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Thanjavur

   photo4.jpg (55683 bytes)Thanjavur was the ancient capital of the Chola kings whose origins, go back to the beginning of the Christian era. Power struggles between these groups were a constant feature of their early history, with one or other gaining the ascendancy at various times. The Cholas' turn for empire building came between 850 and 1270 AD and , at the height of their power. Probably the greatest chola emperors were Raja Raja who was responsible for building the Brihadishwara Temple ( Thanjavur main attraction ) and his son Rajendra-I whose navy competed with the Arabs for controls of the Indian Ocean trade routes and who was responsible for bringing Srivijaya under Chola control.

Art
Thanjavur is famous for its distinctive art style , which is usually a combination of raised and painted surfaces. Krishna is the most popular of the gods depicted and in the Thanjavur school his skin is white rather than the traditional blue-black.

Orientation
The enormous gopurams of the Brihadeshwara Temple dominate Thanjavur. The temple itself, between the Grand Anicut Canal and the old town is surrounded by fortified walls and a moat. The old town, too used to be similarly enclosed, but most of the walls have now disappeared. What remains are winding streets and alleys and the extensive ruins of the palace of the Nayakas of Madurai.

Other Interests
Handicrafts Item Poompuhar (A unit of TamilNadu Handicrafts), Gandhiji Road, Thanjavur. Tanjore Paintings Thanjavur is famous for a special style of decorating the paintings which were done both on glass and board. In both types, the figures and the background are richly embellished with gold leaf and gems as ornaments. The relief work on board is achieved by applying gesso, a mixture of gypsum or plaster of Paris and glue. Krishna in various poses has been the main theme, but there are also various paintings in temples, of all the other Gods and Saints.

Many of the smaller towns in the Thanjavur area are well known for their impressive Chola temples. The distances of each from Thanjavur are in brackets

Thirukandiyur (10 km) the temple here, Brahma Sirakandeshwara and Harsaba Vimochana Perumal, are noted for their fine sculptural work.

Thiruvaiyaru (13 km) the famous temple here is dedicated to Siva and is known as Panchanatheshwara. Accommodation is completely booked out every January, when an eight day music festival is held in honour of the saint, Thiagaraja.

Tiruvarur (55 km) the Thyagarajaswami Temple ar Turuvarur, between Thanjavur and Nagapattinam, boasts an 807-pillared hall and the largest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. It's dragged through the streets during the 10 days car festival in March. There are numerous cheap places to stay around the bus stand.

Velenkanni (94 km) this is the famous Christian pilgrim centre, the site of the famous Catholic Roman Church of our Lady of Good Health, people from all religions flock to the Church, many donating gold and silver models of cured body parts. A major festival is held at the beginning of September.

GETTING THERE

By AIR:
The nearest airport , Tiruchirappalli, is about 58 km away and is connected by Indian Airlines and Air Lanka with Colombo. Indian Airlines also connects Trichy with Madras and Madurai daily.

By RAIL: Thanjavur is well connected by rail with Trichy , Madurai, Nagore, Tirupati, Rameshwaram and madras directly.

By ROAD: Thanjavur is served by a good road system connected to all the major cities of the country.

LOCAL TRANSPORT
Regular bus service connects all places of interest in and around Thanjavur. Tourist taxis, autorickshaws and cycle rickshaws are also available.

Brihadeshwara Temple & Fort
Built by great Chola king in the 10th century it is an outstanding example of Chola architecture and is listed in world heritage. On the top of the apex of 63 metres high, a dome is said to be constructed from a single piece of granite, weighing an estimated 81 tones. The dome was hauled into place along a 6 km earthwork ramp in a manner similar to the one used by the Egyptian Pyramids. The temple has been the sense of continuous worship for over thousand years. Only Hindus are allowed inside.

Thanjavur Palace & Museum
The palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built by the Nayakas around 1550 and partly by the Maratha. Two of the palace towers, the Armoury and the observation tower are visible from all parts of the city. The palace houses an art gallery, a library and a hall of music.
The art gallery occupies the Nayak Durbar Hall. It has a superb collection of Chola bronze statues from the 9th to 12th centuries.
The Saraswati mahal Library is next door to the gallery. Over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaves and paper are preserved in the Saraswati Mahal Library.

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