Brihadeeswara Temple - History


Brihadeeswara Temple is located in Thanjavur that has a long history. Though the year of foundation of the city is not known but it is believed that the city existed during the Sangam period that was from 3rd century BC to 4th century AD.

It is also believed that in the Battle of Venni, Chola king Karikala fought with Cheras and Pandyas and also faced invasion by Mutharayars. Later on the city was ruled by Cholas.

Thanjavur under Chola Dynasty

Chola king Vijayalaya defeated Elango Mutharayar and conquered Thanjavur in 850AD. He worshipped Goddess Nisumbhasudani and so built a temple. Aditya succeeded Vijayalaya and ruled the city. King Rajaraja Chola constructed Brihadeeswara Temple in 985AD which was one of the great construction of the Cholas.

Rajaraja Chola

Thanjavur under Pandyas

Pandyas captured Thanjavur two times, first in the period of 1218-1219 and second in 1230. In 1230, Pandyas defeated Rajaraja III who was sent to exile. Rajaraja III sought help from Vira Narsimha II who belonged to Hoysala dynasty. After sometime Pandyas annexed whole of the Chola kingdom and ruled Thanjavur from 1279 to 1311.

Thanjavur under Pandyas

Thanjavur under Delhi Sultanate

Malik Kafur annexed Thanjavur from Pandyas and ruled from 1296 till 1306. The sultanate also conquered the kingdom of Pandyas and ruled from 1311 to 1335. After this, Delhi Sultanate annexed Ma’bar Sultanate and ruled from 1335 to 1378. After this, Thanjavur was annexed by Vijayanagara empire that ruled from 1365 to 1674.

Thanjavur under Marathas

Ekoji of Bhonsle dynasty was the half-brother of Shivaji and conquered Thanjavur in 1674AD. This dynasty ruled Thanjavur till 1855. Maratha rulers were fond of Carnatic music. In 1787, Amar Singh usurped the kingdom from Serfoji, his nephew. But later Serfoji regained his throne with the help of the British. In 1855, British annexed Thanjavur after the death of Shivaji who didn’t have a male heir.

Brihadeeswara Temple

Rajaraja Chola I constructed the temple whose foundation was laid in 1002CE. The temple was based on the Chola style architecture which included multifaceted columns and square capital signals. Many religious events were conducted here which included daily rituals done by the king.