Tamilnadu Tourism Thanjavur formerly known as Tanjore is an important centre of South Indian religion, art, and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost among these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the centre of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and British Empire. According to local legend, the word Thanjavur is derived from “Tanjan”, an asura (giant) in Hindu mythology that was killed, what is now Thanjavur by the Hindu god Neelamegha Perumal, a form of Vishnu. The word Thanjavur is indeed a Tamil name.”Than”-cold, “chei”-farmland, “ur”- city, a city surrounded by cold farmlands.The word “Thancheiur” has become “Thanjavur”. Thanjavur is an important pilgrim centre and a major tourist destination of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the regional cultural centres established by the Government of India to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of India. Thanjavur painting is a major form of classical South Indian painting from Thanjavur. It dates back to about 1600s, the period of Nayaks of Thanjavur, who encouraged art, classical dance, music literature, both in Telugu and Tamil. The art is usually a combination of raised and painted surfaces, with the Hindu god Krishna being the most popular image depicted. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs of festive occasions in South India, wall decors, and collector’s items for art lovers.
Brihadeeswarar Temple (locally known as “Big temple”) is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Thanjavur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as RajaRajeswara Temple Rajarajeswaram and Peruvudayar Temple. It is one of the largest temples in India and is an example of Dravidian architecture during the Chola period. Built by Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 CE, the temple turned 1000 years old. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”, with the other two being the Brihadeeswarar Temple, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temple.
Thanjavur Maratha Palace Complex known locally as Aranmanai is the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Tanjore region from 1674 to 1855. The Thanjavur Maratha palace was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom. After the fall of the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Maratha. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed to the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. The Bhonsle family continued to hold on to the palace even after the last king Shivaji II was deposed as per the Doctrine of Lapse.
Thanjavur Royal Palace Museum is popular in the town for preserving various primaeval items like the paintings, manuscripts and statues from the temples like Gangaikondacholapuram Temple and Brihadeeswarar Temple. The beautiful stone sculptures of the Pandya, Chola, Nayak and Pallava periods are added attractions among the visitors to the museum. The bronze idol of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati is so stunning that it cannot be described in the words. The painting done on the wood by using diverse vibrant colours and decorated with the invaluable gems and gold leaves astonishes the people.