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Brihadeeswara Temple, Tanjore. What is a Temple ?. In Sanskrit, temple is referred to as Mandiram , meaning House of Worship Temples are regarded as sacred places, and are vital links that connect man to God

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Brihadeeswara temple tanjore
Brihadeeswara Temple, Tanjore

What is a temple
What is a Temple ?

  • In Sanskrit, temple is referred to as Mandiram, meaning House of Worship

  • Temples are regarded as sacred places, and are vital links that connect man to God

  • Temples are built on the principles of SilpaSastra – the science of stone sculpture, and Agama Sastra – the science of temple building

A hindutemple
A HinduTemple

Has …

  • An entrance, often with a porch (used to walk, so needed a place to rest )

  • One or more halls or mandapas (for celebrations, conducting yagnas, poojas, music, dance etc)

  • Inner sanctum called Garbagriha(where the deity is energized and where we see the form of God in the temple)

  • Towers at each entrance – elaborately decorated.

  • Pots, or Kalasams,are placed on top of the towers. They are always odd numbered – 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. More Kalasams, means towers are taller, and broader, and therefore, siginfies importance.

  • A tower built directly above the Garbagriha

  • Many temples have ponds where people can take a bath – called a pushkarani( tank )

  • Festivalsare held at temples through out the year – religious and social events – gets people together

  • Many temples have goshalas, or cow sheds. Some temples have peacocks, elephants, snake pits etc.

  • Most temples have a stalavriksha, or resident tree.

  • Sages have traveled far and wide, and sung in these temples, in praise of the resident God.

  • Chariots for processions

The big temple

  • This temple was built in 1010 AD by Raja RajaChola. Also called Rajarajeeswaram – place of Raja RajaChola’s God , or the Temple for Lord Iswara.

  • The Brihadeeswarawas also called thePeruvudaiyarKovil. Located at the center of the Tanjore city, this temple is the world’s first complete granite temple.

  • With the fall of the Cholas, Tanjore was revived by the Nayaks and Marathas. It was renamed the Brihadeeswara temple.

  • Brihat= Great and Ishwara= Shiva = the temple of the Great Ishwara.

The garbagriha tower
The sites, and a brilliant example of the temple architectureGarbagriha tower

History of the temple
History of the temple sites, and a brilliant example of the temple architecture

  • Raja RajaChola laid out the foundation of the temple in 1002 AD. He received the ‘command’ to build the temple in a dream.

  • The Brihadheeshwara temple is the first granite temple in the world.

  • Besides the Brahmin priests, these included record-keepers, musicians, scholars, and craftsman of every type as well as housekeeping staff.

  • The temple maintained a staff of 600 people in various capacities.

  • Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple has one of the largest monolithic (made of only one rock or stone) ShivLingas standing tall at 13 feet and the 2nd largest monolithic idol of Nandi (largest being the Lepakshi Nandi).

  • The temple also sports a depiction in stone, of eighty one of the one hundred and eight karanas of Bharata Muni's NatyaSastra - the first of its kind - setting the pace for many others to follow in succeeding centuries.

  • The inscriptional data also mentions the jewellery of the period; about sixty-six different types of ornaments and jewellery are listed with all the details.

Thanjavur big nandi
Thanjavur of the one hundred and eight Big Nandi

The deity
The Deity the very front of the temple.

  • The Name of the deity the very front of the temple.Brihadheeshwararand the Goddess is Peruvudayar Amman.

  • This is one of the rare temples which has 6 feet statues dedicated to the “AshtaDikpaalakas” or the Lords of the Eight Cardinal Directions – Indra, Varuna, Agni, Vayu, Eesana, Niruthi, Yama and Kubera. (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW )

  • There is also a big idol of Dakshinamoorthyhere.

1000 year celebrations
1000 year celebrations the very front of the temple.

  • To mark the occasion, the state government organised a BharathanatyamYajna, classical dance show under noted dancer PadmaSubramaniam.

  • To mark the 1000th year anniversary of the building, 1000 dancers from New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Singapore, Malaysia and the U.S danced in concert to the recorded 11 verses of divine Music Thiruvichaippa (ninth of Thirumurai) composed by KaruvurThevar (the guru of Raja RajaChola) named Tiruvisaippa.

  • The small town turned into a cultural hub for two days beginning September 26, 2010 as street performers and dancers performed throughout the town.

Commemorative stamp and coin
Commemorative Stamp and Coin the very front of the temple.

On September 26, 2010 (Big Temple’s fifth day of millennium Celebrations), as a recognition of Big Temple’s contribution to the country’s Cultural, Architectural, Epigraphical history, a Special 5 Postage Stamp featuring the 216-feet tall giant Raja Gopuram was released by India Post.