Thanjavur Tourism Information

Thanjavur rose to glory during the later Chola reign between 10th centuries AD and became the centre of learning and culture.  It is the headquarters of the district of the same name.  The district of Thanjavur boasts of hundreds of ancient temples.  The town of Thanjavur was the seat of the glorious Chola Empire of Tamil Nadu and was later on the seat of the Naicks and the Marathas.  True to art historian Fergus son, the Chola artist conceived like giants and finished like jewellers.
Thanjavur district is the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Tamil Nadu is also known for its exquisite handicrafts, casting pith models and South Indian Musical instruments.  
Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Vishnu, Sri Neelamgapperumal.  Tanjan’s last request that the city might be named after his was granted.

Thanjavur Tour Information

Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple

Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple is built by the great Chola King, Raja Rja in the 10th century Ad is an example of Chola Architecture. The tower over the inner sanctum sanctorum rises perpendicularly to a height of 15m from a square base of 28.8m and then tapers off making a total height of 65.80 m.  The tower is capped by an 81.3 tonnes round monolithic cupola.  Adorned with winged niches on four sides, this enormous piece of stone, it is said, was moved into position along an inclined plan 6km long.  Some fascinating frescoes, similar to those of Ajantha are also found in this temple.  A massive monolithic Nandi, chiselled out of a single rock, guards the portals of the inner Shrine.  Traces of Chola paintings can be seen in some 15 chambers of this temple.

Brihadeshvara Temple This granite temple, a World Heritage Site built by the Chola kings a thousand years ago, is today very much alive with devotees. Standing in a vast courtyard, surrounded by a number of subsidiary shrines, the temple was built—no doubt at great expense—by the Chola Rajaraja I for the worship of Shiva. Pyramidal in shape, the monumental tower or vimana over the inner sanctum rises almost 70m (224 ft.) and is visible for miles around. It’s capped by an octagonal cupola carved from a single block of granite that was hauled into place along a ramp that is said to have been 6km (4 miles) long. Within the sanctum is a 4m (13-ft.) lingam; facing the sanctum, a colossal 25-ton Nandi monolith, carved from solid granite, dominates the courtyard. Numerous extant inscriptions on the molded plinth describe the enormous wealth of the temple (much of it booty from Rajaraja’s successful campaigns), as well as the copious acts of ritual and celebration that took place here. In its heyday, an enormous staff was maintained to attend to the temple’s varied activities; these included everything from administration to procuring dancing girls.

Thanjavur Palace Complex and Art Gallery

Thanjavur Palace Complex & Art Gallery Built as the home of the Nayak rulers, the 16th-century Royal Palace has fallen into a state of minor ruin but is home to the impressive Rajaraja Museum and Art Gallery (daily 10am–1pm and 2–5pm; admission Rs 15/35¢), which houses an eclectic collection of stone and bronze idols, mostly from the Chola period. Within the palace, you should also climb the narrow and tricky steps of the arsenal tower for fantastic views of the complex and the entire city, including Brihadeshvara Temple. Inside 17th-century Durbar Hall, built by the Marathas, who ruled after the Nayaks, are 11th-century statues of Vishnu and Parvathi, exhibited in Washington, D.C., in 1865. Near the museum is Saraswati Mahal Library, which houses a collection of rare books—including Sanskrit works and 18,623 palm-leaf manuscripts—assembled by the Maratha ruler Serfoji II, who ruled until 1832 and was known as a great patron of the arts. The attached Museum has highlights from the collection, including some detailed drawings of Chinese torture and punishment techniques. Give both the Sadar Mahal Palace and its Royal Museum a miss.

Art Gallery

In the Palace, there is an art gallery which contains a number of granite an bronze statues of Chola period.

Library

In another section of the palace is the Saraswathi Mahal Library. Over 30.000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages are preserved here.

Hall of Music

Also in the Palace is the Sangeetha Mahal, an acoustically perfect music hall.  It is a striking example of the engineering skill of the ancient builders.

Tamil University

This university is established in 1981 and it also engaged in research and advanced study in Tamil.  Tamil University Museum has collections of coins and musical instruments.

Thanjavur painting

Thanjavur is famous for a special style of decorating the painting which was done both on glass and board.  In both types, the figures and background are richly embellished with gold leaf and gems as ornaments.
The most popular motifs were the Baby Krishna, Radhakrishna, the coronation of Rama, and various forms of Goddess.  In Hindu homes all over Thanjavur, these paintings were for long used for worship.

Thanjavur Trip Information

Thirukandiyur

Thirukandiyur is about 10km from the Thanjavur.  The temple Brahmasirekandeswarar and harshavimochana Perumal ara situated here.  These temples have exquisite sculpture.

Kumbakonam

The 4 large temples Sarangapni, the Kumbeswarar, the Nagswara and the BrahmaTemple located here are noted for sculptures and carvings.  It is believed that a bath in Mahamaham tank on the maham day will cleanse one’s sins.  The mahamaham festival, is celebrated her one in twelve years.  The next festival is scheduled in June 2004.

Swamimalai

This is one of the Six Abodes (Aru[adai Veedu)dedicated to Lord Subramanya.  The town lies 6km West of Kumbakonam.  The actual temple is built at an elevation of 30 metres.

Darasuram

A temple basically dedicated to Lord Siva, built by Rajendra Chola is located here.  It is a temple of beautiful and rare sculptures.  Darasuram is also silk weaving centre.

Tirubuvanam

Tirubuvanam is 8km from Kumbakonam.  There is a 13th century AD Cholas temple dedicated to Lord Siva known as Kampahareswarar. The temple occupies an important place in temple art.  It is one of the major silk weaving centres in the state.

Thiruvaiyaru

Thiruvaiyaru is 13km from Thanjavur.  There is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Siva known as Panchanatheeswarar.  It is also the place where one of the musical trinity Saint Thyagaraja lived and attained Samadhi.  Every year in January music festival is held here in honour of this saint.

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