Wednesday, 6 November 2019

King Raja Raja Chola II,1034 birth annniversary (Sathaya Thiruvizha)- builder of 1000 year old big temple, Thanjavur

1010 AD. Brihadishvara temple, Thanjavur, Tamil
King Raja Raja Cholan
The subcontinent of India produced countless  strong rulers  of wisdom and valor 1000 years ago. The Chola rulers  of south India were quite popular in those days. Among the rulers from the subcontinent, the contribution made by king Raja Raja Chola II was immense,  The Thanjavur big temple called  Brehadishwara (locally referred to as Peruvudayar) temple (dedicated to God Shiva) is a popular tourist spot in south India. This unique temple entirely made of granite stone is a UNESCO  recognized World Heritage  Monument. It was built more than 1000 years ago by the  King Raja Raja Chola II (reign 1146 AD -1173 AD) of the famous
Chola territories during 1170/
Chola dynasty of south India. This temple is a model of Dravidian type of temple architecture and  thousands of tourists visit this huge temple which is known for its grandeur  and impressive  stone sculptures. Though more than 1000 years have gone by the great king  is still a source of inspiration for  several  generations across the world.  His glory reached far and wide  and his  war exploits, cultivable land management and surveys, recording of history by way of stone inscription, methodical administration of the kingdom, his utter devotion to religious matter  and construction of fine Hindu temples bear testimony to his superb  leadership and versatility.  The 80 ton stone dome atop the tower is a riddle that leaves the visitors to the temple perplexed.The total height of the entire granite tower is 212 feet. The moot question is:  How did the ruler  put a massive  stone dome on the top of  the tower? Right answer is not yet available.    Lots of architects from western countries come here to do research on the temple construction.
 2017 Sathaya Tiruvizha, Thanjavur Big temple.

The 1034th Sathaya Vizha marking the birth anniversary of King Raja Raja Chola got underway here on last Tuesday  (5th November) on the temple premises.  Earliest Chola ruler Karikala Cholan in the early part of 2nd century built the world's first water diversion dam using mainly huge blocks of granite called  ''Kallanai'' (Grand Anaicut) which is close to Tiruchi city. This way he prevented flooding during the monsoon season and diligently diverted the excess water for agricultural purpose in the delta region.   That dam  exists even to day  as strong as ever and it is an engineering marvel. During the early British rule, British civil engineers in particular Sir Arthur Cotton used grand anaicut as a model and built the barrage across the Godavari river in Andhra  state. 
RajaRaja Chola II
 Above image: Chola ruler Raja Raja II (reign 1146 AD -1173 AD) The Chola rulers excelled in agriculture, and and water management way back in those years. Rajaraja Chola II succeeded his father Kulothunga Chola II to the Chola throne in 1150 (the inscriptions of Rajaraja II count his reign from 1146). Rajaraja's reign was weak in the initial stages.  However,  he developed a firm grip and regained control of provinces like Vengi, Kalinga, Pandya and Chera territories. He  invaded Sri Lanka  and captured the territories there.  Being a devout Hindu ruler,  he made many grants to the temples at Tanjore, Chidambaram, Kanchi, Srirangam, Tiruchy,  the temples at Madurai. and also to the temples of Kerala,  He improved  the administrative structure initiated by ruler  Parantaka I. Villages were the smallest administrative units. They were combined to form ‘kUtram’. Many kUtrams joined  to form a ‘Nadu’/ValaNadu and many Nadus formed a ‘Mandala’............
Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu  location map.
Raja Raja Chola's son Rajendra Chola built a  Hindu temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram (in Ariyalur District) which is  almost a replica of the Big temple at Thanjavur. It is also a UNESCO recognized Heritage monument and  is an epitome of Chola architecture and workmanship. The temple boasts of intricately carved amazing stone sculptures that reflect on the artistic excellence of artisans of those period.
Raja Raja Chola, a devout Hindu ruler,  built the temple with perfect planning  and construction materials in a place where there are no rock outcrops. The entire delta districts of Tamil Nadu do not have any out-crops of granite and other rocks that belong to the Archean group  according to Geological Survey of India.  Imagine how much efforts he would have taken 1000 plus years back to bring tons of granite stone from neighboring district on the west about 25 to 40 km. The two-day  Sathaya Tiruvizha (festival) was a sort of low-key affair and it was inaugurated by the Collector of Thanjavur District.  As part of this festival there were a seminar, debate and  Thirumurai music programs. Various cultural programs were held on the second day including a sound and light show on the architecture of Big Temple. The temple and the statue of king Raja raja Chola were specially decorated and illuminated during Sathaya Vizha.   Of course there was special abishekam (ritual anointing) done to the presiding deity  Brihadeshwara  and his consort Periya Nayaki (Parvati).  Indeed, a great honor to one of India's prominent  rulers.