There is another feature about the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, which unfortunately is not discussed much. These are – century old paintings (paintings / frescoes) on the walls of the Brihadeshwara temple. Most of these paintings are from the time of temple construction, and still look fresh and new. Natural colors have been used in making these paintings. And all these colors are such that even today they look equally bright and shiny.
The pictures came to the public, that too by accident. On 8 April 1931, SK Govindaswamy, professor of history at the Annamalai University in Madras, was walking through the darkened verandah that surrounds the temple, when he saw a beautiful picture behind the plaster of the wall. His curiosity was awakened. And then when all the walls of the passage (verandah) were cleaned with the help of the temple administration, many of the stories described in the Indian Puranas appeared in pictorial form.
When their chemical analysis was done, it was found that all the pictures are of Chola time. That is, a thousand years old..!
Naturally, only natural (natural) colors have been used in all these paintings.
In today’s advanced age, when the colors made with state-of-the-art technology, fade away in ten/twenty years, then the frescoes made in this temple, look fresh even after a thousand years. All the seasons for a thousand years, their inferiority – to withstand the intensity, to be two-handed by the attack of worms – and still look like new, it is wonderful. What kind of colors were used in those days?
How they used to hold the stone / wall, why they were not affected by the weather… etc.
The paintings of Ajanta are about one and a half thousand years old, then one thousand years of Brihadeshwar temple. But the way Ajanta got tremendous publicity in the country and abroad, even a small part of it was not destined for this temple. Today this temple is included in UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage Site’. But there is no arrangement for the maintenance or security of its pictures.
Most of the images in it are mythological. Naturally more related to Lord Shiva. There are also contemporary paintings – such as a tall, life-size painting of Raja Rajaraja Chola and his guru Kuruvurar. There are also pictures of dance inventions, of women dancing and of musicians. The answer is not available on how the paintings would have been made around the temple, on the verandah in which this picture is to be made.
Large pictures are made by looking at / guessing from a distance, taking that proof. Here, there are pictures more than ten feet tall. But there is no provision to see them from a distance.
Painting has also been done in some places in the ceiling part. Especially where the grand Nandi is, the painting of that ceiling does not look thousand years old at all. It seems as if all these pictures must have been made two or five years ago.
There are two types of images made in this temple. One that we can all see. Especially on the walls of the verandahs around (how big will be the verandah built around the temple, it is estimated from this, that the total length of the temple is 240 meters and width is 120 meters), on the terraces etc. But along with this, there is also a secret passage or tunnel inside the temple, which used to connect the palace of Raja Rajaraja Chola. Many beautiful pictures have also been made in this tunnel, whose photographs are not allowed.
All these frescoes made on the walls are direct evidence of how advanced art was here thousand years ago. Along with painting, the colors used in making it also show our advanced technology. That is, our painting tradition of Ajanta, one and a half thousand years ago, remained intact till the Chola rule!!
In short, we have such tremendous examples of engineering, architecture, painting, sculpture like the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur, and yet our Naseeruddin Shah is saying, ‘India was made by the Mughals.. .!’