January 13, 2015

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

This is one of the MUST VISIT temple in India apart from Belur/Halebid in Karnataka. I would say this is also one of the Wonders in World for its architecture. This is again a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Wov... Wov... and Wov are the only words that came from my mouth... Yes, every details is so surprising... ! So intricate carvings and sculpures, beautiful sculptures on towers. I have visited this temple earlier thrice, but this time it was very interesting as I had a good camera to capture the details. I could not reduce the number of photos in this post and ended up adding most of them. 

I am sure after reading this post and checking the photos below, you will plan to visit this temple for sure. 

Distance and Route Details

  • From Kumbakonam - 41Kms 
  • This is in the Thanjavur city. 
  • Kumbakonam to Thanjavur road is in very bad condition (as of Jan 2015)
  • From Trichy this is 58 Kms and the road is good (NH). 

Temple Timings

Opening hours: 6AM till 12:30PM and 4PM till 8:30PM
Note: Only the main deity and the inner sanctum will be closed in noon between 12:30 to 4PM, The temple is open always till 8:30 night and one can get inside and see all the sculptures, paintings and details full day.

History, Details and the Structure


Built by Rajaraja Chola-I during 1003 to 1010AD.  The top portion of the temple tower - "Kalasam" or "Vimanam" weighs 81 tonnes, made on eight pieces of big stones and was raised to that height by many elephants. ReferWiki for lots of other details. To raise this so huge Kalasam to the top of the main tower, inclined plane of 7Km starting Sarappallam (village near Thanjavur) is been constructed it seems. And multiple elephants pulled this up to the top. Amazing isn't it ?

The main sanctum is a square and measures close to 46 sq.m.  The main vimana on top is built through corbelling system or locally known as "Kadalikakarna" in Tamil (கதலிககர்ணம்).

Note: Please ask for guide who can explain the history and stories behind the sculptures in detail. Charges approx. 200 to 300/=. Ask for guide in temple office or the priest.

Main Tower and Nandi (Big Bull)


The entrance is facing east. The main tower is built in such a way that, the shadow never falls on the ground at anytime of the day. This is so amazing and check my photos of the tower taken from all different directions.

The Nandhi statue is 2 meter in height and weighs over 20 tonnes. Made on single stone. The lingam (main deity) is 3.7 meter tall. The height of the main tower is close to 61 meters. The dhoti that is worn by the main deity is of 35+ meter in length.

The dwarapalaka statues are of more than 16 feet high, again they are so amazing.

Shrines

Main shrine is Peruvudaiyar, the main lingam which is of 3.7 meter high. Five other subshrines are
  • Chandikesvara
  • Periyanayaki Amman and Varahi Amman
  • Subramanya Or Murugan
  • Ganesha
  • Karuvur Devar or Karuvur Siddar
Apart from Kasi, the Varahi Amman is found only here in India it seems. 

The Cloisture Mandapa

This cloisture mandapa runs around the temple complex. This was constructed by Rajaraja's military commander Krishnan Raman. In this structure are 36 subshrines for the subsidiary deities like the ashtadikpalas, the parivara devatas etc. The well known inscriptions providing information on the dancers and their places of living are inscribed on the exterior wall near norther doorway. The Maratha ruler Sarabhoji installed 108 lingas in this mandapa. The lengthiest Marathi inscriptions of Sarabhoji is found on the inner wall on the south western portion of this mandapa. Mural paintings are seen.

Sthala Virutcham

Vanni tree (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosopis_cineraria) is the sthala-virutcham (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sthala_Vriksha) of this temple.

Stay and Food options

There are plenty of options in Kumbakonam and Thanjavur. Refer the review sites to check for best options. You can also stay in Trichy which is just 60 kms from here.

Nearby Temples (Click the link to read the blog post)

1. Darasuram
2. Gangaikonda Cholapuram Peruvudaiyar Temple
3. Thiruvaiyaru
4. Poondi Madha Basilica - Catholic pilgrimage centre near Thiruvaiyaru
5. Patteeswaram
6. Kumbakonam Temples
7. Trichy Rockfort Temple, Srirangam and Thiruvanaikaval ...etc

Note: Incase if you want to add Chidambaram to your list, you may want to stay one additional day and visit even Nataraja Temple and Mangrove forests in Chidambaram. I will add more details in forthcoming blog posts. Chidambaram is 110 kms from Thanjavur.

Trip Planning

This temple can be combined along with all the temples listed above in 2 days by one night stay in Kumbakonam or Thanjavur or in Trichy.

Now lets move onto the photos


Note: All the images are copyrighted. Click on the image to zoom and see details. Contact me for bigger size images.

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Full View
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Full View from inside

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple View
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple View

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple
Shiva Bhikshatana

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower View
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower View

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple





Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Big Nandi Mantap Roof Paintings
Big Nandi Mantap Roof Paintings, done on 16th / 17th Century

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Big Nandi View
Big Nandi View of the Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Big Nandi Mantap
View of Big Nandi and Roof paintings, this mantap was built during 16th/17th century


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Cloister Mantap
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Cloister Mantap or Mandap

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Ganesha
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Ganesha

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Nataraja
Nataraja, Notice the colors

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Corner Tower View
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Corner Tower View

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Dwarapalaka

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Faun
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Faun

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Ganesha Intricate Carvings
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Ganesha Intricate Carvings

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Ganesha Intricate Carvings
Zoomed the top portion of the above Ganesha sculptures, notice the details .... Wov !!

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Golden hour shine
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Golden hour shine


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Hi-Five
Are they doing Hi-Five ? :-)

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Horse
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Horse

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Info Board
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Historical Information Board

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Inner Murugan Temple
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Inner Murugan Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Chandikesvara Inner Tower
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Chandikesvara Inner Tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Inner View of the Tower



Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Intricate carvings
Intricate carvings, you can insert a match stick between the floral structure and the stone on back

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Cloisture Mandap Lingams
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Cloisture Mandap Lingams and Colorful paintings

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Information Board

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Plan
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Plan

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Moat
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Moat


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murugan Temple Tower
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murugan Temple Tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murugan or Subramanya
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murugan or Subramanya

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murals Paintings
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Paintings on Cloisture Mandapa

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Varahi Amman
Varahi Amman

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple
Still the green, yellow and red colors are seen after centuries... !!

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Varahi Amman
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Varahi Amman

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Karuvur Siddar
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Karuvur Siddar

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Murugan Subramanya
Murugan or Subramanya

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Spout View
Spout, Isnt it so beautiful ? 

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Spout View
Another Spout, Isnt it so beautiful ? 

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Old Tamil Inscriptions
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Old Tamil Inscriptions

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower closeup

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower Arthanareswarar
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower Arthanareswarar
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower Corner view
Another corner view of the main tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower Subramanya Valli Deivanai
Murugan or Subramanya with Valli and Deivanai

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures dwarapalaka
Dwarapalaka on the temple tower

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Narasimha
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Narasimha


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Brahma
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Brahma

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Narasimha
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Narasimha

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures Subramanya
Subramanya or Murugan

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower sculptures

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower
You can never see the shade on falling on the ground. Capture of the tower from another angle. 

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Entrance Tower
Golden sun shine on the entrance tower


Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower closeup
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Tower Closeup.., Wov... Wov..... and Wov !!! Amazing isn't it ?  

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Twin Tower and Moon
Moon in Middle and two towers and the Golden sun shine.... Wov !!!

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Vahana
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple Vahana

Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple View
Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple View


Hope you liked this post, please add your comments below and share with your friends !

9 comments:

  1. Nice post. This is one of the largest temples in India and is rightly called the 'Big Temple'. When it comes to Thanjavur, his city is home to Brahadeeswara Temple, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 11th Century AD. If you are planning a visit to the historical city, there are hotels in Thanjavur that provide accommodation in budget.

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  3. Very nice post. Wile reading I felt like visiting the temple in person. thank you so much.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for the feedback. Happy to know you liked it.

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  4. Great work Thanigai. Very very detailed and I now understand there is lot more to see when I visit next time. Just that a close up photo of top vimanam stone weighing 80 tons is missing I guess :-)

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    1. Thanks a lot Venkat for the feedback, very encouraging. Google don't allow me to upload high quality photos, so i had to compress from 36.2 megapixels to 8 megapixels. i can share in flickr or somewhere else for you to see that closeup view. Yes, it is really amazing.

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  6. Thank you for this very interesting post.I visited Tanjavur 20 years ago and your pictures gave me a second visit in this nice temple.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback. Happy to know you liked the pictures.

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Thank you for your comments