Tanjore Big Temple
Brihadeeswar Temple or Big Temple of Thanjavur

About thanjavur Temple:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple or Big temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. It was built during the reign of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century by the Chola king, Raja Raja Chola I.

Unbelievable Architecture of Thanjavur Temple

The temple is famous for its grand architecture and is considered to be one of the greatest architectural achievements of the Chola dynasty. It is known for its massive tower, or Vimana, which is 66 meters tall and is one of the tallest in the world.

Big Temple, Thanjavur,India
Big Temple, Thanjavur,India

The temple’s construction took around 7 years to complete and involved the efforts of more than 130,000 artisans and laborers. The temple was built using 130,000 metric tons of granite, which was transported to the site from more than 50 kilometers away using elephants. The entire structure is constructed on flat land without any underground foundation. Also, no adhesive like cement, tar, etc, was used for the construction. The whole structure is made using the interlocking technique of stones.
The temple also has a large courtyard, several smaller shrines, and a giant statue of Nandi, the bull, which is carved out of a single stone.

Shivalingam in the temple courtyard
Shivalingam in the temple courtyard

Sculpture of chariot puller
Sculpture of chariot puller
Nandi facing Shivalangam in Big temple
Nandi facing Shivalangam in Big temple

Preservation and Recognition:

The temple was renovated extensively in the nineteenth century by the British archaeologist James Fergusson and the Indian architect Chinnaswami, who have been instrumental in restoring a number of the temple’s difficult carvings and sculptures. Today, the temple has been well-preserved and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It remains a vital pilgrimage site for Hindus and attracts thousands of visitors each year. and is a must-go to vacation spot for anyone interested in Indian culture, history, and architecture.

Fascinating Trivia about Thanjavur Temple:

1. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and features a towering 216-foot (66-meter) vimana (temple tower), which is one of the tallest in India.

2. The entire temple complex is made of granite and features intricate carvings and sculptures, including over 81 dance poses of Lord Shiva.

3. The temple is designed in such a way that on the day of the summer solstice, the sun’s rays fall directly on the Shiva Lingam (the symbol of Lord Shiva) inside the sanctum sanctorum ( Garbha Grah).

Summer Solstice:

The summer solstice occurs at the moment the earth’s tilt toward/from the sun is at a maximum

4. The Brihadeshwar Temple is also famous for its huge Bull (Nandi) statue that is placed under a Mandapa (Pillared Shed structure). This is the first idol one sees when one enters the Temple complex. The statue is carved out of a single piece of stone and measures 13 feet (4 meters) long and 9 feet (2.7 meters) high.

6. The temple attracts thousands of visitors every year, particularly during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, when devotees from all over India come to pay their respects to Lord Shiva.

Plan Your Visit to Thanjavur

By Air: Although Thanjur does not have its own airport, the nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli which is 61km from Thanjavur. Buses and trains are available to reach Thanjur from Tiruchillapali airport,

By Train: The direct train is available from Tiruchirappalli, Karikal, and Chennai. Tiruchirappalli, Thiruvauru, Nagaore, Rameswaram, Madurai, Manamadurai, Nagaore, Ernakulam, Chennai, Karikal, Mysore, Goa, Varanasi.

By Road: Direct busses both AC/Non-Ac and Chaired/Sleeper are available to Thanjur from cities like Bangalore, Mysore, and the major cities of Tamil Nadu. National Highways NH226, NH67, and NH 45C connect, Thanjur to Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, and other cities.

One-Day Itinerary Thanjavur Temple and Palace:

If you are planning a one-day trip to Brihadeeshwarar Temple, here is a suggested itinerary to make the most of your visit:

9:00 AM – Arrival and Entry

The temple opens at 6:00 AM, so plan to arrive early to avoid crowds. However there is no entry fee for the temple, but there may be a small fee for parking and the safekeeping of shoes taken by local vendors.

9:30 AM – Temple Tour

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is famously known for its height, because of which Brihadeshwar temple is also known as Big Temple. You will find paintings, carvings, and sculptures both inside and outside the temple, which showcase the beauty of Tamil Nadu’s art and culture.

In order to get a better understanding of the temple’s history and architecture, take a guided tour.

Big Temple, Tanjore India
Big Temple, Tanjore India

11:00 AM – Visit the Palace and Museum

Post temple visit, go to the nearby Thanjavur Palace, which used to be the official residence of the Nayak and Maratha leaders of Thanjavur. The palace has now been converted into a museum, where you can see displays of royal artifacts, paintings, and sculptures.

Palace Museum
*Palace Museum (image sourced from the Internet)

1:00 PM – Lunch Break

There are plenty of restaurants and food stalls around the temple and palace. You can try the local cuisine such as Dosas, idlis, Upma, Parota, Sambhar, Rasam, Pongal, Payasam, Kesari, and Sweet Pongal

2:00 PM – Explore the Surrounding Area

After lunch, take a stroll around the surrounding area, which is filled with small shops, markets, and street vendors. You can shop for souvenirs, clothes, and jewelry, or simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of the local culture.

4:00 PM – Witness the Evening Rituals

The temple hosts various rituals and ceremonies throughout the day, but the evening ceremony is a not to miss event. The priests perform a special pooja (worship) for Lord Shiva, which includes chanting shlokas, ringing bells, and lighting lamps.

5:00 PM – Departure

After the evening pooja, it’s time to bid adieu to Brihadeeshwarar Temple. You may hop on to the daily buses and travel to Madhurai which is 3 hrs journey from Thanjore and is famous for Meenakshi Amman Temple or head back to your hotel or home.

Don’t forget to take plenty of photos and cherish the memories of this unforgettable trip

*  Some photos that are used in this article are taken from other resources No copyright infringement intended.

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