Much before the Pallavas (275 CE to 897 CE) carved out structures from rocks to house idols of deities, people in Tamil Nadu worshipped the sun and the mountains. Post the Pallavas, the Cholas emerged as the most powerful dynasty in the region between 850 and 1280 CE. The Chola kings started building temples, which gained pace and attained a summit with the iconic Brihadeeshwara temple built in Thanjavur by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 CE.
Also called Peruvudaiyar Koyil or Periya Koyil (Big Temple), the Brihadeeshwara temple is a Shaivite shrine. It is a quintessential example of Dravidian architecture and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This paved the way for many more such temples, earning Tamil Nadu the moniker “the land of temples”.
Almost 1,000 years later, the big temple and many other temples in the state are caught in a controversy over which language should be used to conduct the consecration — Tamil or Sanskrit.
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