The largest of three UNESCO World Heritage listed temples along the Cauvery River, Brihadishwara is not only a sublime example of Chola temple building, but also a major place of worship and social interaction to this day.
Brihadeeswara Temple - Tanjore - Tamilnadu
Other than the addition of electric lights inside the sanctum, there is probably very little which is different about coming here now than at any time during its 1000 years of existence.
Beautiful carvings abound, and the central courtyard in front of the main temple is dominated by a huge Nandi statue. If you’re lucky enough to be here on a day when the statue is washed with milk and turmeric, you are in for a special treat.
All visitors, Hindus and others, are welcome inside the sanctum here, which is a relative rarity in Tamil Nadu temples.
Completed in 1010CE under the rule of Raja Raja Cholan, Brihadishawara was followed by smaller, but no less beautiful, temples at Gangakondacholapuram and Darasuram. All three are on the UNESCO World Heritage register and can be visited in a single day (or over a couple of days combined with other places of interest in this part of Tamil Nadu)
Brihadishwara temple was made using tons of hard granite rock, which was transported here by elephants. The main temple tower, at 66 metres, is the highest of its type. The 36 tonne granite boulder which sits atop this tower defied explanation for years- current thinking is that it was pushed to the top up a series of ramps by, you guessed it, elephants!