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       Brihadeeswara Temple  - Tanjore


Rajarajeswaram, as the temple was named by its founder, fills a large portion of the small fort (Sivaganga Fort), encircled by moat on the east and west, the Grand Anaicut Channel (Putharu) on the south, and by the Sivaganga Garden on the north. The temple is  entered by an imposing gateway on the east, on either side of which  stand two small shrine dedicated to Ganapathi and Mrurgan, and further through another Gopuram 90 feet high. This way leads into an outer court. A second and magnificent Gopuram further leads  into the main court in which the temple is built. The inner court is about 500 feet long and 250 feet broad, is well paved with brick and stone. The court is surrounded on all sides by a cloister. The western and northern wings have Sivalingams consecrated therein, and there are paintings over these walls depicting sixty-four Nayanmars, sacred sport of Siva. The outer measurement of the temple are 793 feet by 397 feet.

Main Temple:

The main shrine of Sri Brihadisvara, the Great God - a  Sanskrit rendering of the original Tamil name Peruvudaiyar- stands at  the western end of the main court. It comprises of five divisions -
Garbhagriha or the Sanctum Sactorum and the  corridor around it
Maha-Mandapam with the open aisles
Stapana-Mandapam with the shrine of Sri Thyagarajar
Narthana-Mandapam for the temple paraphernalia and where the  servant wait; and
Vadya-Mandapam and portico for the musicians.

Main shrine has three portals named
Keralantakan, Rasarasan and Thiru-Anukkan. These portals are guarded be Dwarapalikas or the guardians of the gate. They are of huge proportions and of  exquisite workmanship. There are several sets of these in the temple, seven of them 18 feet by 8 feet. they are all monolith, and some instances are of very high artistic merit, especially at the entrance at  the entrance of Sri Subramanya temple.The Sivalinga of Sri Brihadisvara is probably he grandest in existence.

The great
Vimana is of the Dravidian style of  architecture. It rises to a height of abut 216 feet, a tower of fourteen storeys, finely decorated with pilasters, niches and images of gods of the Hindu pantheon. The basement of the structure which supports the tower is 96 feet square. The sikhara or cupolic dome is         octagonal in shape and crowns the Vimana. The gilded Kalasa or finial, over it is 12.5 feet high. It is believed the sikhara and the stupi does not throw on the ground. The dome rests on a  single block of granite, 25.5 feet square. Two Nandis, each  measuring 6.5 feet by 5.5 feet beautify each corner of the stone which  is estimated to weigh about 80 tons, and is believed to have been conveyed to the top of the tower by means of a inclined plane commencing  from Sarapallam (scaffold-hollow), four miles north-east of the         city. It is rightly said of the Cholas that they conceived like giants and finished like  jewellers.
The earliest sculptural representations of the Bharata Natya karanas are found in the Rajarajesvaram temple.. carved meticulously folowing the order in the Natya Sastra...
























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