Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big Temple: 1000 Years

Raja Raja Chozhan built the Brhadeeswara temple in Thanjai in 1010 A.D. On July 17th the temple completes 1000th year of its existence. Having lived in Thanjavur - I am surprised that no press outfit mentions something every thanjai person never forgets to mention - that the shadow of the temple tower never falls on the ground. That it always falls on itself.

The Hindu Says

The temple occupies an area measuring about seven-hundred and fifty feet by four hundred feet, in a fort, surrounded by a moat. It is a marvel of engineering, considering the technology of those ancient times. The towering Vimanam is built up with stones with bonding and notching, without the use of mortar. The topmost stone weighing about eighty tons is still a matter of discussion for engineers who are baffled as to how the builders lifted it to that height without the help of modern contrivances. A charming tale is told about a ramp being built from a village – Sarapallam- four miles away, from where the giant stone was pulled up by elephants! The details of the stone work of this imposing “vimanam” are representative of the masterly craftsmanship of South Indian artisans. The ‘shilpi’- sculptor, and the ‘ sthapathi’ – architect came together to create their fanciful abode for Shiva. Naturally, the shape had to echo mount Kailash itself. In its perfect geometry and distinct clarity of lines, this tower is unbeatable.

The inner sanctum houses something possibly not found in other temples -- some rare paintings,which were not discovered until a few decades ago. However, access to the paintings is restricted as they are in a very fragile state.

Officials of Archaelogical Survey of India,which maintains the temple, say it represents the zenith of the Dravidian type of temples in its purest form, has precision of conception and execution and magnitude of scale.

Here is a Video Feature on the temple [ the second half of the video and the rest of the video series. The first half of the video features the cliched grave yard]

The Times Says

The Archaeological Survey of India that maintains the temple has just completed restoration of the northern corridor. The floor had sunk, unable to bear the weight of the stone pillars and ceiling. The ASI took up restoration work in 2006 and completed it at a cost of Rs 63 lakh. Landscaping is also being done in the precincts of the temple. "More grass instead of brick will reduce heat generation," said an ASI official.


maha said...

The presenter mixes things between Thiruvarangam, Peruvudayar Kovil and Khajuraho.

Girl Next Door said...


Parents are from Thanjavur and have heard the same from them too. Also from other sources that its an urban legend and the shadow does fall on the ground. Am not sure which version is right.

Is it really true that it does not fall on the ground ?

also another unique feature being the pyramidal shape of the Gopuram.

Din't his son not build a similar albeit a little taller one ? Gangai konda chozhapuram ?

Extra-Ordinarily Ordinary said...

Thangai now in Tanjavur orey the updates on facebook of the vimanam.

sunson said...

I am also skeptical that it would fall only on the gopuram itsel. I am thinking of when the Sun is at an acute enough angle late evening. I would think the shadow would many hundreds of metres long (even our own shadow goes 10-20 metres?).

But a truly magnificent, magnificent temple! This, Srirangam and Padhmanabhaswami temple (Trivandrum) fill me with a sense of awe and wonder. Architecturally though, the periya kovil is special.


Anonymous said...

i have lived in mannargudi(vacations with grandparents) ,really miss thanjavur and mannargudi :)

Alan Smithee said...

Girl Next Door - Gangai Konda Chozhapuram temple is a miniature version of the Thanjai temple. Only far more dilapidated. IIRC, it is completely maintained by ASI and there are many areas in that temple on which you cannot step.

kaykay said...

This is a great Indian heritage site. I just found this from wikipedia