My recent visits to the “Big Temple” Tanjore, Tamilnadu, India. I really went hilarious mood when I was entered to the temple. I felt something in my heart when I reached there. My mind was thinking about a 10th century, How this temple was built? how many peoples were worked? How the sculpture creative arts & statues? Any machinery used? Are they tired? Who giving the Plans and Ideas? How the King feels while building the temple and How he was felt once the temple was built? bla..bla..
I was studied in my school days “Big Temple” of Tanjore has no Sthala Purana and was a temple built to showcase the might of a King and his devotion to his favorite deity “Lord Shiva”.
The more acceptable theory states that, the construct such an imposing structure of temple was to display his towering devotion to “Lord Shiva” and his wish to build a temple unrivalled which was 40 times larger than any other temple in that era.
Few words about Rajaraja Chola 1:
Parents named as an Arulmozhivarman. He is one the greatest rulers belonging to the Chola empire. Under him, the empire reached new heights expanding the kingdom to the Lanka in the south and till the Kalinga empire region in the south. His rule lasted from 985 to 1014 AD. The History, The Empire, The King “Raja Raja Sola 1” develop to grow the Tamil traditions, arts and sculpture through built the many temples during his ruling period of 1010 AD. According to 1010 AD Tamil sculptural arts and statues most explained about history, culture, materials, dedications etc.
About Tanjore Temple History:
The big temple goes by the names Rajarajeswaram, Peruvudaiyar Kovil and Brihadeeswarar Temple which were coined during the various hereditary.
As per epigraphic evidence, the big temple complex construction began in his 19th year of rule and was completed in the 275th day of this 25th year of rule. Now everyone wonders, how such a big temple could be built in 6 years (Feet was achieved with just very simple technology and human labor) flat taking into account the amount stone and soil to be moved and the lack of powered machinery available in those days. As you enter the temple two majestic gopuras welcome you, the first one is the Raja Raja gopuram built by Raja Raja rule. These gopuras in contrast. The second imposing gopuram which leads you to the main complex is the Keralaanthagan Gopuram which was built by Raja Raja after his victory over the Chera’s.
About Huge Monolithic Nandi:
Befitting this huge temple is the “Huge Monolithic Nandi” which is 3.66 m in height, 5.94 m in length and 2.59 m in breadth. This Nandi structure was put by the Nayak’s who felt the earlier smaller Nandi was not doing justice to this huge shrine.
About the Main Complex:
The Tanjore Brihadeeswarar Temple central vimana (Gopuram) to a height of 216-feet from the ground and has 13 tier structure, outer and inner walls of the vimana entire structure has been made of stones interlocked with ball and socket joint technique with no binding material used to hold the structural parts. The vimana was a hollow structure similar to Pyramids. This temple has withstood 6 recorded earthquakes and no major damage has been reported.
The vimana Karana gallery which contains the 81 dance postures out of the 108 Bharatanatyam postures. There were few difficult dance postures like the dancer applying on his forehead with his leg, a posture where the head of the dancer is turned to the rear. The stone sculptors depicting the dancing position were brought in as slabs into the structure and then carved. After the dancing posision 81, there are empty granite slabs till 108 which stand unfinished. You can also allowed to go to the top of vimana with the help of ASI person.
The whole vimana structure was not carved and put together, rather cholas adopted a unique way of arranging huge slabs of granite one over the other till they reached the top of the structure as per the plan. First they built the gopuram with stones like how we building the house and covered with soil in one level, then next level. Finally, the sculptors then started carving the stucco figures on the granite stone. As and when they completed a level of the structure, the soil was removed and they kept coming down the structure. Therefore, the carving progressed from the top to bottom. The following figure will explain this process in detail.
The towering vimana weighs about 43,000 tonnes and has a square base measuring 96 feet. The whole vimana has a foundation of only 7 feet and it is built in such a way that the weight is evenly distributed on the base foundation. The whole vimana structure progresses up in a conical shape and has a peak weighing 81.28 Tonnes. This massive peak was moved to this position by building a ramp of 7kms from a village which still exists by the name “Sarapallam”. Earlier the peak was thought to be a monolithic structure, but later studies have revealed it to made of 2, 3 and even 8 piece structure. No conclusions have been reached on this subject by experts still. The whole of Vimana is built using granite rocks and covered by a thin layer of mortar to preserve the granite sculptures inside.
The temple is dedicated to Shiva, and the main deity is a massive cylindrical linga in a double-walled, box-like sanctum. The monolithic linga is 1.66 m in diameter and is mounted on an “Avudaiyar” ( yoni-pitha), which is 5.25 m in diameter. The linga rises to a height of two storeys.
I have the shared the route map for your experience over here. Tanjore Maps.
Hope you were excited with the Chola engineering marvel, We wish you to visit the amazed temple by Oasis Bus.