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In the sleepy town of Thanjavur in the heart of South India lies a UNESCO world heritage monument, one of the most famous and largest temples in existence today. Popularly called the “big temple” its original name was “Rajarajeeswaram” , abode of the Lord of Rajaraja Chola otherwise known as the temple for Lord Iswara.
The temple originally was built during the Chola reign but with the fall of the Chola empire, Tanjavur was rebuilt by the Nayaks and Marathas and the temple renamed “ Brahadeeswara temple “.
Rajaraja Chola I ( ruled from 985-1015) was a popular monarch who ruled south India over thousand years ago, whose greatness and glory can still be witnessed within the Brahadeswara Temple in Thanjavur. Not only was he a valiant warrior and a master strategist who built his empire but he also paid meticulous attention to the welfare and comfort of his people.

Born Arunmozhivarman, the second son of the Parantaka Cholan II alias Sundara Cholan and Vanavan Mahadevi. His brother the crown prince the Valiant Aditha Karikalan was assasinated followed by political instability. he declined and relinquished his right and requested his uncle to rule the mighty Chola kingdom to avoid any ill feelings in the family and waited for fifteen years to become the monarch and ruled for thirty years from 985 to 1015 which was the beginning of the golden age of cholas.


Rajaraja built the Great temple of Thanjavur and covered the two hundred feet high tower with gold to signal his contribution. The temple survives to this day in its original grandeur. It is a magnificient haven of architecture, sculpture and paintings. During his rule his sister Kundavai and queens possessed property in their own names, which they donated to charity, temples and infirmaries.


Earliest Chola fresco paintings were discovered in 1931 by Mr.S.K.Govindasamy of Annamalai University within the dark corridor Aradhana. A smooth batter of limestone mixture is applied over the stones, which will take 2 to 3 days for setting. Within that short span, such large paintings were painted with natural colors like fruit and vegetable juices. During the Nayak period the chola paintings were over painted by the Nayaks. These have certain labels in Telugu characters mentioned the names of Sevappa and Achyutappa and others. The Nayak painting have actually protected the chola paintings from damage..

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