After watching "Ponniyin Selvan I" ~ a film by Mani Rathnam, I was inspired to go on a road trip across Tamilnadu, during my visit back home to India, a few months back. It had been 4 years since we had visited and this was a great way to bond with my folks.

The first stop on the road trip was the iconic Big Temple at Thanjavur, built by the legendary Chola King - Raja Raja Chola in 1010 CE. It's a UNESCO Heritage site and quite rightly so. It is a magnificent structure that has stood the test of time. It is a temple built out of solid rock without cement using the interlocking method.

I dragged my half-asleep parents to the Big Temple. And wow! As the light gradually came up, The Temple just came to life.

Sunrise at The Big Temple, Thanjavur

The Brihadeeswarar Temple was constructed by Raja Raja Cholan as an offering to Lord Shiva, utilizing rocks sourced from neighboring states. The process of sculpting these rocks took almost 25 years, and an additional 9 years were required to arrange them in the proper order. Overall, the construction of this magnificent structure took 34 years to complete.

The Big Temple, Thanjavur

We arrived in the middle of the Ayyappa Pilgrimage Season. So, the place quickly filled up with pilgrims making a pit stop at The Big Temple on the way to Sabarimala. Most of them were from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Ayyappa devotees at The Big Temple
Ayyappa devotees at The Big Temple

And then there was this young Bharathanatyam dancer from Bengaluru, who was paying his obeisance to the deity in his own way - He was oblivious to the stares from other devotees, as he danced. It was an amazing site!

Dancer at The Big Temple, Thanjavur
Dancer at The Big Temple, Thanjavur

It was a lively couple of hours at the temple. I did not get to go inside the temple, as photographs are not allowed inside the sanctum santorum.

It was truly mindblowing to see the scale of architecture and the intricacy of the sculptures. I would definitely want to go back to do a more leisurely walk around the temple, to capture the finer details. For those who are interested in the history and architecture of Ancient South India, this is a site not to be missed.

To check out the full selection of the photographs that I took at this location, do visit my gallery -

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