Built in 1010 by the Chola dynasty whose empire
covered much of Southern India for more than 400 years, the
extraordinary Brihadishwara Temple in Thanjavur is now a World
Heritage monument. Within its enormous compound the chief attraction
is the immense main temple. The temple consists of a cupolic
dome which is octagonal in shape and rests on a single square
block of granite estimated to weigh 80 tonnes The moulded plinth
is extensively engraved with inscriptions. On the walls of the
inner passages are life-size iconographic representations of
various Hindu deities. A huge stone Nandi (sacred bull), 6m
long by 3m high, faces the inner sanctum. Created from a single
piece of rock, it weighs 25 tonnes and is one of India's largest
Nandi statues. This temple is an astonishing sight and a visit
is one of the highlights of a trip to South India.
Churches of Old Goa
Built of laterite and lime plaster, the
churches and cathedrals built during the 16th and 17th century A.D.
at Old Goa are a legacy of the Portuguese. They comprise of the Sé
Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus, the Church and Convent of St Francis
of Assisi, Church of Lady of Rosary and the Church of St. Augustine.
Built in a combination of the renaissance and baroque styles, these
churches and convents in Old Goa are architectural masterpieces. The
Basilica of Bom Jesus where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier
rest, is one of the best in design and style. The Church of St. Cajetan
has a facade decorated with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters.
The Sé Cathedral, with its Tuscan exterior, Corinthian columns,
raised platform with steps leading to the entrance and a barrell-vault,
is yet another example of Renaissance architecture. The Convent and
Church of St Francis of Assisi have gilded and carved wood work, old
murals and the floor made up of carved gravestones. The convent is
now converted into the Archaeological Museum. It houses many portraits
of the Portuguese Viceroys, fragments of sculptures from Hindu temples,
stone Vetal images from the animist cult and a model of a Portuguese
At the southern border of Delhi is the Qutab Complex
where you can find some of the finest monuments. The Qutab Minar, one of
Delhi's most famous sights, is a 5-storey, 72-metre tower of red sandstone.
It was begun in 1199 as a symbol of Muslim victory and power and used for
hundreds of years by muezzins (mosque officials) calling the faithful to
prayer. Ala-ud-Din wanted to build a second tower of victory, Alai Minar,
twice as high as the Qutab Minar but when he died the tower had only reached
27 metres and later no one was willing to continue his over-ambitious project.
Ala-ud-Din did complete the south gateway to the building, the Alai Darwaza,
one of the most treasured gems of Islamic architecture. Near the Qutab is
one of Delhi's most remarkable sights, a simple pillar, set up about A.D.
400. It weighs over 6 metric tons, stands more than 7 metres high and has
never rusted. Also located in the complex is the Iltutmish Tomb, built in
1235, and a landmark in Indo-Islamic architecture. The Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid
is the earliest surviving mosque in India