The Brahadeeswarar Temple
Thanjavur - The Land of Knowledge
Thanjavur is a little town placed among the lush rice fields of the Cauvery delta, which is why it is called 'The Rice Bowl of India'. Formerly known as Tanjore, the city is situated some 55 km east of Trichy. From 9th to 13th century, Thanjavur served as the capital of the powerful Chola dynasty which was spread in most of south India. The 8th largest city of Tamil Nadu with a population of around 250,000, the people normally speak only Tamil with only a few citizens who are well versed in English. The splendorous temples are the perfect example of Chola's architecture. The most important temple in Thanjavur is the Brahadeeswarar temple which is now a UNESCO world heritage site built by the great King Rajaraja I. The Thanjavur Palace is another masterpiece worth a visit. There are museums and galleries for artifacts and ancient paintings inside the palace apart from a library named Saraswati Mahal which has an extensive collection of over 40,000 manuscript, palm leaf inscriptions and books of times gone by.
Attractions - Above All Imaginations
Thanjavur is specially famous for its breathtaking temples, more than 70 of them. The grandest and the most attractive of them is the Brahadeeswarar temple, the tallest temple in South India.. Apart from the temples, the Thanjavur Palace, which houses few of the most magnificent galleries, is also widely visited by tourists. The Royal Museum, The Saraswati Mahal Library and the Art Gsallery have carved a name for themselves. Once in Thanjavur, do not miss a look at the famous Tanjore paintings. Find them anywhere from art galleries to temple ceilings.
The Brahadeeswarar Temple
The Brahadeeswarar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built in 1003 AD by the Chola King Rajaraja I. The temple has one of the most imposing structures in whole of India. It is quite different from all other temples because the main tower is soaring sky high whereas the gopurams are all small in size. The tower is 14 storey high and rises to 216 ft above the ground making Brahadeeswarar temple the tallest temple in South India. There are paintings on the ceiling inside the inner sanctum but they cannot be seen. Although the paintings have been replicated and kept in the museum. Inside the temple there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanyam which is said to have some of the best carvings in the whole of South India. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
The Thanjavur Palace
The Palace of Thanjavur was partly built by the Nayaks and partly by the Marathas around 1550 A.D. The palace is an architectural beauty but the condition it was in, was pitiful. A part of it was destroyed by a lightning stroke and till few years earlier, it was still in ruins. But the reconstruction and preservation work has been taken up. The palace houses many museums that by themselves are a great tourist attraction. It has an art gallery apart from the Royal museum which showcases royal possessions like the costumes, weapons and musical instruments. Tourist get a feeling of living the past when they enter this exclusive museum. It also has a library that houses around 40,000 ancient manuscripts and different volumes of various languages. All the showpieces are well preserved and a treat to eyes.
This temple is situated at Punnainallur, a small village around 6 km east to Thanjavur. The temple is widely visited by localities as it is said that the worshiped Goddess treats all physical disabilities. The most auspicious day for visiting the temple is Sunday. The day sees a huge footfall of devotees specially women and children. This is one of the important temples of Thanjavur and now is visited by tourists as well who want to experience the sheer beauty of its architecture.
Saraswati Mahal Library
The Saraswati Mahal Library came into being around the end of 16th century under the rule of Telugu Nayaka. Library is famous for its collection of manuscripts of several Indian and European languages on paper and on palm leaves. The 16th century library is abode to works of ancient and medieval periods. You will come across the biography of Muhammad Ghazni as well as books on the 64 bathing ghats of Varanasi.
The Royal museum is located inside the Palace complex. This museum is a must visit for all artifact lovers. Among the show items, collection of rare bronze sculptures are the most famous. There are more than 400 pieces of such sculptures in the museum. Royal museum also has stone sculptures from Pallava, Chola and Pandaya periods and rare paintings done on wood using different colors and gold leafs. It is open on all days from 9 in the morning to 6 in the evening.
Finding a place to stay in Thanjavur is not a problem as there are ample number of hotels and lodges present. Most of them are situated near the city center. Don't expect any lavishly luxurious hotels around in Thanjavur though all the accommodation is clean and hospitable. Hotel Ganesh, Hotel Sangam and Hotel Parisutham are few of the lot that you can opt for a pleasant stay.
Nearest airport is in Trichy which is around 54 km away. The airport receives flights from all over the country.
Trichy is again the nearest railhead to Thanjavur There are regular trains from Chennai to Trichy from where you can travel by road. It takes around 1 hour by road.
Thanjavur is well connected to all major cities of Tamil Nadu. Regular service of State transport bus is there.
Auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and taxis are present in good numbers. Buses also ply at regular intervals through out the city.
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