India - Tamil Nadu - Thanjavur - Brihadeshwara Temple - 32d(PID:50726109847) Source
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The Brihadeshwara Temple at Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is an important example of Tamil architecture achieved during the Chola dynasty. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples". This is one of the largest temples in India and one of India's most prized architectural sites. Built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 AD, Peruvudaiyaar Temple, also popularly known as the 'Big Temple', turned 1000 years old in 2010. Thanjavur Periya Kovil stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The vimanam (or temple tower) is 66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam, the apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single rock and it weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi (sacred bull), carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchirappalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur. HISTORY The temple had its foundations 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. The Brihadeshwarar Temple was built to grace the throne of the Chola empire in compliance to a command given to him in his dream. The scale and grandeur is in the Chola tradition. An axial and symmetrical geometry rules the temple layout. Temples from this period and the following two centuries are an expression of the Tamils (Chola) wealth, power and artistic expertise. The emergence of such features as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals signal the arrival of the new Chola style. The Brihadeshwarar Temple was built to be the royal temple to display the emperor's vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order. The temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointing the emperor and linking him with its deity, Shiva, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. It is an architectural example showcasing the pure form of the Dravida type of temple architecture and representative of the Chola Empire ideology and the Tamil civilisation in Southern India. The temple "testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting." CONSTRUCTION The wish to build a mammoth temple like this is said to have occurred to Raja Raja while he stayed at Sri Lanka as an emperor. The esteemed architect and engineer of the temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as stated in inscriptions found at the temple. The temple was built per ancient texts called Vaastu Shastras and Agamas. He is the ancient ancestor of the doyan of Vaastu Vedic architecture, the late Dr. V. Ganapti Sthapati of Chennai and Mahabalipurim (architect of the 133' granite Thiruvalluvar statue at the tip of south India). Members of his family still live and practice the ancient art and science. The American University of Mayonic Science and Technology was initiated by Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati to perpetuate the same form of architectural principles used by Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan to build the Brihadeeswarar temple. The temple was built using a measure of 1 3/8-inch called an angula (24 units equalling 33 inches called a hasta, muzam, or kishku). This is the same measure found in ancient Lothal and other sites in the Indus Valley dating back 4000 - 6000 years. This same measure is used to build structures compliant with the Vaastu Shastras and Agamas today. While some builders use a different measure this is considered a standard due to its antiquity. This temple is the first building fully built by granite and finished within 5yrs [1004AD – 1009AD]. The solid base of the temple raises about 5 metres, above which stone deities and representatives of Shiva dance. The huge kalasam or Vimanam (top portion of the shrine) is believed to weigh 81.28 tonnes of single stone block and was raised to its present height by dragging on an inclined plane of 6.44 km. The big Nandi (bull), weighing about 20 tonnes is made of a single stone and is about 2 m in height, 6 m in length and 2.5 m in width. The presiding deity of lingam is 3.7m tall. The prakaram (outer precincts of the temple) measures 240m by 125m. The outer wall of the upper storey is carved with 81 dance karanas – postures of Bharathanatyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu. The shrine of Goddess was added by Pandyas during the 13th century, Subramanya Shrine by Vijayanagara rulers and the Vinayaka shrine was renovated by Maratha rulers. TEMPLE COMPLEX The temple complex sits on the banks of a river that was channelled to make a moat around the complex's outer walls, the walls being built like a fortress. The complex is made up of many structures that are aligned axially. The complex can be entered either on one axis through a five-story gopuram or with a second access directly to the huge main quadrangle through a smaller free-standing gopuram. The massive size of the main Vimanam (Shikhara) is ca. 60 meters high, with 16 elaborately articulated stories, and dominates the main quadrangle. Pilaster, piers, and attached columns are placed rhythmically covering every surface of the Vimanam. The gopuram of the main entrance is 30 m high, smaller than the vimana. It is unusual in the dravidian architecture where the gopurams are generally the main towers and taller than the vimanam. MAIN TEMPLE A first rectangular surrounding wall, 270 m by 140 m, marks the outer boundary. The main temple is in the center of the spacious quadrangle composed of a sanctuary, a Nandi, a pillared hall and an assembly hall (mandapas), and many sub-shrines. The most important part of the temple is the inner mandapa which is surrounded by massive walls that are divided into levels by sharply cut sculptures and pilasters providing deep bays and recesses. Each side of the sanctuary has a bay emphasising the principle cult icons. The karuvarai, a Tamil word meaning the interior of the sanctum sanctorum, is the inner most sanctum and focus of the temple where an image of the primary deity, Shiva, resides. Inside is a huge stone linga. The word Karuvarai means "womb chamber" from Tamil word karu for foetus. Only priests are allowed to enter this inner-most chamber. In the Dravida style, the Karuvarai takes the form of a miniature vimana with other features exclusive to southern Indian temple architecture such as the inner wall together with the outer wall creating a pradakshina around the garbhagriha for circumambulation (pradakshina). The entrance is highly decorated. The inside chamber housing the image of the god is the sanctum sanctorum, the garbhagriha. The garbhagriha is square and sits on a plinth, its location calculated to be a point of total equilibrium and harmony as it is representative of a microcosm of the universe. In the center is placed the image of the deity. The royal bathing-hall where Rajaraja the great gave gifts is to the east of the hall of Irumudi-Soran. The circumambulation winds around the massive lingam in the garbhagriha and is repeated in an upper story, presenting the idea that Chola Empire freely offered access to the gods. The inner mandapa leads out to a rectangular mandapa and then to a twenty-columned porch with three staircases leading down. Sharing the same stone plinth is a small open mandapa dedicated to Nandi, Shiva's sacred bull mount. TEMPLE DEITIES The "moolavar" or prime deity of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is Shiva. All deities, particularly those placed in the niches of the outer wall (Koshta Moorthigal) like Dakshinamurthy, Surya, Chandra are of huge size. The Brihadiswarar temple is one of the rare temples which has idols for "Ashta-dikpaalakas" (Guardians of the directions) – Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirṛti, Varuṇa, Vāyu, Kubera, Īśāna – each of whom was originally represented by a life-sized statue, approximately 6 feet tall, enshrined in a separate temple located in the respective direction. (Only Agni, Varuṇa, Vāyu and Īśāna are preserved in situ.) ADJOINING STRUCTURES Surrounding the main temple are two walled enclosures. The outer wall is high, defining the temple complex area. Here is the massive gopuram or gateway mentioned above. Within this a portico, a barrel vaulted gorpuram with over 400 pillars, is enclosed by a high wall interspersed with huge gopurams axially lined up to the main temple. FEATURES Another widely held belief is that the shadow of the gopuram (pyramidal tower usually over the gateway of a temple) never falls on the ground. . The temple is said to be made up of about 60,000 tons of sandstone and granite. The Kumbam itself, a 60 ton granite stone carved in one piece, on top of the main gopuram is believed to have been taken to the top by creating an inclined slope to the height of 66m to the top of the gopuram. The prevailing belief is that a mud-slope, which starts at about three miles from the temple site, from Thirukoilore (birthplace of Raja raja's mother) near Sri Virateshvara swamy temple portrays the figure of the Thanjavur Temple. Elephants might have been used to drag the stone up the slope. This was claimed to be the only part of the gopuram, which does not cast a shadow that fall on the ground, at least not within the temple premises which is an architectural amazement in the world of architecture. MURALS The temple has Chola frescoes on the walls around the sanctum sanctorum potryaing Shiva in action, destroying demonic forts, dancing and sending a white elephant to transport a devotee to heaven. These frescoes were discovered in the 1940s and portray the mythological episodes of the journey of Saint Sundarar and the Chera King to heaven, the battle scene of Tripurantaka (Lord Siva) with Asuras (demons). The Chola artists have proved their mettle by portraying even the Asura women with a sense of beauty. Some of the paintings in the sanctum sanctorum and the walls in the passage had been damaged because of the soot that had deposited on them. Owing to the continuous exposure to smoke and soot from the lamps and burning of camphor in the sanctum sanctorum over a period of centuries certain parts of the Chola paintings on the circumambulatory passage walls had been badly damaged. The Tanjore Nayak kings replaced them with a few paintings of their own, about 400 years ago. The Archaeological Survey of India, for the first time in the world, used its unique de-stucco process to restore 16 Nayak paintings, which were superimposed on 1000-year-old Chola frescoes. These 400-year-old paintings have been mounted on fibre glass boards, displayed at a separate pavilion. TEMPLE PERSONNEL The temple was consecrated in 1010 CE by Raja Raja Chola I & in 2010 a celebration commemorated the temple's thousandth anniversary. The temple maintained a staff of 1000 people in various capacities with 400 being temple dancers Besides the Brahmin priests, these included record-keepers, musicians, scholars, and craftsman of every type as well as housekeeping staff. In those days the temple was a hub of business activities for the flower, milk, oil, and ghee merchants, all of whom made a regular supply of their respective goods for the temple for its poojas and during festival seasons. Moreover as evidenced by the inscriptions that found in the compound wall of this temple, the temple had always been serving as a platform for the dancers who excelled in the traditional dance form of Bharatnatyam. vallamuthu minnadi generation worshipped this temple. WIKIPEDIA
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