Showing posts with label Thanjavur:. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanjavur:. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Amazing facts about Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple is one of the most ancient temple, situated in the city of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, India. Thanjavur named after the legendry asu...ra “Tanjan”, is one of the ancient temples in India. In ancient days, Thanjavur known as “The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu,” was an important city to the ancient Cholas. It was remade by the Cholas from a collection of villages into a major temple center 1000 years ago, with the construction of the Brihadisvara Temple in the center of the city, and the city then built up around it. Thanjavur had the distinction of being specifically constructed as a religious city with the temple centermost.
Arjun Kadya Balakrishna Gowda's photo. The Siva Lingam here is gigantic, more than 12 feet tall. The Nandi facing the sanctum is also 12 feet in height and the dwarapalaks (the guardians deities of temple) and deities around the main shrine look elegant.. The main attraction here is the huge tower above the sanctum which is about 216 feet. The tower stands tall and one can see this fabulous structure even as one enters Tanjore.
The temple architecutre marvel comprises of bundles of surpries:
Shadow Disappears at noon: The most intersting part of this temple is the shadow of the temple, which surprisingly never falls on the ground at noon. The Brihadeshwar Temple is one of the tallest temples in the world and is so designed that the viman does not cast a shadow at noon during any part of the year.

First All Granite Temple: Brihadeshwar Temple is the first complete granite temple in the world. Granite is not found in the surrounding areas. It is not known where this massive granite was brought from. The absence of a granite quarry within a 100km radius of the temple require logistics of epic proportions to get the stone to the construction site. As hard as it was to find, Granite is harder to carve. Yet the great Chola wanted a the temple to be covered with the most intricately designs; unlike the pyramid which possesses extraordinary dimensions but nary an artistry.
Till Date its the tallest temple: The temple was built at a fair clip, completed in mere 7 years, amounting to moving and placing almost 50 tons of rock each and every day, not to forget carving and aligning it. When the Brihadeeswara temple was completed in 1003 CE, it was the tallest temple in India by an order of magnitude of 10. A thousand years later, standing at 216 feet, it is still the tallest temple in India. Atop the soaring vimaana –the tower above the main temple and a word that translates to “airplane”– is a capstone that weighs 80 tons. The best thing in the chola temples is that the tower lies over the sanctums has more elevation as compared to the towers set over the gopuram (tower) that could be found at the entrance. After dusk, when the temple is been illuminated, its topmost light over the dome seems not less than another planet glowing and coming closer to the earth. This attraction is the tallest in its line that draw thousands of people to its area.
Musical pillars: At the entrance of sanctum sanctorum, one can see the two idols of Ganesha in the corridor. On taping the two, you will feel the sound traveling through stone in one idol and through metal on the other. The main hall of the temple is said to have been used by the dancers and musicians performing in service of Shiva. There are some musical pillars producing different sounds when tapped.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nisumba soodhini Temple, Thanjavur:

Nisumba soodhini Temple, Thanjavur: War Deity of Imperial Chola

Many travelers may come to Thanjavur (தஞ்சாவூர்) solely to visit the Big Temple (பெருவுடையார் கோயில்) (‘ராஜராஜுச்சுரம்’) (Rajarajeswaram temple), an outstanding example of Chola (சோழர்) architecture and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. Over a total of 30,000 foreign tourists and 4.10 lakh domestic tourists passing through Thanjavur, making it the fastest growing tourist spot in Tamil Nadu, India. Thanjavur, an important pilgrim centre and a major tourist destination of Tamil Nadu, also includes many other interesting heritage temples.

Cult of Kali in Thanjavur

Thanjavur is also popular for the cult of 'Kali' (காளி) (the mother goddess - specific Sakthi cult). In Thanjavur there are eight Kali temples as guardian deities with different names:

1. Nandhi Makali; 2. Selliamman; 3. Ugra Kali (Nisumba soodhanai); 4. Kodiamman (Karanthai); 5. Vanchiamman; 6. Samavarthiniyamman; 7. Vada Bhadra Kali (Nisumba soodhani); and Kunthalamman. Kali is an incarnation of Parvati 'Kali' means black or kala (Hindi). Kali is a warrior goddess, who protects humanity and the gods from horrible demons, but she is also a deity of feminine energy, creativity, fertility, guardian, protector, ruler of eternal time, goddess of death and doomsday.

Hindu iconography depicts Kali all the more gruesome and she appears in absolute rage, with lolling tongue and protruding fangs as well as with her ornaments of necklace of snakes, skulls and heads of her sons and a belt from, which hangs demon's hands. The deity often appear with the number of arms being four (Kali, Ruthra Kali), eight (Chamundi), ten (Bhadra Kali), twelve, fourteen (Mahakali), eighteen (Bhadra Kali) or even one hundred (Bhadra Kali) and each of hand holding weapon or other objects including a sword, dagger, trident dripping with blood, cup, drum, chakra, lotus bud, whip, noose, bell, and shield. She is the destroyer of demons such as Mahisasura, Chanda, Munda, Shumbha, Nishumbha as well as Madhu and Kaitabha.


It is also interesting to witness the cult of Nisumba soodhini (நிசும்பசூதினி), a form of Kali in mythology and the war deity of Imperial Cholas associated with war, combat or bloodshed. The cult of Korravai was present during Sangam period and the Tamil kings of Sangam period worshiped Korravai (கொற்றவை), a local presiding deity of war and victory in the Tamil region. Perumpidugu Mutharaiyar II (c. 705 - 745 A.D.) (பெரும்பிடுகு முத்தரையன் சுவரன் மாறன் II) ruled over Cauvery Delta Region - Mutharaiyar Nadu (முத்தரையர் நாடு) before the Cholas. The cult of Pidari (பிடாரி) (a form of Kali and the protecting deity as well as war deity) probably evolved in the sixth and seventh centuries AD and is generally restricted to southern India. The feudatory king was a formidable Warrior and was engaged in 12 battles with Pandya and Chera and was victorious in all the battles i.e., Kodumbaalur, Manalur, Thingalur, Kaandhalur, Azhindhiur, Kaarai, Maangur, Annavoil, Semponmari, Thanjaisembulanattu Venkodal, Pugazhi and Kannanur. He built the temple devoted to Pidari at Niamam (நியமம் பிடாரி அம்மன் கோயில்). The four pillars erected by the king bears the inscriptions (27 stanzas) reciting the wars, victories and other accomplishments. Inscriptions found at mandapam of Sundareswarar temple, Senthalai states:

செந்தலை சுந்தரேஸ்வரர் கோயில் முன் மண்டபத்தில் காணப்பெறும் .செந்தலை கல்வெட்டுகளில் "சுவரன் மாறன்னானவன் எடுபித்த பிடாரிகோயில் அவநெரிந்த ஊர்களும் அவன் பேர்களும் அவனை பாடினர் பேர்களும் இத்தூண்கள் மேலுழுதின இவை "என அக்கல்வெட்டு கூற்கின்றது.

Goddess Pidari was also worshiped by Pandya king Maranchadaiyan Paranthaka Veeranarayanan alias Nedum Chadayan (பாண்டியன் மாறன் சடையன் பராந்தக வீரநாராயணன் என்ற நெடுஞ்சடையன் ( 866 - 911 A.D.), Nandivarman II (Pallavamalla) (இரண்டாம் நந்திவர்மன் (பல்லவமல்லன்) (720–796 CE) and Aditya Chola I (பரகேசரி முதலாம் ஆதித்த சோழன் (கி.பி 871 - 907 A.D.).

In the same tradition Vijayalaya Chola (848-891 A.D.) aka. Parakesarivarman (விசயாலய சோழன் என்ற பரகேசரிவர்மன்) built the temple for goddess Nisumba soodhani to commemorate his victory. The Chola king was once a feudatory of the Pallavas. This Thirupurampiyam (திருப்புறம்பயம் போர்) (Near Kumbakonam) war hero captured Thanjavur in 848 A.D. from Elango Mutharayar (final ruler of Mutharaiyar dynasty) and established as a semi autonomous state. He became the real founder of the Chola dynasty of Thanjavur and his dynasty rose to its prominence during the middle of the 9th century A.D. The Imperial Cholas believed that goddess Nisumba soodhini as the personification of valour and would bless them with victory in the battle. This faith made them to pray for goddess 'Nisumba soodhini' before leaving for the battle field. This information was recorded in Thiruvalangadu copper-plate inscriptions:

“தஞ்சாபுரீம் சௌத சுதாங்காராகாம
ஐக்ராஹ ரந்தும் ரவி வம்ச தீப:
தத:பிரதிஷ்டாப்ய நிசும்ப சூதனீம்
சுராசுரை:அர்ச்சித பாத பங்கஜாம்
சது : சமுத்ராம்பர மேகலாம் புவம்
ரஹாஜ தேவோ தத்பராசதந”

Meaning: The idol of Nisumba soodhani, who conquered and annihilated the demons Shumba and Nishumba, was consecrated in Thanjavur. With the grace of the worshipful feet of Nisumba soodhani, the king ruled the earth surrounded by ocean with the ease, as if wearing like a garland.

The original temple built by Vijayalaya Chola is not existing at present. Now there are two temples devoted goddess Nisumba Soodhani located in the heritage town Thanjavur.

Present Temples

Vada Bhadra Kali Amman Temple (வடபத்ரகாளி அம்மன் கோவில்), Poomal Rauther Koil street in Keezha Vaasal.

The 1160 years old deity (!) comes under Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) administration and well maintained by Thanjavur Palace Devasthanam.

The temple was built by Vijayalaya Chola (848-891) aka. Parakesarivarman, once a feudatory of the Pallavas. The temple has the sanctum sanctorum, ardhamandapa and the mahamandapa (temporary tin sheet shed). The deity of goddess Nisumba soodhini

The temple is 2 km away from Old Bus stand of Thanjavur and there are number city buses and auto rickshaws available from here.

Temple Timings: 07.00 am - 11.00 pm and 05.00 pm - 08.00 pm. Temple popularly known among the local people as "Ragukaala Kali Temple".

Ugra Kali Amman Temple (உக்ரகாளி அம்மன் கோவில்), Kuyavar street in Keezha Vaasal.

The 1160 years old deity (!) comes under Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) administration and well maintained by Thanjavur Palace Devasthanam.

The temple was built by Vijayalaya Chola (848-891) aka. Parakesarivarman, once a feudatory of the Pallavas. The temple has two sanctum sanctorums, ardhamandapa and the common spacious mahamandapa. In the main sanctum the 19th century idol of goddess Nisumba soodhini appears seated. The priest told that this deity belongs to Maratta period. All poojas are performed to this deity in the main sanctum. The other sanctum sanctorum on the left side of the main sanctum lies another sanctum housing the 9th century CE idol of Nisumba soodhini.

The iconography of seated Nisumba soodhani depicts annihilation of the Nisumba with her right and left legs engaged pressing against demon. One of her right hand holds the Trident (Trishul) and pointing towards Nisumba. The goddess also appears seated on the bodies of four demons (Chanda , Munda, Raktha Bheeja, and Shumba) with head slightly tilted.

The temple is 2 km away from Old Bus stand of Thanjavur and there are number city buses and auto rickshaws available from here.

Temple Timings: 06.00 am - 12.00 pm and 05.00 pm - 08.00 pm. Temple popularly known among the local people as "Ukkira Kali Temple".


According to Devi Mahathmyam (Chandi), Raktha Bheeja, the commander of Shumbha and Nishumba opposed to goddess Parvathi. Goddess Parvathi created 'Kaushiki.' Kaushiki was spotted by Chanda and Munda, Shumbha Nishumba's two assistants and reported about Kaushiki. Shumba and Nishumba sent proposals of marrying Kaushiki through a messenger. Kaushiki invited both for a fight and the winner could marry her. There was fierce fighting between the demons Chanda and Munda and the goddess Kaushiki and killed them. Hence the name (Chamundi (Chanda+Munda). On seeing the death of Chanda and Munda the demons attacked the goddesses Kaushiki. At that moment, from the bodies of the various devas, women forces began emerging and took the form of Kali. Among the asuras there was one commander known as Raktha Bheeja. Every drop of blood oozing from the body of Raktha Bheeja turns another demonic form of Raktha Bheeja. Kali was instructed to drink all the blood that oozes from the body of Raktha Bjeeja. On hearing death of Raktha Beeja, Nishumba assaulted Kaushiki and the goddess retaliated with a weapon known as 'Khura' and made him unconscious. Shumba came to the rescue of Nishumba and fell unconscious. At the end of the fight both Shumba and Nishumba were annihilated and the goddess Kaushiki became victorious.