At a distance of 56 km from Trichy, 112 km from Chidambaram, 86 km from Nagapattinam, 170 km from Madurai, 326 km from Chennai, Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is a city and district headquarters in the state of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadeeswarar Temple built by Rajaraja Chola in the year 1010 AD. Also known as the Big Temple, it is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and also one of the popular places to experince Tamilnadu Tourism.
Situated on the banks of River Cauvery, Thanjavur has a rich historical heritage and is a must visit place in Thanjavur as part of Tamilnadu tour. The city was once the stronghold of the historic Cholas and at one time was also the capital of the Cholas, Mutharayars and Marathas when they were at the peak of their power. Since then, Thanjavur has been one of the chief political, cultural and religious centers of South India.
Thanjavur became the most important city in the Chola Empire and remained its capital till the emergence of Gangaikonda Cholapuram in about 1025. During the first decade of the eleventh century, the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985-1014) constructed the Brihadeeswarar Temple. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of South Indian temple architecture.
Thanjavur is one of the older cities in Tamil Nadu and has a lot of significance in Dravidian history. Thanjavur was eventually annexed along with the rest of the Chola kingdom by the Pandya king Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I in 1279. Later it went into the hands of Delhi Sultanate from whom Vijayanagara rulers have conquered. It was governed by Thanjavur Nayaks under Vijayanagara suzerainty. Thanjavur was successfully conquered by Ekoji I in 1674, the Maratha feudatory of the Nawab of Bijapur and half-brother of Shivaji. Ekoji founded the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom which ruled Thanjavur till 1855. The kingdom was eventually absorbed into British India in 1855 by the Doctrine of Lapse when Shivaji II (1832-55), the last Thanjavur Maratha ruler, died without a male heir.
Apart from Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur and the surrounding areas have several important tourist attractions like Thanjavur Palace, Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Thiruvaiyaru, Thirubuvanam, etc.
Places of Interest
Just 1 km away from the Brihageeswarar Temple is a magnificent palace, surrounded by the huge for walls. Dating back to the 14th century AD., it was built partly by the Naks and partly by the Marathas. The Maratha royal family resides in this palace. It is a fascinating building with huge corridors, spacious halls, decorated rooms, tall observation towers, beautiful stucco works, wonderful fresco painted walls and ceilings, an underground tunnel and intricate carvings. The royal family’s sacred “Chandra mauleeshwarar Temple” is located within the palace walls.
The art gallery has fabulous collection of bronze icons, stones sculpture and pieces of art. The collection is unique for its large representation of Hindu God and Goddesses, myths and legends. The exhibits are priceless for their historical association. Timings: 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm. Closed on national holidays.
Saraswathi Mahal Library
Thanjavur Maharaj Serfoji’s Saraswathi Mahal Library is one among a few libraries in the world with texts of the medieval period. It is a treasure house of knowledge carefully fostered and nurtured by successive dynasties of Nayakkas and the Marathas of Thanjavur. It contains rare valuable collection of manuscripts, books, maps and paintings on all aspects of Art, Culture and Literature. The Encyclopedia Britannica, in its survey of the Libraries of the world, describes it as “ the most remarkable Library in India”. This Library was made a Public Library in 1918. Timings: 10.00 am to 1.00 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm. Closed on Wednesdays and Govt.Holidays.
Rajarajan Mani Mandapam
It is the southern part of Thanjavur. It is was built during the 8th World Tamil Conference in 1995. This Manimandapam has museum in its ground floor. Timings: 10.00 am to 5.45 pm. Holiday-Wednesday.
This church was built adjacent to Siva Ganga Tank in 1779 AD by Rajah Serfoji as taken of his affection to his tutor Rev.C.V.Schwartz, a Danish missionary.
It usually takes a full day to visit the places within Thanjavur town. Thanjavur is also famous for metal sculptures moulded with great facial expressions and beautiful finish.