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 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 temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built in 1003 AD by the Chola King Rajaraja I. A 107 paragraph long inscription on the walls of the Vimanam records the contributions of Raja Raja Chola and his sister Kundavai to the Thanjavur temple. The temple stands within a fort, whose walls are later additions built in the 16th century. The towering vimanam is about 200 feet in height and is referred to as Dakshina Meru. The octogonal Shikharam rests on a single block of granite weighing 81 tons. It is believed that this block was carried up a specially built ramp built from a site 6 kilometeres away from here. Huge Nandis dot the corners of the Shikharam, and the Kalasam on top by itself is about 3.8 meteres in height. Hundreds of stucco figures bejewel the Vimanam, although it is possible that some of these may have been added on during the Maratha period. The Shivalingam – Peruvudaiyar, Rajarajeswaramudaiyar - is a huge one, set in a two storeyed sanctum, and the walls surrounding the sanctum delight visitors as a storehouse of murals and sculpture.
Saraswati Mahal Library
The Saraswati Mahal Library came into being around the end of 16th century under the rule of Telugu Nayaka. The Library is famous for its collection of manuscripts of several Indian and European languages on paper and on palm leaves. 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.
By Rail : 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.