Dedicated to Lord Shiva in his dancing pose – Natraj – the Brihadeeswarar Temple is an architectural marvel and a delight to see. Situated in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, the temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 AD. The temple is also known as Rajeswara Temple, Rajarajeswaram and Periya Kovil.
The temple was built by the king to grace the Chola Empire. This thousand-year-old epitome of Dravidian architecture is now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which adds to its exceptional historical and cultural value. For the globetrotters wishing to witness the grandeur of this temple, we bring you a comprehensive guide. Take a look:
Some quick facts about Brihadeeswarar Temple
- The temple was built using over 130,000 tons of granite.
- It took seven years to complete the temple’s construction.
- Despite granite being unavailable within the 100-mile radius of the structure, Brihadeeswarar Temple is the first all-granite temple in the world.
- The major attraction of the temple remains the 216-feet-tall tower built above the Sanctum of the temple.
- The Nandi statue at the temple is about two meters in height, six meters in length and two-and-half meters in width.
- The grand statue weighs around a whopping 20 tons and is built out of a single rock.
- The exterior walls of the upper storey of the temple are carved with various postures of Bharatnatyam.
- The topmost structure of the temple, called Vimana, weighs around 80 tons. It is a mystery how the builders got it atop.
- There are several musical pillars in the temple, which make different sounds when tapped.
Festivals at Brihadeeswarar Temple
The day of the Ruling star, satabhishag is treated as a festival day every month, since it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of the birth of Raja Raja Chola I.
The annual festival is held in the month of Visaka (or May, according to the English calendar) for nine days. During the annual festival, the deity is bathed with the water soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.
Apart from these, the following festivals are celebrated at the Brihadeeswarar Temple with full fervour:
- Natyanjali – The annual dance festival held in the month of February
- Navratri – September/October
- Pradosham – Once in a fortnight
- Panchami Abhishekam for Goddess Varaahi – every Panchami in a fortnight
- Girivalam – every full moon day
Brihadeeswarar Temple timings
Morning: 6 am to 12:30 pm
Evening: 4 pm to 9 pm
How to reach
Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in Thanjavur district, which is well-connected to several major cities through road and rail network. While Thanjavur does not have an airport, tourists can reach Tiruchirapalli by air and then travel the remainder through a taxi, bus or train.
Also Read: Shwezigon Pagoda
Last modified: July 1, 2019