Close your eyes, and imagine you are traveling to an unknown place. You hear hustle and bustle all around you, residents going about their daily lives. You are surrounded by new places and sights to see with the smell of exotic spices and food you’ve never tried before… You are in India. A place of amazing architecture and culture around every corner. India is well known for its history and culture; the temples are the most popular. The Brihadisvara Temple otherwise known as the Rajarajesvaram Temple sits prominently in the heart of Thanjavur, India. In this blog, we will be discussing the details of this beautiful granite temple.
The Granite Temple
This temple is of the largest temples of the South Indian culture and is a prime example of Dravidian architecture, which is a form of Hindu temple architecture that emerged in India across the South. There are over 15 different structures that show this type of architecture between temples, castles, and entire kingdoms.
The temple we are speaking of today was built by a Tamil King by the name of Raja Raja Chola during the years of 1003 and 1010 AD. The temple is part of a World Heritage Site of UNESCO, the temple being known as “The Great Living Chola Temples”. These 11th-century temples were built around a moat. The temple included a gopura, the main temple, a massive tower, inscriptions, and sculptures.
One tower is built completely of granite and is one of the tallest in South India. The tower’s name is Vimana and consists of a large corridor or prakara as it’s known in India. The tower is structured with granite and framed with brass. The tower holds the shrines of Indian ambassadors, gods, and kings of Nandi, Parvati, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandeshvara, Varahi, and others. This temple is the most visited by tourists wanting to experience the culture.
Location of this Granite Temple
The Brihadeswara Temple is in the city of Thanjavur, India about 220 miles away from Chennai the closest city. The city is close to local railways, bus services, and highways. The temple is at the start of the Cauveri River with access to the Bay through the Indian Ocean. Along with the temples that were completed in the 11th century, the Tamil people also introduced agriculture to their environment allowing for the movement of goods and to control the water flowing in from the bay into the urban areas.
The temple was built following the development of axial and symmetrical geometry rules. The temple sits on a higher platform than a traditional man-made mound which is how traditional temples are normally built. The shrines, sculptures, inscriptions, and exterior are all made from granite stone, and brass framing throughout the entire temple.
Over the next few years, there are several renovations in the works for this temple and what it houses. Each monumental piece of the temple is protected and kept up to reduce the deterioration of the structure and the history it holds.
The old murals that are fading away with time will be replaced with new ones or repainted to bring back the original coloration.
Every year there are events of all kinds held here. Cultural events such as dance festivals and car festivals happen here along with novels being written with locations being based at this temple. The temple is currently under the ownership and care of an Indian royal family, Thanhavur Martha. The family serves as a trustee to the original owners of the temple and they manage 88 other Chola temples across India.
This temple is a piece of art and history across the world and especially across India. The temple and its many works of art such as sculptures, reliefs, and murals will continue to stand strong together as a piece of Indian 11th-century history. If you should ever find yourself in India, take the time to visit this monumental temple and all its works of art and architecture.
The temple consists of so many different bits and pieces that it is impossible to explain and mention them all. Research the temple and view some of the amazing pictures of its murals and transcriptions. Who knows you may find inspiration for a painting or work of art to produce yourself?