TIRUCHY: The Big Temple, an icon of district’s architectural beauty, attracts more tourists than any other destination in the region. The engineering marvel has been lauded by every visitor and according to the historical inputs, the Big Temple’s plan and development utilises the axial and symmetrical geometry rules. The temple complex is a rectangle of almost two stacked squares, covering 240.79 metres (790.0 ft) east to west, and 121.92 metres (400.0 ft) north to south.
In this space are five main sections: the sanctum with the towering superstructure, the Nandi at Nandi-mandapam and in between the main community hall, the great gathering hall and the pavilion connecting the great hall with the sanctum. The temple complex integrates a large pillared and covered verandah in its spacious courtyard, with a perimetre of about 450 metres (1,480 ft) for circumambulation.
Outside this pillared veranda, there are two walls of enclosure, the outer one, added in 1777 CE by the French colonial forces, with gun-holes with the temple serving as an arsenal. They made the outer wall high, isolating the temple complex area.
The Chola-era architects and artisans innovated the expertise to scale up and build, particularly with heavy stone and accomplish the 63.4 metres (208 ft) high-towering vimana. Similarly, the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple showcases the exceptional knowledge of Chola rulers on arts and architecture.