Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

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"Brihadisvara Temple" redirects here. For the Brihadiswara temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram, see Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

"Rajarajeswaram" redirects here. For the lord Shiva temple in Taliparamba, Kerala, see Rajarajeshwara Temple.

Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

Brihadisvara temple complex is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Great Living Chola Temples

Brihadishvara temple complex


Affiliation Hinduism

District Thanjavur District

Deity Shiva

Festivals Maha Shivaratiri


Location Thanjavur

State Tamil Nadu

Country India

Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur is located in IndiaBrihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur

Location in Tamil Nadu, India

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Geographic coordinates 10°46′58″N 79°07′54″ECoordinates: 10°46′58″N 79°07′54″E


Style Chola architecture

Creator Rajaraja I

Completed 1010 AD[1][2]

Inscriptions Tamil

Elevation 66 m (217 ft)


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UNESCO World Heritage Site

Official name The Brihadisvara Temple Complex, Thanjavur

Part of Great Living Chola Temples

Criteria Cultural: (ii), (iii)

Reference 250bis-001

Inscription 1987 (11th Session)

Extensions 2004

Area 18.07 ha (44.7 acres)

Buffer zone 9.58 ha (23.7 acres)

Brihadishvara Temple (originally known as Peruvudaiyar Kovil) locally known as Thanjai Periya Kovil, and also called Rajarajeswaram, is a Hindu Dravidian styled temple dedicated to the god Shiva located in South bank of Cauvery river in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India.[1][3] It is one of the largest Hindu temples and an exemplary example of a fully realized Tamil architecture.[4] It is called as Dakshina Meru (Meru of south).[5] Built by Chola emperor Rajaraja I between 1003 and 1010 AD, the temple is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples", along with the Chola dynasty era Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple that is about 70 kilometres (43 mi) and 40 kilometres (25 mi) to its northeast respectively.[6]

The original monuments of this 11th-century temple were built around a moat. It included gopura, the main temple, its massive tower, inscriptions, frescoes, and sculptures predominantly related to Shaivism, but also of Vaishnavism and Shaktism traditions of Hinduism. The temple was damaged in its history and some artwork is now missing. Additional mandapam and monuments were added in the centuries that followed. The temple now stands amidst fortified walls that were added after the 16th century.[7][8]

Built using granite, the vimana tower above the shrine is one of the tallest in South India.[3] The temple has a massive colonnaded prakara (corridor) and one of the largest Shiva lingas in India.[3][6][9] It is also famed for the quality of its sculpture, as well as being the location that commissioned the brass Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance, in 11th century. The complex includes shrines for Nandi, Parvati, Kartikeya, Ganesha, Sabhapati, Dakshinamurti, Chandeshvara, Varahi, Thiyagarajar of Thiruvarur and others.[6][10] The temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Tamil Nadu.[11]Nomenclature

Rajaraja Chola, who commissioned the temple, called it Rajarajeshwaram (Rajarājeśwaram), literally "the temple of the almighty of Rajaraja".[12] A later inscription in the Brihannayaki shrine calls the temple's deity Periya Udaiya Nayanar, which appears to be the source of the modern names Brihadisvara and Peruvudaiyar Kovil.[13]

Brihadishwara (IAST: Bṛihádīśvara) is a Sanskrit composite word composed of Brihat which means "big, great, lofty, vast",[14] and Ishvara means "lord, Shiva, supreme being, supreme atman (soul)".[15][16] The name means the "great lord, big Shiva" temple.


The Peruvudaiyar Temple[17] is located in the city of Thanjavur.

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