Situated on the eastern coast of central Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur district has its headquarters in Thanjavur town. This ancient enjoys the distinction of having been the capital of the Cholas- one of the greatest dynasties of the south.
Though the history of Thanjavur dates back to the Sangam age, it was between the 10th and 14th centuries that Thanjavur reached its zenith, becoming the centre of Tamil learning and culture. Modern Thanjavur is a fertile plain which is often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of the Tamil Nadu. The Cholas were great temple builders and Thanjavur bears witness to this, being dotted with no fewer than 74 Temples- The most famous of which is the Brihadeeswarar temple.
Thanjavur holds much attraction where we would be muddled to visit which one first. All the listed attraction is never to be missed out on your list since these places are worth visiting all the time when we explore Thanjavur.
This temple built by Raja Raja Chola is the Thanjavur’s greatest landmark and dominate the landscape of miles around. Also known as the big temple and acclaimed as the grandest temple in South India, it is an outstanding example of superb Cholas architecture and craftsmanship. The imposing vimanam (the tower over the inner sanctum) is the most striking feature of this temple. It rises perpendicularly to a height of 15m from a square base of 29m and tapers off to a total height of 65.4m.Topping the tower is a monolithic cupola. The structure is made from a granite block weighing about 80 Tonnes. It is said that this massive stone was moved into position on a 6km-long inclined plain. A gigantic Nandi (bull), the mythical mount of Lord Siva guards the portals of the shrine. It is the second largest monolithic sculpture of its kind in the country. In the inner courtyard of the temple are some superb frescoes reminiscent of the cave paintings of the Ajanta.
Near the temple is the palace built partly by the Nayaks sometime around 1550 and partly by the Marathas. The buildings have huge corridors and spacious halls. The armoury and observation towers are visible from all parts of the city.
The palace houses an interesting art gallery which contains several granite and bronze statues from the 9th and 12th centuries.
The Saraswathi Mahal library in the palace dates back to about 1,700 and has over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages.
Hall of music
The Sangeetha Mahal in the palace is an acoustically perfect music hall that is remarkable for its engineering skills.
Towards the east of the palace is a church that was built in 1779 by Raja Serfoji as a token of affection and esteem for the Rev. Schwartz of the Danish mission.
The Siva Ganga nearby was built in 1777 and is well known for its sweet tasting water.
A Siva temple built by Rajendra Chola is a major attraction. This temple has some beautiful and sculptures. Darasuram is also silk weaving Centre.
This is also known as Karanthai. A college for Tamil literature is located here.
Kumbakonam (38 Km)
There are four large temples in Kumbakonam dedicated to Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Nageswarar and Brahma. The sculptures in these temples are noteworthy. Also of importance is the Mahamaham Tank. It is believed that the bath in this tank on the Maham day in the Tamil month of Masi will cleanse a person of is sins. The Mahamaham festival that is celebrated once in 12 years is famous throughout the country.
Nachchiyar Kovil (45 Km)
Thirunaraiyur is the other name for this place where the Chola King Kochchengannan has built a temple. A beautiful statue of Garudan is located here that stands as the recognition of the temple. Skillfully made handicrafts are also available here.
Swamimalai (27 Km)
This Swamimalai is one of the six abodes or (Arupadaiveedu) of Lord Subramanya, the Swamimalai temple is built at an elevation of a litter over 30 m.
Manora (72 Km)
This eight storey victory tower was built by the Maratha King Serfoji in 1814 to commemorate the victory of British over Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo. A panoramic view of the palm fringed Bay of Bengal can be had from the top of this 30 m high tower.
Thirunageswaram (45 Km)
It is said the ancient Tamil poet Sekkizhar visited this place. Oppiliyappan Temple is located in the neighbourhood.
Thiruppanandal (57 Km)
A Saivite mutt is established here for the purpose of developing the Tamil language.
Thirukandaiyur (10 Km)
Thirukandaiyur is known for the temples of Brahma Sirakandeswarar and Harsha Vimochana Perumal.
Thiruvaiyaru (12 Km)
This idyllic town is situated on the banks of River Kaveri. Every year in January a music festival is conducted in the honour of the great musician Saint Tyagaraja.
Tiruvidaimarudur (46 Km)
The temple located here has the three big corridors. The local Athinams have shown a keen interest in developing the Tamil culture.
Tirubuvanam (44 Km)
There is another Chola temple here that was built during the 13th century. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The presiding deity is Kampahareswarar. Tirubuvanam is considered to be one of the major silk weaving Centres in the state.
Thirukarugavur (20 Km)
This is one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity is Mullaivananather and the consort, Garbharakshmbigai.
Thiruvalanchuzi (27 Km)
Here the Kaveri River takes a diversion in its course. This place is famous for its sculptures.