Commonly called as Brahadeeshwara temple or the Periya Kovil was built by Raja Raja cholan along with the architect named Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan in Thanjavur. The temple was constructed over a period of seven years from 1003 to 1010AD, and was completed in the 25th year of Rajaraja’s reign. This architectural masterpiece was built in just 7 years. The architects successors survive to this day and practice the art of Vastu .
Thanjavur is also known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, which was an an important city in the Chola dynasty. With the construction of the Brahadeeshwara Temple in the center, and the city then built up around it.
The 1000 year old temple built in the 11th century is famous for its stone art forms and for the paintings. The paintings stand up to this day enlighting the intricate details by contrasting colours.
The inscriptions in the temple explain a lot about the architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan, and inscriptions of Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara, Nayak and Maratha rulers. It also mentions the different kinds of jewels used in the period. A total of twenty three different types of pearls, eleven varieties of diamonds and rubies are mentioned in these inscriptions.
This architectural masterpiece has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The cap stone, the topmost portion of the shrine weighs 80 tons carved from a single stone block. this stone is believed to have been dragged using a massive triangular podium of half-pyramidal shaped structure having lengthy of6.44 km. Massive staircase of rollers were constructed on the base, to pull 80 tons stone by fleets of elephants and men. The inclined plane was made starting at Sarappalam, a village at a distance of 7km from the city.
Brahadeeshwara Temple is the first complete granite temple in the world built entirely using granite. The main temple is entirely built of 130,000 tons of granite it is amazing to find that granite is found in 100 km radius, which requires logistics of epic proportions to get the stone to the construction site. Granite is equally harder to carve yet the temple bears a wonderful architectural touch. Holes were cut on the granite stones and filled with water so that it would break after soaking for some time which was then carved to masterpiece.
This is the world’s first known and only Shallow Shiva temple which is being built by interlocking stones and not by binding them.
The temple contains more than 100 underground passages to various places in and around Thanjore including palace of Raja Raja chola. It was widely known to be a trap for the kingdom safety. It was built for the royal people and sages.
It is the only structure in the world to have this peculiar feature. The huge cap temple is constructed in such a way that the shadow of the Gopuram will not fall on the ground at noon in any season. It will just fall on itself since the basement of the structure is big enough to absorb the shadow on its base itself. The entire tower does not cast a shadow outside temple complex itself.
Nandhi present in the entrance is chesseled out of a single rock. It is the 2nd biggest in the country which is 12 feet in height.
The Shiva linga is made from a single rock from the river. There also exists a theory that the structure increases in size so they named it Brahadeeshwara. The linga is 9 feet tall.
Till date it is the tallest temple with the gopuram 66m in height and 13 storeyed structure. It is the only tallest structure in the world whose angle of lean is 0.0o .
The Government of India released stamp and coins by2010 for celebrating 1000 years of the Brahadeeshwara temple.