Photo Credit : jyotipandalai
Thanjavur (formerly Tanjore) district is situated in the East Coast side of Tamilnadu state,India. It is an important center of South Indian Religion, Art, and Architecture and an important Agricultural Centre located in the Cauvery Delta and is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu“.
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. It is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region.
Thanjavur is an important pilgrim centre and major tourist destination of the state Tamil Nadu.
Let’s get around the majour tourist attractions here
- Brihadeeswarar Temple ( Thanjavur Periyakovil ):
Brihadeshwara Temple famed as Peruvudaiyar Kovil, one of the largest temples known by the names Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple and Rajarajeswaram.It is an important example of Chola dynasty’s influence in Tamil architecture. Apart from being one of the largest temples in India, it is one of the India’s most prized architectural sites.It was built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed by 1010 AD. Peruvudaiyaar Temple, also popularly known as the ‘Big Temple’, turned 1000 years old in 2010. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Great Living Chola Temples”.It stands amid of fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The temple tower is 216 ft high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world.
The apex or the bulbous structure on the top of the temple is carved out of a single rock and it weighs around 80 tons. There is also a big statue of Nandi, a sacred bull, carved out of a single rock, at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite. The temple is the most visited tourist attraction in Tanjore.
- Lord Murugan Temple:
Lord Murugan Temple famed as Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy Temple, a Hindu temple located in Swamimalai devoted to Lord Murugan. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu.
The temple is believed to be in existence since Sangam period from 2nd century BC. It is beleived thet the temple have been built by Parantaka Chola I.
In Swamimalai, Muruga is known as “Balamurugan” and “Swaminatha Swami”. The temple is built on an artificial hill.
The temple has three gateway towers and three precincts. Out of the three precincts, one is located in the basement, the second at midway to the top of the hillock and the third on the hillock, around the sanctum of the Swaminathaswamy Shrine.
There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The first thirty steps lead to the second precinct of the temple. The image of Swaminathaswamy is 6 feet tall. There are golden armours, golden crowns and a diamond lance for Swaminathaswamy. The central shrine houses the granite image of Swaminathaswamy.
- Royal Palace Museum:
Royal Palace Museum is one of the primeval museums in the town which holds ancient stuffs, images, paintings and sculptures.
The most significant fact is that this museum gives every aspect about the earlier period. The beautiful stone sculptures of the Pandya, Chola, Nayaka and Pallava periods are added attractions.
The museum is popular in the town for preserving various ancient items like the paintings, manuscripts and statues from the temples likes Gangaikondacholapuram Temple and Brihadeeswarar Temple.
The bronze idol of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati here is classic. The painting done on the wood by using diverse vibrant colors and decorated with the invaluable gems and gold leaves astonishes the people.
- Kumbakonam Temples:
Kumbakonam is a temple town with the presence of many Hindu temples located in and around it. Most of the temples are devoted to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Twelve Shiva temples are associated with Mahamaham festival which happens once in 12 years in Kumbakonam. The ten Shiva temples that are in Kumbakonam are Kasi Viswanathar Temple, Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, Nageswara Temple, Someswarar Temple, Kahahasteeswarar Temple, Gowthameswarar Temple, Banapuriswarar Temple, Abimukeswarar Temple, Kambatta Visvanathar Temple and Ekambareswarar Temple.
Likewise Five Vishnu temples are connected with Mahamaham. They are Sarangapani Temple, Chakrapani Temple, Ramaswamy Temple, Rajagopalaswamy Temple, and Varahaperumal Temple and all these temples are located in Kumbakonam
- Sangeetha Mahal:
Sangeetha Mahal or the Royal Hall of Music is one of the most visited place in Thanjavur.
It was built in 1600’s during the rule of Nayak King Sevappa Nayak. It is constructed in such a way to avoid echoing of sound waves and maintains a perfect balance between absorption and deflection of sound.
It exhibits some of the artifacts of ancient Tanjore, but in early times the place was used as a performance site where talented dancers and musicians used to showcase their talent.
- Airavatesvara Temple:
Airavatesvara Temple, a Hindu temple of Dravidian architecture located in the town of Darasuram. This temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century
The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and it is a storehouse of art and architecture and has some exquisite stone carvings. The temple starts with a main entrance on the eastern side. The tower is 80 feet high.
The temple consists of a sanctum without a circumambulatory path and axial mandapas. The front mandapa known in the inscriptions as Rajagambhiran tirumandapam.
The south side of the front mandapam is in the form of a huge chariot with large stone wheels drawn by horses. The pillars of this mandapa are highly ornate. The elevation of all the units is elegant with sculptures dominating the architecture.
There are various inscriptions in the temple. One of these records the renovation of the shrines by Kulottunga Chola III.
The north wall of the verandah consists of 108 sections of inscriptions, each containing the name and description and image of the 63 Saivacharya.
This temple was added to the list of Great Living Chola Temples in the year 2004.
- Manora Fort:
The Manora fort was built by Maratha ruler Serfoji II in 1814–1815 to commemorate the successful advance of the British over Napoléon Bonaparte in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The fort derives its name Manora, from the word Minaret. It acted as a residence for the royal family and also as a light-house. A stone inscription reads “a friend and ally of the British to commemorate triumphs of British Arms and downfall of Bonaparte”
The fort is hexagonal structure and has eight storeys, raising to a height of 75 feet tapering to its top. The tower is surrounded by a wall and a moat ant it resembles a fort. The monument looks like a pagoda, with arched windows, circular staircase and eaves separating one storey from the other
In December 2004, five monuments including the fort were damaged in the Indian Ocean Tsunami. It was planned in 2007 by the State Tourism Department to renovate the structure and improve its infrastructure by building several additional facilities including upgrading the children’s park and building a tourist’s shed.
- Rajarajan Manimandapam:
Rajarajan Manimandapam was built in 1991, during the 8th World Tamil Conference in Thanjavur.
It is a beautiful structure and is built in the style of the buildings constructed during the Chola period.
It has a small and well maintained garden inside and a park area for children. It had a museum in the ground floor, which was built in 1984 to commemorate the 1000th birth anniversary of Raja Raja Chola, who as the most famous king in Thanjavur.
The museum at Thanjavur Manimandapam has a collection of sculptures, bronze statues, paintings, coins and other artifacts to attract the visitors. The statue of Raja Raja Chola attracts lot of tourists.
Rajarajan Manimandapam at Thanjavur is one of the important tourist attractions and the place is open to the public from 10 am to 8 pm on all days of the week.
Navagraha temples is a set of nine Hindu temples, each devoted to one of the nine planetary deities. The presiding deity in most of the temples is Shiva, with a shrine devoted to the planetary deity.
The present masonry structure for most of the temples were built during the reign of Medieval Cholas between the 7th and 11th centuries.
It is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, most of the temples have a five-tiered rajagopuram, the gateway tower and a granite wall enclosing all the shrines of the temple.
The temples are a part of the popular Navagraha pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu.The temples have six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and two yearly festivals on its calendar.
The temples are maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
- Siva Ganga Garden:
Sivaganga Park is a recreational park that adjoins the Brihadeeswarar Temple. It was created as a people’s park by the Tanjore municipality in 1871-72.
A toy train, motor boating facilities and a miniature zoological garden are located within the park. The Thanjavur Municipal Library is also situated within the precincts of the park
- Maratha Palace:
The Maratha Palace Complex, famed as Aranmanai, is the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Tanjore region from 1674 to 1855.
The palace was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom. The palace complex consists of the Sadar Mahal Palace, the queen’s courtyard and the Durbar Hall.
The Raja Serfoji Memorial Hall and the Royal Palace Museum are situated in the Sadar Mahal Palace. There is also a small bell tower.
The Saraswathi Mahal Library is situated with the Thanjavur palace complex.
inc. Big Temple Fort