment to the arts and culture.

This issue zeroes in on the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Choleeswarar Temple in Gangai Konda Cholapuram, the Airavateeswarar Temple in Darasuram and the Kambahareswarar temple at Tribhuvanam.

Thanjavur: The districts of Thanjavur, Kumbhakonam and Nagappattinam (constituting the erstwhile Thanjauvr district) boast of hundreds of ancient temples. The town of Thanjavur was the seat of the glorious Chola Empire of Tamilnadu, and was later on the seat of the Nayaks and the Marathas. True to art historian Fergusson, the Chola artists conceived like giants and finished like jewellers.

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