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Tanjore Pagoda. The great pyramidal tower. Detail of base on south side.

Tanjore Pagoda. The great pyramidal tower. Detail of base on south side.

Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 212/4(23)

Item number: 212423

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 temples southern fa├žade showing sculpture details and mouldings at the base of the tower. Lyon wrote that this photograph 'shows a portion of the Base of the Tower on the south side, with a side entrance for the priests, which seems hardly to be a part of the original design, but added afterwards. On this...will be observed an inscription in seven lines, which runs all round the base and is quite perfect. It is said to have been read, but to contain only a record of grants and donations to the foundation, and no allusion either to the founders of the temple or the date at which it was erected.'

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