PDA

View Full Version : Thanjavur temple



katteri
01-12-2004, 01:30 AM
Dear all
This is the maximum details i have collected about the thanjavur big temple and cholas.
Though the article is very big after typing (and copying 2).I am splitting the article and posting it many times. If anyone of u is interested in the whole (word) document u can PM me .
Follwoing are my main source of information
1) my visit and talking to peoples in ASI.( i was born in Thanjai)
2)Saraswathi mahal library -thanjai .
3)Sri Brihadisvara : The Great Temple of Thanjavur/A.K. Seshadri. 1998, 144 p., plates, ISBN 81-900633-1-4.
4)Thanjavur.com
5)Temple museum
6) i cant leave the following persons from whom i have collected many information '' my uncle ,Mr. Balasubramanian chief librarian of saraswathi mahal library, ASI staffs especially people incharge of the siva temple. I thank all of them
7) Artcile from vikatan by hai madhan, hindu and
8)a book named raja raja cholan (sorry i dont have all the details -its a tamilbook)
9) ponniyin selvan -kalki.


I will post details abt temple and pictures 2 morrow

Historically speaking, this temple is not as ancient as the 274 odd Saivite temples and the 108 Vaishnavite Shrines sung by the Nayanmars and Alwars of the 7th through the 9th centuries, however they stand out as towering monuments proclaiming the glory of the Chola regime and its committment to the arts and culture.

This issue zeroes in on the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Choleeswarar Temple in Gangai Konda Cholapuram, the Airavateeswarar Temple in Darasuram and the Kambahareswarar temple at Tribhuvanam.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:31 AM
Thanjavur: I am strating with thanjavur details then cholas,then temple details and further informn onf raja raja cholan
The districts of Thanjavur, Kumbhakonam and Nagappattinam (constituting the erstwhile Thanjauvr district) boast of hundreds of ancient temples. The town of Thanjavur was the seat of the glorious Chola Empire of Tamilnadu, and was later on the seat of the Nayaks and the Marathas. True to art historian Fergusson, the Chola artists conceived like giants and finished like jewellers.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:32 AM
Chola History:

Raja Raja Chola I, was clearly the greatest of the Chola Monarchs. During his reign (985 - 1014 AD) he brought stability to the Chola Kingdom, and restored from obscurity the brilliant Tevaram hymns of the Saivite Nayanmars from obscurity. Raja Raja was a great builder, and the Peruvudaiyar Koyil or the Big Tmeple at Thanjavur was his creation. His son Rajendra Chola (1014 - 1044 AD) was a greater conqueror who marched all the way to the banks of the Ganges. This march was commemorated with a new capital Gangaikonda Cholapuram and another 'Periya Koyil'. Gangai Konda Cholapuram was the capital of the Cholas for about two centuries, although it is nothing more than a village now with this rather well maintained magnificient temple. 35 Kilometers from Thanjavur lies Darasuram, once known as Rajarajapuram - a part of the Chola's secondary capital of Pazhaiyarai. Here is the Airavateeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja II (1146 - 1173). It was during the reign of Kulottunga III (1178 - 1218) that the Kambahareswarar temple at Tribhuvanam was built.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:34 AM
A Brief Biography of Raja Raja Cholan


Who is this Raja Raja Cholan (more precisely, Raja Raja Cholan-I)? Readers who are fans of the popular Tamil novelist Kalki may be familiar with his historical novel "Ponniyin Selvan". That novel is woven around the life of Raja Raja Cholan, also known an Arunmoli. Of course, much of the novel and many of the characters in it are fiction although that fiction is wrapped around historical events. this section are historical facts taken from such authoritative works as Dr. M. Rajamanickam's "Cholar Varalaru", Nilakanta Sastri's "The Cholas" and T. V. Sadasiva Pandarathar's "History of the Later Cholas".
Raja Rajan reigned between 985 AD and 1014 AD. It can be rightly said that the Second Golden Age of Tamil Nadu started with his reign and continued for another two centuries. (The First Golden Age of Tamil Nadu in known Tamil history was in the days of the Third Tamil Academy (Third Tamil Sangam)). He built one of the most glorious empires of South Asia that peaked during the regin of his son Rajendra Cholan - I and continued for another 200 years or so under his sons, grandsons and great grandsons. He was not only a great warrior king in the tradition of Cheran Senguttuvan, Cholan Karikalan and Pandian Nedunchezhian, he was also an able administrator, a patron of the arts and a devote Saivaite Hindu.
During that period, Sinhala kings from Ilankai had the habit of interfering in Tamil Nadu by allying with one Tamil king against another, usually allying with Cheras or Pandias against the Cholas. (Of course, the blame should rightly be put on those Tamil kings who invited foreign interference and not on the Sinhala kings who made use of the opportunity.) So, after decisively defeating the Cheras and Pandias, Raja Rajan Cholan turned his attention to the Sinhalese King Mahinda-V. He assembled a naval armada and sent it to Sri Lanka. The Chola Navy defeated King Mahinda. After the military victory Raja Rajan built a Hindu temple there in Polonnaruva.
Having defeated the enemy in the south, he moved north. The Chola army under the command of Crown Prince Rajendran marched north, all the way up to what is now Bijapur. The army defeated all who opposed its march north, including the powerful army of Chalukya Emperor Satyasraya who ruled the Deccans.
As noted before, Raja Rajan's legacy is not just wars and conquests. He is remembered today primarily for the construction of the Tanjore Big Temple (Thanjavur Peria Koil). The temple is also called "Rajarajeswaram" after him. This Saivaite Hindu temple is one of the most beautiful and magnificent architectural monuments in South Asia. The magnificent tower and the delicate sculptures are truly a feast for the eyes. Not only Hindus from all over the world, but also tourists from around the world visit this temple.
Though Raja Rajan was a devote Saivaite Hindu, he respected other religions. He built Vishnu temples in Mysore after he conquered the region. He not only permitted Silendra Emperor Srimara Vijayottunga Varman to build the Buddhist shrine Chudamanivihara in Tamil Nadu at Nagapattinam, he also contributed money for its construction.
Many arts - sculpture, painting, drama, dance and music - flourished during his time. He conduccted a survey of his kingdom and is considered a major achievement of that time. He divided the kingdom into a number of administrative units and appointed administrative officers for each unit. Villages were governed by local elders (a type of self-government). According to a staff, Raja Rajan's administrative structure is comparable to modern administrative structure seen around the world.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:35 AM
Rajarajan Family:
The original title of Arunmozhivarman (Rajaraja Cholan) was Rajakesari Varman or Mummudi-Sola-Deva. He was the second son of the Parantaka Cholan II alias Sundara Cholan and Vaanavan Maadevi. Rajarajan had an elder sister, Kundavaiyar and an elder brother, Aditya Karikalan. Rajarajan had a high regard for his sister, who spent her later life in Tanjore with her younger brother, his first daughter was named after her. Only one son and three daughters of the King are known namely; Rajendra Cholan I, Kundavai, who married the Eastern Chalukya King Vimaladitya, Mahadevadigal and another whose name is not traceable. Rajarajan had a number of queens. Lokamahadevi was probably the chief queen, who built the shrine of Sri Lokamahadesvarar, called Uttara Kailas in the Sri Panchanadisvara temple at Thiruvaiyaru.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:35 AM
The days of Chola Greatness and Fame world-wide:
Rajarajan inherited Chola and Kongu kingdoms and the Kanchi region, when he came to throne; the first comprising Thanjavur and Trichy regions, the second the Coimbatore region, the third country comprising of South & North Arcots and Chengalput regions.
Rajarajan began his career by the conquest of the Chera country. He defeated Chera King Bhaskara Ravivarman, whose fleet he destroyed in the port of Kandalur. He also seized Pandya Amara Bhujanga and captured the port of Vilinam. By his campaign against the Singhalees he annexed northern Ceylon, building a number of stone temple in the Ceylonese capital Polonnaruva, of which one now stands to Shiva. It was at about the 14th year of his reign (AD 998-999) that most of his triumphs were achieved. He conquered the Gangas of Mysore(capital at Talakad), the country of Nolambas (Bellary and Eastern Mysore), Tadigaipadi (the district of Mysore), vengi (southern part of Northern Circars), Coorg (kudamalainadu) and the Pandyas. The last were the natural enemies of Cholas. Having already overcome the Chera, Rajarajan assumed the title "Mummudi Cholan". The Western and the Eastern Chalukyas of the Deccan were conquered next. A few year later the Eastern Chalukya prince Vimaladitya married the eldest daughter of Rajarajan and became the King of Vengi, which was still under Cholas. his son and grandson also married daughters of Chola kings, and it was the second of these rulers, the great Kulotunga I, who, in later years, claimed the Chola Kingdom as his mother heritage and established a new dynasty at Thanjavur. The Western Chalukyas remained for the long the stubborn enemies of the Cholas. During the next three years, Rajarajan subdued Quilon and the northern kingdom of Kalinga, through his son Rajendra Cholan. Chola also simultaneously directed his arms against Ceylon. Rajarajan moved the capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruva and built here in memory of his mother Vanavan Mahadevi the Siva Devalaya for Vanavan Mahadevi Isvaramudaiyar. With Rajarajan, the Chola culture and Saiva religion permeated the whole of Ceylon.
Rajarajan having thus realised his cherished military glories, in or about 1003 AD has sheathed his sword, and turned his thoughts towards a life of peace. It was about this time, that the Chidambaram temple authorities bestowed on him the title of "Sri Rajarajan" and "Sivapadasekara"

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:36 AM
Raja Raja Cholan is truly one of the greatest rulers in Tamil history.

ingheyum politics nadakkuthu
This is in fact the reason why Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian Government refuse permission to install his statue within the outside walls of Thanjai Big Temple that he built. Let me elaborate.

Some two decades ago the Tamil Nadu State government commissioned a statue of the Emperor and intended to place it within the outer walls of the Thanjai Big Temple. The Indian Government told the Tamil Nadu Government that it would not allow the statue inside the temple grounds. So the latter placed it in a nearby street. The outcome is, the many thousands of devotees and tourists who visit the temple do not see the statue.
You may wonder why the Tamil Nadu Government has to get Indian Government's permission to install the statue of a Tamil emperor within the outer walls of a Tamil Temple built by the Tamil Emperor on Tamil soil with Tamil money and labor? Indian Government decided, without any consultation with the Tamil Nadu Government, that it would take over the major temples in Tamil Nadu. Now nothing significant can be done without the consent of Hindians who control and dominate the Indian parliament.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:40 AM
Rain water conservation project:
Though this project was implemented last year in the state ,Raja rajan was very conscious about conserving the rain water. He constructed many passage and pipes to take rain water to the water tank near the temple.

Sivaganga tank actually a rain water harvesting system


At a time when political leaders and experts are talking about water conservation and water harvesting, discovery of a recent inscription of eighth century Chola period has thrown light that the Sivaganga tank, built the Raja Raja Chola, was actually a rain water harvesting system to collect water for the famous Big Temple at Thanjavur.
The tank was a water source for the people in the area also, , a historical researcher and incharge of the of Saraswathi Mahal Library, said he also said inscription on stone in ancient Tamil authored by Rajathiraja Chola, grandson of Raja Raja Chola, also contained details about Pooja articles including Gold coins gifted to the temple by the King.
records, that "Seppanavari", another rain water tank dug by Nayak king, Chevappa Nayak, had been in existence near the big temple but had vanished over a period of time.
Meanwhile, four inscriptions of 11th century and pieces of Megalithic pottery had been discovered at Oliyamangalam in Pudukottai district, One of the inscriptions mentioned about the Sluice gifted by Muvendavelan Chola Narayanan, a local chieftain of Rajakesari Veera Rajendran (1063-1069) who ruled an extensive area during the short span.

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:41 AM
The Frescos:
The Chola frescos painting discovered in 1931 by Mr.S.K.Govindasamy of Annamalai University within the circumambulatory corridor Aradhana Mandapam are of great interest. They are the first Chola specimen's discovered. The passage of the corridor is dark and the enthusiast finds the walls on either side covered with two layers of paintings from floor to ceiling. Those of the upper layer are of the Nayak period, as certain labels in Telugu characters mentioned the names of Sevappa and Achyutappa and others. The Chola frescos lie underneath. An ardent spirit of saivism is expressed in the Chola frescos. They probably synchronised with the completion of the temple by Rajaraja Cholan. Saivsm was at its height at that time and the Cholas were preeminently of that faith.

Dont miss this too
http://www.geetham.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2493

katteri
01-12-2004, 01:47 AM
Fresco contd....

These tanjore painiting became famous only in 18 the century when Raja saraboji ruled.But there are also information that these paintings wre started during reign of raja raja cholan.
Those who have seen the temple (atleast by photo) cant imagine that the the whole structure is hollow.Visitors are not allowed to the first floor (upon special recomendations and influences i have been there lot of times).In the first floor u can see the sculptures (which shows 108 dancing positons- thats wht iwas told i m not knowledgeable person in dance.).Second floor is what people say these drawings are kept , i havent seen them only one person in my family has seen it .. he descirbes that the leaves, jarikai portraying the paint are made of gold .. there are also rumours that soem ravi vermas painting are there.

More information about the paintings is available in saraswathi mahal...and palace .People who often visit temple forget/neglect to visit saraswathi mahal.which has lots of information .
.Gupta didnt came 2 tanjore only marati kings came here, If u need further info let me know ..Raja raja cholan was the first king to promote democracy ,history has also forgotten kundavai nachiyar sister of raja raja cholan....who played a major role in shapping rajendra cholan (see vandharkal vendrakal for further info by mathan)

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:30 PM
Temple Layout:
Rajarajeswaram, as the temple was named by its founder, fills a large portion of the small fort (Sivaganga Fort), encircled by moat on the east and west, the Grand Anaicut Channel (Putharu) on the south, and by the Sivaganga Garden on the north. The temple is entered by an imposing gateway on the east, on either side of which stand two small shrine dedicated to Ganapathi and Mrurgan, and further through another Gopuram 90 feet high. This way leads into an outer court. A second and magnificent Gopuram further leads into the main court in which the temple is built. The inner court is about 500 feet long and 250 feet broad, is well paved with brick and stone. The court is surrounded on all sides by a cloister. The western and northern wings have Sivalingams consecrated therein, and there are paintings over these walls depicting sixty-four Nayanmars, sacred sport of Siva. The outer measurement of the temple are 793 feet by 397 feet

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:30 PM
prakaramThe long prakaram surrounds the great temple (500 feet/250 feet), and the walls surrounding the prakaram again go back to Raja Raja Cholan's period. The walls house long pillared corridors, which abound in murals, Shiva Lingams and Nandis. The Periya Nayaki temple within the temple is a later addition from the Pandya period, and so is the Subramanyar Temple sung later by the Saint poet Arunagirinathar. Architecturally, it is the most ambitious structural temple built of granite. The temple is within a spacious inner prakara of 240.90 m long (east-west) and 122m broad (north-south), with a gopura at the east and three other ordinary torana entrances one at each lateral sides and the third at rear. The prakara is surrounded by a double-storeyed malika with parivaralayas

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:33 PM
Monolithic Dome
The sikhara, a cupolic dome, is octagonal and rests on a single block of granite, a square of 7.8 m weighing 80 tons. The majestic upapitha and adhishthana are common to all the axially placed entities like the ardhamaha and mukha-mandapas and linked to the main sanctum but approached through a north-south transept across the ardha-mandapa which is marked by lofty sopanas. The moulded plinth is extensively engraved with inscriptions by its royal builder who refers to his many endowments, pious acts and organisational events connected to the temple. The brihad-linga within the sanctum is 8.7 m high. Life-size iconographic representations on the wall niches and inner passage include Durga, Lakshmi, Sarasvati and Bhikshatana, Virabhadra Kalantaka, Natesa, Ardhanarisvara and Alingana forms of Siva. The mural paintings on the walls of the lower ambulatory inside are finest examples of Chola and later periods.

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:35 PM
Main Shrine:
The main shrine of Sri Brihadisvara, the Great God - a Sanskrit rendering of the original Tamil name Peruvudaiyar- stands at the western end of the main court. It comprises of five divisions -
1. Garbhagriha or the Sanctum Sactorum and the corridor around it
2. Ardhana-Mandapam
3. Maha-Mandapam with the open aisles
4. Stapana-Mandapam with the shrine of Sri Thyagarajar
5. Narthana-Mandapam for the temple paraphernalia and where the servant wait; and
6. Vadya-Mandapam and portico for the musicians
Main shrine has three portals named Keralantakan, Rasarasan and Thiru-Anukkan. These portals are guarded be Dwarapalikas or the guardians of the gate. They are of huge proportions and of exquisite workmanship. There are several sets of these in the temple, seven of them 18 feet by 8 feet. they are all monolith, and some instances are of very high artistic merit, especially at the entrance at the entrance of Sri Subramanya temple.
The Sivalinga of Sri Brihadisvara is probably the grandest in existence. This image was originally called Adavallan (the one who is good in Dance). Another name was Dakshina-Meru Vitanken. Both the name occur in Thiruvisaipa as the names of the deity at Chidambaram. This possibly indicates that the Saiva creed derived its support at the time mainly from Chidambaram. Rajaraja Cholan calls the image Rajarajeswaramudaiyar, - The Lord of Rajarajeswaram. The tower over the shrine is named Dakshina-Meru after the abode of Lord Shiva at Kailasam, the Uttara-Meru.
Sri Thyagaraja, also called Vitankar, worshiped within a portion of Stapana-Manadapam, is the patron deity of Cholas. The legend goes that their mythical progenitor Chola Muchukuntan helped Indra against the asuras, for which help, he was presented with seven images of Thyagaraja, which he installed in the seven holy places of Thiruvarur, Thiru-nagai-karonam, Thiru-kkareyil, Thirukolili, Thirumaraikadu, Thirunallaru and Thiruvamur which are known as Sapta-Vitanka-Kshetras. Rajaraja Cholan was a devout worshiper of Sri Thyagaraja at Thiruvarur where he built this great temple; and, consecrated Sri Thyagaraja at Thanjavur also, as a mark of his own piety and in commemoration of the exploits of his celebrated ancestor.
The great Vimana is of the Dravidian style of architecture. It rises to a height of abut 216 feet, a tower of fourteen storeys, finely decorated with pilasters, niches and images of gods of the Hindu pantheon. The basement of the structure which supports the tower is 96 feet square. The sikhara or cupolic dome is octagonal in shape and crowns the Vimana. The gilded Kalasa or finial, over it is 12.5 feet high. It is believed the sikhara and the stupi does not throw on the ground. The dome rests on a single block of granite, 25.5 feet square. Two Nandis, each measuring 6.5 feet by 5.5 feet beautify each corner of the stone which is estimated to weigh about 80 tons, and is believed to have been conveyed to the top of the tower by means of a inclined plane commencing from Sarapallam (scaffold-hollow), four miles north-east of the city.


Incidents from the lives of the Nayanmars, several of the 108 Bharata Natyam Dance postures, manifestations of Shiva (Aadalvallaan - Nataraja, Tripurantaka, Dakshinamurthi etc.) are depicted in sculptured panels or in exquisite Chola murals. Both the interior, and the exterior walls of the temple, are replete with images of the kind described above.

The sanctum, the ardhamandapam, the mukhamandapam and the Mahamandapam, although distinct, form a composite unit with an imposing appearance that awes visitors, forcing one to wonder how such timeless architectural feat was executed about a 1000 years ago. Entrances to the Mandapams and the towered entrances to the Prakarams are majestic. The grandeur of the architecture and the sculptural finesse speaks volumes of the skills of the Imperial Cholas.

Inscriptions refer to Shiva as Dakshina Meru Vitankar and Aadavallan. The Nandi, which dates back to the Nayak period, is housed in its own mandapam and it matches up to the grandeur and size of the temple. It is a monolithic Nandi weighing about 25 tonnes, and is about 12 feet high and 20 feet long

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:35 PM
Sub Shrines:
Shrine of Sri Subramanya in the northwest corner, Shrine of Goddess Sri Brihannayagi, Sri Chandeeswara Shrine, Shrine of Ganapathy, Shrine of Nataraja in the north eastern corner, the colossal monolith figure on Nandhi, the sacred bull, in the central courtyard and the Shrine of Karuvurar
The Shrine of Sri Subramanya:
The shrine consist of a tower 55 feet high, raced on a base 45 feet sq., covered with delicately carved figured, pillars & pilasters and carried on along a corridor 50 feet long, communicating with another mandapam 50 feet sq. to the east. Flights of steps lead upto either side of the shrine but the principal entrance is to the east. The walls of the pillared Manadapam are decorated with the portraits of the Mahratta rulers. This shrine has been pronounced to be "As exquisite a peace of decorative architecture as is to be found in the south of India" and "A perfect gem of carved stone work, the tooling of the stone in the most exquisitely delicate and elaborate patterns, remaining as clear and sharp as the day it left the sculptor's hands". This shrine is not referred to in the inscriptions, and cannot be contemporous to the main temple. Its correct place in the evolution of Dravidian temple architecture would be modern, giving it a date not earlier than 600 A.D. and is popularly believed to be of the Nayak period. Saint Arunagiriyar has three invocatory versus in price of the Sri Subramanya in his Thirupugzhal.
The Shrine of Goddess Brihanayaki:
This shrine is a later addition, constructed in the second year of a konerinmaikondan-probably a later Pandya of the 13th century. It is said the original shrine of the goddess, was located in the adjoining Sivaganga gardens and was later removed to main courtyard of the temple by the one of the Nayaks.
Dhwaja-Stambha:
In front of the main temple, stands a tall flag-staff (Dhwaja-Stambha), the covering of which is cast in copper. The lower portion is encased in a square piece and each of the four sides depict characteristic Saiva figures.
The Shrine of Ganapathy:
The shrine is in the south western corner of the court and is of the time of Sarfoji II. Seven images of Ganapathis are said to have been set up by Rajaraja Cholan, 2 in the dancing posture, 3 seated comfortably, and the remaining 2 standing.
The Shrine of Chandeeswara:
The shrine on the north central court is the only one put up contemporaneously with the main temple. Chandeeswara is one of the 63 Saiva saints and is considered to have been made the chief of Saiva devotees by Lord Shiva. He is assigned a shrine and a honoured place in every Shiva temple. He was looked upon as the manager of the temple. Any worshipper visiting a Shiva temple has to appear at the Chandeeswara shrine before leaving the temple premises and clap his hands evidently to satisfy the God that he is not taking away any temple property with him.
Sri Dakshinamurthy Shrine:
Sri Dakshinamurthy sanctum, with image as originally enshrined in one of the niches of the Vimanam, abutting the south wall of the main temple and approached by a steep flight of 21 stone steps is distinctly a later addition.

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:36 PM
NANDHI

The Nandi within an elaborately worked Nayak Mandapam is massive and striking. The Nandhi is 12 feet high, 19.5 feet long and 18.25 feet wide. The Nandhi is a monolith weighing about 25 tons and the stone is said to have come from a bed of Gneiss at the foot of Pachaimalai near Perambalur. Another version is that the stone was brought over from the bed of the River Narmada in the north. There is a tradition that the Nandhi is growing in size with the progress of time. It was feared it might become too large for the Mandapam erected over it and a nail was driven into the back of it, and since, its size has remained stationery. Two portrait statuesques on the front pillars of the Nandhi Mandapam are pointed out as those of Sevappanayakan (the first Nayak ruler) and of his son Achyutappa Nayak.[/b]

katteri
01-12-2004, 08:37 PM
Saint Karuvurar's Shrine:
Behind the main temple and under the shade of a neem and a mandarai is a modern looking shrine, dedicated to a great Siddha, Karuvur Devar, popularly known as Karuvurar. The Karur stalapurana narrates how the saint helped Rajaraja Cholan in the installation of the great Brigadeeswara Sivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum at the time of the consecration of the temple. A place appears to have been assigned to him for this reason, in the temple court. The saints Thiruisaippa lyrics, sung in praise of this temple and is presiding Lord is a classic on the subject and gives valuable information regarding the temple and its shrines. Thursdays are held sacred for his worship and shrine attracts large crowd of devotees.

venuram
01-13-2004, 03:06 AM
Great stala puranam plus interesting information.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a website which contained information about all temples and their stories or atleast links to all temples in one place

katteri
01-13-2004, 05:14 AM
http://www.tourism-of-india.com/
http://www.world-mysteries.com
http://whc.unesco.org
are good sites