Friday, 2 October 2015


2nd October 2015.
The details of the temple is covered  first and the history of the temple, Donations, Administrations, operation of the temple are written  at the end of this post. I tried to write all the details, which I had seen at the temple and if anything is omitted/ wrong,  request the readers to correct me. I extend my sincere thanks to Mr SPS, Mr Venkatesh, Mr Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan and the organizers / participants of the Ponniyin Selvan Group to given me the opportunity to see the beauty of this un imaginable temple constructed more than 1000 years before by Rajarajan, without any present technical equipment. I salute Chozha king Rajarajan and his team of people for given us this treasure and feel us proud.
The view of the Periya Koil - Big Temple from main road
Thanjavur Big Temple alias Periya Koil is one of the UNESCO Heritage monument sites under ‘ Living Chozha  Temples’.  This temple's permanent trustee is Sri E Babaji Rajah Bonsley B.E. ( the heir of the Marata kings family ) This temple is located in the heart of the city Thanjavur,  with an easy access from Railway station and Old Bus Stand. Thanjavur is also called as Thanjai or  Tanjore. It was believed that the name Thanjavur is derived  like Than+ Sei+ oor  and it has become Thanjavur. Another story is  a demon by name Thanjan, who was killed by Kodiamman and he prayed amman that this place should be called after him before dying.  Rajaraja Chozhan’s inscription says that this place was called as Thanjavur.  This is one of the Sundarar Devaram Padal Petra Vaipu sthalam.

Iraivan : Sri Rajarajechvaramudayar, Sri Rajarajeechvaramudaya Paramswamy, Sri Periya Udaya Nayanar, Sri Brihadeeswaraswamy, Sri Peruvudayar, Sri Periya Sivanar .
Iraivi    : Sri Ulakamuzhuthudaya Nachiyar, Sri Periya Nayagi, Sri Rajarajeswari, Sri Brihan Nayagi.
The temple was built like a fort and river water flows all round forms like an agazhi.
The Rajagopuram was built in Marati style with not much of sudhai sirpangal. Vinayagar sannadhi is on the  left and Murugan sannadhi is on right side of Rajagopuram entrance. On the top Shiva with Parvathi, Vinayagar and other moorthis in standing posture.  

This is the second Rajagopuram after  Marati’s entrance gopuram. This was built in memory of the victory at Kanthalur Salai ( near Trivandrum). This is 97 feet 2 inches length, 55 feet and 9 inches wide and 110 feet height. This has 5 tiers. The side pillars are single stone measuring  4 feet x 4 feet and 40 feet high ( do not know the length below the ground).  The side walls were constructed using different shapes of stones without using mortar in the joints. The Gopuram was constructed in such a way the air can be circulated inside the tower. Dhakshinamoorthy ( South ) and Brahma ( North )  shrines are constructed on the tower it self, which are little protruding from the main tower.  ( the present Dhakshinamoorthy sannadhi was constructed latter ).  It was learned through Mr Kudavayil Balasubramaniyam that regular poojas were conducted earlier. Brahma is in sitting posture with  eight hands with beard. This is of Kouda dhesa style and he is also a called as Velvi Nayagan with ghee spoon.   

 Lord Shiva’s oorthuva thandavam
Kali’s dance 
Dhakshinamuthy sannadhi in Keralanthan Rajagopuram 
The 4 feet x 4 feet x 40 feet pillar of Rajagopuram with pothyal to suuprt the rajagopuram load 
Non uniform stones are used for the  construction without binding mortar 
This rajagopuram is of 3 tiers and the height is 78 feet. Arunagirinathar has sung Thirupukzhl in praise of Murugan and Valli devayanai  of this tower, since there was no separate sannadhi  for Murugan at the time. 20 feet high dwarabalakars are on both sides of Rajagopuram. On one of the dwarabalas (below foot ) we can see the relief of snake swallowing elephant and a crocodile.  There are 2 nos of 4x4 feet and 40 feet high pillars to support the vimanam at the centre. On the left reliefs of Shiva and Parvathy marriage and  Markandeyar History.  On the right side, reliefs of Valli Devasena Murugan, Kiratharsuniya history( Arjunan’s dhabas to get the Pasupatha astharam), Kamathakana are there. Sudhai sirpam of Sevvappa Nayakar worshiping Mrugan on elephant is at third level.

 Shiva as hunter fights with Arjunan in a story to get pasupatha asthram from Lord Shiva ( கிரதார்ஜுனிய காட்சி )
  Lord Shiva is going for the marriage with Parvathy - the relief related to Sundarar's Devara pathikam. - On the top பெண்கள் பலிபெய்ய இடபத்தின் மீது அமர்ந்து உண்ணும் ஈசனார் 
The view of Kaman being burnt (காமதகன காட்சி ) 

The inscriptions are not legible and the reproduction is given below  about gold plated to the Vimanam this is the first temple with gold plated in the world.  

Moolavar is very big on a big avudayar with padma pedam. Since the Banam is huge in size Shiva lingam was installed first and the Sri Vimanam was constructed latter. Moolavar banam  is of 16 feet & 8 inches tall, the banam  circumference is 23 feet 6 inches, the avudayar circumference is 55 feet and padma pedam is 50 feet 6 inches circumference.  The sanctum was built with two tiers with Santharam. The walls are 30 feet ( 11 feet outer then santharam is of 6 feet and inner wall thickness is of 13 feet). In the first level Santharam painting were drawn and in the second level Rajarajan tried to install 108 karanas of Shiva’s dance, but able to finish only 81. ( Drawings and karanas deatails are written in a separate Post. For details please : CLICK HERE  CLICK HERE  )
In Koshtam the moorthmas of Thatpurusan, Vishnu anugraha murthy, Agorar, Ayudhapurusar & Sakthi devar ( South side dwarabalakars), Kalabairavar, Natarajar, Hariharar, Linghothbavar, Parasuthevar & Sulathevar ( west side Dwarabalakars), Sathyojathar, Chandrasekarar, Arthanareeswarar, Gangadharar, Kadkathevar & Thuvajadevar ( north side dwara balakars.), Vamathevar, Gowreeprasathar,  Chandran and Thiripuranthakar.  There are 10 dwarabalakar in which 4 are at the  arthamandapam entrance, both north and sout  and the balance 6 are on the three side windows. These dwarabalakars were damaged during Muslims invasion and the damaged portions were reconstructed ( The sad thing is there were not given with the correct astarams/ weapons –  as per Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan).  There are three  windows on each side of first level and second level  for air circulation in the santharam and natural lighting. It was told that  during sun set sunrays used to fall on moolavar through the west side window.  The space above moolavar was open during construction. Now the same is constructed with madras type terrace false ceiling.
Kailash replica was constructed on the east side, hence Sri Vimanam is also called as Dhakshin meru or Golden Meru. This is of two levels. On the three sides of second level Koshta moorthakal are with bow & arrow. Shiva, Dhakshinamoorthy, Thirumal and Brahma moorthams are also there.  The Sri Vimanam is of 13 tiers and the height is 216 feet. ( During British period the height of the vimanam was measured using theodolite and during this process the instrument had fallen down from top and got damaged ).  The top globe shape stone structure weighs approximately 80 tonnes is of  not a single stone and constructed with many pieces,  as per Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan.
 Mahamandapam with sri vimanam view before and after invasion 
Construction of Sri Vimanam 
 Mahamandapam with sri vimanam view
 Pitchadanar and Akorar
 Temple view from North 
European ( man with hat ) on Sri Vimanam  

 Sri Vishnu and Ganapathy in the niches of Mahamandapam 
 The way to Santharam
Moolavar sannadhi komugam 
 The shadow of Sri Vimanam kalasam is falling on the ground
This mandapam is supported by  4 nos of 20 feet stone pillars. Cheppu and stone small Nandhis   are there and facing Moolavar. Steps are constructed on south  and North side  to reach arthamandapam.
On the side of steps reliefs of Sandesaaugraha murthy, Dhakshan’s head chopping by Shiva, Thiripuranthaka story, in which Lord Vishnu as Buddha and preaches to Thiripranthaka Asuras, etc,.
 Vishnu Anugraha murthy – on the left Chozha kings Rajarajan ( on the top ) and Rajendran ( below) 
 Lord Shiva and Parvathy Marriage
  Alingna murthy 
Vishnu as Buddha advises Thiripuranthaka asuras
 Thiripuranthakam was burned by Lord Shiva and the three asuras/demons  worshiping Lord Shiva 
 Shiva as Thirpuranthakar on a chariot  to burn Thiripuram and Brahma as Charioteer 
 A rare relief of  Parvathy is near Nandhi and Shiva is sitting 

 Dhakshan’s head was chopped by Lord Shiva 
Devars and cows running in fear of muppuram - முப்புரங்கள் பறந்து வந்து தாக்க விண்ணவரும் பசுக்களும் பயந்து ஓடும் காட்சி ) 
 Lord Shiva as hunter fights with Arjauna in the story of getting Pasupatha astharam 
Sandesaanugraha murthy - சிவனாரும் உமையும் அமர்ந்து சண்டீசர் தலையில் மாலை சுற்றும் காட்சி 
Mahamandapam was initially constructed with three floors and supported by 100 and odd pillars. The two floors has been destroyed during invasion and  only one floor was reconstructed  during 16th century. Some of the pillars with inscriptions used are from other destroyed temples. During reconstruction the mahamandapam was divided in to two portions.  One portion has square simha pillars of Pallava period ( might have brought from other destroyed temples ). The entrance to the mahamandapam was constructed with 16 pillars.  During Nayaks period thirupani 12 feet dwarabalakars are installed at the entrance.
The muka mandapam called Bramachi Nayakkar mandapam was built by Pachayappa Nayakar one of the officer of Bramachi Nayakar, during 16th century.  Saraboji, a Marata  king constructed the steps for this muka mandpam. There are two 18 feet Dwarabalakars at the entrance. On the left side of dwarabalakar foot ( below) the relief of snake swallowing the elephant is worth to see and the same was mentioned in Thiruganasambandar’s hymn.  
 Dwarabalakar in front of Mallappa naikar Mandapam entrance – see the relief of Snake swallowing an elephant  
 Dwarabalakar in front of Mallappa naikar Mandapam entrance – see the relief of Snake swallowing an elephant  
 Kodungai of Mallappa Naikar mandapam entrance 
Kodungai of Mallappa Naikar mandapam entrance 
This sannadhi was built by Rajaraja Chozhan like a separate temple.

This temple was built during 14th century by Pandya Kings. The king’s image is in the mahamandapam left wall. As per Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan, it was believed that the Ambal moortham was brought from Rajaraja Chozhan’s parivara temple. Front mandapam with 38 pillars was constructed during 15th century by the Vijaya Nagara Kings. Instead of Simha vahanam a small nandhi mandapam was also built in front of temple.  In the year 1779 silver kavasam  weighing 15 ser, was donated by Marata king Second Thulaja. The reliefs on the pillars are worth to see. The mandapam ceiling was painted with beautiful pictures.
 Ambal sannadhi 
Nandhi Mandapam instead of simha vahanam 
 Ambal sannadhi  
Sudhai sirpam of a hunter on a Vilva tree fearing for a tiger. He does Pooja by dropping vilva leaves  on Shiva Lingam  without knowing on a Shiva Rathri day  and got the blessings of lord Shiva 
 Shiva  Pandya king who constructed the Ambal temple
The Tub made of stone used store water for Abhishekam 
The temple is on the north west direction with vimanam Idainazhi, Arthamandapam and muka mandapm. This was built during 16th century by Sevvappa Nayakkar. During Arunagiri Nathar’s visit he has sung on Murugan of Rajagopuram. The steps are built with elephant and yazhi. In moolavar koshtam 52 styles of Murugan sudhai sirpangal.  Moolavar is with 6 faces sitting on peacock vahanam.

Subramaniyar sannadhi with Sri Vimanam view 
 Yazhi on the top and elephant on the bottom  in the steps to Subramaniyar Sannadhi 

 Narasimhar in one of the niches of Subramaniyar sannadhi 
 Komukam of Subramaniyar sannadhi 
 52 styles of Murugan sudhai sirpangal on the top of Subramaniyar sannadhi.
 Mahisan vatham by Durgai 

Mahisan vatham by Durgai 

In front of Sri Subramaniyar mukka mandapam there is a mandapam called Sevvappa Naikar mandapam with 32 pillars. Mallappa Naikars sirpam is also there in the mandapam. During Saraboji Kings period he closed the side walls and a separate steps are provided.
a relief on the entrance pillar 
 Mallappa Naikar mandapam steps – the elephant 
Mallappa Naikar mandapam steps – the elephant- see the ropes  
This mandapam was built  during Sevvappa Naikar’s period on his wife’s name and stones were donated by Puliyurar, who also donated stones for Mallappa Naikar Mandapam. The Natarajar is one of the surviving cheppu thirumeni made during Chozha dynasty. Once the Cheppu thirumeni base was damaged, the same was rectified and installed back during 1884 AD by King Shivaji’s wife Kamatchiamba Baayisakeb. ( the inscriptions are at the base  of Natarajar).

The present nandhi is under 16 pillar mandapam on a 5 feet raised platform. The nandhi is made of single stone of 18 feet in length, 8 feet wide and 12 feet high. This was built during Nayak’s period after replacing the original Nandhi installed by Rajarajan ( the reason for replacing is not known ). The original Nandhi was moved to South side prakaram near Vaaraki Saanadhi.  On pillars relief of Nayak Kings who built the Nandhi & Mandapam. There is a hear say that after installing the Nandhi,  it started growing. Fearing of damage to the mandapam, authorities  nailed on the Nandhi and after that it stopped growing. ( There is a story of “Therai” also). The Ceilings of Nandhi amndapam  was painted ( Birds, Flowers, Angels and flowers false ) beautifully during  British rule. The Dwajasthambam and palipedam are in front of Nandhi mandapam.
The old and original nandhi installed by Rajarajan is kept in the South side corridor - in front of Vaaraki sannadhi 

 Nandhi mandapam with Dwajasthambam view

 The Nayak Kings who built the Nandhi mandapam

Vinayagar sannadhi is on the south west corner of the prakaram. This sannadhi was built in the year AD 1801 by Second Marata King Saraboji.

Originally Pooja was conducted to Dhakshinamoorthy sannadhi, which is an integral part of Keralanthakan Rajagopuram. About 150 years before a separate sannadhi was constructed abutting south side of Sri Vimanam.
This sannadhi is on the north west corner of Sri Vimanam before Subramaniyar Sannadhi. This might be built about 90 years before.
 Karuvurar sannadhi
Karuvurar sannadhi
This sannadhi was built during 20th century. It was believed that Saptha kanniyar sannadhi was in this place. Anjeneyar moortham is on opposite.
This sannadhi is in the Peruvudayar muka mandapam and it was said the he is the parivara Shethrabalar, as per Kudavayil Balasubramaniyan.
This sannadhi is on the left side of muka mandapam of Peruvudayar temple.  Arulmozhi is one of the name to King Rajarajan.

Rajarajan ordered his captain Krishnan Raman alias Mummudi Chozha Bramarayan, to construct this prakaram with two floors and the same  was destroyed during Muslims invasion. One floor was reconstructed  latter. This prakaram is 800 feet length on North – South direction and 400 feet length on east- west direction.  The height of the compound walls are 50 feet high. The prakaram mandapam was supported by 368 pillars, once housed Enthisai balakar sannadhis, 26 parivara sannadhis. But now it houses only  Vinayagar, Nagarajar, Agni, Varunan and  Eesanan. The Corridor on a raised platform  from the ground level. The fragments and debris  generated  during carving of pillars and stones are used to fill up the elevated level of the corridor. The south and west side up to Varunan Sannadhi Marati inscriptions are there. On the Corridor walls from Varunan to north side wall  Nayak’s period paintings are there.(For details Please CLICK HERE  ) 
Apart from this there are some sannadhis  and  moothams installed in the prakaram and Temple premises.108 Shiva Lingas, 241 small Shiva Lingas, Naalvar, Durgai, Bairavi, Suryan, Vinayagars in Keralanthakan Rajagopuram,  2 Vinayagar on the left side of Peruvudayar sannadhi arthamandapam,
 Old Nandhi in the South side corridor in front of Vaaraki sannadhi 

 Marathi inscriptions 

 Urchavar vahanam 

 Vinayagar ( In parivara sannadhi)

108 Shiva lingas 

  1. The temple is kept open between 0.6 Hrs to 12.30 Hrs and 16.00 Hrs to 20.30 Hrs
  1. The temple office phone number is +91 9751341108 and land line number is 04362 274476
  1. Thanjavur is well connected by bus from all the head quarters of Tamil Nadu districts.
  2. 1.5 KM distance from Old bus stand, where autos are available.
This great temple was built by The Great Chozha King Rajarajanand his parents are Sundara Chozhan and Vanavan Madevi. During child hood he was called as Arunmozhidevan. He was brought up by his Sister Kundhavai Piratti and his elder grand mother Sembiyan Madevi.  His Guru was Eesana Sivapandithar. He had 11 wives and Vanavan Madhevi was the mother of Rajendra Chozhan who constructed the Gangaigonda Chozhapuram temple. He ruled the Chozha kingdom during CE  985 to 1014. He was called in 42 different names ( Mei keerthi ). This temple was built between CE 1003 to 1010. 
Rajarajan played a key role in constructing the 5 more temple of which one is a Pallipadai temple for his grand father Arinjaya Chozhan.  It was believed that he might have died in the year CE 1014, since there after only his son Rajendra Chozhan’s inscriptions are available.
The chief Architect of this temple was Rajaraja Perunthachan and his assistants are Madhuranthagan alias Nithavinodha Perunthachan and Ilathi Sadayan alias Kandarathitha Perunthachan. The inscriptions were  cut by Sathankudi Vellalan Iravi Paalurudayan. King Rajarajan treated everybody equal, those who contributed for construction of this temple. He awarded the title of Rajarajan even to the low rank barber and ordered this to inscribe on the stone.
One of special feature of this temple is ‘Vaan Kailash’ . Replica of kailash with Shiva Parvathy, Munivars, Shiva ganas, Devars,  Munivars, etc., This is  on the east side of Rajagopuram above ardha mandapam. The temple is facing East with Sri Vimanam, Arthamandapam, maha mandapam and Mukappu mandapam. The Sri Vimanam was covered with gold plate the same was looted during Muslims invasion
The temple has Chozha, Pandya, Vijayanagara kings, Thanjai Nayakars and Marathis. These are known to this present world through Mr Hultzch  of Germany, who worked in  Madras state Epigraphy Dept., Sri Raobhadur Venkaya Naidu, Sri Rao Bhadur H Krishna Sastry, ASI New Delhi, Pulavar S Raju,  of Thanjavur Tamil University, Sri Nagaswamy, Sri Kudavayil Balasubramanian. Of the above the important inscriptions are  Gold Plate fitted to Sri Vimanam, Rajarajan’s Meikeerthi and the proof of the construction of this temple by Rajarajan.
During Rajarajan’s period the temple was maintained through different kinds of peoples, like Instruments players ( Udukkai, Ketti melam, Veena, Vocal, Conch, Sakadai, Vangiyam, Padaviyam), Dancers, Nattuvanars, Singers Vocal & Tamil, Kaantharvarkal, Supervisors, Head accountant, Asst Accountant, Lighting peoples, cleaners, water sprayers, Dhobis, Barbers, Tailors, Carpenters, Pot makers ( Kuyavars) etc,. The total no of persons works out to 1040. They were provided with accommodation and paddy was paid as a salary.  The quantity varies depends on the proficiency.
17 Villages were gifted to the temple and tax was collected in the form of paddy  which accounts to 59481 kalam 2 thooni 1 kurumani and 1 Nazhi. In terms of Gold 297 Kazhanchu, 4 manchadi, 3 maa mukkani was also collected ( Tax ), to the temple as income. Also paddy and Gold are collected as tax from 31 villages.
Rajarajan appointed Pandari, Parisarakar and accountants. For this he laid the rules and regulations.  Pandari ( Brahmans) – who takes care of Treasury, Parisaarakar ( Brahman bachelors ) – who helps for poojas, and accountants are called as karanathar ( Hope the present Karnams in villages are called by this name ). The total no of people works out to 192. They were paid with paddy as wages on year basis. In addition to this they were also paid coins depends on proficiency.
Meikappalars (  guards ) were appointed from various places of his kingdom ( One or two people from each village ). The total numbers works out to 122.
For neivedyam to Vinayagar 360 coins were deposited as Fixed Deposit and the interest of 1/8 coin was used to get 150 Bananas.   The 360 coins were collected as loan from 1. Thanjavurpurampadi Nitha Vinotha Perum Theru Nagarathar, 2. Mumudi Chozha Perum Nagarathar, 3. Veerasigamani Perumnagarathar and 4.Thiripuvana Madevi Perangadi Nagarathar. ( This shows that Nagarathars also in those days helped to perform regular poojas and their main business was lending money ).
To burn lamps in sannadhis of Periya Koil, Idayars were ordered to give 1 ulakku ghee for each day on contract basis. For this Rajarajan gave  96 goats or 48 cows or 16 buffalos for one lamp ( I ulakku ghee ) to the Idayars. ( Hope it was done in a better manner than this present Tamil Nadu Government’s vilaiyilla thittam ). He also named idayars  responsible for supply the Ghee to the temple. For this many people donated goats and cows. ( three goats for one coin ). It was estimated that 4000 goats, 100 cows and 100 buffalos were donated to supply ghee to the temple.   
Rajarajan donated Gold, Copper  and Silver idols to this temple for Urchavam etc,. On this Sri Pulithevar and Shethrabalathevar are made of Gold. From the inscriptions it was learned that the idols measurements were also mentioned.
Regarding vessels for Pooja necessary articles were given made of Gold, Silver and  copper. These are inscribed till his 29th year rule. Some of the gold and silver vessels were brought from Chera & Pandya kingdoms after defeating them in the war. These amounts to about 31 in gold and 155 in silver.
Poikai Nadu kizhavan Aathithan Suryan alias Thennavan Mooventhan Velalan also donated 10 idols, which includes Periya Perumal alias Rajaraja Chozhan.
Rajarajan’s captain Krishnan Raman alias Mumudi Chozha Brahmarayan also donated Arthanareeswarar idol with ornaments.
Second Saraboji king also donated vessels copper and silver and ornaments  made of Gold/ silver fitted  with precious stones like diamond, emerald etc,.
Rajarajan donated the ornaments brought from Cherar, Pandiyar, Malai Nattu kings, Melai Chalukyas after defeating them in the war. He also donated new ornaments. These amounts to 53 ornaments weighing 1783.5 Kazhanchu 7 maa ( equal to 3 kgs and 901 grams)

Rajarajan donated Copper vessels  weighing 3080 palam to install on the Sri Vimanam on 275th day of his  25th year rule to make the kalasam. He also donated 2926.5 kazhanchu gold to plate on the kalasam. By this Thanjavur Periya koil becomes the first temple with gold plating.  The inscription is on the pillar of south side of the pillar of Rajarajan Rajagopuram.


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