Brihadeeswara Temple

Topics: Cholas, Kulothunga Chola I, Tamil Nadu Pages: 5 (1592 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Location:
The Brihadeeswara is located in Tanjavur district in Tamilnadu, India. The temple was built on the banks of River Cauvery with its water turned to the moat. The temple, constructed entirely of granite, stands amidst fortified walls. There was no rock formation around this area. It is believed that the rocks would have been brought from a place at least 50kms away. 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. It was built to grace the throne of the Chola Empire in compliance of 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 Chola wealth, power and artistic expertise. The emergence of such features as the multifaceted columns with projecting square capitals signals the arrival of the new Chola style. The Brihadeeswara 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 exemplar showcasing the pure form of the Dravida type of temple architecture and representative of the Chola Empire ideology and the Tamil civilization in Southern India. The temple “testifies 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 Rajaraja while he stayed at Sri Lanka as an emperor. This temple is the first building fully built by granite and finished within 5 years [1004AD – 1009AD]. The solid base of the temple raises about 5 metres (16 feet), 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 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 Tamils. The shrine of Goddess is added by Pandyas during the 13th century; Subramanya Shrine was renovated by Vijayanagara rulers and the Vinayaka shrine was renovated by Maratha rulers. Architecture:

The gopuram of the main entrance is 30 m high, so smaller than the vimana. It is unusual in the Dravidian architecture where the gopurams are generally the main towers and taller than the vimana. 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 made of a single stone, 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 emphasizing 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 lingam. 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...
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