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TEMPLES - Chola temples, Thanjavur


* 8 Oct 2021
Gangaikondacholapuram is celebrated in the literature of Muvar ula of Ottakuttar and Kalingattuparani of Jayankondar.
Gangaikondacholisvaram, a Siva temple was built by the Chola king Rajendra I
Source: ariyalur.nic.in

Ucchi Pillayar koil - Pinterest collection

Evidence - Inscriptions in the temple and Copper plates
Rajendra’s Gangetic expedition was over by his 11th regal year (A.D.1023). The earliest reference which mentions the city of Gangaikondacholapuram is a record of A. D. 1027 of him. Hence it is evident that the city was built in memory of his great victory between A.D. 1023 and 1027. The recently discovered Esalam Copper plates of A.D. 1036 of Rajendra I give concrete evidence that he built the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple. Another record of A.D. 1068 of Virarajendra in Gangaikondacholapuram which is the earliest record in the temple mentions about the grant of villages to the Gangaikondacholisvarar temple by Rajendra-I in his 24th year (A.D. 1036). These evidences indicate that the siva temple was built between A.D. 1023 and 1036 although the earliest extant record in this big temple belongs to A. D. 1068 of Virarajendra.
Source: ariyalur.nic.in


* Jul 2021
The Peruvudaiyar Kovil, also known as Brihadeeswara Temple, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram at Thanjavur is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and "Great Living Chola Temples".

The vimana (or temple tower) is 216 ft (66 m) high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kumbam (Kalasha or Chikharam) (apex or the bulbous structure on the top) of the temple is carved out of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons.

The presiding deity of lingam is 3.7m tall. 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 granite, the nearest sources of which are close to Tiruchirappalli, about 60 km to the west of Thanjavur. Built in 1010 AD by Raja Raja Chola I in Thanjavur, Brihadeeswarar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple', turned 1000 years old in 2010.

The esteemed architect and engineer of the temple was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as stated in inscriptions found at the temple. The temple was built per ancient texts called Vaastu Shastras and Agamas. He is the ancient ancestor of the doyan of Vaastu Vedic architecture, the late Dr. V. Ganapti Sthapati of Chennai and Mahabalipurim (architect of the 133' granite Thiruvalluvar statue at the tip of south India). Members of his family still live and practice the ancient art and science. The American University of Mayonic Science and Technology was initiated by Dr. V. Ganapati Sthapati to perpetuate the same form of architectural principles used by Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan to build the Brihadeeswarar temple. The temple was built using a measure of 1 3/8 inch called an angula (24 units equaling 33 inches called a hasta, muzam, or kishku).

Another widely held belief is that the shadow of the gopuram (pyramidal tower usually over the gateway of a temple) never falls on the ground. .[17] The temple is said to be made up of about 130,000 tons of granite. The Kumbam itself, a 60 ton granite stone carved in one piece, on top of the main gopuram is believed to have been taken to the top by creating an inclined slope to the height of 66m to the top of the gopuram. The prevailing belief is that a mud-slope, which starts at about three miles from the temple site, from Thirukoilore (birthplace of Raja raja's mother) near Sri Virateshvara swamy temple. Elephants might have been used to drag the stone up the slope. This was claimed to be the only part of the gopuram, which does not cast a shadow that fall on the ground, at least not within the temple premises.

On 26 September 2010 (Big Temple's fifth day of millennium celebrations), as a recognition of Big Temple's contribution to the country's cultural, architectural, epigraphical history, a special INR 5 postage stamp featuring the 216-feet tall giant Raja Gopuram was released by India Post. The Reserve Bank of India commemorated the event by releasing a INR 5 coin with the model of temple embossed on it.

Govt of India, Mumbai Mint issued Rs. 1000/- coin to commemorate the 1000th year of the temple.
Source: en.wikipedia.org


* Jul 2021
Peria Koil, Thanjavur
The greatest of Chola emperors Rajaraja-I (985 A.D - 1012 A.D) the son of Sundara Chola (Parantakaa-II) and Vanavanmahadevi built this magnificent temple named Brihadisvaram at Thanjavur - the capital of Chola dynasty. From the epigraphical evidence it is known about Rajaraja-I started building this temple on his 19th year and completed on 275th day of his 25th year. It took just 6 years to complete this work on 1010 A.D.
Source: thebigtemple.com


* Jul 2021
Rajarajan Gopuram
This gopuram is built by Rajaraja-I and depicts the mediaeval chola architecture where the Raja gopuram (the entrance gopuram) diminish in size and the Karpagraham (the main deity's gopuram) is significant.
Source: thebigtemple.com

* Jul 2021
On either side of this entrance is seen two 15 feet huge monolithic stone sculpture of the Dwarapala which reveals the Thattva (concept) that God is Everywhere as shown by the upper two hands and the pose of right hand index finger denotes that God is one and only one. On keen notice one can see a Elephant is being swallowed by a crocodile and the Lion standing behind. This denotes even if one faces such a big problem of great magnitude, a strong stand (a firm belief in God) similar to that of a Lion's strong standing posture will lead ways to realize God.
Source: thebigtemple.com

*
Jul 2021
"This is the only temple in the whole of India," says R. Nagaswamy, former Director, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, "wherein the builder himself has left behind a very large number of inscriptions on the temple's construction, its various parts, the daily rituals to be performed for the Linga, the details of the offerings such as jewellery, flowers and textiles, the special worship to be performed, the particular days on which they should be performed, the monthly and annual festivals, and so on."

Raja Raja Chola even appointed an astronomer called ‘Perunkani' for announcing the dates, based on the planetary movements, for celebrating the temple's festivals.

Again, this is the only temple in India where the King specifically mentions in an inscription that he built this all-stone temple called ‘kattrali' (‘kal' meaning stone and ‘tali' a temple). This magnum opus, running to 107 paragraphs, describes, among others, how Raja Raja Chola, seated in the royal bathing hall on the eastern side of his palace, instructed how his order should be inscribed on the base of the vimana, how he executed the temple's plan, the list of gifts he, his sister Kundavai, his queens and others gave to the temple.

The inscriptions provide a list of 66 beautiful bronze idols Raja Raja Chola, Kundavai, his queens and others gifted to the temple. The inscriptions elaborate on the enormous gold jewellery, inlaid with precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, corals, pearls, for decorating each of these bronzes. Interestingly, the measurements of all these bronzes — from crown to toe, the number of arms they had and the symbols they held in their arms — are inscribed. Today, only two of these bronzes remain in the temple — that of a dancing Siva and his consort Sivakami. All the jewellery has disappeared.

Dr. Nagaswamy, who recently authored a book, Brhadisvara Temple, Form and Meaning, said highly specialised gemmologists classified the gems according to their quality and weight. Even the lacquer used inside the beads and the thread employed for stringing them together were recorded. There were references to white pearls, red pearls, chipped ones, those with red lines or skin peeled off.

Raja Raja Chola gifted gold vessels to the temple, and their weight, shape and casting were mentioned in the lithic records. Even a small spoon, ‘nei muttai,' for scooping out ghee, finds a mention. The inscriptions throw light on the temple's revenue from various sources, the mode of payment and the meticulous accounting procedures. "It shows the care and attention with which the temple property was entered in the registers and the responsibility fixed for handling them. Raja Raja Chola had an extraordinary administrative talent, unsurpassed either before or after him," Dr. Nagaswamy said.

The inscriptions even speak about the temple's cleaners, sweepers, carriers of flags and parasols, torch-bearers for processions at night and festivals, cooks, dancers, musicians and singers of Tamil and Sanskrit verses.
Source: Written in stone - Big Temple's inscriptions reveal a King's passion by T.S. Subramanian, The Hindu, September 24, 2010


 
* Jul 2021
Great Living Chola Temples
- The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The site includes three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

- Eighty-one of the one hundred and eight karanas, posed in Baharatanatya,are carved on the walls of second bhumi around the garbhagriha.

- The Airavatesvara temple at Tanjavur was built by the Chola king Rajaraja II (1143-1173 CE.): it is much smaller in size as compared to the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram.  It differs from them in its highly ornate execution. The temple consists of a sanctum without a circumambulatory path and axial mandapas. The front mandapa known in the inscriptions as Rajagambhiran tirumandapam, is unique as it was conceptualized as a chariot with wheels. The pillars of this mandapa are highly ornate. The elevation of all the units is elegant with sculptures dominating the architecture.
Source: whc.unesco.org


* Jul 2021
Two sculptures found in Darasuram have been brought to the Art gallery at Thanjavur . One is Gajamharamurthy ( Gaja Samhara) in which Lord Siva slains the elephant demon and another is Dwarabalaga brought by Raja Raja I from Kalyan in Maharashtra as a war trophy.
Source: Darasuram: architectural marvel from Chola period by G Srinivasan, The Hindu, 20 July 2011


* Jul 2021
According to Kudavayil Balasubramanian, an epigraphist and temple expert, there are many unique sculptures in the Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram. They include a 73 panel of sculptures depicting the life history of 63 Nayanmars. "Nowhere one can see in such details the life history of Nayanmars. There are sculptures depicting the life history of Nayanmars at Melakadambur and Thirupanandal temples too.

Other important sculptures of the temple are the 108 Devara Othuvars who sung in the temple during the time of Raja Raja II. There are sculptures for river goddesses like Cauvery, Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari and Narmada. "While the sculptures of rivers like Cauvery, Yamuna, Godavari are with human form till hip level and depicted in the form of water circles below, sculpture of Ganges is in full human form with a vessel of water in one hand and lotus flower in the other hand.
Source: Darasuram: architectural marvel from Chola period by G Srinivasan, The Hindu, 20 July 2011