Brihadisvara Temple is one of the largest South Indian temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built by the famous Chola king Raja Raja Chola I between 1003 and 1010 AD. This temple is the finest example of Chola architecture, and is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples" along with Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple and Airavatesvara temple
Cholas redefined Dravidian temple architecture in south India, most of which is still used today. Chola temples were made of stones usually granite instead of bricks. Walls were decorated with sculptures and paintings of deities, kings and queens and not just motifs from nature. Temples had enclosed decorative walls and Gopurams were tall. Pillars were mostly absent , while walls have niches and pilasters with sculptures. The Vimana (main temple tower) has a huge prominent Sikara stone on top with a Kalasa (spire). Inscriptions can be found on the walls or the base of the temple. The temples also had assembly halls (Mandapam) for audience for various religious activities.