Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The wonder that is Rajarajesvaram

Read this in The Hindu editorial two days back:

Only a few monuments of global importance have received the kind of attention the Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur has from historians, archaeologists, artists, dancers, and epigraphists alike. The grandest of South Indian temples, an architectural masterpiece, enters its millennium year in 2010 — an occasion to celebrate its importance and contribution to world heritage. The monumental scale, clarity in design, and structural innovations set it apart from all other temples. When Rajaraja I, the illustrious Chola emperor (985-1014 CE), completed the building of the temple in 1010, it far exceeded anything that was built before. The high point of design is the vimana (tower over sanctum). This unusually tall vimana was a structural innovation of the first rank. Designing a 60-metre-tall tower was a great challenge that was ingeniously resolved. For the first time in temple history, a double-walled sanctum that coalesces at the third tier to support the tower was built. On top of good design, the choice of granite contributed to its endurance. About 50,000 cubic metres of granite were utilised to build this complex. This was a stupendous effort considering that there was no granite quarry in the surrounding region.

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