, is a city which is the headquarters of the Thanjavur ditrict in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Scholars believe the name
is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. He was killed at this place by the Hindu god Neelamegha Perumal, a form of Vishnu.
Medieval Chola monarch Vijayalaya (841–878), in about 850, conquered Thanjavur from the Mutharayar king Elango Mutharayar and built a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Nisumbhasudani.. Although during subsequent emperors, Kanchipuram also became a subsidiary capital, Thanjavur maintained its position as the chief city. The great Brihadisvara Temple, built by Rajaraja Chola I was completed around 1010 CE. It remained the centre of the Chola administration for many years channelling the state revenue into a number of civic projects. It also acted as a repository of the empire's records as the great Rajaraja had its walls covered with numerous inscriptions recording his conquests and his endowments to various charities. The impression we get from the inscription is of a wealthy progressive city although totally dominated by the temple.
The Brihadiswara Temple
Thanjavur is located at 10.8 degree North 79.15 degree East. The tributaries of river Cauvery, namely, the Grand Anaicut canal (Pudhaaru), Vadavaaru and Vennarau rivers flow through the city. Thanjavur is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of 314 km (195 mi) south-west of Chennai and 56 km (35 mi) east of Tiruchirappalli. Thanjavur District is the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. The Big Temple and the other famous temples in the district are known all over the world. Thanjavur was the cultural capital of the country in 1790. Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital. Thereafter, it was ruled by Nayaks and Maratta Kings, who nurtured art and culture. The cultural, the architectural and the scholarly pursuits of these rulers are reflected in the great monuments like Grand Anaicut, Big Temple and Serfoji Mahal Library etc. in the district.
Most important landmark in Thanjavur is the great Brihadeeswara Temple also known as the Big Temple, it was built by Raja Raja Chola - I. It is one of the most magnificent piece of South Indian temple architecture. Established in 1011 AD in celebration of victory of Chola kingdom that extended till Ceylon and some parts of the Malaya archipelago. Now it is a world heritage site.
Places to see in Thanjavur
The Brihadiswara Temple
built by Raja Raja Chola in the 10th Century dominates the town. Its dimensions are huge: the Vimana, which peculiarly is bigger than the Gopuram is 65 meters tall, the lingam is called the Mahalingam to suggest its greatness and the Nandi Bull guarding the temple is 3.7 meters tall. The frescoes compare well with those in Ajanta. The South Zone cultural Center organizes a programme on 2nd and 4th Saturdays at the Brihadiswar Temple for which entry is free. Tel: 40072
near the temple was built partly by the Nayaks in 1550, and partly by the Marathas of the west. It houses an Art Gallery, the Saraswati Mahal Library, the Royal Museum and a music hall. The art gallery displays bronze and granite statues from the Chola period, ancient manuscripts on palm leaves are on show at the library, and the royal museum displays the royal costumes, cutlery, utensils and weapons.
There are many places of interest outside Thanjavur. Thiruvaiyur
(13 km) is where the south Indian saint Thyagaraja lived. A festival is held in his honour every Jan.
(45 km) has a 13th century temple to Shiva and is known for silk weaving.
(90 km) has a very popular shrine to Our Lady of Health that people of all religions flock to with mini gold and silver replicas of the ailing body-part. At Nagore
(88 km) is the 500-year-old tomb of Hazrat Shahabdul Hameed that has a golden dome and five minarets. The tank near it, Peer Kollam is believed to have curative water and is visited regardless of religious belief.
112 km from Thanjavur is Kodikarai
or Point Calimere. This Sanctuary is home to migratory birds, especially flamingos, and animals like the black buck and wild ponies. The best time to visit is November to January. Definitely cooler.
(36 km) has the important Mahamaham Fair every twelve years, due next in 2004. It also has five important temples that are known for their semi erotic sculptures.