Thanjavur, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu is known for its historical and cultural significance. From the time of the Mutharaiyars to the Cholas, Nayakas and Marathas, this royal city has evolved over centuries with each dynasty leaving a mark of its own.
Thanjavur is home to one of the greatest Chola temples, the Brihadeswara Temple. Over a thousand years old, this temple’s brilliant architecture continues to amaze engineers of our time! Music, art and dance have also thrived within the city, making it a hub of cultural activities.
The city of Thanjavur or Tanjore (anglicised name) has a long history of occupation. Its history goes as far back as the Sangam period when the Cholas had their capital here. It then fell into the hands of the Nayakas of Vijayanagar and then the Maratha rulers, both of whom left their own mark on the city. The city has thus remained an important political and cultural centre throughout history.
Click below to read more on the long history of this city.
According to Hindu mythology, Thanjavur is named after Tanjan, an asura whose dying wish was to have his place of death named after him. Take a look at the map and you will see the Grand Anicut Canal that irrigates the land around the city of Thanjavur with water from the Kaveri. Even today, the district of Thanjavur is known for its paddy fields.
Click on the pins to navigate through the city
Streets and Bazaars
This road leads to the village of a musical prodigy who is not unfamiliar to us. His name and reputation are so well-preserved that he even has a crater on the planet Mercury named after him!
The streets of Thanjavur have some interesting names.
This school in the neighbourhood of the Maratha Palace was the first institution in South India to teach its students a subject that we today take for granted.
Thanjavur is the birthplace of a very popular dish that is today integral to South Indian cuisine.
Thanjavur was home to a Maratha monarch with a passion for collecting.
His collections included several rare books, animals and birds, and even a life-sized model of a human skeleton, carved in ivory.
This art gallery is home to a collection of sculptures that were excavated in and around Thanjavur.
Like everything else in this city, there is an interesting story behind its existence.
The eastern gate of the city of Thanjavur is guarded by a formidable sentry with a Danish connection.
This hall is where Thanjavur’s rulers held court. Many of them continue to inhabit these walls.
The kingdom of Thanjavur has been ruled by multiple dynasties, and the Marathas were one of them. This is where they built their palace and their court.
This public library contains one of the most fascinating collections of books and manuscripts from all over the world, and from hundreds of years ago.
This residential palace-turned-museum holds the personal collections of one of Thanjavur’s most prominent personalities.
Thanjavur is the home to an Indian classical string instrument, one that is so important to Indian Music, that it features in any depiction of the Hindu Goddess of Music.
A percussion instrument, and a guru who was...instrumental in training some of its best players, occupy centre-stage on the musical landscape of Thanjavur.
Not many people know that the people of Thanjavur invented their own, four-stringed musical instrument, crafted out of the wood of a locally available tree.
A very expensive and extravagant art form was developed in Thanjavur in the seventeenth century.
Four musical brothers once regaled the court of Thanjavur with their music. One of them wielded an instrument that was unusual for Carnatic Music.
Silver, brass, copper. An elegant disc. Makes a royal gift.
The environs of the Brihadeswara temple once housed craftspeople who were instrumental in creating an iconic Thanjavur craft.
This 18th-century church was built during the reign of a Maratha ruler, and contains a marble tablet that was especially made for it by one of England’s most famous sculptors.
This water reservoir is all that remains of a great fort complex that once stood on this spot.
The social and cultural landscape of Thanjavur has nurtured a vibrant music tradition that is today well-renowned.
The Brihadeshwara Temple was built under the supervision of a king whose successful military campaigns were the reason this imposing temple could be envisioned.
This beautiful, imposing 11th-century temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Tamil Nadu’s most visited heritage sites.
This shrine is dedicated to a saint who is considered a form of Shiva, and the gatekeeper of this sacred temple complex.
The Chola Rulers of Thanjavur are said to have patronised the development of a classical dance form that is today celebrated all over the world.
The Cholas patronised a beautiful, elegant style of sculpture that today bears their name, and that museums across the world seek out for their collections.
A colourful clay craft is associated with Thanjavur.
The river that created the land upon which Thanjavur rests is considered by some South Indian thinkers to be even more sacred than the Holy Ganga.
An imposing statue of Nandi stands beneath this great pillared hall, a later addition to the temple complex.