Name of the Temple
Arulmigu Brihadeeswarar Alayam
Period of origin
985 – 1014 A.D. Built by King Raja Raja Cholan I
Name of deity
The Brihadeeswarar temple is also known as Rajarajeswaram. Raja Raja Chola I, was the greatest of the Chola Monarchs. During his reign (985 – 1014 AD) he brought stability to the Chola Kingdom, and restored from obscurity the brilliant Devaram hymns of the Saivite Nayanmars from obscurity. He built this temple to show his love towards Saivam and Lord Shiva. Big Temple of Thanjavur is considered as one of the greatest glories of India because of its architecture. This temple is also listed as one of the world heritage site by UNESCO. It is one of the most valued architectural sites of India and the tallest temples in the world.Sama Varma designed a unique structure because no shadows of the temple were cast on the ground at any time of the year. In a hundred and seven paragraph long inscription on the walls of the Vimanam records the contributions of Raja Raja Chola and his sisterKundavai to the Thanjavur temple. Vimanam is about 200 feet in height, This Vimanam rests on a single block of granite weighing 81 tones, it consists of Nandhi at each end and Kalasam on top is about 3.8 meters in height.
This temple can be approached from the eastern side through two gateways which are termed as Keralanthan vail. There are two guardian statues in the entrance. There are 250 Lingams in the entire compound of the temple. The Periya Nayaki temple within the temple is a later addition from the Pandiya period, and so is the Subramaniyar Temple sung later by the Saint poet Arunagirinathar.
As we go inside we can see the sanctum, ardhamandap, mukhamandap and Mahamandap, Entrances to the Mandapa and the towered entrances to the Prakara are majestic. The grandeur of the architecture and the sculptural finesse speaks volumes of the skills of the Imperial Cholas.
The Nandi, which dates back to the Nayak period, has its own mandapa and it matches up to the grandeur and size of the temple. It is a monolithic Nandi weighing about 25 tones, and is about 12 feet high and 20 feet long.
The various shrines within the temple include the Shrine of Sri Subramaniya in the northwest corner, Shrine of Goddess Sri Brihannayagi, Sri Chandeeswara , Ganapati, Dakshinamurti in the north eastern corner, the colossal monolith figure on Nandi, the sacred bull, in the central courtyard and the Shrine of Karuvurar
Behind the main temple and under the shade of a Neem and a Mandarai is a shrine, dedicated to a great Siddha, Karuvur Devar, popularly known as Karuvurar. The Karur Stalapurana narrates how the saint helped Rajaraja Chola in the installation of the great Brihadeeswara Shivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum at the time of the consecration of the temple. A place appears to have been assigned to him for this reason, in the temple court. Thursdays are held sacred for his worship and shrine attracts large crowd of devotees.
Every Year Chathayathiruvizhla is a grant festival that is celebrated to commemorate Rajaraja’s birth. The other festival is Krittika day in the month of Karttika.
The annual festival for nine days is celebrated in the month of Visaka (May-June), during which the drama of Raja Rajeswara is also enacted. The deity is daily bathed with fragrant water in which the buds of big Champaka flowers have been soaked. Ghee is used in place of oil for keeping the temple lamps burning. On festival days, the offering consists of eight varieties of cooked rice (mixed with tamarind, coconut, lime, juice, jaggery, gingelly, curd, etc.). Other items include cake made with Dal, rice, pepper and mustard; vegetable dishes, fried vegetables, sugar, plantain fruits, tamarind, curd and Ghee, and other items.
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[tab]Arulmigu Brihadeeswara Alayam
[tab]6 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm[/fusion_old_tab]