The Big Temple of Tanjavore is a stunning monument that speaks oodles about the architectural mastery of the Chola era. This 212 ft (64.8 meter) towering Shiva temple is home to one of the largest Shiva Lingas of the country. A majestic Nandhi (bull), measuring a gigantic 19.4 ‘ x 8.23’ x 12’ (5.94 x 2.51 x 3.66 in meters) stands guard over the temple. This is the second largest Nandhi in India and is carved out of a single stone. Everything about this temple is big, majestic. No wonder it is referred as The Big Temple.
The Big Temple was constructed by Raja Raja Chola I, the greatest king of the Chola dynasty between AD 985 and 1014. The Chola dynasty were Shaivites. Vijayalaya Chola who envisioned “The Chola Empire” ruled around AD 850. Raja Raja Chola I was the greatest warrior and administrator in the Chola dynasty. King Raja Raja Cholan was the most successfull in expanding their empire. The Big Temple was an expression of the success of Raja Raja Chola’s empire. This temple is also called as Brahadeeswara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”.
King Raja Raja Cholan had the main temple built completely with granite. It is hard to imagine how, in that age, more than 130,000 tones of granite was brought to the temple site, especially given that there is no granite quarry within a hundred kilometers of the temple site. Another stunning architectural feat is the Vimana / Shikhara – the spire atop the temple. The beautiful lotus shaped stone of the Big Temple weighs a stunning 80 tons. We can but marvel at the engineering mastermind who managed to hoist an 80 ton carved rock up a 212 feet tower back in the 11th century.
The chief architect of the temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan. The layout of the temple is based on the principles of Vastu Shastra, the ancient Hindus science of architecture and construction and Agamas, the ancient scripts that define principles behind temple construction. The central temple site is surrounded by a rectangular boundary 885 ‘ x 450 ‘ (270 m by 140 m). The temple boundary holds many sub shrines besides the main temple and the Nandi.
The niches on three sides of the temple hold images of Shiva, Vishnu and Durga. The southern wall has sculptures of Ganesha, Vishnu with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi, Lakshmi, a pair of Dvarapalas, Vishnu anugraha murti, Bhikshatana, Virabhadra, Dakshinamurti, Kalanta and Nataraja. On the west side there are images of Harihara, Ardhanarishvara, a pair of dvarapalas and two Chandrasekharas, one with and the other without halo. On the north, in the lower series, the depiction of Adhanarisvara, Gangadhara, a pair of dvarapalas, Virabhadra (with a sword and a shield), Alingana Chandrasekhara, Siva holding a Sula (spear), a pair of dvarapalas, Sarasvati, Mahishasuramardini and Bhairava. The north series shows a number of Tripurantakas repeated in each niche. In the small circular space of the top niches are present the carvings of Ganesha, Vrishabavahana, Bhikshatana, Narasimha and Varaha.
Besides these, each wall of the temple and the surrounding architecture are filled to the brim with carvings and paintings depicting the rich history of art, culture, mythology and science of the era.
Poets who sang its praise : Karuvoorar.
Brihadeeswarar Temple Timings
6.00 a.m. – 12.30 Noon, 4.00 p.m. – 8.30 p.m.
Temple Festivals : chitharai madham – pramorsavam – 18 days festival – on the day of sathaya natchathiram people raises the flag and During chithirai nathathiram theerthavari takes place.
Aipasi – Raja raja cholan birth day function – Grand function takes place during sathya natchathiram. On that day festival happens continueously,from morning 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM.on that day swamy roaring takes place.
During aipasi month god decoration happens with full of foods,it will take place as a grand function
Special poojas will be contected During the days of Thiruvathirai,aadipuram,karthigai
Every pradhosha days the number of people come to temple is very huge in number
Special function takes place at the time of Deevali ,Pongal ,and New year
Nearest Town : Tanjore.
Temple Address : Piragatheeshvarar Temple(Tanjore Big Temple),
Tanjore – 613 001.
Telephone No : +91-4362- 274476