Peruvudaiyaar Koil [Peruvudiayaar Temple]
NAME: Peruvudaiyaar Koil [Peruvudiayaar Temple]
CREATOR: Raja Raja Chola
DATE BUILT: 11th century AD
PRIMARY DEITY: PERUVUDIAYAAR = Brihadeeswarar (Shiva)
ARCHITECTURE: Dravidian Architecture
LOCATION: Thanjavur Thamil Nadu
The BRIHADISHWARA TEMPLE also known as RAJARAJESWARAM, at Thanjavur is a brilliant example of the major heights achieved by Cholas in temple architecture. It is a tribute and a reflection of the power of its patron RajaRaja Chola I. It remains as one of the greatest glories of Indian architecture. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples".
This temple is one of India's most prized architectural sites. The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The 'Vimana' or the temple tower is 216 ft (66 m) high (about 70 meters) and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kalash or 'Shikhara' (bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is itself very large and heavy (81.25 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 hard granite stones - hardly available in Thanjavur area where the temple is located.
The temple had its foundations laid out by the ambitious emperor Chola king Rajaraj Chola Iin 1002 CE, as the first of the great Chola building projects. According to tradtion, the temple was built by the Chola king RajaRajeshwar in compliance of a command given to him in his dream. Although there were later modifications by the Chalukyan and Pallavas, 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 signal the arrival of the new Chola style.
The Brihadishwara 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 anointed the emperor and linking him with its deity, Shiva, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. The temple maintained a staff of 600 people in various capacities. Besides the Brahmin priest, these included record-keepers, musicians, scholars, and craftsman of every type as well as housekeeping staff. Even today, the Brihadishwara Temple remains India's largest.
The temple is an example of the architectural conception of 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 temples "testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting".
The temple complex sits on the banks of a river that was channeled 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 sikhara (although it is hollow on the inside and not meant to be occupied), is 63 meters in height, with 16 severely articulated stories, and dominates the main quadrangle. Pilaster, piers, and attached columns are placed rhythmically covering every surface of the shikhara.
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 different 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 garbhagriha, a Sanskrt 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 Literally the word garbha griha means "womb chamber" from Sanskrit word garbha for womb. Only priests are allowed to enter this inner most chamber. In the Dravida style, the garbhagriha 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 circumambulation winds around the massive lingam in the garbhagriha and is repeated in an upper story, presenting the idea that 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.
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.
ORIGIN OF IDEA
The wish to build a temple like this is said to have occurred to Raja Raja while he stayed at "eezham" [today's Sri lanka] as a war head. He saw a lot of Buddha statues that were very tall, which would have made him wish to build a great temple to his cordial deity SHIVA.
Not only the temple and "moolavar", [The main god of Temple( Shiva)], All other sub-lords [Koshta Moorthigal] like Dhakshinamoorthy, Sun, moon all they are very huge sized. Especially, Brahadeeswar temple is one of the rare temples which is having statues for "astadiggpalakas" [Lords for the eight Direction [Indra, Varuna, Agni, Eesana, Vayu, Niruthi, Yama, Kubera], that is also like a sitting of a real man i.e approximately 6 Feet.
Thanjavur can be reached by road, train or air,from Tiruchchi. There are frequent public buses to Thanjavur from nearby Tiruchi, Kumbakonam, Chennai, Karur, Pudukkottai, Nagapattinam, Coimbatore etc. operated by the Tamil Nadu government and by private operators. It also has a railway junction, with train service from Chennai, Tiruchi, Madurai and Nagore. The nearest airport Thanjavur is located at a distance of about 65 km towards the east of Tiruchi.