Six Hundred Artisans, Astronomer Lived In Thanjavur Temple Rajaraja Chola

Thanjavur Big Temple inscriptions mention grants for artisans, gifts to temple and allowed people to live in the Big Temple

Apart from being an architectural wonder, the Big Temple of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu conveys a lot of information about the society of chola times of Rajaraja Chola. These inscriptions talk not only about the exploits of the King Rajaraja Chola, but about how the temple was built and details the contribution made by the artisans. He honoured them and recorded it as inscriptions. He also appointed an astronomer,’Perunkani’ பெருங்காணி.. He was in-charge of watching celestial events and based on their movements was expected to advise the temple adminstration date of Temple Festivals.Not only this, over six hundred people ,mainly from Artisans Class were allowed to live in the temple precincts!

Temples were not merely places of Worship but also served as places where people could stay safely during Natural calamities and they were fed .

he mentions in an inscription that the this all-stone temple called ‘kattrali’ (‘kal’ meaning stone and ‘tali’ a temple). This magnum opus, running to 107 paragraphs, describes, among others, how Raja Raja Chola, seated in the royal bathing hall on the eastern side of his palace, instructed how his order should be inscribed on the base of the vimana, how he executed the temple’s plan, the list of gifts he, his sister Kundavai, his queens and others gave to the temple……66 beautiful bronze idols Raja Raja Chola, Kundavai, his queens and others gifted to the temple. The inscriptions elaborate on the enormous gold jewellery, inlaid with precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, corals, pearls, for decorating each of these bronzes…… more than 600 people such as dancers, flutists, drummers, Vina players, conch players, canopy holders, water sprinklers, lamp keepers, laundry women, and so forth. These people worked for the temple for half a day, and spent the remaining time on farm work, on land which was lent gratis by Rajaraja I. The contract with the temple was carved on a stone. In exchange for using the farm land, it was their duty to engage in the construction work of the temple and to pull glittering festival cars on festival days.

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