Brihadeeswarara Alayam (Temple) in Thanjavur-Bharat

Brihadeeswarara Alayam  is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple and Peruvudayar Temple and must be one of the architectural wonders of the day.

Brihadeeswarara Alayam (Alayam means Temple in Tamil Language)  is a big temple and built by Raja Raja Chola 1 and completed in 1010 AD. Now the temple turned 1000 years old. This temple is dedicated to Shiva located in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Ariyalur district, in  Tamil Nadu.

Rajaraja Chola I constructed the temple whose foundation was laid in 1002CE. The temple was based on the Chola style architecture which included multifaceted columns and square capital signals. Many religious events were conducted here which included daily rituals done by the king.

Here are some amazing facts about this 1000 years old temple which is among the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.

The   temple structure is an example of  the Dravidian architecture and it represents the ideology of Tamil civilization and Chola Empire. The temple also has the world’s tallest vimanam (temple tower) and its Kumbam (the structure on the top) weighs approximately 80 tons. The temple has a huge statue of Nandi (sacred bull) at the entrance. The statue is carved out of a single rock and weighs around 20 tons. The Lingam inside the temple is 3.7 meters tall.

This  is one of the few temples that has Ashta-dikpaalakas (Guardians of the directions) idols. Chola frescoes adorn the wall of the temple and these frescoes depict Shiva in different poses. Brihadeeswarara temple is the first complete granite temple in the world. Around 60,000 tons of granite is said to be used to build the temple.

Shadow of  Brihadesswarara temple does fall on earth like all other temples. It is a hoax that the shadow never falls on earth. It is  one of the tallest temples in the world and is so designed that the viman does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year

However the shadow falls within the walls of the temple but not outside. This marvel is an icing for the architecture and astronomy acumen of Cholas!

Here are  some unique, interesting and unknown facts about this temple, which makes this  a special religious structure, and  even more significant.

  1. The famous Brihatheeshwarara Alayam was initially referred to as the Rajarajeshwara Temple. It was the Marathas who gave the temple its current name. ‘Great Ishwara Temple’
  2. A unique feature about the temple is, it is the only temple wherein the Temple tower’s (Gopuram) shadow does not appear on the ground at noon.
  3. The Huge Nandi statue located at the entrance of the temple is carved out of a single rock.
  4. The king Raja Raja Cholan built the temple after his visit to Sri Lanka. The king was inspired after witnessing the Vedic structures built by all the Hindu kings.
  5. Inscriptions in the temple point towards Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as the chief architect of the temple. His successors survive to this day and practice the art of Vastu .
  6. The big Tanjore temple is said to have more than hundred underground passages that connects to various different places. Nowadays, most of the passages are sealed. In the earlier days, the passages were used by sages, Kings and Queens to roam about different temples and places, especially during auspicious festivals like Deepavali, Maha Shivarathri and Makar Sankranti.
  7. The temple is said to have a huge cap stone on top of it, and the weight of the stone is said to be 80 tons. The Garbhagriha where the Shiva lingam is located is  also said to generate large amount of electro magnetic energy. The 80 ton stone acts as a repulsive force and channels the energy to the inner areas of the temple to sustain its piousness and divinity. The positive energy radiant within in the temple structure is said to have a calming, soothing effect both mentally and physically on all the devotees.
  8. For the construction of the temple, more than 130,000 tons of granite was used. Surprisingly, these heavy stones were brought down from a place that was located 50 miles away from the Brihadeeshwara

Author: kirtana Dilipan on

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