The Rajarajesvara Temple, Tanjore
Artist: Trapaud, Elisha (1750-1828)
Watercolour of the Rajarajesvara Temple in Thanjavur by Elisha Trapaud (1750-1828), c. 1801. Inscribed on front in pencil: 'Pagoda at Tanjore. Capt Trapaud 1801 (?)'; on back in ink: 'Great Pagoda &Bull at Tanjore.'
Thanjavur was established and used by the Chola rulers in the 9th-12th centuries; it later became a Nayaka stronghold in the 16th-17th centuries and was also used by the Marathas in the 18th century. The Brihadishvara Temple, also known as the Rajarajeshvara Temple, is dedicated to Shiva and was built in the 9th century. It is one of the great achievements of the Chola era. This monumental temple stands in the middle of a large rectangular courtyard surrounded by smaller shrines. Its steeply pyramidal tower stands at about 66 m and consists of 13 storeys, each with pilastered walls covered with carved figures of divinities. To the east a monolithic Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva, is sheltered in a pavilion dating from the 16th century, as can be seen in this view.