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Brihadishvara Temple, also called Rajarajesvaram or Peruvudaiyār Kōvil, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple has an underneath layer of Chola frescoes on the sanctum walls along the circumambulatory pathway. These frescoes which cover floor to ceiling, were discovered in 1931 by S. K. Govindasami of the Anamalai University. The painters used natural pigments and infused it into the wet limestone layer as it was setting in.
Inscriptions indicate that this area also had other iconography from major Hindu god during the Chola era, but these are now missing. The original eight shrines included those for Surya (the sun god), Saptamatrikas (seven mothers), Ganesha, Kartikeya, Jyeshtha, Chandra (the moon god), Chandeshvara and Bhairava. Similarly, in the western wall cella was a massive granite Ganesha built during Rajaraja I era, but who is now found in the tiruch-churru-maligai (southern veranda). Of the Shaktism tradition's seven mothers, only Varahi survives in a broken form. Her remnants are now found in a small modern era brick "Varahi shrine" in the southern side of the courtyard. The original version of the others along with their original Chola shrines are missing.
Arulmozhivarman, a Tamil emperor who was popular as Rajaraja Chola I laid out foundations of Brihadeeswarar Temple during 1002 CE (Lord Shiva). It was first among other great building projects by Tamil Chola. A symmetrical and axial geometry rules layout of this temple. Temples from same period and two following centuries are expressions of Tamils Chola power, artistic expertise and wealth. Emergence of these types of features, such as multifaceted columns along with projecting signals of square capitals signifies arrival of Chola style, which was new at that time.
It is one architectural exemplar, which showcases true form of Dravida kind of architecture in temples and is a representative of ideology of Chola Empire and Southern India’s Tamil civilization. Brihadeeswarar Temple “testifies to Chola’s brilliant achievements in architecture, painting, bronze casting and sculpture.”
The best season to visit is the winters and the onset of summers. The temperature remains comfortable and is apt for sightseeing. The best months to visit are October, November, December, January, February and March.
The most interesting part of this temple is the shadow of the temple, which surprisingly never falls on the ground at noon. The Brihadeshwar Temple is one of the tallest and famous temples in the world and is so designed that the viman does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year.
The Brihadishvara temple at Thanjavur is the site of annual dance festivals around February, around the Mahashivratri. Major classical Indian dance form artists, as well as regional teams, perform their repertoire at this Brahan Natyanjali festival over 10 days. The temple was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Brihadeeswara Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram and Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram that are referred as the Great Living Chola Temples. These three temples have similarities, but each has unique design and sculptural elements. All of the three temples were built by the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and they have continued to be supported and used by Hindus. The temples are classified as "Great Living" as the temples are active in cultural, pilgrimage and worship practises in modern times
From Morning 6:00 to 12:30 and Evening Darshan Timings 4:00 to 8:30
Located in South bank of Kaveri river in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India.