Inner Gopura

Brihadeshvara temple, Thanjavur

The temple is approached from the East via two gopuras. Unlike the later practice in Southern India, these gopuras are smaller than the shrine tower. The inner, and to my mind more impressive (although smaller), of the two gopuras is shown here. Its entranceway is flanked by two very large dvarapalas; the carvings below represent various Shaiva legends.

The lower part of these gopuras is made of stone, while the roof which rests upon it is made of brick in order to reduce its weight; this innovation was adopted for the increasingly larger gopuras which followed in Southern India.