We left for Thanjavur early in the morning on 23rd of March.We were to visit the Brihadeeshwara Temple here which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built under the reign of RajaRaja Chola of the Chola Dynasty in the 11th century.
We reached by noontime.It was a scorching hot.The temple had huge entrance called gopuram.It was full of amazing carvings of women, lion-like creature, other animals, and Gods.It is completely built from granite. With no granite quarry within 100 km. radius of the temple, one wonders about the logistics and efforts that must have been required to transport tonnes of granite to this site.
Inside the sanctum, there is a big Nandi which is carved out of a single rock.It is said that the sculpture gets bigger and bigger.We were early and it was scorching so we rested under one mandapam till 4 p.m.
The temple gates opened and we were excited to go in.Our teacher had told us that there was a chamber inside where if we were to chant om we were to receive an immortal experience.The most disappointing part was we were not allowed to go there.We did the darshan of the Shiva Lingam and went to the admire the murals.They are frescos depicting Shaivism (worship of Shiva), Vishnu, Durga and other Gods, as well as scenes of Chola royalty, courtly and common life.the most amazing fact remains that the pigments are natural and have not faded even after centuries.
It is said to have more than hundred underground passages that connect to various other places. We could not go in as 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.
It felt like we had traveled in time and were in the 11th century.I could visualize the moat that surrounded the temple and the gate and hundreds of worshippers and the kings and the queens, lights, and offerings and celebrations.
It was a wonderful experience.We were to head to Chidambaram for yet another adventure.