I had been to ThanjAvoor for a marriage this week end.
I visited the Brihadeeswarar temple also called as The Big Temple. What a massive structure! The gOpurams, prakArams were all studded with impressive paintings, sculptures, inscriptions.
There is a Ganapathi sannidhi in the outer prakAram. On the steps, there were inscriptions in sanskrit instead of the traditional dEvanAgari (grantham). The temple is well maintained by archeological department. Earlier, the gOpuram will not be that much bright and all. But now, they had cleaned the entire stretch and its very bright and shiny.
I visited the temple on a Saturday which happened to be a pradOsham day. The priests were preparing the massive nandi for pradOsha kAla abhishEkam. But I went there at around 11 AM in the morning and the sun was at its peak. Though the prakAram was very hot, I managed to walk through it and saw other sannidhis like vArAhi amman, brihannAyaki, dakshinAmoorthy who was seated at reasonable a height from the ground (we need to climb some 15 to 20 steps to see him), rAhu bhagawAn, Bhairava, Sanaischara so on. There was also a siddhar sannidhi (karuvoorar) which was also very pious.
I went to that temple for the second time. My first visit to that temple was when I was 10 or 11 years old. At that time I didnt observe this much.
And one good thing that made me happy was, a small boy, aged about 7 or 8 years, chanted the vEdA. He was chanting sri rudram in front of the lord brihadeeswara under the supervision of the head sivAchAryA. I was amazed by the tone with which the boy rendered the rudram.