September 29, 2016

The Great South Indian Roadtrip : Tanjavur

The final stopover of our south India roadtrip was the ancient city of Tanjavur. And this city is predominantly famous for the temple which has entered into the UNESCO world heritage site. This temple along with 2 other temples in the vicinity are collectively known as Great Chola Living temples, "living" because these temple are still functioning unlike majority of other Indian temples which have the  UNESCO tag. We decided to visit only the temple within the city, known as Brihadeshwara Temple or known simply as The Big temple. And yes, it does live up to its tag of the "Big Temple" , because this temple was HUGE !!!!!.

Outer Walls and Nandi 
We visited the temple in the evening. Hence we got the day and the night views which were both spectacular. There are many huge temple complexes in India, but I had never seen the main temple to be of such size and proportion. The main temple houses a huge Shiva Linga under the gigantic gopuram. Everything is of enormous size here, glorifying the legacy of the Chola empire. This 1000 year temple has 3 layers of outer walls, each having a spectacular gopuram to enter. There is also a huge Nandi statue right in front of the main temple. By nightfall the temple is lit by huge halogen lamps giving it a completely different feel. One of the must visit places in Tamil Nadu for sure.

Darbar Hall

The following day our next stop was the Maratha Palace. Prior to visiting Tanjore I was unaware of the fact that the Maratha Kings had conquered so far south. There are a lot of places to visit around the palace, and it is worthwhile to visit these places only once. First we entered the Saraswathi Library which housed a lot of old manuscripts and had a pretty good collections of books, paintings, coins etc. Second was the Darbar hall, which was not maintained as it should have been. There is a museum. Some sections of the museum were pretty decent, but the other sections had completed gone to the dogs, especially the hall housing the huge skeleton of whale. There is a huge bell tower and unfortunately one is not allowed to go up. Sadly there was graffiti everywhere and it was heartening to see the off limit areas free from these pests.

We left Tanjavur and started our final leg towards Bangalore. But not before we made a detour to Srirangam near Trichy. Srirangam is one of the largest temple complexes in the world, second only to the Angkor Wat and that makes it the worlds largest functioning temple complex. Moving from one of the largest temple in the world to one of the largest temple complex in the world :). The temple has 7 concentric walls which needs to be crossed to enter the temple. But even though the sprawling Vishnu temple was huge , there was no wow factor like the Brihadeshwara temple in Tanjore. There are temple after temple inside this complex and the whole architecture seemed a bit haphazard and not grandiose. And having been already saturated with an overdose of temples during this trip, we didnt spend more than an hour at this place. And finally it was a long drive all the way back to Bangalore , with the some good roads enroute !!!!

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