Thanjavur – A Popular Pilgrim Town
Located in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur, which was previously known by the name Tanjore, is a popular pilgrim town in the country widely known for its religious significances, magnificent art, and architecture.
In the historic context, Thanjavur is rich with its heritage as well as the fact that the amount of times it served as the capital place during the very prominent political reigns in ancient times makes it a significant spot in the Indian map.
While the place rose to high prominence amidst the rule of the Chola Empire in India, it went on becoming exponentially popular with time as after the fall of the Cholas, famous dynasties like the Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas as well as the British Empire too ruled the city.
The place also houses the famous Tanjore Painting, globally famous for the unique art that it depicts breeding from the same region.
Coming to the religious aspects of the place, the fundamental point that makes Thanjavur a globally known pilgrim spot is the fact that the majority of the great living Chola Temples, which are termed as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments reside in this very city or around it. Out of all these monuments, the most prominent and popular one is the Brihadeeswara Temple, devoted to popular Hindu deity Lord Shiva, which happens to be one of the largest temples in the entire country.
It flaunts magnificent Dravidian architecture and is also known by the names Periya Kovil, RajaRajeswara Temple, as well as Rajarajeswaram.
Apart from the Brihadeeswara Temple, the other prominent holy shrines and places of tourist attraction include names like Gangaikonda Cholesvarar Temple, the Thanjavur Maratha Palace, the Saraswathi Mahal Library, etc. Other than these, Thanjavur is also rich in cultural heritage, as popular cultural sagas like the famous Carnatic Vocals in south Indian culture found its roots from Thanjavur, likewise, popular Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam too found the roots of many of its defined styles from this very place. Thanjavur is also famous for its traditional handicrafts, which have registered its own name in the global market of art and handicrafts.
Pilgrim Place in Thanjavur is one of the top tourist spots, providing an exciting glimpse into India’s rich religious heritage. Renowned for Tanjore paintings, textiles and saris as well as Carnatic music, Bharathanatyam dance and handicrafts as well as being home to South Indian culture itself – it is often called ‘Cradle of South Indian Culture’
Thanjavur has seen several dynasties that have reigned over it leave their unique stamp on its temples and palaces – many are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites! Their architectural marvels represent their rich histories while at the same time are architectural marvels created by renowned sculptors, craftsmen, and artisans from that era and dedicated to various deities, saints and gods.
Brihadeeswara Temple stands as an outstanding example of Dravidian architecture and stands as one of the biggest temples in India, dedicated to Shiva – one of Hinduism’s primary deities – while reflecting Thanjavur’s vibrant cultural heritage through its intricate designs.
Other famous temples in Thanjavur include Gangaikonda Cholesvara Temple, Rajaraja Chola Palace and Saraswathi Mahal Library – visits to these magnificent structures will not be complete!
Thanjavur is famed for its exquisite temples of gods and goddesses, but its food scene is equally notable. Famous for its delicious rice pudding (kheer) and vadas (fried doughy balls), Thanjavur cuisine harkens back to Tamil Nadu with its distinct flavour profiles and is considered quite delectable by visitors.
One of the highlights of visiting Thanjavur is witnessing artisans at work and bringing home an item as a memento from this beautiful temple town. Artisans produce delicate Thanjavur paintings, bobble head dolls made by local artists, pithwork handicrafts, brass and bronze sculptures and even brass and bronze statues as souvenirs for visitors. There are plenty of workshops in Thanjavur that feature local artist works.
The Schwartz Church is another fascinating attraction worth seeing, constructed by Maratha ruler Sarfoji II as a memorial for Danish missionary teacher Rev Friedrich Schwartz who taught them Danish missions. Inside is an exquisite piece of white marble depicting King Sarfoji blessing the dying missionary before its consecration by King.
Thanjavur is an ideal destination for shopping enthusiasts, offering world-renowned cotton and handloom silk saris as well as brass and bronze idols from some of India’s top artisans. Additionally, you will find numerous boutique shops where you can pick up souvenirs to take back home with you.
Thanjavur is an incredible place to discover the wonders of southern India, and understand why it has been called the cradle of South Indian culture. A tour through its temples and other architectural marvels will leave you spellbound; so plan a Thanjavur trip soon; you won’t regret it!