The Brihatheeshwarar temple is one of the most famous, architectural marveled and historically significant Shiva temple known to all the Hindus located in Tanjore. It is one of the largest Hindu temples in South India and is highly treasured that its considered as one of UNESCO’s world heritage site. The structure of the temple is enclosed with wonderful design and was constructed between the year 1003 and 1010.
A study in architecture or history is certainly incomplete without a mention of the Tanjore Brihadeeshwara Temple. This imposing structure was built by Raja Raja Cholan and his sister Kundavai, both ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. It was constructed by the King at the height of the Chola reign to signify his power and strength.
In this post, we will look into some unique, interesting and unknown facts about this temple, which makes this special religious structure, even more significant.
1) The famous Brihatheeshwarar Temple was initially referred to as the Rajarajeshwar Temple. It was the Marathas who gave the temple its current name. They also called it the ‘Great Ishwara Temple’
2) The Tanjore big temple contains more than 100 underground passages to various places. The underground passages also contain some secret passage that leads to various places like the Palace of RajaRaja Chola and also to other important places. The underground passages lead to the other temples and also to various places in and around Tanjore. Most of the underground passages were sealed and if the people choose the wrong passage then there are possibilities that the path may also lead to the dangers. It is widely known that this can also be a trap for the kingdom safety of RajaRaja Chola.
3) The Nandi statue located at the entrance of the temple is said to be carved out of a single rock.
4) The king Raja Raja Cholan built the temple after his visit to Sri Lanka. The king was inspired after witnessing the Vedic structures built by the Hindu kings.
5) Inscriptions in the temple point towards Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as the chief architect of the temple. His successors survive to this day and practice the art of Vastu or Vastu Shastra.
6) The big Tanjore temple is said to have more than hundred underground passages that connects to various other places. Nowadays, most of the passages are sealed. In the earlier days, the passages were used by sages, Kings and Queens to roam about different temples and places, especially during auspicious festivals like Deepavali, Maha Shivarathri and Makar Sankranti.
7) The temple is said to have a huge cap stone on top of it, and the weight of the stone is said to be 80 tonnes. The Garbhagriha where the Shiva lingam is located is said to generate large amount of electro magnetic energy. The 80 tonne stone acts a repulsive force and channels the energy to the inner areas of the temple to sustain its piousness and divinity. The positive energy radiant within in the temple structure is said to have a calming, soothing effect both mentally and physically on the devotees.
8) For the construction of the temple, more than 130,000 tonnes of granite was used. Surprisingly, these heavy stones were brought down from a place that was located 50 miles away from the Brihadeeshwar temple.
9) “The other unknown fact about Brihadeeshwara temple is that the massive Linga was inspired by Rajaraja’s quest to have a even bigger MAHALINGA, after seeing the Thiruvidaimaruthoor Mahalingam – Raja Baradwaj”