|Location||Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu.|
|Dedicated To||Lord Shiva.|
|Significance||Temple capped by a single monolithic granite block. Tallest Temple in South India.|
|Also Known as||Rajarajesvaram Temple.|
The Brihadeswara temple lies to the southern part of the city of Tanjavur between the Grand anicut canal and the Vadavar river. Dedicated to Lord Shiva , this magnificent temple was built in 1003 AD by the chola king Rajaraja I. The temple, considered among the grandest temples of the Hindu religion is unique to itself. The vimana or the tower over the altar sours into the sky. Popular as the Temples of Temple, the Rajarajesvaram temple display some of the best expressions of artistic excellence of the Chola period.
The name of the goddess is Brihannayaki and the deity of Jwaraharaeswara is said to control fever. It is believed that an offering to the deity when somebody has a chronic fever will release him of the sickness. The sandal paste given to apply over the body subsides the suffering. There is also a 55 foot high temples encloses within the premises of Lord Subramanya.
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The temples is bestowed with a unique structure, while the gopurams at the entrances are small the tower above the temple is 216 ft in height with 14 stories. The temple is capped by a monolithic solid granite block 80 tons in weight. The spherical domed Shikara is octagonal and rest to the top of the granite block. There is placed a gigantic Maha-linga measuring 3.5 meters in the inner sanctum. The linga was brought from the river Narmada. It is said that the Linga when brought above the waters kept increasing day by day and hence, the name Brihadeswara was given to it.
Also to be found inside is the giant figure of Nandi, the bull of Lord shiva carved out of a single stone which is considered second largest in India after the one at Leepakshi. The structure is 13 feet high and 6 meters long. Towards the western wall, of the temple is the Seppunaikan Tank. The Shiva Ganga tank is one of the sacred tank found in the temple courtyard. The mandapa or the hall has about 100 pillars all intricately designed and carved beautifully.
There is also to be found an interesting Archaeological Museum which exhibits the ancient ruins and the temples restoration. It also gives a chance to look back in to the history of the Chola Empire. The 107 paragraph long inscription found on the walls of the Vimana reads the contributions of the chola king Rajaraja and his sister Kundavai to the Thanjavur temple.
Daily Chores in the Temple
Peoples throng to the temple premises from the wee hours of the morning lined up to have a glimpse of the Deity. The pujas can be offered till late evening . The whole atmosphere is filled with an aura of peace, respect and honour for Lord Shiva after visiting the place. Archanas, Abhishekam and Prasad offerings are a daily affair.
The day of the Ruling star, satabhishag is treated as a festival day every month as it symbolizes the ruling star at the time of birth of Rajaraja. The annual festival is held for 9 days in the month of Visaka or May according to the English calender. The deity is bathed with the water soaked with the fragrant Champaka flower.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport is situated at Trichy which is 65-km from Thanjavur.
By Rail: The railway station at Thanjavur is well connected with Trichy, Chennai, Madurai and Nagore.
By Road: Thanjavur is well connected by road with all the major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu and also with Kochi, Ernakulam, and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Bangalore in Karnataka. There are regular bus services for visiting all the places of interest in and around Thanjavur.