Our Heritage Temple – The Big Tanjavur temple
Onam Vacations. My kids are excited to make the most of the vacations this time. As part of the outing, we planned a visit to the Tanjavur temple in Tamil Nadu. It was in addition to the visit to National College, Trichy for my wife’s (Bindu V.A) research in Mathematics courtesy through Ma’am Manju Somanath; who is a mathematics faculty at this college and a big contributor to Mathematics research.
As is evident in most mathematicians, there is an inborn trait to be excellent in their areas and Ramanujan’s Number theory allures to most of them. These teachers, faculties, professors are no exception. They fall to the temptation of being a part of this theory and strive to do their part. With a couple of days gone in the college and research work; we finally made it to Tanjavur, visiting the shrines of Parvati amma, Lord Shiva and Lord Muraga on the way. A little after noon, we reached Tanjavur. Lo and behold, the sight is magnificent even from a distance. No wonder it is included as a heritage site and one of the most magnificent architecture structures of the Chola dynasty.
At first as we made it to the grand structure, we thought of going through the temple all by ourselves. Looking at the huge relics and sculptures we had to cover, we took the assistance of a guide and sure we did not repent the decision. He took us through the 3 temple structures in increasing order of size until we reach the third and the tallest of the structure; which is home to the big Shivalinga.
Every carving, and sculptures of Gods and Goddess holds a special meaning and we could get it only with the inputs of the guide who painstakingly took us to each spot and each angle to give a different view of the magnificience. A look at the structure/ temple reveals the work put in to put it all together. Every detail is worth understanding and the pains taken to erect this imposing temple. The Nandi at the entrance intimidates you. It sure does. After all we associate it to our Lord Shiva, whom we affectionately call as Bam Bam Bhole, Mahadev. The adjectives just go on and on.
Some interesting facts about the Tanjavur temple.
- Built in the 11th Century by the Chola dynasty, who enjoyed a dominance in the region and whose empire stretched the whole of middle India, South India, the asian countries Malaysia, Singapore.
- Towards the 17th Century, Marathas owned this region and the influence is evident in the paintings the adore the roofs of the second temple structure. The paintings are made from natural colors extracted from plants and flowers. It is scintillating.
- The Marathas have also added to the divinity of the temple by erecting a Maharashtrian architecture Vinayaka temple. It is evident by the Vinayaka which looks more Elephant God. The difference in the Northern and Southern Vinayaka is that the Northern Vinayak has the trunk coming out from between the eyes as is seen in the elephants and the eyes are slanting upwards at the sides; while the South Indian Vinayaka has its trunk beginning from the head region and the eyes are normal aligned.
- Around the temple there are Nandi’s placed around the high walls which kept the marauding invaders away. The moat around is closed though and filled up; but it sure served its purpose in those days. There are 1008 Nandi’s around on this wall. 1+0+0+8 gives us 9 which is the number associated with the NavaGraha.
- In the inner third temple towards the entrance are 251 Shiva Lingas smaller in size. 2+5+1 gives us 8 and the one BIG SHIVALINGA in the Sanctum Sanctum of the third temple gives us 1 to add, making it 9 again associated with the NavaGraha.
- The intricate carved dome or the Vimana as is called is carved out of single stone structure and weights an imposing 81 tons. 8+1 gives us 9 again the NavaGraha number.
These calculations gives us an insight into the belief the ancient Indians carried with them and the respect they had for the Nature and its structures. They lived in sync with mother nature. They lived in tandem with the forces of nature. They cared for nature. They considered mother nature above everything else.
Friends, a visit to Tanjavur is worth a try. Go ahead and plan your journey. Next on my list is gonna be the Madurai Meenakshi temple, another Grand structure that complements the Tanjavur. Travelling in your own vehicle will add more fun. The roadways of Tamilnadu is simply amazing. Cheers to ’em.