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Tanjore Pagoda. The big bull

Tanjore Pagoda. The big bull

Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 212/4(20)

Item number: 212420

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of the Brihadishvara Temple complex in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu from the 'Photographs to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' collection, taken by Edmund David Lyon in c. 1868. 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 was built in the 9th century and 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. This photograph is of a close view of the Nandi, sheltered by a 16th century open-sided pavilion. Lyon wrote, '...the Great Bull occupies the place of honour in the centre of the great court. He is chiselled out of a single block of granite, is sixteen feet long, twelve feet two inches high to the top of his head, and seven feet five inches to his back, from the base on which he rests. Repeated coatings of oil have made him so black and shiny, that at first sight he looks as if made of bronze; but the grain of the stone can be detected on close inspection.'

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