Chola Temple (Brihadiswara) or the Periya Koyil (Big Temple), as it is locally known, is a major landmark in the south Indian temple architecture. The temple is located in Thanjavur, the district headquarters of the same name in Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is located at a distance of about 332 km southwest of Chennai.
The temple was built during the reign of the imperial Cholas who ruled the southern part of India from ninth to twelfth centuries. The imperial Cholas trace their ancestry to the Surya or the Raghuvansa. However, during the early part of the Christian era, the Sangam age Cholas ruled along with the Cheras and Pandyas in the southern part of India. The Cholas also find mention in the rock edicts of Emperor Asoka of the third century B.C. Karikala, the famous early Chola emperor is famous for having united the entire kingdoms of the south and is also credited to have constructed a stone dam across the River Cauvery. After the third century A.D. the Cholas lost their dominance and soon the Pallavas took over control of south India.