Big Temple 1000

Brahadeswarar Temple ( Big Temple ) Thanjavur.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Rajarajeswaram, at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, is the world's first complete granite temple. It is a brilliant example of the artistry and architecture of the Vishwakarmas in temple architecture. It is a tribute and a reflection of the power of its patron Rajaraja Chola I. It is one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture and is one of our most prized architectural sites. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Great Living Chola Temples."

The foundations of the temple were laid out by the Tamil Emperor Arulmozhivarman, popularly called Rajaraja Chola I, in 1002 CE, as the first of the great Tamil Chola building projects. According to tradition, the temple was built by the Chola king Rajaraja in compliance of a command given to him in his dream. The Vimaana or the temple tower is 216 ft (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world.

The great Brihadeeswara Temple was completed around 1010 AD. It remained the centre of the Chola administration for many years, channeling the state revenue into a number of civic projects. It also acted as a repository of the empire's records, as the great Rajaraja had its walls covered with numerous inscriptions recording his conquests and his endowments to various charities. The impression we get from the inscriptions is of a wealthy, progressive city, although totally dominated by the temple. This temple is a unique monument in many respects.

It attracts the curiosity of not merely the historian but also the sociologist, not to speak of the dancer and the painter for it is perhaps the only temple in the world which carries on its walls, the engraved evidence, in beautiful calligraphy, of its entire history and the story of the contemporary society. Such an exhaustive documentation ranging over almost a hundred long inscriptions engraved on the walls, pillars and podium, is rare wealth indeed, of immeasurable value to the scholar. The inscriptions give, apart from a comprehensive history of the times, a full enumeration of all the metallic images set up in the temple. Numbering about 66, these icons are referred to with a description of the minutest details of size, shape and composition. This alone is a mine of information for the art historian.

The temple also sports a depiction in stone, of 81 of the 108 karanas of Bharata Muni's ‘Natya Sastra' - the first of its kind - setting the pace for many others to follow in succeeding centuries. The inscriptional data also abound in mention of the jewellery of the period; about 66 different types of ornaments, jewellery and the names of 400 dancers who were attached to the temple. The Temple is a veritable source of invaluable material on the social and cultural life of the people of the times.