Brihadeeswarar Temple Thanjavur Tamil Nadu

Brihadeeswarar Temple In Thanjavur


The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram, is a magnificent Hindu temple located in Thanjavur (formerly known as Tanjore), a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the most iconic and historically significant temples in South India and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Historical Background:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram, holds a significant place in history. It was built during the reign of the Chola dynasty, one of the most powerful and prosperous kingdoms in South India. The temple’s construction was undertaken by Rajaraja Chola I, who ascended the throne in 985 CE. Rajaraja Chola I was a patron of arts, literature, and architecture, and he embarked on an ambitious project to build a grand temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple’s construction was completed in 1010 CE, and it became a magnificent symbol of the Chola empire’s architectural brilliance and religious devotion. The Brihadeeswarar Temple stands as a remarkable testament to the cultural, artistic, and religious achievements of the Chola dynasty, and it continues to inspire awe and reverence to this day.



The architecture of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is a masterpiece of the Dravidian style, characterized by its imposing structures, intricate carvings, and meticulous attention to detail. The main temple structure is dedicated to Lord Shiva and features a towering vimana (tower) known as the “Periya Kovil,” which stands at an impressive height of 66 meters (216 feet). The vimana is made entirely of granite and is adorned with exquisite carvings depicting various deities, mythological scenes, and celestial beings. The temple complex also includes other notable structures such as the Nandi Mandapam, which houses a colossal monolithic statue of Nandi, the sacred bull. The mandapams (pillared halls) within the complex are adorned with intricate sculptures and frescoes that depict scenes from Hindu mythology and the lives of the Chola kings. The architectural brilliance of the Brihadeeswarar Temple continues to captivate visitors, showcasing the mastery of the Chola artisans and their enduring legacy in temple architecture.


Main Structures:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple features several notable structures within its expansive complex. The main highlight is the towering vimana (tower) known as the “Periya Kovil,” dedicated to Lord Shiva. This granite structure reaches a height of 66 meters (216 feet) and is adorned with intricate carvings depicting deities, mythological scenes, and celestial beings. Another significant structure is the Nandi Mandapam, located in front of the main temple, which houses a massive monolithic statue of Nandi, the sacred bull, and the vehicle of Lord Shiva. This remarkable statue is carved out of a single stone and is one of the largest of its kind in India. Additionally, the temple complex includes the Ardha Mandapam and Maha Mandapam, two spacious pillared halls that lead to the main sanctum. These halls are adorned with exquisite sculptures and elaborate carvings that showcase the artistic finesse of the Chola dynasty. The Brihadeeswarar Temple’s architectural splendor lies in these main structures, which combine grandeur, craftsmanship, and religious significance, offering visitors an awe-inspiring experience.

Artistic Marvels:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is renowned for its artistic marvels that captivate visitors with their exquisite beauty and intricate craftsmanship. The temple’s walls are adorned with intricate frescoes and paintings, showcasing scenes from Hindu mythology and the lives of the Chola kings. These artistic depictions are a testament to the artistic prowess of the Chola dynasty. The temple also features stunning bronze idols that exhibit remarkable detail and artistry. Delicate stone carvings adorn the walls, pillars, and ceilings, depicting deities, celestial beings, and intricate patterns. The jewelry adorning the deities is intricately designed, showcasing the fine metalwork and craftsmanship of the artisans. Additionally, the temple is famous for its musical pillars, which produce distinct musical notes when struck. These architectural and artistic marvels of the Brihadeeswarar Temple reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Chola dynasty and continue to inspire awe and admiration among visitors from around the world.

Musical Pillars:

One of the unique features of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is its famous musical pillars. These pillars, found in the mandapams (pillared halls) of the temple, are a testament to the architectural and engineering ingenuity of the Chola dynasty. When tapped or struck, each pillar produces distinct musical notes, resembling the sound of various musical instruments. The pillars are designed in such a way that they resonate and create harmonic sounds when played.

The musical pillars of the Brihadeeswarar Temple have fascinated visitors for centuries. People marvel at the precision and craftsmanship required to create such a unique acoustic phenomenon. Each pillar produces a different musical tone, creating a melodic and ethereal experience for those who explore the mandapams.

Visitors to the temple can often witness musicians and enthusiasts experimenting with the musical pillars, creating enchanting melodies by rhythmically tapping them. The musical pillars serve as a testament to the advanced architectural and artistic knowledge of the Chola dynasty, leaving visitors awe-struck by the temple’s unique blend of architectural grandeur and harmonious music.


Brihadeeswarar Temple Thanjavur Tamil Nadu


Brihadeeswarar Temple Thanjavur Tamil Nadu


Towering Gopurams:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is encompassed by fortified walls and features several towering gopurams (entrance gateways). These gopurams are architectural marvels in themselves and add to the grandeur of the temple complex. Each gopuram is intricately adorned with sculptures, carvings, and elaborate decorative elements.

The eastern gopuram, known as the Rajarajan Tiruvasal, is particularly noteworthy. Rising to a considerable height, it welcomes visitors with its intricate detailing and imposing presence. The sculptures and carvings on the gopurams depict various deities, celestial beings, mythical creatures, and scenes from Hindu mythology.

The gopurams not only serve as entrance gateways but also play a symbolic and spiritual role. They mark the transition from the mundane world to the sacred realm of the temple. As visitors pass through these towering gateways, they are symbolically transported into a realm of spirituality and devotion.

The gopurams of the Brihadeeswarar Temple stand as magnificent testaments to the artistic brilliance and architectural splendor of the Chola dynasty. They continue to awe visitors with their intricate details, towering height, and the religious significance they represent.

Festival Celebrations:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is a vibrant center for various festivals and celebrations throughout the year. These festivities attract devotees and visitors from far and wide, adding to the temple’s lively and spiritual atmosphere.

The most significant festival celebrated at the Brihadeeswarar Temple is Maha Shivaratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva. During this auspicious occasion, the temple witnesses a grand celebration that spans several days. Elaborate rituals, special prayers, and ceremonial processions are conducted throughout the festival. Devotees offer prayers, perform abhishekam (ritual bathing of the deity), and participate in religious discourses and cultural programs.

Other important festivals observed at the temple include Arudra Darshan, which commemorates Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance form known as Nataraja, and the annual Brahmotsavam, a ten-day festival celebrating the glory of Lord Shiva. These festivals are characterized by colorful processions, traditional music and dance performances, and the participation of devotees in large numbers.

The festival celebrations at the Brihadeeswarar Temple create an atmosphere of joy, devotion, and spiritual fervor. They provide an opportunity for devotees to deepen their connection with the divine and experience the rich cultural heritage of the region.


Brihadeeswarar Temple Timings:

It is believed that the Brihadeeswarar temple hours are between 6 AM and 8:15 PM. Below are the various fairs and poojas.

Prasadam was offered to devotees following lunch puja. Pilgrims may offer sacrifices to God during the poojas.

Kala Sandhi or Morning Pooja 8:30 AM.
Utchi Kalam or the mid-noon Pooja noon.
Sayaratchai or evening Pooja 5:30 PM.
Artha Jamam or night Pooja 8:30 8:30 PM.


Religious Significance:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple holds immense religious significance, particularly for Hindus and followers of Shaivism (devotees of Lord Shiva). The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is revered as the supreme deity in the Hindu pantheon.

For devotees, the Brihadeeswarar Temple is a sacred pilgrimage site and a place of profound spiritual significance. It is believed that worshipping and seeking the blessings of Lord Shiva at this temple can grant spiritual enlightenment, blessings, and liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death.

The temple’s sanctum houses a Shiva Lingam, which is worshipped with great reverence. The Lingam represents the cosmic energy and divine presence of Lord Shiva. Devotees offer prayers, perform rituals, and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva for various purposes, including spiritual growth, fulfillment of desires, and removal of obstacles.

The religious significance of the Brihadeeswarar Temple is further emphasized through its association with ancient scriptures, sacred hymns, and spiritual practices. The temple’s history, architectural magnificence, and continuous worship performed over centuries contribute to its esteemed position as a sacred and revered place of devotion.

For believers, visiting the Brihadeeswarar Temple and participating in its religious activities is an opportunity to deepen their faith, connect with the divine, and experience a profound sense of spirituality.

Preservation and Recognition:

The preservation and recognition of the Brihadeeswarar Temple as a historic and cultural treasure have been of utmost importance. Recognizing its significance, the temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, highlighting its outstanding universal value.

To ensure its longevity, extensive restoration, and conservation efforts have been undertaken. Skilled artisans and experts have meticulously restored the temple’s intricate carvings, frescoes, and structures, using traditional techniques and materials. This ongoing preservation work aims to maintain the temple’s original splendor and protect it from natural decay and human-induced damage.

The temple authorities, along with government agencies and heritage organizations, collaborate to safeguard the temple’s cultural and historical heritage. Strict guidelines and regulations are in place to ensure responsible tourism and the preservation of the temple’s sanctity.

The recognition and preservation of the Brihadeeswarar Temple not only safeguard its physical integrity but also help promote awareness and appreciation of its architectural and cultural significance. It continues to inspire scholars, researchers, artists, and devotees, contributing to the preservation of India’s rich heritage for future generations to admire and cherish.

Visitor Experience:

The visitor experience at the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur is truly enchanting and offers a unique blend of spirituality, history, and architectural marvels. As visitors approach the temple complex, they are greeted by the grandeur of the towering gopurams and the intricate carvings adorning the walls.

Upon entering the temple, one is immersed in a serene and sacred atmosphere. The sound of devotional chants, the fragrance of incense, and the sight of devotees engaged in prayer create a deeply spiritual ambiance.

Visitors have the opportunity to explore the various structures within the temple complex, marveling at the intricate carvings, frescoes, and sculptures that adorn the walls and pillars. The architectural grandeur and artistic finesse of the temple leave visitors in awe.

Devotees and visitors can participate in the rituals and offer prayers to the presiding deity, seeking blessings and spiritual solace. The rhythmic chants and melodic hymns further elevate the spiritual experience.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple also offers a serene environment for meditation and introspection. Many visitors find solace and inner peace while sitting in the temple’s tranquil corners, contemplating amidst the divine energy.

Brihadeeswarar Temple In Thanjavur

Nearby Temples :

Thanjavur, also known as the “City of Temples,” is home to several other notable temples in addition to the Brihadeeswarar Temple. Here are some nearby temples that are worth visiting:

Thiruvaiyaru: Located about 13 kilometers from Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru is famous for the Thyagaraja Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a prominent pilgrimage site and is associated with the renowned Carnatic music composer, Saint Thyagaraja.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram: Situated approximately 70 kilometers from Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram houses the Gangaikonda Choleswarar Temple. Built by Rajendra Chola I, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and bears architectural similarities to the Brihadeeswarar Temple.

Darasuram: About 35 kilometers from Thanjavur, Darasuram is home to the Airavatesvara Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its intricate carvings and architecture, reflecting the Chola dynasty’s artistic brilliance.

Swamimalai: Situated approximately 40 kilometers from Thanjavur, Swamimalai is known for the Swaminathaswamy Temple, one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan. It is a significant pilgrimage site, attracting devotees who seek blessings and spiritual solace.

Kumbakonam: Located around 40 kilometers from Thanjavur, Kumbakonam is a town dotted with numerous temples. Some prominent temples in Kumbakonam include the Sarangapani Temple, Kumbeshwarar Temple, and the Nageswaraswamy Temple.

These nearby temples offer an opportunity to explore the rich cultural heritage and architectural splendor of the region, complementing the visit to the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur.

How To Reach Brihadeeswarar Temple:

The Brihadeeswarar Temple is located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, and is easily accessible by various modes of transportation.

By Air: The nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli International Airport, which is approximately 60 kilometers away from Thanjavur. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple.

By Train: Thanjavur has its railway station, well-connected to major cities in India. Regular trains run to and from Thanjavur, making it convenient for visitors to reach the city. From the railway station, you can hire a taxi or take an auto-rickshaw to reach the temple.

By Road: Thanjavur is well-connected by roadways. Several state-run buses, as well as private buses, operate regular services to Thanjavur from nearby cities and towns. Additionally, you can also hire a taxi or drive your vehicle to reach the temple.

Local Transportation: Once you reach Thanjavur, you can use auto-rickshaws, taxis, or public buses to reach the Brihadeeswarar Temple, as it is a prominent landmark in the city.

With its convenient accessibility, reaching the Brihadeeswarar Temple is relatively straightforward, allowing visitors to embark on a spiritual and cultural journey to this magnificent temple.

Brihandeeswarar Temple Address and Contact

Memoriam Rd,

Balaganapathy Nagar,


Tamil Nadu 613007

04362 274 476

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