Secrets of Brihadeeswarar Temple: How did they do it?

Last Updated on January 26, 2022 by asoulwindow

Brihadeeswarar Temple: Secrets and Mysteries

There are many Secrets and Mysteries associated with the Brihadeeswarar Temple. You must hire a local guide which speaks in English, Tamil and many other languages to get a better understanding of these enigmatic features of the unusual temple.

It is no less than a miracle that the Big temple or Sri Brihadeeswarar temple survived natural calamities such as storms, wind, rain etc over centuries. It must have been the blessing of Shiv Bhagwan which allowed RajaRaja Chola to build such a grand temple.

Unlike Taj Mahal, which was built much later and is difficult to maintain, Brihadisvara temple has been standing tall with little need for any annual maintenance. But what is the secret behind the success of Brihadeeswarar temple? Let’s find out! This is the most comprehensive blog on Secrets and Mysteries of Brihadeeswarar Temple.

Shadow mystery of Brihadeeswarar Temple

This is a frequently asked questions which has baffled the common people, archaeologists and scientists alike.

Why does the shadow of the main temple in Tanjore never fall on earth? It is the most frequently asked question since centuries. The Shadow mystery of Brihadeeswarar Temple is perhaps the biggest mystery of the Grand temple.

You can see for yourself that during noon, in any season, the shadow of the Big temple will not fall anywhere on the ground or elsewhere. How do you explain that secret? I myself was unable to spot any shadow of the Tanjore temple.

Why the shadow of Brihadeeswarar Temple does not fall on ground in noon?

As per one theory, some people believe that the shadow of the Tanjore temple does not fall on ground in noon because of the way its basement has been constructed. It is said that the basement itself absorbs the shadow of the Big Thanjavur mandir because of its mammoth size.

However, some beg to differ and dismiss the shadow theory as mere illusion and not reality. As per some claims, the temple is so huge that the shadow does fall, albeit at a distance. People fail to see it as the shadow is cast on the trees planted there.

Soul Window Thoughts

This reminded me of the many mysteries of the Sri Jagannath temple of Puri in Odisha. Do read my detailed travel guides on what makes the Jagannath mandir so unusual and full of miracles!

Magical Shiva Linga of Garbhagriha

Brihadeeswarar Temple is home to one of the tallest Shiva Linga of the world. Located in the Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum, the Shivlinga of Thanjavur temple is so huge that it occupies 2 storeys. Only authorised priests are allowed inside the Garbhagriha. You can of course have a darshan from a respectable distance.

Om or ओ३म् (ॐ) is the ancient Vedic sound revered in Hinduism or Sanatan Dharm. The word ओ३म् (ॐ), if chanted here echoes magically due to the hollow Vimana. If you chant ॐ inside the garbhagriha, it expands the positive energy manifolds.

As per a video of Sadhguru which I saw, the stone for making Linga was carried all the way from Saurashtra in Gujarat in West India. The distance between Saurashtra and Thanjavur is a whooping 2100 kms.

A separate elevated platform was built here so that RajaRaja Chola-the great could easily perform abhishek of the colossal Shivalinga in the Garbhagriha.  

Was Brihadeeswarar temple built by aliens?

Some uneducated people have assumed that Tanjore Big Temple was built by aliens. Unable to imagine that humans can build such a colossal temple in an era which had limited tools baffles most. The Peruvudaiyār Kōvil or Thanjavur Temple was indeed built by Hindus and not aliens. It is a myth which must be debunked.

No Binding material used

Did you know that no binding material was used for building Peruvudaiyār Kōvil or the Great Living Chola Temple? Yes, interlocking stones were used for building the 216 feet tall Tanjore temple. With all our modern equipment and techniques, we can still not match the brilliance of the architecture of Sri Brihadeeswarar temple.

Even till today, no other 216 feet tall edifice is constructed without using cement, blocks or binding materials. It was the brilliance of medieval Hindus who could achieve such feat. The Vedic building technology employed by RajaRaja Chola, the famous Hindu ruler still have no parallels. Medieval Hindu architects and engineers were far more advanced than even their present counterparts.

The Granite secret!

An interesting fact about the Brihadeeswarar Temple is that it is built entirely out of granite which is not even native to Thanjavur. The historians have failed to trace even a modicum of a trace of any nearby granite quarry within 50 kms or even a site for post construction waste disposal. This adds to the mystery of the Thanjavur temple. A whooping 1,30,000 tonnes of granite was used to build the Tanjore temple. Read that again!

Not to mention, granite is one of the strongest stones of the world! That makes it very difficult to make delicate designs and patterns on the sturdy granite stones. Powerful blunt tools must have been used for carvings.

Where were granite stones brought from?

As per some claims, the stone for the main Shivling was brought all the way from Saurashtra is Gujarat which is an astonishing 2100 kms away. NO, there were no trains and vehicles in those times. It is not easy to transport big blocks of granite from one place to another. How did they move granite to Thanjavur? It remains a mystery to date!

Kudos to the phenomenal architectural expertise of the Cholas for achieving this impossible feat!

How did they cut granite?

Some British colonists tried to imitate and cut granite but failed miserably. On the other hand, the Mughals tried to destroy temples and failed in many cases as well. To this date, it is not possible to replicate the carvings as seen in Sri Brihadeeswarar temple.

A special method was used for cutting and carving granite in those days. Several holes were made in granite slabs. The depth of the holes depended on their purpose. After inserting wooden sticks in the holes, it was filled with water. This helped in breaking granite over long period.

How was Brihadeeswarar Temple built: The mystery of method

Just how did they do it? Unfortunately, we do not have any written record of how the Cholas managed to carry so much granite to the construction site or how they were able to lift such heavy and tall structures on the top most part of the temple.

Picture this! The Vimana or the Shikhara/tower alone is a whooping 208 feet or 63.4 meters. How did it arrive at the top of Garbhagriha?

Or for that matter the Nandi statues that rest on the granite slab. The slab weighs 80 tons or 80,000 kgs. The octagonal cupolic dome that rests on top of it weighs 25 tonnes or 25,000 kilograms.

How did Cholas lift the heavy stone to the top of tower? Perhaps how it was done in ancient Egypt for building pyramids! Men and elephants made it happen over years of carrying the stones on makeshift ramps made at 45 degrees. The stones were tied to ropes and pulled by elephants every day.

1,000 elephants and 5,000 horses were used to build structures by RajaRaja Chola. He had built several temples, of which the Tanjore temple is the finest example of.

It was not possible to lift the entire stone in a day. So, after halting the stone carrying activity to the point till where it was manageable, the activity was again resumed the next day. Grand structure indeed demands grand efforts! Phew!

Elevating Chanting of Vedic Mantras

Some sources also claim that the stones simply levitated once the sages chanted the ancient Vedic Mantras. Huge rollers pulled on inclined ropes could have also been used by men with ropes to lift the colossal stones up. That seems unlikely as the weight of stones is beyond the strength of humans alone.

Om or ओ३म् (ॐ) is the Vedic Mahamantra. It has also been proven that the Sun makes a similar Om or ओ३म् (ॐ) sound. How the Om or ओ३म् (ॐ) sound helps Sun stay in its position, in a similar fashion, reciting Vedic Mantras could have also help the 80-ton stone levitate. The sages in those days knew several secret mantras or gupt mantras.

Mystery of Huge Cap Stone

It is perhaps the biggest mystery of Sri Brihadeeswarar temple. What was the need to cap the Tanjore temple?

How did the huge Cap stone, which weighs a whooping 80 tons, reached the top of the 216 feet tall Brihadisvara temple?  There is no other example of a man-made hollow structure which has such a huge stone cap sitting at the top. You can show me one and I will show you a live dinosaur.

What was the need to cap the Tanjore temple?

Huge amount of positive electromagnetic energy exists in the garbhagriha which houses the colossal Shivalinga. The 80-ton stone cap was placed with the objective of repulsing the force. This helped in channelising the flow of energy within the temple precincts. This gave divinity and piousness to the temple.

Secret of Nandi Idols

As I was walking in the huge courtyard, I was surprised to see 8 huge sacred Nandi bull idols placed near the Gopuram of the Sri Vimana of Peruvudaiyār Kōvil or Breedheshwra Temple. These colossal Nandi statues are carved from a single stone.

In fact, you can see an idol of Nandi ji in the southern Prahara. This can help you gain perspective on the enormous weight and size of Nandi ji near the Shikhara of Tanjavur temple. A sculpture of Mahameru or abode of Shiv ji can also be seen on the east face of Sri Vimana. It is entirely built with granite.

It is incredible that how this thousand-years-old temple was built! There were no sophisticated equipment or machines in those days to make it happen! The Nandi ji statues must have also been pulled up through elephant and men as explained above.

Secret of Sri Vimana

The Vimana which is more than 200 feet tall and is also known as Dakshin Meru or Southern Meru is said to be the centre of the universe and axis of the world.

Secret Passages of Brihadisvara Temple

I am sure you had no idea that there are more than 100 secret underground passages in the complex of the Great Living Chola Temple. These secret tunnels lead to places such as palace of RajaRaja Chola and other nearby historical places. The tunnel is a maze and was built to ensure safety of the kingdom of RajaRaja Chola.

These mysterious underground passages were also used by Kings, Queens, sages, military men etc. During festivals such as Thaipusam festival and Mahashivratri, these secret passages ensured smooth movement of the Royal family.

These secret passages have been sealed by the Government and temple management as it is easy for people to lose their way in the labyrinthine tunnels. It is said that it is very difficult to return to the starting point once a person enters the maze. There are many unexitable zones here. Some secret passages also opened to source of fresh river water.

Mantra for passages

Also, much like the Padmanabhaswamy temple of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, some doors of passages could be opened only after reciting sacred mantras. Only the closest confidants of RajaRaja Cholas knew about these well-kept secrets.

Some of these passages are still connected to treasure chests, vaults, calligraphs and rare manuscripts.

Secret Chambers of Thanjavur Palace

Did you know that there are many Secret Chambers in the Thanjavur Palace? These mysterious chambers are off the limits for regular tourists. Some excellent acoustic techniques were used in the construction of these secret chambers.

It allowed the messenger to convey code messages through whispers to 3 floors above it. Sadly, tourists and travellers are not allowed to visit the secret passages. These tunnels are of great historical significance.

European man on Brihadeeswarar Temple wall

I noticed the figure of a European man, wearing a hat on the external wall of the Brihadeeswarar Temple. He was shown folding his hand in a relaxed posture as if peeping out of a window. The Nandi bull that gave him company represented the union of West and East in old times.

No one knows the secret who this European man on the temple wall was? Maybe it was fictional! Perhaps ask the Nandi, sotto voce!

Soul Window Observations

With a certain je ne sais quoi excitement, I love spotting such odd and foreign elements in ancient Indian monuments. For example, I was excited to see a giraffe on the external walls of Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. Now giraffes are naturally found only in Africa.

I also noticed the faces of Greek men in the ancient Buddhist monument called as the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh. India, I believe was always the land of opportunities which lured foreigners from far away shores such as Europe, Africa etc since times immemorial.

The secret of sound

Throughout Thanjavur, you will come across many places where acoustic techniques have been beautifully incorporated in the architecture of the buildings such as the nearby Sangeetha Mahal. Tanjore temple is no exception.

As you enter the garbhagriha, you will notice that there are two idols of Ganesh ji, son of Shiv Bhagwan in the corridor. If you tap the two, you will realise that the sound travels through stone in one idol and through metal on the other idol.

Mystery of Musical Pillar

There are also several musical pillars in Gangai Konda Cholapuram. In fact, there are many such musical pillars at many temples in South India. In old days, devotees and musicians used to sing sacred bhajan devoted to Shiv ji in the main hall of Thanjavur Big Temple.

It is common knowledge that the ancient Hindus used sacred sounds, geometry, vibration and secret mantras intelligently! It would not be an overstatement to say that the Cholas integrated several sciences into their magnum opus– Rajarajeswaram or Brihadeeswarar Temple.

Secret of paintings

Even today, after so many centuries have passed, the actual colours of paintings and murals can be seen in several places in the complex of Gangaikondacholapuram or Sri Brihadeeswarar temple. Isn’t it a miracle that such paintings look so fresh and natural even after centuries have passed? While walking around the temple complex and cloister mandapa, I felt like these paintings were made only recently.

Herbs and natural ingredients such as haldi (turmeric), colourful leaves, flower petals, salts, neem, mud etc were used to make these long-lasting paintings.


Sri Brihadeeswarar temple is the most mysterious dharmic structure which was ever built on Earth. With so many mysteries and secrets linked to Brihadisvara temple, it is no wonder that even now new discoveries are made about this Big Temple of Thanjavur.

Every stone of Peruvudaiyār Kōvil speaks volumes. One needs several visits to this The Great Living Chola Temple to fully appreciate and understand the small and big secrets. Brihadeeswarar Temple, being the largest Shiva Temple of the world is the pride of Tamil Nadu and India.

Do share this detailed guide with your friends and family. This is the most comprehensive guide to secrets and mysteries of Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple ever.

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