Thanjavur Brihadisvara Temple

Shiva, Moon
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History

Brihadishvara Temple, also referred to as Rajesvara Peruvudaiyar or Brihadeeswarar Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India.

This article is about the Temple in Thanjavur. For the temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, see Brihadeeswarar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
“Rajarajeswaram” redirects here. For the Shiva temple in Taliparamba, Kerala, see Rajarajeshwara Temple.
Brihadishvara Temple, also called Rajarajesvaram or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the largest South Indian temple and an exemplary example of a fully realized Tamil architecture It is called as Dhakshina Meru of south. Built by Raja Raja Chola I between 1003 and 1010 AD, the temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, along with the Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple that are about 70 kilometres (43 mi) and 40 kilometres (25 mi) to its northeast respectively.

The original monuments of this 11th century temple were built around a moat. It included gopura, the main temple, its massive tower, inscriptions, frescoes and sculptures predominantly related to Shaivism, but also of Vaishnvaism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism. The temple was damaged in its history and some artwork is now missing. Additional mandapam and monuments were added in centuries that followed. The temple now stands amidst fortified walls that were added after the 16th century.

Built out of granite, the vimana tower above the sanctum is one of the tallest in South India.The temple has a massive colonnaded prakara (corridor) and one of the largest Shiva lingas in India. It is also famed for the quality of its sculpture, as well as being the location that commissioned the brass Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance, in 11th century. The complex includes shrines for Nandi, Parvati, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandeshvara, Varahi and others. The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.
A spectrum of Hindu temple styles continued to develop from the 5th to the 9th century over the Chalukya era rule as evidenced in Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal, and then with the Pallava era as witnessed at Mamallapuram and other monuments. Thereafter, between 850 and 1280 CE, Cholas emerged as the dominant dynasty. The early Chola period saw a greater emphasis on securing their geopolitical boundaries and less emphasis on architecture. In the 10th century, within the Chola empire emerged features such as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals. This, states George Michell, signaled the start of the new Chola style. This South Indian style is most fully realized both in scale and detail in the Brihadeshvara temple built between 1003 and 1010 by the Chola king Rajaraja. The architect and engineer of the temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Rama Perunthachan as stated in inscriptions found at the temple.

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