Brihadiswara Temple - A Thousand Year Old Monument.
The spread of the Chola Empire and the consolidation of political power by Rajaraja I resulted in the creation of a royal centre for the performing arts in Thanjavur (Tanjore, Tamil Nadu, India) with the Brihadiswara Temple as its nucleus. Vast in concept, design and form, the temple is built of granite. How such a massive quantity of stone blocks was transported from its source 70 kms away is in itself a marvel. Remember it was a millennium ago!
The execution of details is so remarkable that the temple is built to exact plumb, in dry masonry, and that it has withstood the ravages of man and nature for the last 1000 years is a testimony to the wonderful engineering skills of the Chola builders.
The temple was not just a culture of worship, but housed some of the finest bronzes, sculptures and murals ever created. The numerous inscriptions found at the temple give a idea of the patronage given to the artists, musicians, dancers and other people associated with the temple.
Rajaraja excelled in creating a well organised institution to manage the temple. He was so foresighted that he recorded every detail of it accurately in the long inscription engraved on the walls of the temple. The temple still has the mural paintings and stone carvings that demonstrate the craftsmanship.
The temple is made up of 130,000 tons of granite. The vimana is the tallest in South India. This vimana, which is 60.95 m high and, in turn, crowned with a bulb-shaped monolith weighing an estimated 70 tonnes, is rightly considered to be one of the architectural masterpieces of India.
The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples".