Brihadeeswara Temple - Architecture
Brihadeeswara temple was constructed by Rajaraja Chola I and was designed by Kunjara Mallan Raja Rama Perunthachan. The base of the temple has the pictures of dancing Shiva and stone deities. A 2m high, 6m long, and 2.5m wide statue of Nandi Bull weighing 20 tonnes can be found at the entrance.
The bull is made up of a single stone and is the second largest statue of Nandi. The Shiva Linga inside the temple has the height of 3.7m. The dynasties that ruled after Cholas also added the pictures of many deities.
The platform on which the temple was built has the height of 5m. The outer walls of the temple are built like fort having a deep moat surrounding it. There are two entrances to the temple.
The first is the five storey gopuram and the second is the free standing gopuram to which people reach through a quadrangle. Vimanam or the Shikhara of the temple is 60.96m high.
The centre of the temple has the statue of Nandi Bull. There are two halls in the temple also called mandapas. One of the hall is pillared while other is the assembly hall. Apart from these, there are many more shrines.
The primary deity worshipped here is Lord Shiva whose image is established on the inner sanctum. There is also a Shiva Linga inside. There is one more chamber called Karuvarai or womb chamber in which only priests can enter.
Pradakshina and Garbhagriha
The inner and the outer wall make Pradakshina for circumambulation. This Pradakshina is built around the Garbhagriha which is built on a platform and is square in shape. The image of a deity is placed in the center of the garbhagriha. Rajaraja Chola 1 used to give gift from the hall.
Deities of the Temple
Lord Shiva is the main deity of the temple and a Shiva linga is established here to worship him. The height of the Shiva linga is 8.7m. Other deities are placed in the outer wall also known as Koshtha Moorthigal.
These deities include Dakshinamurthy, Surya and Chandra. Other deities include Ashta Dikpaalakas, Agni, Yam, Nirrti, Varuna, Vayu, Kuber, and Isana. The statues of all these deities are six feet high.