Thanjavur is 55 km east of Tiruchirappalli. It is the highly fertile delta of the Cavery River and is known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. It is the headquarters of the district of the same name. Tanjavur is well known for its traditional handicrafts - art plates, bell metal castings, silk carpets, pith work, bronze icons, and classical Indian musical instruments. Tanjore's crowning glory is the Brihadishwara temple. This is listed as a World Heritage site and is worth a visit.
How to reach
Thanjavur is easily accessible from other cities of India. In terms of air transport the Tiruchirapalli airport that is 58 kms away from Thanjavur is the nearest.
Thanjavur is directly connected with Trichy, Madurai, Nagore, and Madras by train.
The excellent road network links Thanjavur with the major towns in Tamil Nadu and the neighboring states of Kerala and Karnataka.
Government of Tamil Nadu, Tourist Office, Jawan Bhavan, Head Post Office, Thanjavur
Tourist Information Centre, Hotel Tamil Nadu Complex, Gandhiji Road, Thanjavur
Places of Interest
Sri Bragadeeswarar Temple
Built by the great Chola King, Rajaraja.1 and designed by his chief architect Sama Varma in the 10th century AD is an outstanding example of Chola architecture. It is one of the tallest temples in the world. He began to design a structure, which was to stand on a 29m square base and rise up to a height of about 65 m. A 107 paragraph long inscription on the walls of the Vimanam records the contributions of Rajaraja Chola and his sister Kundavai to the Thanjavur temple. The various shrines within the temple include the Shrine of Sri Subramanya in the northwest corner, Shrine of Goddess Sri Brihannayagi, Sri Chandeeswara Shrine, Shrine of Ganapati, Shrine of Dakshinamurti in the north eastern corner, the colossal monolith figure on Nandi, the sacred bull, in the central courtyard and the Shrine of Karuvurar.
The Shrine of Sri Subramanya consist of a tower 55 feet high, raced on a base 45 sq.feet, covered with delicately carved figured, pillars and pilasters and carried on along a corridor 50 feet long, communicating with another Mandapam 50 sq.feet to the east. Flights of steps lead up to either side of the shrine but the principal entrance is to the east. The walls of the pillared Manadapam are decorated with the portraits of the Mahratta rulers.
The Shrine Of Goddess Brihanayaki is a later addition. It is said that the original shrine of the Goddess, was located in the adjoining Shivaganga gardens and was later removed to main courtyard of the temple.
The Shrine Of Ganapati is in the southwestern corner of the court. There are seven images of Ganapati, 2 in the dancing posture, 3 seated comfortably, and the remaining 2 standing.
The Shrine Of Chandeeswara on the north central court is the only one put up contemporaneously with the main temple. Chandeeswara is one of the 63 Saiva saints and is considered to have been made the chief of Saiva devotees by Lord Shiva. He is assigned a shrine and a honoured place in every Shiva temple. He was looked upon as the manager of the temple. Any worshipper visiting a Shiva temple has to appear at the Chandeeswara shrine before leaving the temple premises and clap his hands evidently to satisfy the God that he is not taking away any temple property with him.
Sri Dakshinamurti Shrine abutting the south wall of the main temple and approached by a steep flight of 21 stone steps is distinctly a later addition.
The Great Nandi, within an elaborately worked Nayak Mandapam is massive and striking. The Nandi is 12 feet high, 19.5 feet long and 18.25 feet wide. The Nandi is a monolith weighing about 25 tons.
Saint Karuvurar's Shrine, a modern looking shrine. Is behind the main temple and under the shade of a Neem and a Mandarai. It is dedicated to a great Siddha Karuvur Devar popularly known as "Karuvurar" who helped the king in the installation of the great Brihadeeswara Shivalingam in the sanctum. Thursdays are held sacred for his worship and shrine attracts large crowd of devotees. The temple is kept open from 5.30 am to 12:00 pm and 4.00 pm to 8:00 pm. Every month, the day on which the ruling star is Satabhishag is treated as a festival as that was the ruling star at the time of Rajaraja's birth. The other festival is Krittika day in the month of Karttika. The annual festival for 9 days is celebrated in the month of 'Visaka' (May-June).
Near the temple is the huge masonry structure which was partly built by the Nayaks in 1550 and partly by the Marathas. The Tanjavur Palace, as it is Known, has huge halls, spacious corridors, observation & arsenal towers and a shady courtyard. Though many sections of the palace are in ruins restoration work has been taken up. The palace houses a library, a museum and an art gallery.
The Royal museum
It displays many items from the kings who ruled the place in past. The Royal cloths, hunting weapons, the head gears and many more such items are enough to catch the attention of any one.
The Art Gallery
There are two Durbar halls where the rulers held public meetings. Though they have not been renovated, they are in good shape. The Nayak hall of the palace is converted into an Art Gallery. This gallery has an excellent collection of artifacts from the Chola dynasty during the 8th and 9th century. The bronze and granite statues reflect the height of craftsmanship obtained during those days. The bell tower which was put under restoration work, has emerged very different from the rest of the structure after renovation. But it is worth going up the tower to have a good view of the surrounding area.
The Saraswathi Mahal Library and Museum
Next to the art gallery is the Saraswathi Mahal Library with an amazing collection of manuscripts on palm leaves and paper. The library is not open for the public. But one can always go in the museum to have a look at the full Ramayana written on Palm leaf or a set of explicit prints of prisoners under Chinese torture.
Built by Rajah Serfoji in token of his affection for the Rev. C.V.Schwartz of the Danish Mission in 1779 AD. It lies in the palace garden.
Near the Palace is this tank known for its sweet water.
A very big Beerangi is there in Thanjavur East ramport of the Fort. The place is called 'Beerangi Medu'. It has been remarked as "Dasmedu". Once upon a time that place was used as a Bell announcement stage.
It is located in the Palace complex. It is opened for Tourists. One can have panaromic view of Thanjavur city. The wooden Sculptures are inside the Sharja Madi. Timings 10am to 1pm and 2 pm to 5pm.
Rajarajan Mani Mandapam
During the 8th World Tamil Conference this Mandapam was built. It is having a small garden with Children's play materials. Timings 10 am to 8 pm.
During the 8th World Tamil Conference, this Sadukkam(Square) was built. One can have a panaromic view of Thanjavur Town from the Tower. Timings 9 am to 7 pm.
Mariamman Temple (Punnai Nallur)
This Temple located 6 kms. away from Thanjavur is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman. It is one of the local temples in Thanjavur which attracts Domestic Tourists.
It is a place where devotion, mythology and aesthetics form an ideal mix. Built around 1005 A.D, it is an outstanding symbol of Chola sculpture. It draws many foreigners keen to interpret the rock wall edicts and study the sculptures. It is at Kumbakonam, 36 kms from Thanjavur.
This is an exquisitely built temple located in Dharasuram, 34 kms from Thanjavur. Dating back to the 12th century AD, the temple has now been recognised as a world heritage monument by UNESCO.
A Maratha chattram, named after Muktambal, one of the queens of Sarfoji II, is located here. Shaped like a chariot, it displays a profusion of religious sculptures in stucco and wood.
65 kms away, this is the tallest and the most historic monument built by the Tanjore Marathas. It is an eight-storeyed miniature fortress, hexagonal in shape and skirted by a moat, all well-preserved by the State archaeology Department. The structure was constructed by Sarfoji II in 1815 in honour of Britain's victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo.
Point Calimere Wildlife And Bird Sanctuary
Sprawling on 17.26 sq.kms surrounded by sea and shore, comprising forests of tidal swamps, dry evergreen forests of mangroves, this coastal sanctuary also known as "Kodikkarai", is 90 km southeast of Thanjavur in a wetland which juts out into the Palk Strait separating India and Sri Lanka. It is noted for the vast flocks of migratory waterfowl, especially flamingos, which congregate here every winter. The sanctuary is vast, mostly shrub-land, shaped by the violent monsoon winds and treated mercilessly by feral cattle, horses and the graceful buck. At present cultivation of lobster has been started as the number of birds is decreasing. Point Calimere sanctuary is bestowed with population of varied wild life such as Chital, Wild boar, Bonnet macaque, Black Buck, Flamingos, Teals, Gulls, Terns, Plavers and Stilts. Special attractions are close encounters with Dolphins and Turtles, which often come quite close to the shore. Between November and January, the tidal mud flats and marshes are covered with Teals, Curlews, Gulls, Terns, Plovers, Sandpipers, Shanks, Herons and up to 3000 Flamingoes at one time. In the spring, a different set of birds - Koels, Mynas and Barbets are drawn here by the profusion of wild berries. From April to June there's very little activity; the main rainy season is between October and December. The easiest way to get to Calimere is by bus from Vedaranyam, which is the nearest town linked by frequent bus services to Nagappattinam or Thanjavur.
Established in 1981, the university is engaged in research and advanced study in Tamil.
13 kms from Tanjavur is Thiruvaiyaru, where the famous saint Thyagaraja lived and attained samadhi. The famous temple at Thiruvaiyaru is dedicated to Shiva, and is known as Panchanatheswara. An eight day music festival is held here, every January, in honour of the saint.
The temples at Thirukandiyur (10 kms away), are dedicated to Brahmasirekandeswarar and Harshavimochana Perumal, and are noted for their fine sculptural work.
Tiruvarur (55 km)
This place has the Thyagarajaswami Temple famous for the largest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. Tiruvarur is also the birth place of saint Thyagaraja.
Located 32 kms away, Swamimalai has one of the six abodes (Arupadaiveedu) dedicated to Lord Subramanya.
Famous for the Mahamaham festival held every 12 years, Kumbakonam, 36 kms from Tanjore, also boasts of five temples. The important ones among them are Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Nageswara and Ramaswamy temples. These temples are noted for their semi erotic sculpture.
Darasuram, 34 kms away, has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which was built by Rajendra Chola. It also boasts a silk weaving centre.
45 kms away, Tirubuvanam has a 13th century Chola temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
88 km away is a famous Muslim pilgrimage site frequented by people of all faiths.
90 kms away, noted for the church dedicated to 'Our Lady of Health', attracts devotees of all faiths.
Vedaranyam (104 km)
It is renowned for the festivals held on full moon day, in July-August and January-February.
65 kms away has a 8 storey victory tower which was built by Raja Serfoji in 1814 AD.
101 km away is famous for its temple dedicated to Lord Saneeswara.