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Picture of The Great Temple at Thanjavur

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

Price:   Rs 2500 (INR) / $68 (USD)
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 Indian 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 Tajore: Enlightenment, Modernity, Cosmopolitanism is forthcoming. 

    Foreword by S. Babaji Rajah Bhonsle

    Preface and Acknowledgements


    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


    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



    Chronology of Thanjavur Rulers

    Summary of Constructional History

    Note on Recent Conservation by Sathyabhama Badhreenath


    Literary References


    Select Bibliography