Known locally as the "Periya Koil" (Big Temple) or (Peruvudaiyar koil / Brihadeeswara Temple), or simply, "The Temple", this is an engineering masterpiece in a league of its own. The huge 80 tonne piece of headstone on top of the 216 foot central tower is in one piece, it is believed that elephants were used to drag this huge stone to the top of the central tower, on a gentle slope of a mile-long ramp in 1010 A.D.
The sheer scale and size of this temple is awesome. The Bull of Shiva, "Nandhi" is carved out of stone and placed in front of the main sanctum in every Shiva temple, and the Bull in this temple is ENORMOUS, carved out of a single piece of solid granite rock. Prepare to be amazed, shocked and fall in love with the architecture. The Cholans were fierce warriors and maintained a powerful navy that was considered the best in the world of its time, so even the sculptures of gods on the walls in this temple are fierce looking(posture), and war-like, unlike other Hindu temples.
This temple was commissioned and built during the reign of the great Raja Raja Chola himself. Everything is grand here. It is very different from Madurai's Meenakshi temple, built about 200 years earlier than the current structure of Meenakshi Temple. The edifice is stunning, the sheer size and the technical accomplishment of the craftsmen is jaw-dropping good. Unlike the Madurai Meenakshi temple, this temple is painted brick-red in color(although it is made of granite, it looks like sandstone on the outside because of the color of the paint).
It was the tallest building in India(one of the tallest in the world) when it was built, a thousand years ago.
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