Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in the Thanjavur of Tamil Nadu state, India. It is a Hindu temple which is a part of Great Living Chola Temples that are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It was built during the 9th century and completely dedicated to the Shiva. The linga of the temple was brought from the river Narmada and said by many that when it was brought, the water of the river kept increasing day by day and so the name Brihadeeswarar was given to this temple. It is one of the largest temple in India and also most prized one only due to its architectural designs.
The temple majestically stands amidst the fortified walls that were added in the 16th century. It has the tower or Vimana of the gopuram which is 216 ft high. This Vimana is among the tallest of its kind in the entire world. The Kalasha of the temple is intricately carved out of a single stone and weighs around 80 tons. A big statue of Nandi is amazingly carved out of a single rock and measures about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. This shows that it is a distinctive example of architecture inside the temple.
This glamorous temple is the world’s first fully granite temple. Most of the inscriptions on the walls depict the Bharatanatyam which is a popular classical dance of southern India. One of the interesting parts of this temple is the shadow of the gopuram (pyramidal tower which usually stands over the gateway of the temple) never falls on the ground at noon. This served as a great example of the South Asian style of architecture.
The square sanctuary of the temple is surrounded by a narrow passageway and adjoins an antechamber. The double storey plastered walls of the sanctuary are located on a raised basement. Projections of the wall have niches that occupied by fully model images of Shiva. Some finest figures that intricately carved on the walls of the temple include Bikshatanamurti, dancing Shiva, Harihara and Ardhanarishvara.
Another interesting thing to see is an Archaeological Museum which showcases the ancient ruins. It surely gives you the chance to look back into the history of the Chola Empire. 107 paragraphs long inscription can also found on the walls of the Vimana which reads the contribution of the Chola King Rajaraja and his sister Kundavai.
This popular temple turned 1000 years old on September 2010 and the day was celebrated with great pomp and show. State government celebrated this birthday of the temple with great excitement. Many cultural events were held there during this wonderful occasion. People travel to this place in a large number only to glare or participate in the cultural activities.
On 26th September 2010, which was the fifth day of the millennium celebrations, Indian post released 5 special postage stamps featuring the 216-ft tall giant Raja Gopuram. Also, the Reserve Bank of India commemorated this special event by releasing the 5 coins embossed with the model of the big temple. A 1000 rupee coin was also released to commemorate the same picture as on the Rs. 5 coins. The temple is visited by a large number of pilgrims and tourists from across the globe. It is one of the important heritage sites in Tamil Nadu.