Tanjore -Brihadeeshwara Temple
This magnificent Siva temple was built in 1003 AD by King Rajaraja I, the Chola King. It is considered one of the grandest temples in India. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Siva. The story of the temple is that King Rajaraja, being unable to cure his leprosy, was instructed by his spiritual teacher to bring a Siva-linga from the Narmada River and construct a temple for it.
He went and got a linga from the river and then the linga started to grow and became huge. King Rajaraja then had to build a huge temple to put it in. This temple is unique because the vimana (the tower over the altar) soars into the sky, while the gopurams (the towers over the entrance) are small. The 14-storey tower of the temple is 64 metres (216 ft) high, making it the tallest temple in South India. There has been continuous worship at the temple for more than 1,000 years.
The temple is capped by a single 80 ton (73,700 kg) monolithic solid granite block. This enormous stone is said to have been moved up an incline that started 6km from the temple. The sikhara, a spherical dome, is octagonal and rests on top of this granite block.
The shadow of the sikhara never falls on the ground. The temple is entered through a 30m high gopuram guarded by two impressive dwarapalakas (door guards). You then come to a giant Nandi (bull of Lord Siva), which is carved out of a single stone. It is considered to be the second largest in India, next to the one at Lepakshi. It is 3.7m high (13 feet), 6m long (16 feet), 2.5m wide, and weighs about 25 tons. It is said that it grew in size every day until a nail was driven in its back to keep it from growing.
In the inner sanctum is the gigantic Maha-linga, 3.5 metres (10½ feet) high and 7½ m (25 ft) in circumference. It is said that when the linga was taken from the Narmada River, it kept increasing in size; which is why the linga is known as Brihadeeswara. There are over 250 lingas in the temple. There are fresco paintings on the ceiling and walls of the inner sanctum dated to the Chola period. These often cannot be viewed, but there are reproductions of the paintings in the museum.
There is a 16.5m (55ft) high temple dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya that is considered to have some of the best carvings in South India. Also here is a shrine dedicated to Ganesh. There are many Vaishnava sculptures on the gopurams. There is a deity in this temple of Jwarahareswara who controls fever. It is believed if a person has a chronic fever, it will subside if they offer sandalwood paste to this deity. Many people have experienced this.