Location : Thanjavur District, on the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu
Area : 3603 sq. kms.
Attractions : Bragatheeswarar Temple, Thanjavur Palace, Tanjore Paintings
Ideal Time to Visit : November to January
Thanjavur is situated halfway between Tiruchirappalli (60km) and the coast. It is 35km southwest of Kumbakonam and 334 km south of Chennai. Thanjavur was the capital city of Chola kingdom from the 9th to the 13th centuries. It is the granary of South India and is known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. This royal city has a rich and varied heritage for which it is known across the globe. Thanjavur was the center of knowledge and culture which reached its peak between the 10th and 14th centuries, under the reign of the Cholas.
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The Chola dynasty was a celebrated dynasty of South India and Sri Lanka. They build many temples in order to mark the their victories over other dynasties. There are more than 70 temples in Thanjavur, the most important being the famous Brihadeeswara Temple.
The ancient city of Thanjavur is the center of classical arts and music inspite of the advent of technology era. The performances by the classical musicians, percussionists and the Bharatnatyam dancers never fails to enchant you. Then there is the exquisite Tanjore style of painting, which attracts innumerable tourists. The paintings are developed over multiple layers and are usually centered on the Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
The city of Thanjvur is named after, a demon by the name of Tanjan-an asura. According to the legend the last wish of the demon was that the place should be named after him, which was granted by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Sri Neelamegapperumal.
Attractions At Thanjavur
Thanjavur is famous for its majestic temples, but there are many other attractions present here, which are worth visiting. Among the temples, most important is the Bragatheeswarar temple, also known as the Big Temple of Thanjavur. It was built by Rajaraja Cholan, the Great Chola king. This temple is an ideal example of the grandeur of Indian sculptural architecture. Another important attraction here is the Saraswati Mahal Library. Established around 1700 AD, it has one of the most vital oriental manuscripts collections, in India. Apart from these, a major highlight of the Thanjavur city is the Thanjavur Palace, situated on the east main street. It is a series of large and rambling buildings of fine masonry, built partly by the Nayaks and partly by the Marathas around 1550 AD.
One of the most notable attractions in Thanjavur is Tamil University, established in 1981. Tamil University Museum has a collection of coins and musical instruments. Another attraction here is the Schwartz Church, situated in the palace garden. It was built in 1779 A.D by Rajah Serfoji. At Thanjavur, there are many famous museums having interesting collections of stone sculpture, coins and musical instruments. Among these the Nayak Durbar Hall Art Museum and the Rajaraja Chola Museum are the most important. They contain magnificent collection of Chola Bronzes-all discovered locally.
Last but not the least, the Tanjore Paintings of Thanjavur are famous for their special style of decorating the paintings. They are done both on glass and board. In both types, the figures and the background are richly ornamented with gold leaf and gems. The theme of these paintings are mostly related to Krishna in which he is shown in various poses. But there are also various paintings in temples, of all the other Gods and Saints.
There are quite a good number of excursion options available from Thanjavur. Some of the must visits around Thanjavur are the Gangaikondacholapuram
temple, Nageswaraswami Temple and the Airavateswara Temple. Another major excursion destination from Thanjavur is the Thiruvaiyaru, situated at a distance of 13 kilometers. It is associated with saint Thyagaraja, the Carnatic music saint. At Thiruvaiyaru also visit the celebrated Panchanatheswara temple, which has been dedicated to Lord Shiva. Among the many excursion destinations Dharasuram is an important one, which is about 32 kilometers away from Thanjavur. Here at the silk weaving center, the Chola king Rajendra, built the Airavateswara Temple in the honor of Lord Shiva.
You can also make a visit to Kumbakonam, situated at a distance of 36 kilometers from Thanjavur. Here one can see semi erotic sculptures at the Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Nageswara and Ramaswamy temples. Kumbakonam is also the venue of the magnificent Mahamaham festival that is celebrated once in every 12 years.
About 14 kms from Thanjavur, a Carnatic classical musical festival is celebrated at Thiruvaiyaru in the month of January. It is celebrated in honor of the Carnatic music saint, Thyagaraja.
By Air : The nearest airport from Thajavur is situated about 65 kms east of Tiruchi. It serves planes from the Middle East, Colombo, Chennai and Madurai. The next closest airport is at Madurai about 200 Kms away. Another airport is Chennai airport about 350 kms away from Thanjavur.
By Train : There is a railway junction in Thanjavur. It is well connected with Tiruchi, Chennai and Nagore.
By Road : Thanjavur is well connected with all the major towns in TamilNadu. It is also connected with Kochi, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Bangalore in Karnataka.
Local Transportation : For local transportation auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and taxis are available.
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