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Thanjavur Hotels and Travel Guide

Thanjavur, or Tanjore as the Britishs called it, is a lush paddy district. Now a small city in the state of Tamil Nadu, it rose to glory during the Chola period from the 10 th century to the 14 th , when it came to be the centre of art and education. The Cholas built extensively during this period and 74 of their temples are still standing. As the centre of cultural development Thanjavur attracted master craftsmen, and it still continues to produce attractive handcrafted ware.

The legacy of the days of glory endures. Its heritage as a centre of learning, culture and craft is reflected in the variety of handicraft work that goes on here. Thanjavur is still famous for its bejewelled, gold leaf Tanjore paintings, fine silk carpets, bell metal work, musical instruments, pith work and bronze sculptures.

EXCURSION:

Thirubuvanam (45 km) has a 13 th century temple to Shiva and is known for silk weaving.

Manora (65 km) has a quirky souvenir from the colonial times; an eight storey high Victory Tower built in 1814 by an Indian king to celebrate the British victory over Napoleon at Waterloo.

Velankani (90 km) has a very popular shrine to Our Lady of Health that people of all religions flock to with mini gold and silver replicas of the ailing body-part. At Nagore (88 km) is the 500-year-old tomb of Hazrat Shahabdul Hameed that has a golden dome and five minarets. The tank near it, Peer Kollam is believed to have curative water and is visited regardless of religious belief.

112 km from Thanjavur is Kodikarai or Point Calimere. This Sanctuary is home to migratory birds, especially flamingos, and animals like the black buck and wild ponies. The best time to visit is November to January. Definitely cooler.

Contact The Forest Ranger, Kodikkarai. Tel: (04369) 72424 or the Wildlife Warden, 110 Public Offices Road, Nagapattinam. Tel: 22349 for accommodation at the Poonarai Illam Forest Resthouse.

Kumbakonam (36 km) has the important Mahamaham Fair every twelve years, due next in 2004. It also has five important temples that are known for their semi erotic sculptures.

Tirunallar (101 km) has one of the few temples to Saturn or ill-favouring Saneeswar, which people visit to cancel out ill fortune.

Every January there is a Music Festival to honour the south Indian saint Thyagaraja. The great Mahamaham Fair is held at Kumbakonam every twelve years but it isn't due till 2004. The summer months are warm averaging at 36°C. The months from Jan. to March are far cooler, averaging at about 24° C.

Thanjavur Temples
Thanjavur Temples

Thanjavur sculpture
Thanjavur sculpture

The Brihadiswara Temple built by Raja Raja Chola in the 10th Century dominates the town. Its dimensions are huge: the Vimana, which peculiarly is bigger than the Gopuram is 65 meters tall, the lingam is called the Mahalingam to suggest its greatness and the Nandi Bull guarding the temple is 3.7 meters tall. The frescoes compare well with those in Ajanta. The South Zone cultural Center organizes a programme on 2 nd and 4 th Saturdays at the Brihadiswar Temple for which entry is free. Tel: 40072

The Palace near the temple was built partly by the Nayaks in 1550, and partly by the Marathas of the west. It houses an Art Gallery, the Saraswati Mahal Library, the Royal Museum and a music hall. The art gallery displays bronze and granite statues from the Chola period, ancient manuscripts on palm leaves are on show at the library, and the royal museum displays the royal costumes, cutlery, utensils and weapons.

The Tamil University was set up in 1981 to support the research and study of Tamil.

There are many places of interest outside Thanjavur. Thiruvaiyur (13 km) is where the south Indian saint Thyagaraja lived. A festival is held in his honour every Jan.

Clean and efficient express buses from Thanjavur go all over the state. Local transport is available in the forms of three wheelers (a.k.a. auto rickshaws), cycle rickshaws and taxis. The nearest airport is at Trichy ( 58 km). It serves planes from the Middle East, Colombo, Chennai and Madurai. From Trichy Thanjavur is easily accessible by road. There are direct train connections from Trichy, Chennai, Nagore and Madurai. Thanjavur is also well connected by road to all the major towns in the state. So rent a car or take a bus.


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