A rare visit to Tanjore & Namakkal in Tamilnadu

Tamilnadu, a state in India, is steeped in history and rich in culture and heritage. Shaped by the able reigns of the Chera, Chola & Pandiya dynasties, Tamilnadu has a diverse legacy of iconic temples that are architectural marvels. Being a south Indian and married into a south Indian family my access to some of the famous cities and towns of South India has always been easy. Two such towns that I would recall now are Tanjore & Namakkal.

Right from my early days, I was fascinated by the intricate architecture and structure of a south Indian temple. Usually, it is the temple town of Madurai that comes to anybody’s memory whenever Tamilnadu is referred. However, Tanjore or locally known as “Tanajvur” has a temple that would literally raise your eyebrows and leave you awestruck.

I got a chance to visit Tanjore when I went down south to attend a family function. Since we had spare time, my wife who is an avid traveler herself recommended that we go to Tanjore and visit the famous “Brihadeesawara” temple. We started from Trichy which was my wife’s native place in a cab and rode to Tanjore.

The “Brihadeeswara” temple was built in 1010 A.D. by Raja Raja Chola. This is the world’s first granite temple and is a brilliant example of the heights achieved by the Chola dynasty in temple architecture. This temple is a major tourist attraction and draws hordes of eager visitors from the length and breadth of the country.

As soon as you enter the temple walls, you simply go back in time. Giant walls built with granite guard the main temple like a fortress. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shiva. As mentioned the temple is very popular for being an architectural marvel and surprises many for the intricacies achieved in those times.

 ” The massive Linga was inspired by Rajaraja’s quest to have a even bigger MAHALINGA, after seeing the Thiruvidaimaruthoor Mahalingam.” 

Brihadeeswara Temple

One very popular fact about this temple is that the due to its height, the shadow of the gopuram (the temple structure on top) will never fall on the ground. Right opposite to the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum is the giant Nandi, remaining at the disposal of the god almighty.

My wife and I were also amazed to see a ring made of stone which was inserted into another ring made of stone and all of it done in one piece. On the temple walls at the entrance, we also noticed engravings in the local dialect. After some customary photographs, we eventually took leave from the temple. Overall, it was an enriching experience to have been in the compounds of a historic place like this temple which is also now a world heritage sight.

With the visit to Tanjore safely secured in our memories, the next place that we visited was Namakkal. In Namakkal, we had my wife’s uncle who’s family was the caretaker of the main temple. Now, Namakkal is neither a very famous place nor does it have any monument that it can boast of as a world heritage. But it is equally resplendent with the serene and laidback temperament of a south Indian town. The main temple of Namakkal is very old and is made of stone. The presiding deities of this temple are Lakshmi-Narasimhan (the lion god). I had a great time feasting my camera over the many intricate facades of the temple.

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