Brihadeshwara Temple: History, Timing, Best Time to Visit

The Brihadeshwara Temple, also known as the Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is a magnificent ancient temple located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. This architectural marvel stands tall as a testament to the artistic and engineering brilliance of the Chola dynasty. With its grandeur, intricate carvings, and spiritual significance, the Brihadeshwara Temple has captured the awe and admiration of visitors from around the world.

Historical Background

The Brihadeshwara Temple was built during the reign of the great Chola emperor, Raja Raja Chola I, in the 11th century AD. This period marked the height of Chola’s power and cultural achievements. The temple was constructed as a dedication to Lord Shiva and served as the center of religious and cultural activities during the Chola dynasty.

Architectural Significance

The Brihadeshwara Temple is renowned for its architectural brilliance, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple exemplifies Dravidian temple architecture, characterized by its towering vimana (shrine tower), intricate carvings, and ornate sculptures. The precision and attention to detail in the construction are remarkable, considering the temple’s age.

Intricate Carvings and Sculptures

One of the defining features of the Brihadeshwara Temple is its intricate carvings and sculptures. The outer walls of the temple are adorned with exquisite bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology, epics, and Chola history. These carvings serve as a visual narrative, telling stories that are both captivating and informative.

Temple Layout and Design

The temple follows a well-thought-out design plan. It consists of multiple enclosures, each serving a specific purpose. The outermost enclosure, known as the prakaram, houses smaller shrines dedicated to various deities. As one progresses inward, they encounter the inner prakaram, leading to the main shrine of Lord Shiva.

Main Sanctum and Deity

The main sanctum of the Brihadeshwara Temple houses a massive lingam, symbolizing Lord Shiva. The lingam is considered a sacred representation of the divine power and is a focal point of worship and devotion. Devotees gather here to offer prayers and seek blessings from Lord Shiva.

Nandi Statue

In front of the main sanctum, a colossal statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva’s sacred bull, captures attention. This monolithic statue is carved out of a single stone and stands as a guardian and devotee of Lord Shiva. The Nandi statue is a popular spot for visitors to seek blessings and capture memorable photographs.

Hall of a Thousand Pillars

Another remarkable feature of the Brihadeshwara Temple is the Hall of a Thousand Pillars. This mandapa (hall) showcases meticulous craftsmanship and houses intricately carved pillars. Despite the name, the actual count of pillars exceeds a thousand, with each pillar displaying unique designs and motifs.

Frescoes and Paintings

The temple is adorned with frescoes and paintings that once covered its walls and ceilings. Although some have faded over time, remnants of these vibrant artworks can still be seen. These frescoes depict various deities, celestial beings, and scenes from Hindu mythology, providing a glimpse into the artistic grandeur of the past.

Festival Celebrations

The Brihadeshwara Temple is a hub of religious festivities and celebrations. The annual festival of Maha Shivaratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva, attracts thousands of devotees from near and far. During this festival, the temple comes alive with vibrant processions, music, dance, and religious rituals, creating a truly enchanting atmosphere.

Preservation and Restoration Efforts

Recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the Brihadeshwara Temple, efforts have been made to preserve and restore its architectural splendor. Conservation projects and initiatives have been undertaken to protect the temple’s delicate carvings, sculptures, and frescoes, ensuring their longevity for future generations to admire.

Photos of Brihadeshwara Temple

Brihadeshwara Temple
Brihadeshwara Temple

How to Reach Brihadeshwara Temple

The Brihadeshwara Temple, located in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, is well-connected and easily accessible for visitors. Here are some ways to reach the temple:

1. By Air: The nearest airport to Thanjavur is Tiruchirappalli International Airport, located approximately 55 kilometers away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a pre-paid cab to reach Brihadeshwara Temple. The journey by road takes around 1-2 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

2. By Train: Thanjavur has its own railway station, well-connected to major cities in India. Regular trains operate from cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, and Madurai to Thanjavur. Once you reach the railway station, you can hire a taxi, auto-rickshaw, or take a local bus to reach the Brihadeshwara Temple, which is located in the heart of the city.

3. By Road: Thanjavur is well-connected by road networks, and buses ply regularly from various cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. State-run buses and private buses operate services to Thanjavur. You can also opt for self-drive or hire a taxi to reach the Brihadeshwara Temple. Major cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, and Madurai are easily accessible by road.

4. Local Transport: Once you reach Thanjavur, local transport options are available to reach the Brihadeshwara Temple. Auto-rickshaws and taxis are readily available for hire. Additionally, you can use local buses to reach the temple, as Thanjavur has a well-established public transportation system.

5. Landmarks and Directions: The Brihadeshwara Temple, also known as Peruvudaiyar Kovil, is a prominent landmark in Thanjavur. Most locals are familiar with its location, and you can ask for directions from nearby areas. Additionally, there are signboards and directions along the way to guide visitors to the temple.

Remember to plan your visit in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to avoid any inconvenience. It is advisable to check the temple’s opening hours and any restrictions in place before visiting.

Brihadeshwara Temple Timings

The Brihadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, follows specific timings for visitors. Here are the timings for darshan (viewing of the deity) and other activities at the temple:

1. Morning Timing: The temple opens in the morning for devotees and visitors at around 6:00 AM.

2. Afternoon Break: The temple remains closed for a few hours during the afternoon. Typically, the temple closes between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM.

3. Evening Timing: The temple reopens in the evening for darshan and other religious rituals. The evening timing is usually from 4:00 PM or 4:30 PM.

4. Closing Time: The temple closes for the day in the evening. The exact closing time may vary, but it is generally around 8:30 PM or 9:00 PM.

Local Legends and Beliefs

The Brihadeshwara Temple is steeped in local legends and beliefs that add to its mystical charm. Stories of miracles, divine interventions, and the temple’s spiritual significance have been passed down through generations, further amplifying the temple’s allure and attracting pilgrims and curious visitors alike.

Impact on Tourism

The Brihadeshwara Temple has emerged as a major tourist attraction, drawing art enthusiasts, history buffs, and spiritual seekers from all corners of the world. The temple’s architectural magnificence, cultural heritage, and spiritual ambiance contribute significantly to the tourism industry in the region, promoting economic growth and cultural exchange.

Nearest Places to Visit

Nearest Places to Visit from Brihadeshwara Temple
1. Thanjavur Palace and Art Gallery
2. Saraswathi Mahal Library
3. Schwartz Church
4. Sangeetha Mahal
5. Rajarajan Manimandapam
6. Thanjavur Royal Palace Museum
7. Punnainallur Mariamman Temple
8. Swami Malai Temple
9. Kumbakonam
10. Gangaikonda Cholapuram
11. Airavatesvara Temple
12. Darasuram
13. Thiruvaiyaru
14. Grand Anicut (Kallanai)
15. Alangudi Guru Bhagavan Temple


The Brihadeshwara Temple stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and architectural brilliance of ancient India. Its grandeur, intricate carvings, and spiritual significance continue to inspire awe and reverence. A visit to this divine abode offers a journey through time, connecting visitors with the legacy of the Chola dynasty and the deep-rooted spirituality of Tamil Nadu.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How old is the Brihadeshwara Temple?

The Brihadeshwara Temple was built in the 11th century AD during the reign of the Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I.

What is the significance of the lingam in the main sanctum?

The lingam in the main sanctum represents Lord Shiva and is a sacred symbol of divine power and energy.

Can visitors witness any festivals at the Brihadeshwara Temple?

Yes, the annual festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with great fervor at the Brihadeshwara Temple, attracting thousands of devotees.

Are there any preservation efforts to protect the temple’s artwork?

Yes, several conservation projects have been undertaken to preserve and restore the intricate carvings, sculptures, and frescoes of the temple.

How has the Brihadeshwara Temple impacted tourism in the region?

The temple has become a significant tourist attraction, promoting cultural exchange and contributing to the local economy.

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