Temple towns of Tamil Nadu-Thanjavur

Thanjavur is my personal favourite city in the Tamil Nadu. I am not sure what is it about the city, that draws me to it. Is it the temple with its beautiful architecture, or is it the paintings and sculptures or is it  the river Kaveri running by near the city, or the cultural richness of the city or simply I am nostalgic, because my previous visit with friends. I do have nostalgic memories of visiting the city with a group of friends in 90 s and being mesmerised with Brihadeshwarar Temple. The architecture of the temple is inexplicably exquisite and thus began my great love affair with Temple architectures. It is fondly called by the locals as Periya Kovil, which translated from Tamil simply means Big Temple. The temple is indeed massive  and hence the name. The temple was built by the Chola King by the name of Rajaraja Cholan, who having travelled extensively out of India,  was inspired by the Buddhist architecture. The architecture is evocative, it almost speaks, narrates a beautiful tale. I had the similar feeling when I visited the buildings  designed by Gaudi in Barcelona. There is no similarity in architecture nor are they  contemporary . It is an indescribable feeling , perhaps an admiration , an appreciation of ingenuity, the design tells a tale. The design and architecture are simply marvellous. And given the fact , that temple was constructed in 9th century AD, with such mathematical accuracy ,without compromising the  on scale or precision .There are many temples and  sculptures in Tamil Nadu and other parts of India, but there is a quality about the Big temple, which left me in awe. The deities’ in this temple are massive and huge,  unlike the other temples. I have not given the details about how much the stones weighed or how tall is the Vimana of the temple. These details are available on Wikipedia or on the temple’s website. It is an experience to visit and see the temple with your  own eyes. It is this experience that I wanted to revisit and the temple did not fail  me the second time. It is an absolute feast for the eyes, the temple walls are covered with inscriptions of tales of Rajaraja Cholan and his family, the names of architect and sculptors, who were involved in construction of the temple, how the stones were acquired or the techniques used in construction. The script on the walls is in an ancient Tamil dialect called Manipravala and can be read only by people who have the expertise in the said ancient dialect. The king is said to have been very illustrious and has inspired a set a five novels called “Ponniyin Selvan” written by Kalki. The novel is written in Tamil and narrates the story of Arul Mozhi Varman who later on became the King and was given the name of Rajaraja Cholan. I love the book, the narration is beautiful and those who love history would like this book, but like the temple the book is humungous.  Besides the temple, Thanjavur city is very culturally rich, and is famous for its paintings and Bronze Sculptures. There is a library which has preserved the old manuscripts, books, and  some old paintings. The library though is  small, but I enjoyed visiting it. It is like seeing the past or the history through a small key hole or a window, a  tiny glimpse of vast  culturally rich past, lost in the time, yet somehow a  small fragment managed to survive for you to have a look at it. What is the point in looking back at history, and in past ?  as many wise men have pointed out. I regard history as a rich tapestry woven together by humans, woven together with colours, arts,stories, truths,lies, deceits, battles, conquests, mistakes, death,destruction, religion, lives and above all the human quality of learning and unlearning the same thing and then starting all over again to learn. History fascinates me. Each to his/her own choice. I enjoyed and cherished my holiday in Thanjavur.


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