I did my engineering from a college in Tanjavur. Got quite a bit of time to explore the place ! The nearest airport is Trichy, 65Km away. Tanjavur has a railyway station too and is very well connected by road.
The name Thanjavur is believed to have been derived from Tanjan, an asura in Hindu mythology, who is believed to have been killed at this spot by the Lord Vishnu. Also the name is believed to have been derived from Than-sei-oor, it means the place is surrounded by rivers and green paddy fields.
Thanjavur has been the capital of mighty Cholas for centuries. After Chola dynasty this place was occupied by Nayakas and after that Maratha took over the place and made as one of their main head quarters in southern region. The city is located on the southern bank of river Cauveri. The town is an important agricultural center located at the heart of the region, known as the "rice bowl of Tamil Nadu". Rice is transported throughout the country as well as exported elsewhere. Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian art and architecture. Even today Thanjavur is not only considered as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu but also as a cultural head quarters.
Enough about the history, places to visit now! Tanjavur is mostly swarmed by tourists so you will not feel out of place here irrespective of where you are from.
Shivaganga Fort: The Quadrangular Shivaganga Fort is situated towards the south west of the old city. Built by the Nayaka ruler, Sevappa Nayaka, in the mid-16th century, the battlemented stone structure covers an area of 35 acres surrounded by a part rock-cut moat. The fort contains the great Brahadeeshwara Temple, Schwartz Church, and Shivaganga Garden. The Shivaganga Tank in the fort was excavated by Rajaraja I and later renovated to provide drinking water for the City.
The Brahadeeswara Temple
Thanjavur is famous for the Brahadeeswara temple built by the great chola king, Rajaraja Cholan, during the 11th century. The Brahadeeswara Temple, also known as the Big Temple, is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, completed in 1010 AD and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple entrance has an imposing gateway on the east, on either sides of which stand two small shrines dedicated to Ganapathi and Murugan and further through there is another Gopuram 90 feet high. This way leads into an outer court.
A second and magnificent Gopuram further leads into the main court in which the temple is built. The inner court is about 500 feet long and 250 feet broad, is well paved with brick and stone. The court is surrounded on all sides by a cloister. The temple basement is covered with inscriptions that give details of the temple’s administration and revenue, and provide valuable historical information on Chola society and government. The 64. 8 Mt. tall vimanam (tower over the sanctum sanctorum) is testimony to the engineering skill of the Cholas. The Great Nandhi is 12 feet high, 19.5 feet long and 18.25 feet wide. The Nandhi is a monolith weighing about 25 tons and it is the second largest Nandhi in India.
Shiv ling in the temple
Nandi in the evening lights
Tamil Inscriptions on the Temple walls, the locals say its 1000 years old
The temple has very minute finishing and attention to detail.
Schwartz Church: The 18th century Schwartz Church is a legacy of Thanjavur’s colonial past, standing to the east of the Shivaganga Tank. This church was constructed by the Danish missionary, Reverend Frederik Christian Schwartz in 1779 AD. When he died, the enlightened Maratha ruler Serfoji II donated a striking marble tablet to the church. This tablet made by John Flaxman has been placed at the western end of the church. It depicts the dying missionary blessing his royal patron, surrounded by ministers and pupils from the school that he established.
Rajagopala Beerangi (Cannon): This is a huge cannon placed at the eastern gate of the Fort. The place is called ‘Beerangi Medu’. The Cannon is amazing in size and the quality speaks of the metallurgical knowledge of the people of those times. The Beerangi is the biggest in India.
Royal Palace: Just 1 km away from the Brahadeeswarar Temple is a magnificent palace, surrounded by huge fort walls. This palace was originally built by Nayaka rulers as their royal residence and was further reconstructed by Maratha rulers. A large quadrangular courtyard leads into the palace complex. Outside the palace there is a seven-storeyed observation tower meant for the royal families. The splendid Maratha Durbar Hall, built by Shahji II in 1684 has elaborately decorated pillars, walls and ceilings. The Durbar Hall now houses the Rajaraja Museum and Art Gallery with an impressive collection of bronze and stone idols dating from 7th to 20th centuries.A View of the palace
There are a lot of places to visit around Tanjavur. Kumbakonam, Trichy, Srirangam, Velankani are some of the more popular destinations.