Volume 62 Number 1, September 2010

The Great Temple at Thanjavur: One Thousand Years, 1010–2010 (Reprint 2017)

By: George Michell, Indira V. Peterson
Photographs by: Bharath Ramamrutham
Binding: Hardcover
Specifications: 188 pages, 185 illustrations
ISBN: 978-93-80581-01-9
Dimensions: 305 x 241 mm

A thousand years ago, the Brihadishvara temple at Thanjavur was consecrated by Rajaraja I Chola. This visionary monarch was the sponsor of what may be regarded as the greatest Hindu monument in the Tamil country. This prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site is the supreme achievement of the Chola era and one of the greatest masterpieces of Hindu architecture and art in India. The volume also draws attention to the contributions of later Nayaka and Maratha patrons in the 16th to 19th centuries. All phases of the temple’s history are presented in this volume, which offers for the first time a comprehensive account of its architecture, sculptures, paintings, and historical records, as well as its ritual and cultural life.

George Michell trained as an architect and then studied Indian archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. With John Fritz he co-directed an investigative project with an international team of architects and archaeologists at Hampi-Vijayanagara. He has edited numerous Marg volumes, including Temple Towns of Tamil Nadu, New Light on Hampi, and Banaras: The City Revealed. Among his other publications is Architecture and Art of Southern India: Vijayanagara and the Successor States in the New Cambridge History of India series.
Indira Viswanathan Peterson is David B. Truman Professor Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts. A specialist in Sanskrit and Tamil literature and South Indian history, she has published widely, including Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints, and articles in previous Marg volumes: Eternal Kaveri, Chidambaram: Home of Nataraja, and Portraits in Princely India 1700–1947. Her most recent research is on literature and culture in Thanjavur in the Maratha period. Her monograph Serfoji II of Tanjore: Enlightenment, Modernity, Cosmopolitanism is forthcoming.

Foreword by S. Babaji Rajah Bhonsle

Preface and Acknowledgements

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Rajarajeshvaram: The Temple of Rajaraja’s Lord Under the Later Cholas, Pandyas, and Nayakas

The Marathas, the British, and the Brihadishvara

Architectural Design, Construction, and Symbolism

Art Traditions

DESCRIPTION OF THE TEMPLE

Arched Gateway, Gopuras, and Compound Walls

Nandi Pavilion and Dhvaja-Stambha

Main Temple: Architecture

Main Temple: Sculptures

Main Temple: Murals

Brihannayaki and Nataraja Shrines

Chandikeshvara Shrine

Subrahmanya Shrine

Ganapati and Karuvur Devar Shrines

Colonnade

APPENDICES

Chronology of Thanjavur Rulers

Summary of Constructional History

Note on Recent Conservation by Sathyabhama Badhreenath

Inscriptions

Literary References

Glossary

Select Bibliography

Index

The Great Temple At Thanjavur: One Thousand Years, 1010-2010
Michell, George and Peterson, Indira Viswanathan
Vol. 62 No. 1, September 2010, ISBN: 978-93-80581-01-9, pp. 1–188

A thousand years ago, the Brihadishvara temple at Thanjavur was consecrated by Rajaraja I Chola. This visionary monarch was the sponsor of what may be regarded as the greatest Hindu monument in the Tamil country. The genius of Rajaraja’s architect, who conceived and executed this stupendous structural feat, and the multifarious talents of the artists employed to work on its stone carvings and mural paintings, are still apparent today. The temple is the supreme achievement of the Chola era and one of the greatest masterpieces of Hindu architecture and art in India. The book also draws attention to the contributions of later Nayaka and Maratha patrons in the 16th to 19th centuries. All phases of the temple’s history are presented in this volume, which offers a comprehensive account of its architecture, sculptures, paintings, and historical records as well as its ritual and cultural life.