What are the Unsolved Mysteries of the Tanjore Big Temple (Brihadishvara Temple)?

Brihadeshwar temple is most brilliant ancient architecture. It still a mystery how, such an amazing beautiful structure was built without the latest technology. It is the symbol of India’s pride.

Some of the mysteries of the Thanjavur (Tanjore) big temple are:

  • Underground passages in Thanjavur (Tanjore) 216 feet Temple
  • Huge cap stone at the top of Thanjavur (Tanjore) Shiv Temple
  • Painting in Thanjavur (Tanjore) Big temple
  • Granite stones used for the Mandir construction
  • Cutting and carving of Granite stones for Building Shiv Temple
  • Secret passages in Thanjavur (Tanjore) Big temple
  • Shadow of Thanjavur (Tanjore) Shiv Temple

The construction of Lord Shiv temple built by interlocking stones and not by binding them is still a great mystery to the people of world who are devoid of knowledge based on Vedas and ancient Hindu texts. With the blessing of Shiv Shankar Hindu King RajaRaja Chola.

1. Underground passages in Thanjavur (Tanjore) 216 feet Temple

The Tanjore big temple contains more than 100 underground passages to various places. The underground passages also contain some secret passage that leads to various places like the Palace of RajaRaja Chola and also to other important places. The underground passages lead to the other temples and also to various places in and around Tanjore. Most of the underground passages were sealed and if the people choose the wrong passage then there are possibilities that the path may also lead to the dangers. It is widely known that this can also be a trap for the kingdom safety of RajaRaja Chola.

Underground Passages of Thanjavur (Tanjore): The underground passage is build for Sages, Kings, Queens who can roam through the various temples using underground routes conveniently. The routes were very useful to reach temples during auspicious days like Deepawali (दीपावली), Makar Sankranti (मकर संक्रांति) , Maha Shivratri (महा शिवरात्रि) and other such pious Hindu festivals. Few passages were interconnected to be used for free flow of fresh air running through lush green vegetation filled with oxygen for healthy breathing of the occupants roaming through the underground routes of the Thanjavur (Tanjore) temple.

There was separate elevated platform constructed for RajaRaja Chola so that he was conveniently able to do abhishek of large Shiv Ling present in Garbhagriha.

Other passages were leading to doorways of tunnels which were sources of water channelized from the fresh river water.

2. Huge cap stone at the top of Thanjavur (Tanjore) Shiv Temple

The biggest mystery of all the other mysteries in Thanjavur (Tanjore) Shiv temple is the huge cap stone in the top of the huge Mandir. The weight of the cap stone at the top of Thanjavur (Tanjore) weighs astonishingly 80 tons. No man built shallow structure around the world has such huge stone cap at the top of the constructed temple.

The Garbhagriha were Shiv Lingam is placed emits huge amount of electromagnetic positive energies. The 80 tons stone was kept as a repulsive force so as to make the energy revolve around the temple perimeter and keep the place pious and divinely graceful. The flow of energy move around and within the Vedic structure giving healthily calming, soothing and mentally composing effect to the bhakts and yogis.

There are two explanations (a) Manually (b) Vedic Mantra

(a) 80 Ton Stone Cap Placed on top of Brihadeeswarar Temple

The Massiveness of Structure and 80 Ton Stone Cap at Top of Thanjavur Shiv Temple

At the top of the Sri Vimana Thanjavur temple, near the neck of the Gopuram there are 8 Nandis seen very prominently even while standing from the ground. These Nandis are huge and carved from single stone. A Nandi of the similar scale is seen on the southern Prahara. One can judge the size of the Nandi and its relative weight.

On the front side of the Vimana that is facing the east direction one can see the sculptures of abode of Bhagwan Shiv called as Mahameru. The whole of Sri Vimana is built using granite rocks and the sculptures in them are covered by a thin layer of mortar to preserve the granite sculptures inside.

It is widely known that there were no heavy machines, cranes or any high end equipments used to lift the stone up and place it at the top of the temple. The only thing that can help achieve, the almost impossible feat, were the fleet of elephants. A massive triangular podium of half-pyramidal shaped structure was constructed that was erected adjacent yet to the opposite side of the massive temple. The mammoth task was carried over by intelligent Vedic architects while performing Yagna to take blessings of Bhagwan Shiv, under guidance of Brahmans, Hindu Sages and RajaRaja Chola. The figure below represents the construction site, explains how it was done. Massive straircase of rollers were constructed on the base of to pull 80 tons stone by fleets of elephants and men. The platform was more inclined towards ground and not so angular as seen in the representational image.

(b) Vedic Mantra Used to Place 80 Ton Stone on Top of Thanjavur (Tanjore) Temple

ओ३म् (ॐ) is the Vedic sound and the creator of everything in this universe – invisible atom to biggest mountains. Sun itself recites ॐ (chanted as ओ३म् ) while giving light to the world. The meditation of OM (ओम) by Sun God keeps it alive and helps it in positioning itself properly in the solar system. When chanting of Vedic Mahamantra ॐ ( as ओम) can position sun and make it master of our solar system.

Then reciting Vedic Mantra could levitate 80 ton stone for placing it at top of Brihadeeswarar Temple or Periya Kovil, an easy task for Vedic sages. There were many gupt mantras that were recited by Hindu Sages to get impossible tasks done while penancing and remembering Bhagwan Shiv. It might sound miracle for all of us so called modern but materialistic beings; it was never a secret for ancient Hindus.

3. Painting in Thanjavur (Tanjore) Big temple

There are lots of high quality paintings in the Tanjore big temple that explain many things about the kingdom of Chola dynasty and also the greatness of particularly, the RajaRaja Chola. Some paintings also explain about the RajaRaja Chola’s selfless bhakti towards Bhagwan Shiv Shankar. There were also depiction of contemporaneous history in the painting of Thanjavur (Tanjore) or Thanjai. Thanjavur has a unique place in the history of Indian painting, it is so because the paintings are splendid, beautiful and looks very fresh as if the paintings were made recently.

Painters across the world are awestruck and they are still trying hard to figure out how even today these hundreds of years old Hindu paintings look so natural and novel. RajaRaja Chola always respected Hindu Sages, Gurus and Sadhus – one of the paintings reflect him giving respect to his Guru.

Thanjavur Paintings Everlasting Beauty: The everlasting beauty of Thanjavur paintings lies in the herbs. Hindu Sages used natural elements for designing Vedic symbols which acted as gateways of communication. These symbols were purposely painted using solution made up of natural elements like flower petals, colorful leaves, haldi (turmeric), treated muds, crushed salts, neem, pressed herbs, etc. The lasting of such Vedic designs were ensured using medicinal learnings of Ayurved. Hindu Sages were intelligent and they knew that to establish divine connection with Gods, the continuous recitement of mantras should be supported by yantras that have longer recency and permanency. The same method of Hindu Sadhus were originally replicated by Hindu Painters, who used their ancient knowledge to paint everlasting beautiful paintings.

4. Granite stones used for the Mandir construction

The granite stones are one of the strongest stones in the world. It is very difficult to carve intricate designs on the granite stones without powerful blunt devices. Granite is also very heavy so movement of huge stones from one place to another is also not possibly easy. More than 130,000 tons of granite were used to build Rajarajeshwar Thanjavur temple. The heavy stones weighing several tons were bought down from the place that was located 50 miles away from the Tanjore temple.

Granite Stones Pulled By Elephants: Hindu Kings had huge resource of animals for building temples and army forces. How strong was legacy of Hindu Kings can be seen from the fact, Greek biographer stated that Nanda dynasty had a mighty military power of 80000 horse back troops, 200000 foot soldiers, 6000 battle elephants and about 8000 war horse-drawn vehicles. The reference of human and animal resource of Nanda dynasty was only for battlefront. For constructing structures they had different pool of animal resources. Similarly, RajaRaja Chola had allocated over 1000 elephants and over 5000 horses for the construction of structures.

RajaRaja Chola used elephants, animals to pull the granite stone from 50 miles away. After constructing several temples, RajaRaja Chola and his Hindu engineers mastered the art of building Mandirs from Granite stones.

5. Cutting and carving of Granite stones for Building Shiv Temple

The cutting and carving of the granite stone is very difficult, britishers after seeing Granite block temples tried to replicate the feat but failed miserably. While mughals when saw such temples tried ways to dismantle or reconvert Hindu temples into satanic tombs and mosques – true to the terrorism legacy they got from koran and dacoit mohammed. It was patience, selfless bhakti and love towards mother earth that made it possible. Hindu Kings were keen on protecting nature and never did any harm to the environment when they build temples. Whenever range of trees were cut from the forests for the construction of temples, an equal and in some cases double the number of trees were planted. Even today it is not possible to carve intricate designs on the Granite stones, as shown in the Thanjavur temples.

How Granite Stones were Cut, Carved and Customized:

Series of holes were created in the granite block. The holes can be deeper or surfacial based on the requirement. Then wooden sticks were filled in those holes, water is poured on the holes. After a long period of time the rocks would break. And in similar manner, customized Granite blocks were cut.

Granite blocks were cut using wood and water in Thanjavur temple

6. Secret passages in Thanjavur (Tanjore) Big temple

A dedicated secret passage was created to connect different secret places in hidden mesh-like structure. It is decorated with distinct features depicting Hindu history of Bharat (India). While roaming through secret passages, it is impossible to come back to the starting point, as no one knows the route to reach the inter-places meshed to each other. That is the reason, most of the underground and secret passages are closed for the public and archaeologists.

Secret Passages are closed since entrance to them is only possible when you recite right mantra to enter it. The in-roads through the secret passages lead to places which RajaRaja Chola wanted only his close confidante to know. Such places were holding keys to the treasure chest, rare scripts, calligraphs and vaults whose confidentiality were to be maintained.

Shadow of Thanjavur (Tanjore) Gopuram of Shiv Temple not Falling on Ground

The huge cap of Tanjore big temple is constructed in such a way that the shadow of the Tanjore big temple Gopuram will not fall on the ground at noon in any season. It will just fall on itself.

Why Does the Shadow of Gopuram Does not Fall on the Ground: It is the only structure in the world to have this peculiar feature. During morning or evening when the Sun is out the shadow can be seen falling on the ground. It is only during noon that the shadow of Gopuram will not fall on ground but on itself. The main reason is the basement of structure which is big enough to absorb the shadow of the Gopuram on its base itself.

A study in Oriental architecture or history is certainly incomplete without a mention of the Tanjore Brihadeeshwara Temple or the Tanjore Periya Kovil (Big Temple). This imposing structure was built by RajaRaja Cholan and his sister Kundavai, both ardent devotees of Bhagwan Shiv. It was constructed by the King at the height of the Chola reign to signify his bhakti, power and strength. Here are few interesting facts about this Chola temple of Thanjavur:

a) The original name of the deity was PERUVUDAYAR and temple complex was named as RAJARAJECHURAM. It was the Marathas who gave it the name Brihadeeshwara or the Great Ishwara.

b) The main temple is entirely built of granite. More than 130,000 tons of granite was used to built it.

c) The only temple in the world wherein the shadow of its Gopuram does not a appear on the ground at noon.

d) The statue of Nandi at the entrance of the temple is carved out of a single stone.

e) The main Vimanam, which is at about 200 feet is often called Dakshin Meru or Southern Meru.

f) The inspiration to build the temple came to Raja Raja Cholan during his visit to Sri Lanka seeing Vedic structures of Hindu kings and was a result of a divine dream he had.

g) The temple has a portrait of Raja Raja Cholan paying obeisance to Bhagwan Natraj. This is undoubtedly, the first ever instance of a royal portrait.

h) Inscriptions in the temple point towards Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan as the chief architect of the temple. His successors survive to this day and practice the art of Vastu or Vastu Shastra.

Dakshin Meru Thanjavur Tanjore Temple

i) Portraying dance is the reflection of divine emotions of Bhakts (devotees) showing their joyful feelings which they sense when they see the God himself. Depictions of nartakis or dancers showing eighty one of hundred and eight karanas (108 synchronised movements of hands and feet) in Bharat Natyam are carved here. These selective karanas represented here are a part of karanas mentioned in the Natya Shastra of Rishi Bharat. There is also evidence that the temple was a platform for trained dancers to showcase their devotional talent. These depictions are first of their kind.

j) The inscriptions also mention the different kinds of jewels used in the period. Each of these jewels are mentioned in detail. A total of twenty three different types of pearls, eleven varieties of diamonds and rubies are mentioned in these inscriptions.

k) The chanting of ॐ in the Grabhagriha exponentially expands the positive energies in the temple.

What astounds historians is that there was not a single granite quarry in about 100 km radius of the temple. This means that transporting these stones would have been a herculean task. But Raja Raja Cholan insisted on the use of these stones. All of these features make this Chola temple of Tanjore, a magnum opus of the opulent Chola kingdom.

The temple was built within schedule, completed in record time of 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 non-bound temple in India and world. Atop the soaring viman (famously known due to its structure as explained in Vymanika Shastra) – 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 is also one of the attraction of the tallest Shiv Temple that draw thousands of people to it.

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