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Thanjavur (previously Tanjore) is a very important ancient temple town of Tamil Nadu. It is about 58 kilometers or 36 miles east of Tiruchy (Tiruchirapalli). It is one of most green districts of Tamil Nadu and is often referred to as the Rice Bowl of the state. The city was the capital of Chola Dynasty and they chose its location for some of their most ambitious temple projects in their erstwhile capital. The city’s origin dates much further back than Chola Dynasty period but it was during their reign from tenth to fourteenth century that the city became the greatest center of Tamil language, literature, architecture and culture. Recently a modern university is established by Tamil Nadu State for the promotion and research of Tamil language and literature to preserve this heritage. There are as many as 74 temples of the Chola Dynasty period in this small city.
The Brahadeeshwarar Temple is the most important and the largest temple in Thanjavur. Raja Raja I, the Chola Dynasty king from 985 to 1012 CE had this temple constructed. Unlike other South-Indian temples where the Gopurams (the temple towers in the surrounding walls) are higher than Vimanam (the temple tower over Sanctum Santorum), in this temple the Vimanam is 64.8 meters or 212.6 feet high and has fourteen floors. Its foundations are square shaped and this Vimanam is covered with massive monolith cupola carved out from an 81.3 tonne block of granite. They had to build a 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles long ramp to move this gigantic granite rock to its position on top of the Vimanam. They designed the placement of cupola is such a manner that its shadow never falls on the ground. This Shaivite temple has a gigantic Maha Shiva Lingam in the main shrine measuring 4 meters or 13.1 feet tall. The idol of the vehicle of Lord Shiva, the holy Nandi bull is also huge. It is 6 meters or 19.7 feet in length; 2.6 meters or 8.5 feet in width and 3.7 meters or 12.2 feet in height. It is the second largest Nandi bull idol in India. The inner walls of this temple are decorated with very fine fresco paintings that remind one of the paintings at Ajanta Caves. The UNESCO has declared this temple a World Heritage Monument .
The Palace, about half a mile from Brahadeeshwarar Temple, is surrounded by a fort wall and dates from fourteenth century. Its construction was started under the patronage of Nayak rulers of Madurai from 1400 to 1676 and completed under the Maratha rulers from 1676 to 1855. The present residents of the palace are the former Maratha royal family. Its grounds cover an area of about 110 acres. The palatial building has huge corridors, spacious halls and rooms have walls as well as the ceilings decorated with beautiful carvings, stucco works and fresco paintings, tall observation towers, underground tunnels. Inside the palace is the royal family’s Chandra Mauleeshwarar Temple. The Art Gallery has a wonderful collection of bronze icons and stone sculptures which is the largest from the Chola Dynasty Period.
The Saraswathi Mahal Museum and Library of the Thanjavur Maharaja Serforji is among the few medieval period libraries in the world. It houses more than 30,000 manuscripts of Indian and European origin written on Palm Leaf and Paper. Its artifacts, manuscripts, books, maps and paintings, weapons, royal robes and other artifacts made out of ivory, jade, lacquer, glass, porcelain, wood, cloth and leather apart from utensils, chandeliers, musical instruments, dress, furniture, paintings, stone and metal sculptures cover all aspects of art, culture and literature. It was the brainchild of Nayak rulers of 16th century who christened it as the Royal Palace Library. The Maratha rulers of Thanjavur added to its collection. During the British period in 1918 this library was opened to general public. Presently the Government of India and the Tamil Nadu State Government jointly manage it. The Sangeetha Mahal is also inside the Palace and is an acoustically perfect musical hall that testifies to the skill of its ancient builders. East of the palace is the Schwartz Church that was built in 1779 by Raja Serforji in honor of Reverend Schwartz of Denmark.
Ideal River View Resort – 33 rooms
Hotel Gnanam Thanjavur – 40 rooms
Hotel Parisutham – 52 rooms
Hotel Sangam Tanjore – 54 rooms
Hotel Victoriyah – 17 rooms
Distance from Thanjavur in Kilometers and Miles:
Bangalore: 391 Kilometers or 243 Miles
Kochi: 449 Kilometers or 279 Miles
Madurai: 163 Kilometers or 101 Miles
Mysore: 406 Kilometers or 252 Miles
Pondicherry: 177 Kilometers or 110 Miles
Rameshwaram: 258 Kilometers or 160 Miles
Thrissur: 370 Kilometers or 230 Miles
Karaikudi: 130 Kilometers or 81 Miles
Tiruchchirapalli: 54 Kilometers or 34 Miles