The Brihadeswara Temple in Thanjavur is one of the finest examples of Dravidian art. It was built by Chola emperor Raja Raja I (985-1013 AD). The construction is unique: the vimanam, known as Dakshina Meru, soars high while the gopuram remains stunted. The 64.8 metre tall, 14 tier and pyramid-shaped vimanam rises from a square base and is topped by a huge monolithic cupola weighing 81.3 tonnes. The most striking thing about the structure is that the shadow of the cupola never falls on the ground.
Brihadeeswara is a gigantic lingam (about 8.7 metres high). There is a massive Nandi at the portals of the temple. It is the second largest monolithic Nandi in the country, next only to the colossal bull at the Lepakshi Veerabhadra temple in Andhra Pradesh.
The divine consort, Brihannayaki, is in a separate shrine. The shrine Lord Subramanya is an exquisite piece of decorative art.
There are excellent sculptures of Lord Shiva in different forms and other gods and goddesses besides several interesting Chola paintings.