The Thanjai Periya Kovil also called the Rajarajeshvaram or Peruvudaiyar Kovil is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. It is located on the southern bank of the river Kaveri. The original name of the Shiva deity is Rajarajeshvaram. But, just like their future generations imposing another language without any right whatsoever, The Marathas named it Brihadeeswara.
Lord Shiva is present as the ‘Cosmic dancer’, Nataraja. The temple was built by the Tamil King Arulmozhivarman, famously known as Raja Raja Chola I. It was built between 1003 and 1010 A.D. The temple attained its 1000th year in September 2010. It is the true example of the Dravidian architecture at its best.
King Arulmozhivarman after conquering Sri Lanka is said to have had a dream. It was after this dream that he began the construction of this architectural marvel. There is also another speculation that this was the final resting place of the great king. Another story revolving his death is as follows. When he conquered Sri Lanka, it seems that one of the daughters of the defeated kings escaped. She eventually earned his trust and raised to the higher ranks. When they were together in a higher story of the temple, she realized the opportunity. She pushed him to his death. But his death remains to be a mystery in itself.
Not far away is Gangaikonda Cholapuram, built by his son, King Rajendra Chola I. It is just a two-hour drive from Periya Kovil, approximately 75 km. It was built by him, after a large part of India, the whole of the South, and up to the river Ganga. Hence, the name Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Gangaikonda means ‘Possessing Ganga’ and Cholapuram means ‘Chola City’. Therefore, it roughly translates into ‘The City of the Cholas after Conquering Ganga’.
The temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along with its sister temples Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavateshwara Temple. The Peruvudaiyar Temple was built entirely from granite and the first all-granite structure in the world. Some estimates place the amount to be around 130,000 tons. The more surprising and confusing part is that within a 100-mile radius from the temple, there are no granite quarries to consume it from.
Granite is not a light material to carry or engrave scriptures into. The numerous inscriptions carved into the temple will show you the technical prowess of the Dravidian architects. Further, use of no binding material takes place in the construction of this great structure. Given that there are no structures higher than 200 feet, without the usage of binding agents, it makes it only the more fascinating.
The walls of the great temple are engraved with Tamil and Grantha-script writings. These contain the traditional literature, information of the King, and the gifts to the temple by others. They also mention the different kinds of jewels used, with great detail. The jewels include eleven kinds of diamonds and twenty-three kinds of pearls.
The Vimana (tower) of the temple was one of the tallest monuments during the time of its construction. It has a towering height of 63.4 meters (208 feet). The Shiva is in the form of a Shivalinga. The Linga stands at a whopping height of 8.7 meters (29 feet). The Linga was also made of a single stone. It is also one of the largest in the world. The Nandi statue present at the entrance was also made out of a single stone.
The cap of the tower weighs 80 tonnes. It results in the reflection of energy towards the Karuvarai (Garbha Graha). Thus, the positive vibes of the temple never fade. This positivity tends to have a pacifying effect on the people present. There were several underground tunnels that were used by the King, sages, and the Royal Family.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva as previously mentioned. Yet, it has the sub-temples with the deities of Vishnu and other Vaishnava gods. This makes it one of the very few temples which can boast the presence of deities of both Shaivism and Vaishnavism.
The two main mysteries associated with the temple are:
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, which started to ‘lean’ just after its construction, is a World Wonder. Why? Because it can stay leaning? Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the next one. It was constructed in 1931. Standing at just 38 meters, it took nine years to complete. As mentioned earlier, the Periya Kovil took only seven years, although being one and a half times the size. Still that statue is a World Wonder. Why, just because it is a depiction of Jesus? Why does people not regard this great marvel as a World Wonder, then? Think about it.
There is a lack of validation from the world because we’re Indians. And there is a lack of validation from India because we’re South Indians. Together, let us preserve our culture and empower ourselves, even though they try to impose another language.
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