Mystery of Big temple bull / Nandi, Thanjavur, TN!!

Thanjavur big Temple - Huge nandi and

Thanjavur  Big Temple - Nandi Bull,

Thanjavur big temple Nandi (bull)

Big temple tower and nandi mantap, Thanjavur.

  Above image: In the above image, the entrance tower of the temple (foreground), Nandi (bull) mantapam and the shrine (tall tower)  containing the sanctum (garbagriha /srikovil) all fall in the same straight axis. This is true of both Shiva and Vishnu temples in the southern states. In the latter, Garuda - God Vishnu's mount (eagle) is facing the shrine of God Vishnu.

2010 -1000 years completed. Big temple,Thanjavur.Indian stamp ghar
Above image: India 2010 Indian Postal stamp of Sri Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur, TN in connection with completion of  1000 years - 1000th Anniversary..................

Thanjavur big temple flagpole bottom

Thanjavur big temple flagpole bottom

Thanjavur big temple flagpole bottom part (copper)

 A UNESCO recognized heritage site, the Brihadeeswara temple at Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu built in 1010 AD  by the great Chola ruler Raja Rajan II, an ardent devotee of God Shiva is a famous destination for foreign tourists, in particular. It is an architectural wonder constructed 1008 years ago with solid hard rock -  mostly  granite and granite related rocks and gneisses.

Nandi mantap, and tower behind.  Big temple,

Nandi mantap, Big temple,

Stone image of King Rajaraja Chola

Above image: Two and a half foot tall  stone sculpted image  of King Raja Raja cholan (1935)...............................

Rajaraja Chola I (reign: c. 985 – c. 1014 CE) of the Chola Dynasty in South India has the unique honor of being the first ruler to have built the world's first temple (structure) entirely  made of granite in the 11th century AD. No other ruler anywhere in the world had done this great feat.  The massive Cupola over the tower  (ornate gopuram  upper section of shrine) right above the garbagriha (sanctum)  weighs  25 tons and is set on a  massive monolith granite block  of around 80 tons. It was the tallest temple in south India long time ago. The unique feature of this temple is it is built  of interlocking stones  with well-ground lime mortar as binding material.

 Brihadeeswarar Temple Nandi Mantap.

The huge stone  bull (Nandi) in the elaborately Nayak built  mantapam right before the entrance to Lord Shiva's main shrine, is big and massive, measuring  about 19 feet long and 12 feet high and 8 1/2 feet wide made of granite stone and  is monolithic - made from a single block of hard stone.   Visitors to this heritage site can't miss the the big nandi in the open mantap. In all Shiva's temples, it is a tradition to place the Nandi in front of the main shrine, facing the presiding deity;  temple entrance, the bull, the flagstaff (Dwajasthambam)  and the idol in the sanctum fall in the same straight  axis.  Here, the huge stone bull directly faces  a large lingam that measures  3.7m tall (one of the largest lingams in India). The Nandi itself weighs 25 tons and the hardstone was mined from the gneissic bed in the Pachamali area near  Perambalur. Yet another version has it the stone for the Nandi was brought from Narmada in the north; this version is debatable.

 With respect to the size of Nandi, there has been a legend that the Nandi  was of  medium size initially  and with the passage  of time it  had begun to grow in all directions, particularly, in the vertical direction. At  one stage, it was feared, the mantap was not good enough for it and the nandi might outgrow the mantap. To stop further growth, a big nail was driven in the back of nandi and since then the size had remained same. No more growth.

Yet another version  goes like this: The nandi grew to the present size due to the presence of a live toad inside the  massive rock. By driving a hole into the back of nandi, the critter was removed to a sacred pond near-by called Manduga Theertham. That spot is fully covered and rebuilt in the form of a well on the north side of Prakara near the Sabhapathi mantap. Even today one can see the cracks in the back of nandi, purportedly the spot from which the toad was removed. How could a live toad inside the rock  make it grow in size? There is no scientific explanation for this  available as of today and this may compel us to set it aside as a matter of conjecture .  On the pillars of the nandi mantap one can see two stone carved images. Those are Nayak ruler Sevvappa, first ruler and his son Achyutappa nayak.

The stone bull at Thanjavur  is the largest one in India, next to the stone bull in Veerabhadra temple  at  Lepakshi, in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh, India, 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Hindupur.
stone inscriptions  and temple tower, Thanjavur,

Jan. 2015   Mattu pongal day, big temple nandi.

Above image: January, 2015: In the mantapam in front of the Sri Brahadeeswarar Shrine, Thanjavur on the Mattu Pongal day pujas were also offered to a herd of 108 cows on the occasion. The nandi was decorated with fruits and vegetables, including sweets  offered by the devotees on Pongal Day. The bull  was decorated by priests with special prayers as a mark of thanksgiving to the nandi. Later  the 'deeparathanai' was witnessed by thousands of devotees, including hundreds of foreign tourists. The offerings would be cooked and distributed to the devotees on the following day. It is said that  more than five tons of fruits and vegetables were used in the special alankaram for the nandi.  A herd of 108 cows was aligned around the Nandi Mandapam for which people and priests offered ''Gou'' puja.


.Idols of Raja Raja 1 and queen Logamadeviyar

Above image:  The 11th century CE  bronze idols  that were  stolen  about  60 years ago  from the big temple, Thanjavur were  recovered by the IDOL wing of the police, Tamil Nadu Government in May 2018.  The investigative team was led by  IG  Pon Manickavel, a duty-bound cop of great repute.   The  idol of Raja Raja Chola I  measuring two and a half feet in height  was  valued at more than Rs 100 crore and the two-foot tall   idol of his queen, Logama Deviyar, was  valued at Rs 50 crore.  After several legal and correct identification bottlenecks, the team got down to the bottom of the idol-theft case and found out the idols were  stolen by one-time temple officials. Later  they were  sold to Gautam Sarabhai in Chennai  by  Rao Bahadur Srinivasa Gopalachari of Sarukkai village in Thanjavur  former Dewan of Travancore who owned the idols.