The Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur is the world's first complete granite temple. Built in 1010 A.D under the patronage of King Raja Raja Chola I of Chola Dynasty it is a Dravidian architectural masterpiece. This temple is also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple'.
The entire temple area is constructed using hard granite stones. The temple complex is surrounded by fortified walls. The complex is made up of many structures that are aligned axially. Inside the complex there is main temple, a Nandi, a pillared hall and an assembly hall and many sub-shrines.
The main temple tower is 216 ft in height and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. There is a big 13 ft statue of Nandi carved out of a single rock, at the entrance in front of the main shrine. The garbhagriha is square and sits on a plinth. In the center is placed the image of the Lord Shiva.
The external surface of the temple has been richly carved and is a treat to the eyes. The entire surface is treated with high quality sculpture of myriad manifestations of Shiva.
The temple is part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Next we will see more details of the temple tower.