There are many myths surrounding the Big temple – from the claim that its shadow never falls on the ground ( it does!!), to that its top is made of single block of stone weighing XX tonnes ( its multiple blocks), that its builder Raja Raja built it to get cured of black leprosy etc.
In my intro post on the tanjore big temple, i had mentioned about this particular picture in this lovely site ( but my views slightly differ from what is shown in this picture alone)
I take the above for a critical analysis, with some help from friends – Sri Kudavoil Balsubramaniam sir, gracefully allowed me to share these pictures ( for those of you who have not met him in person, here is a chance to see him) and also Mr. Shriram – shared his excellent closeup of the replaced nandhi and the Vimanam Nandhi’s
Lets first look at the claim on the size of the vimaanam nandhi in the site above. The Nandhi thats on the side corridor is actually the original nandhi installed by Raja Raja. This was later replaced during Nayak times with the now signature black one. ( why was it replaced ! maybe it suffered some damage during Malik Kafur’s infamous raids) – but why is it still retained – need to check. The person next to it is the great man himself – Balu sir. Am putting it not only this, but for you to judge the size of the Nandhi.
Now lets, look at the Vimanam. One is the closeup from Shriram and another is a long shot and a very important one for this post – from Balu sir – taken during the consecration ceremony. It clearly shows us the comparison against the person on the scaffolding.
Lets just zoom in on the pictures and analyse them to scale with the person standing below on the scaffolding as a guide.
Its clear that the Nandhi on the corridor is atleast a foot taller and different stylistically to the one on the vimana. However, it doesnt take any credit away from the size of Raja Raja pinnacle – giving you an idea of its massive dimensions. Just take a minute to sequentially view these amazing captures of the Maha Meru.