Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur
Photograph courtesy: simianwolverine/Creative Commons

Brihadeeswarar (also called Brihadishvara Temple or RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram) is one of the largest temples in India, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is an example of a fully realized Dravidian architecture and located on the South bank of the Kaveri River in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Built by Chola king Raja Raja Chola 1 between 1003 and 1010 AD, the temple stands tall as a testimony to the opulence and grandeur of the Chola rulers.

Here are some few interesting facts of this temple:

  • Rajarajeshwar was the original name of the deity, later the Marathas gave the name Brihadeeshwara or the Great Ishwara
  • The major attraction of the temple is the 216 feet (66 meters) tall tower or Vimana that is built above the Sanctum of the temple and Kumbam (the structure on the top) weighing approximately 80 tons and carved from a single granite
  •  Also, it is the world’s first temple completely built from granite
  • The fact that the granites are not available within a 100-mile radius of the temple only makes it even more amazing
  • More than 130,000 tons of granite is said to have been used to build the temple
  • The temple has a huge statue of Nandi (sacred bull) at the entrance; carved out of a single rock measuring about 16 feet (4.9 meters) long and 13 feet (4.0 meters) and weighs around 20 tons
  • The height of Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam (represented as resting on disc shaped platform) inside the temple is 12 feet
  • The height of Sivalinga peedam (An elliptical figure placed atop a circular base) is 18 feet
  • The distance between the Sivalingam and the Nandhi is 247 feet

This thousand year old temple is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples” along with Brihadeeswarar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.


Thanjavur is located in the fertile Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu. It is well-connected by air, road and rail to all major cities like Chennai and Bangalore. Here is how to reach Thanjavur.


The nearest airport is at Trichy, about 55 km from Thanjavur. The airport is well connected by flights to Indian as well international cities. From the airport, taxi services are available for Thanjavur.


The nearest major railhead is also at Trichy. Trichy Junction is an important railway station on the Thiruvananthapuram–Chennai route. Trains from Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Coimbatore, Rameswaram, Varanasi, Mysore, Tirupati, etc. halt at the station. From the station, one can hire a taxi for Thanjavur.


Thanjavur is well connected by road to other cities of Tamil Nadu. Buses ply regularly from Thiruvananthapuram, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Chennai and other cities of Tamil Nadu. Private buses ply regularly from Benguluru too.


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