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.
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...