BACKGROUND OF CONSTRUCTION
Brihadiswara Mahatmya narrates that King Raja Raja I suffered from black leprosy in the early period of
his reign. He learnt, on referring this with his Guru Haradatta that he had brought misery to the animals in his
previous birth as hunter. The Guru, out of compassion for his noble ward, recommended him to build a
great temple with a tall gopuram and dedicate it to the Lord of Kailas. Accordingly, a gigantic
temple with a great pagoda considered by far the greatest in India, built with a stately,
and well defined plan, unknown to the temple history till then.
Its massive grandeur wrings
homage from theists all over the world. Moreover it was built in a very short period of six years. This
Herculean task was accomplished with the infinite mercy of Lord Maheswara, whose image linga was
brought from the river Narmada with the help of 64 mighty merchants and thousands of laborers taking
six months time for transport. After the celebration of Kumbhabhishek with rich and liberal
grants, the king stepped into the tank for bath and emerged as lustrous and bright as
the moon, rid of black leprosy that marred his magnetic dignified personality.
Inscription bear witness to the truth of this account. And it is by far the most
invaluable relic of Chola genius, whose artists conceived it as giants and finished
like jewelers according to Ferguson.