The BIG temple – an intro post

After doing the intros of Ajanta, Ellora,thought i should do one for the Big temple in Tanjore. But a post of its sculptures preceded the post, so we take this as a prequel.

This grand exhibition of Chola architecture and its lasting beauty is but a fitting tribute to one of the greatest kings of our land. The great man, as Arulmoli, who was content to let his uncle rule for 15 years, waiting by the sidelines ( after the assassination of his elder brother – the crown prince, Aditya Karikala in 969 AD), and then take on the reigns in 985 AD and user in a glorious period of chola rule.

The exact words are beautifully translated by Sri. K.A. Neelakanta Sastry in his lovely work COLAS ( 1935 – Madras Univ publication) from the thiruvalandadu plates

You can read them here:

but for this verse in particular

(V. 69.) (Though) requested by the subjects (to occupy the Chola
throne), in order to destroy the persistently blinding darkness of
the powerful Kali (age), Arunmolivarman who understood the essence
of royal conduct, desired not the kingdom for himself even in (his)
mind, while his paternal uncle coveted his (i.e., Arunmolivarman’s)

Look at the lovely use of the words desire when it comes to Arulmoli and covet when it comes to Uttama ( his uncle)

Arulmoli took the title Raja Raja on his coronation and his military prowess and administrative capabilities are to be etched in gold – but maybe for longivity he chose Stone – yes, he left behind his illustrious deeds in the form of his Prasithi ( in sanskrit) or meikeerthi ( in tamil ) – mei – true, keerthi – fame – his true fame. That would be another post altogether

We look to another plate that sums up the big temple ( thanks to Sri Nagaswamy’s sir site

To him was born Arumolivarma, who with his long and beautiful arms bore the marks of sankha and cakra in his palms. He conquered the Ganga-s, Vanga-s, Kalinga-s, Magadha-s, Malava-s, Simhala-s, Andhra-s, Ratta-s (Rastrakuta-s) Odda-s (Orissans), Kataha-s, Kerala-s, Gauda-s and Pandya-s. By the wealth obtained through his conquests he erected at Tanjanagari (Tanjore) a very great temple (atyuttamam) named Rajarajesvaram
As you enter tanjore – you are greeted by this – the towering Vimaana ( Vimaana is on top of the main Idol, Gopuram is on top of the outer walls/compound – most south indian temple gopurams are taller than the vimaana, Raja Raja’s tanjore temple and his illustrious son Rajendra’s Gangaikonda cholapuram being one of few exceptions – why ??) – we go nearer in the next post..

4 thoughts on “The BIG temple – an intro post

  1. I thought the tradition of building gopuram taller than main shikhara/vimaana became popular only during vijayanagara period. can you give me some example of chola temple where original gopuram was taller than shikhara?

    Btw this is a great site. I appreciate the effort that took to get all the pictures and detailed explanations. I will go through all the posts.

  2. cholargal perumai pattri kettukonde erukalam. aanal ADITHYA KARIKALAN, kalki avargala edu enai elladha veeran, cholar kulathil evanai pondra veeran evanukku mun pirandhadhum ellai , pirakka povadum ellai yendrellam padhivu seigirar. appadipatta veerananin varalaru peridhaga therindhu kolla mudiya villaye . kaaranam yenna maraikka pattadha, alla chola kullathleye marukka pattadha…

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