Soaked in South Indian culture and art, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu is a major tourist destination. This one is known particularly for the temples which are nothing but architectural masterpieces. There are plentiful of things to indulge in Thanjavur. Hence, if you’re planning a trip to Thanjavur, make sure you’ve gone through this list.
#1 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 1568 times in trip plans
East main road, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu- 613001
09:00 am - 05:00 pm
Built in the heart of the capital of the Cholas, is the beautiful Thanjavur Palace. Although most of the beauty is now turned into ruins due to the natural pressures of thunder, strong winds etc, it still seems to behold the glory of the Chola and the Maratha rulers. This palace is said to be the official resident of the Bhonsle family who were the last rulers of Thanjavur. This place is also known as Aranmanai.
The thanjavur Palace is said to have been built by the Thanjavur Nayak ruler Vijayaraghava Nayakkar. Later after their fall, it was again renovated by the Thanjavur Maratha rulers. They stayed in the palace and held the surrounding forts even after the deposition of the last king Sivaji II.
At present there are two forts namely, the Chinna Kottai (small fort) and Periya Kottai (big fort). There are also the Bell Tower, arsenal tower and the two durbar halls of the Nayaks and the Marathas. It is a famous tourist destination that attracts thousands of tourists annually. The rich culture of that era can be seen from the vast collection of antiques, images, paintings and scriptures here. The stone work resembling that of the Brihadeeswara Temple and the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple takes you back to the golden days of the Nayaks and the Marathas.
There are also bronze sculptures and other statues made of metals in the interiors of the palace. The several statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses make it clear that the early royals were very religious people.
The main attractions of this monument are the ancient art and glass paintings, especially the unique sculture of ‘bhikshatanamurti’. It is another form of Lord Shiva in the guise of a beggar.
In the palace, you will also find-
The bell Tower which has seven storeys is said to have been even higher before has now eroded. It is believed that the Vijayaraghava Nayakkar used to worship from the terrace of this tower every day. Researchers have said that there was a huge clock on this tower with a motif of a monkey, which used to strike the gong every hour. The tower is fashioned in the Gingee nayak style.
There is a library which houses several old scriptures and writings of that period. It is known as the saraswathi Mahal Library. The main attraction here is the Palm leaves and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages. There are also documents of medicines and inscriptions of the Sangam periods.
The Royal Museum has a vast collection of royal clothing, headgears and royal weapons. There is also the image of Shiva and Parvati on their wedding day. There are also statues of Pallava, Chola, Nayaka and the Pandya Periods. Apart from these there are several statues of Hindu gods and Goddesses.
The Art Gallery has a vast collection of various bronze statues and objects of the Chola dynasty. There are also bronze statues which stand as a symbol of the excellent craftsmanship of those days. The images and objects of the gallery clearly depict the lifestyle of the people in those times.
The Sangitha Mahal is the remaining of the house of the Court musicians.
The two Durbar halls stand in very good shape unlike the other parts of the palace. These two are the places in which the rulers used to gather for public meetings. The durbar halls are adorned with beautiful frescoes on the ceiling and the walls as well.
The whole palace is under renovation also to restore the remaining grandeur of it. But nonetheless you can enjoy your ride on the time machine as soon as you enter the palace.
#2 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 2079 times in trip plans
Membalam Road, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu- 613001
06:00 am - 09:00 pm
Emperor Arulmozhivarman, popularly known as Raja Raja I was the founder of the magnificent Brihadeeswara Temple. History says that the king got the idea of this temple in a dream in which God instructed him to build the temple as a symbol of the grandeur of the Tamil king, his wealth and culture. The temple was built within a very short time of 5 years. The king wanted it to be a symbol of his power and vision.
The temple was then the place where all the royal ceremonies would take place, especially festivals of Lord Shiva. This temple is the perfect example of Indian culture, especially the ancient Chola designs. The architecture is broadly based on symmetric and geometrical patterns. This can be seen from the number of columns and square motifs build within the temple. This Dravidian temple is a showcase of brilliant achievements of the Chola Empire in the fields of architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
According to scriptures, the very talented engineer and architect behind this monument was Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthechan. He made all the designs based on the studies of ‘vaastushastra’. This temple made of granite has-
A solid base on which stands Shiva figures in various dance postures.
To enhance the beauty of this temple, there is a big roof portion which is said to have been built with a single piece of stone.
The upper portion of the temple is designed with 81 structures of Bharatnatyam dancers, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu.
The goddess shrine was later constructed by the Pandyas, the Subramanya Shrine by Vijaynagara rulers and the Vinayaka Shrine by Maratha rulers. The ‘Nandi’ or the famous statue of the bull is an important attraction here.
The temple was built like a fortress with an exclusive design. The structures here are aligned in a decreasing order of height.
The complex has two different entrances, one big and another is small.
The main tower is huge in size. It has beautiful art and scriptures inscribed on it.
The shortest tower or ‘vimana’ has an unusual design unlike the other taller ones.
The main temple is at the centre of the open quadrangle area. There are statues, an assembly hall and a pillared hall.
The most important hall is the innermost one. This is divided into levels with sharp crafts. The statues of important icons of that time are sculpted on the walls here. The ceiling also is decorated with mesmerizing paintings.
Beneath the hall there is another room which is said to be the worship place of Lord Shiva.
The outer path leads to another hall which comprises of rectangular rooms with as many as 20 columns.
The outer gateway is adorned with 400 pillars with stunning paintings.
The whole temple has beautiful Chola frescoes on the walls around. There are portraits of Shiva in action, battles of Gods and Demons, the stories of the white heavenly elephants and other kings also.
The prime deity here is Lord Shiva and the other temples are for huge figure of Gods such as Dakshinamurthy, Surya and Chandra. This is the only temple which has the idols of the ‘gods of Directions’ namely- Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirti, Varuna, Vayu, Kuber and Isana.
#3 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 1419 times in trip plans
Poompuhar Art Gallery, Thanjavur railway Station, Tamil Nadu- 613001
10:00 am - 08:00 pm
Also known as the Silappathikara Art Gallery, it is the house of all traditional and ancient paintings and sculptures of the ancient kings and lifestyle of Thanjavur. It is an introduction to Tamil Nadu’s rich art forms.
The various attractions in this gallery are:
The beautiful structure of the sun peeping out behind the stunning Mahabalipuram temple is an excellent masterpiece by the local artists.
The statute of nataraja in a festive mood from the Chidambaram temple is fantastic.
Paintings and arts of the Nayaka and the Maratha kingdom.
From the solid temple architecture, bonze figures, gold foil, jewel crusted Tanjore paintings, to exquisitely carved brass lamps, the architecture and art of Tamil Nadu is full of varieties.
The poompuhar Art Gallery was formed with a purpose to restore the ancient art forms and also showcase the talent of local artists in the area. It was made by the handicrafts department of the Tamil Nadu Government. Poompuhar constantly puts up training programs to teach artisans how to cater to the needs of the brimming demand of the customers.
Poompuhar artists also excel in the art of building Hindu temples and churches also. They build temples according to the Agama Shastras. The art gallery puts up training sessions to teach the artisans the art of lacquer ware, mat weaving, paper mache, terracotta and also gives them financial assistance to continue working.
In the art gallery, you will find beautiful bronze structure all made of ancient designs of the Chola Era. The making of these need lot of hardwork of the artisans. They have to first make a wax mould of the figure, then coat them with a mixture of clay, ground cotton, salt and charred husk and then sun dried. This framework is then heated to melt the wax inside. Then the chosen metal is melted and poured into the frame and the figure is then taken out once it cools. The finishing touches like the burnish, painting and perfection are done with hands. The use of the ‘panchaloha or five metals’ are also very much in use here. The metals used are copper, tin, gold, silver and lead.
The most attractive model is of Lord Shiva in a happy pose which is a symbol of knowledge, happiness and destruction of evil. There are also beautiful ganesha models in different postures.
There are wonderful paintings here with gold leaf foil and have precious and semi-precious gemstones embedded in them. These paintings are done on wood, glass, ivory, mica, murals and manuscripts. The tanjore metal plate here dates back to the rule of the Marathas and the credit goes to King Serfoji II.
Exquisite woodcrafts designed with sculped panels are also a visual treat here. The entrance of the art gallery has a huge structure of ‘Magara Thorana Vayil’. There is also a tank with a shape of an ank-let around which you will find the models of Kannagi and Madavi. The paintings inside depict the life of the epic land of Silapathhikara.
This place is overflowing with the rich talent of the artisans who bring out the colours of the past with their hands.
#4 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 2715 times in trip plans
Cholapuram, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu-613001
06:30 am - 08:30 pm
Gangaikonda Cholapuram, which means “the town of the Chola who took the Ganges”, is just at the centre of the city of Tamil Nadu. The tiny village of Gangaikonda Cholapuram was built by Emperor Rajendra Chola, who was the Son of RajarajaChola. He was most successful Chola ruler and this village was the capital of the kingdom. At the time of Rajendra Chola, there was wealth overflowing from the numerous battles won till far north of the country. It is said that the king brought Ganges water in a golden pot and poured it in the ‘Ponneri or Cholaganga’ reservoir. He was thus hailed as ‘Gangaikondan’, which means “the one who brought the Ganges”. It was the idea of the king to build a huge temple which could be compared to the stunning Brihadeeswara Temple as a symbol of his power. Thus, the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple was built.
The temple boasts of many rare artifacts such as-
The Shivalinga which is the largest in Southern India. It is said to be built with a single piece of limestone.
The excellent skill of the sculptors can be seen from the rare design. The sunlight falls on the statue of ‘nandi the bull’ and it gets reflected on the Shivalinga. It is said that even if there is no light in the temple, everyone can see the idol clearly because of the reflected sunlight.
The shadow of the ‘kalasa’ or the rooftop design does not reach the ground here. This rare feature is found nowhere else.
A rare stone called ‘chandrakanta’ is placed under the Shivalinga which strangely cools the temple area during summers and warms it during winters.
The idol of Mother Periya Nayaki stands 9.5 feet tall. This is one of the most important attractions of the temple.
Another rare feature of the temple is the motif of the ‘navagraha’ or the nine planets sculpted on designs of lotuses.
The fantastic architecture of the temple has-
A 9 storey ‘vimanam’ or tower that extends to a height of 185 feet.
On the eastern face, the temple has beautiful carvings. The design resembles the Brihadeeswara Temple style of design.
The whole temple is decorated with paintings and sculptures of the traditional Chola style. The designs also have a touch of the north.
The interior portrays a perfect combination of complex carvings and lucid Chola designs.
There are stunning sculptures of dancing Shiva and peaceful Saraswati.
The most interesting and unique feature is the statue of the ‘Ardhanareshwar’ or the man-woman demonstration of Lord Shiva.
The gigantic shrine also has idols of Ganesha and other important bronzes of the Chola Age.
This place simply gives you peace of mind. So, if you are tired of your busy life and need some rest, this is an excellent place to enjoy some excellent art examples.
This temple is said to be a 1000 years old or even more than that. There is no proper evidence of when it was formed but there are many proofs of the Chola kings worshipping in this temple. Legendary story behind this temple is that Bhoomadevi approached Perumal and said that she also deserved a place in his heart as she was nothing less than Mahalakshmi. Perumal in turn told her that she would be born as the daughter of sage Markandeya and she would be known as Tulsi. According to this one fine day when the sage was offering his daily prayers he saw a little girl in the form of Bhoomadevi playing beside the Tulsi plant. He adopted her and named her as Tulsi. Soon after that one day an old man who was actually Lord Vishnu came and told the sage that he wanted to marry his daughter. As expected the sage simple rejected the offer and replied that his daughter was too small in his comparison and could not even cook with proper dose of salt. The old man then said that he was ready to eat food without salt also but he would not leave without marrying Tulsi. This is when Sage Markandeya realized that it was the Lord himself and happily married his daughter to him. This is when Lord Vishnu appeared in his actual form. From this time only Lord Vishnu is worshipped with a garland of tulsi leaves as she stayed in his heart.
This is the actual reason for the name of this temple as ‘Uppil’ means without salt. This temple is also known as Oppiliappam Temple as ‘Oppi’ means the unbeatable. Till now the food served to the deity here is cooked without salt.
The temple has a five tiered gateway structure all made of Granite. The premises contain all the shrines and tanks attached to it. The Sahasradhari plate and pot are made of gold for special prayers. There are golden sword, diamond crown and gold arm for the image of Hanuman. The shrine over the main temple is also coated with gold. The main temple has the standing idol of lord Uppiliappam. The other halls are for the idols of Tulsi and sage Markandeya. The holy birth spot of Bhoomidevi is also there in the Northern part of the temple premises.
There are two marble halls in the complex, one in which the festival deities are kept for rest and the other in which the Dolotsavam is celebrated. Along with these halls there are shrines of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanumana.
There is also a hall for yagnas, a library, and a hall for storing festival vehicles. There is a hall with eight beautifully carved pillars where the functions during the Annual Float festival. There is also a different shrines for day-to-day prayers.
Outside the temple complex there are two marriage halls, two gardens with pretty flowers and two places for parking big and small chariots. The chariot festival is the main festival celebrated during the month of Panguni for nine days.
#6 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 1338 times in trip plans
Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
05:00 am - 07:00 pm
The Airavateswara temple is located in a small place called Darasuram near the town of Kumbakonam. It is known that the original name of the place was Rajarajapuram and later converted into Darasuram. This temple is the main attraction of this place.
According to the legends, Airavata, the white elephant of Lord Indra worshipped Lord Shiva here to get freed from the curse of sage Durvasa. The sage cursed him that his skin colour will change from white. It is believed that Lord Shiva instructed Airavata to bathe in the holy tank of the temple. As soon as he took a bath there he was freed from the curse. This is why the avatar of Lord Shiva in this temple is known as Airavateswara after the name of the white elephant.
Another story behind this temple says that Yama, the death God also worshipped Lord Shiva here to get rid of a curse on him given by some sage. He was cursed with a painful burning sensation all over his body. In the same way Lord Shiva told him to take a dip in the holy water of the tank and he therefore got freed from the curse.
The prime deities of this temple are Lord Shiva, known here as Airavateswara and his consort Periya Nayaki Amman. There is also a shrine with an idol of Lord Indra with Airavata. Now, there is a separate temple for the Goddess with a standing statue of her.
This temple was built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century. The most exclusive feature of this temple is that it is in the shape of a chariot. The main entrance is massive with beautiful stone cutting work all over it. The temple is now a protected site by the UNESCO. It is really a storehouse of rich culture and architecture of the Chola period. There are also references that the Pandya kings had taken huge efforts to maintain this temple also. The front hall is a picture perfect place in the design of a chariot driven by horses. It looks amazing.
There are various inscriptions on the walls of the temple. The place is mostly in ruins but whatever inscriptions are left are mainly in the inner pathway. There are different figurines inscribed on the walls where the women are in various gymnastics positions making circular postures. It is the symbol of the dance of that time. The main hall is known as raja Gambhira because the elephant draws the chariot here. In this hall, the ceiling has a stunning carving of Shiva-Parvati inside a lotus. There are various postures of Bharatnatyam carved on the stone. There are also excellent art works depicting a scene where village women are helping another woman deliver a child while she is resting her hands on the shoulder of the woman who is pressing her abdomen. The thought behind these frescoes are just mind-blowing.
At the main gateway there are figures of two dwarpalakas and two sankhanidhis and padmanidhis which are symbols of youth. It really gives you a royal feel. Most of the remaining of this place were transferred to the Thanjavur Palace museum but then again returned after it was designated as a heritage site. The ancient sculptures include statue of Lord Shiva as Kankala Murti, inscriptions of stories and ancient epics, the statues of Buddha, Bhiksatana, Saraswati without her Veena and a form of Ardhanarishwara Brahma and Surya. Once you move outwards there are two shrines one known as Balipitha and the other a Ganesha temple followed by fleet of stone steps. Once you tap on them they make excellent musical sounds. It is so surprising if you try to think how modern the art and architecture was so many hundred years ago.
#7 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 720 times in trip plans
Tirukoodamukku, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
06:00 am - 08:30 pm
It is said that when the world was moving rapidly towards destruction, Lord Brahma approached Lord Shiva for a remedy. The lord told him to build a pot filled with nectar of life and float it in water. He is said to have taught Lord Brahma the way how to leave it on water. Legends say that the pot stopped at a place and Lord Shiva shot an arrow to break the pot. The pot broke and the nectar of life spilled all over and this is where came up the Shivalinga which is now known as ‘Kumbeshwarar’ Temple. The temple was built around this Lingam during the Chola rule and later other developments were done by the Nayakas.
Kumbeswarar Temple is a famous Hindu temple in the town of Kumbakonam. The prime deity here is Lord Shiva better known as Kumbeswarar. There is the lord’s consort here known as Manthrapeeteswari Mangalambika. The main festival here is ‘Mahamaham’. Other festivals celebrated here are- Sapthasthanam festival, Thirukalyanam Festival, Tirumanjanam festival, Adi Perukku and Adi Pooram festival, the Panguni festival and the Panchamurthis festival.
The beautiful architecture of the interior can be seen from the exquisitely carved towers, walls and ceiling. There is not an inch without proper designs made there. The other features of the temple that will just keep you spellbound are-
The 4 huge towers that seem to have no end. The most attractive is the eastern entrance of the temple which keeps you awestruck given its massive height.
The temple has three huge parts and the songs and hymns of early Tamil saints are beautifully inscribed on the walls. These ornamentations were later beautified by the later Cholas, Nayakas and the Marathas.
There are scenes from the religious Puranas amazingly sculpted on the walls when you walk through the pathways on your way to the main sanctum. There are also exclusive motifs of the 12 zodiac signs and 27 asterisms. The chains hanging from the ceilings look like they are made of iron but surprisingly there are excellent examples of stone cuttings.
The most interesting attraction here is the ‘Nadeswaram’, meaning a wind instrument that can still be played.
The Lingam is kept in a beautiful silver case. It is never bathed as it is said to be very brittle. It is only coated with ‘punugu’ which is the oily, perfumed secretion of the civet cat.
The hall of the Goddess ‘Mangalambigai’ which means ‘the one who is auspicious’ is splendid. The tall idol of the Goddess is coated with pure gold. The base on which it is standing is also solid gold. She is said to be worshipped with as many as 72 Crore mantras.
At the end of this hall is a striking bedroom, better known as Palliyarai which means ‘bedroom of the Goddess’. The walls and ceilings of this room are decorated with vegetable dye paintings and gem encrusted Tanjore Art. This will simply leave your jaws hanging.
Another beautiful shrine amongst the cluster of precious gems is that of Jurahareshwar, which means ‘he who destroys fever’. Devotees pray to him to cure fever.
The Pottramarai Tank is that is infront of the temple is used by the devotees to bath themselves during the Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years. Legend says that many million years ago 12 holy maidens had bathed in this tank.
The other deities worshipped here are- Sapta Mathas, Kamadenu, Bhava Linga, Mahalinga, lord Dakshinamurthy, Lord Valanchuzhi Vinayaka, Lord Bhikshadana, Muruga, Akshayalinga, Sahasralinga, Mothers Annapoorni, Gajalakshmi, Mahalakshmi and saraswati. There are also shrines of Ashtabhuja Durga, Navaneetha Vinayaka, Kiradhamurthy, Bhairava, Jurakeswar, Sashtha, Nagambal.
This temple is said to bring you lots of goodluck and destroy all evil powers affecting you.
#8 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 994 times in trip plans
Arulmigu Abathsahayeswarar Temple, Alangudi- 612801, ValangaimunTaluk, Thiruvarur District
06:00 am - 08:30 pm
The Alangudi temple is considered as a holy place for the worship of Shiva. It is situated in the Alangudi village of the Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu.
The temple built on the banks of River Cauvery is also known as Abathsahayeswarar Temple. The prime deity here is Abathsahayeswarar and his consort is Elavar kuzhali Ammai or Umayammai. There is a self manifestedshivalinga here and the ‘Dakshinamurthy’ or 10 deities are worshipped here with motifs around the Shivalinga. These are called- Suryam, Chandram, Angaraka, Budham, Guru, Sukram, Shani, Rahu, Kethu. The main deities are Shiva and Parvati. Other than that the idols are of PillayarMurugar and Chandikeswarar. The idols here are placed according to the ‘vaastushastra’ and all of them face a particular direction.
The story behind this temple says that-
Shiva once gulped down poison to save the world. In Tamil ‘ala’ means poison and this is how the Deity came to be known as Abathsahayeswarar which means “the one who helps in crisis”.
Lord Ganesha is also worshipped here as ‘Kalangalam Kaththa Vinayakar’.
This place is also known as ‘Thirumana Mangalam’ as here Ambal was punished when she wanted to marry Lord Shiva.
Another story says that Lord Shiva dressed as a boatman and ferried Sundarar till this place and this is where he got his advice from the Dakshinamurthy.
It is believed here that one who has the blessings of his 14 previous generations become lucky to visit the Alangudi temple. There are steps followed for the worship of the deity which includes-
First Shiva is worshipped as the Almighty of all.
Then the flag of Ganapathy, the main deity and Dakshinamurthy are to be worshipped.
After this the deities of Somaskanda, Karthikeya, Mahalakshmi, Durga, Chandikeswara, Navagrahas and the Gurumurthy are worshipped.
Then, Lord Sani and Elavar kuzhali Ammai are worshipped.
At the end prostration before the flag is to be done with your body touching the ground.
It is believed that the temple was constructed by an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva called Amuthokar. He was a minister of the king Masukuntha Chakravarti who beheaded him but then realized his mistake and started worshipping here.
Alangudi is surrounded by three holy rivers of Cauvery, Kolidam and Vennaru. There are as many as 15 holy shrines surrounding this temple among which the most important are Amrita Pushkarni and Chakra Teertham. The Poolai Shrub is the holy tree here which is worshipped.
This place will surely reinforce you belief in The Almighty!
#9 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 1053 times in trip plans
Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
06:00 am - 07:00 pm
The Great Living Chola temple is referred to the collection of three famous granite temples all dedicated to Lord Shiva. These are the Brihadeeshwara temple in Thanjavur, The Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple and the Airavateshvara temple at Darasuram. The latter two were recently added to the world heritage extensions.
These temples built during the reign of the Chola kings are spread over the major part of South India and are the most important attractions of the regions. These are symbols of the wealth, power and rich culture of the people and artists, the royal commitment and domain of the kings during that time.
The most important figure that comes into light when we talk about the Great Living Chola Temples is that of Rajaraja CholaIwhose contribution is clear especially after seeing the splendid construction of the Brihadeeshwara Temple. Later his son Rajendra Chola I expanded the territory even more and developed the former campaigns also. He then built the perfect capital in the form of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and in it the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvara.
The city of Thanjavur, the location of the living temples is also called Tanjore in modern times. It is situated on the south bank of River Cauvery. It is said to have derived its name from a demon named Tanjaneho was according to the legends later killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Sri Neelamegapperumal. It is most popularly known as the capital of the ancient Mutharayars and Cholas when they were at the peak of power and since those times Thanjavur is an important place of culture and politics in south India. It is a rich area which was ruled by the Nayakas and the Marathas after the decline of the Chola Empire.
The city has around 90 temples which are symbols of the culture and heritage. There are three most important of course. Firstly, the Brihadeeswara Temple, which means the big temple. It was a result of a command given to Rajaraja I in his dreams. This is the most important symbol of Chola glory. It is said to have the highest entrance in the world. The splendid architecture and carvings are combined with the lucid design. This has always been an example for many other master pieces not only in South but also in the South East Asia.
Secondly, we have to talk about the Gangaikonda Cholapuramtemple which was built by Rajendra Chola I in his Capital GangaikondaCholapuram. It was built to celebrate his victory over the northern states and also to show his power to his subjects. This temple was also dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Thirdly, the Airavateshvara Temple, which is smaller than the rest of the two but with a beauty even more. The exclusively designed temple, built like a chariot, with musical steps. This was built by Rajaraja II and later maintained by the Pandyas. The beautiful carvings and the extraordinary architecture make this temple an unique one compared to all other temples in the world.
Lastly, special mention of the Kampahareshwarar temple which is not included in the heritage group of the UNESCO but is worth a mention given its stunning shape and beauty. This one also has the shape of a chariot. It was built by Tribhuvana Chakravarti to celebrate his victory on some northern states. The entrance has a massive height. The striking feature of this temple is the inscriptions of the parts of Ramayana in the interiors of the temple. There is also a rare statue of Lord Shiva in the Sarabha form which he took to subdue Narasimha.
#10 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 670 times in trip plans
Balaganapathynagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu- 613007
09:00 am - 06:00 pm
Sandwiched between the huge brihadeeswara temple and the Schwartz church is this cute park known as the Sivaganga gardens. It was a place initially built by the Chola King Vesappa Nayakkar. It is said that the Chola kings believed that the water of the Ganges from Shiva’s head in the Brihadeeswara temole will fall and flow till this place. It was later designated to a garden in the 19th century by the local municipalities.
This place is a must visit, especially with kids. There is lot to enjoy and have fun here. There is a swimming pool, boating facilities, a cute little toy train, a garden with pretty flowering plants and even ornamental plants. There is also a cute little zoo with a few birds and animals also and guess what? There is also an amusement park with swings and even a cable car here. There is a huge tank built inside the park which is said to have been giving water to the Thanjavur Palace from several years. The water of this tank has a unique sweetness in it.
You can take a walk through the park or cool yourself with the water sports or even sit and relax on the grass. The area in which the garden is situated is very crowded and not well ventilated but restoration works are on the go and very soon the park will become even more beautiful.
This place is the perfect weekend destination with your family and loved one. Enjoy yourself in this garden cum zoo cum water-park cum children’s park all in one.
#11 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 496 times in trip plans
Arulmigu Mahalingaswamy Temple, Thiruvidaimarudur- 612104, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
05:30 am - 10:00 pm
This place is known of one of the sacred places on which the drops of the nectar of life fell from the magic pot of Lord Brahma when Lord Shiva hit the arrow. This is how the Shivalinga was formed here. The four other places are- Tirudharasuram, Naganathar temple, Tiruvorgam, Tirupadalavanam.
The prime deity here is Lord Shiva and his consort called Brihathsundarakujambigai or Nanmulayinayaki. This temple is considered to be equal to Kasi. History links this temple to a very early Pandya King, Varaguna pandyan. Later it was renovated by the Cholas and the Nayakas and much later by the Marathas.
There is another legendary story of this temple which speaks about Varaguna Pandyan being cursed by the spirit of a Brahmin, who was perished by his horse while coming back from a hunting trip. It is said that the king went to pray to the temple to get rid of the curse as instructed to him by lord Somaskanda in a dream and he was instructed by Mahalingaswamy to leave the temple through the west gate. Thus, he was freed from the Brahmin’s curse. It is still believed that anyone exiting the temple from the main door is cursed by the spirit.
The temple has three different pathways or praharams known as- the asvamedha praharam, kodumudi praharam and the pranava praharam. It is said that offering prayers in these pathways can give you relief from all your pain and sadness in life. Other than the main deity the other deities here are- Viswanathar, Rishipureeswarar, Atmanather and Chokkanathar.
The Maruda Maram is the holy tree here. This temple is said to be 20000 years old and has inscriptions of Hoysala and vijayanagara kings. The temple is also called Idai Maruthu, which means centre of Marudur. The wall inscriptions are from the rule of KulothungacholaI. They include writings about surveys and developments made inside the temple. There are also names and histories of queens written on the walls. The names of the three queens were- Dinachintamani, Elisaivallabhi and Tyagavalli.
The temple is also famous for its link with the history of the Devadasi tradition. In this dancers were donated to the temple and the gods. There are also inscriptions about the functions, occasions, dances and entertainment which used to be put up during those times.
The temple has a 5 tier structure with a huge area. This place is known as one of the holiest Shiva temples in the world. There are 5 tanks built inside the temole premises known as- Karunyamirdha Theertham, Soma Teertham, Kanaga Teertham, Kalyana Teertham, Iravatha teertham. There are also idols of Pattinathar and Bhadragiriyar in the eastern and western gateways.
There is a completely separate shrine for Lord Mookambiga which is built in northern architectural styles. A Saiva Siddhantha library inside the temple has an amazing collection of old manuscripts and palm leaves.
There are beautiful motifs of lotus beams on the walls of the temple. The shrines of Muruga and Nataraja both have these kinds of designs on their walls. There are lovely halls inside the temple. This temple is one of the most visited temples of the region.
All in all, this place is not only an important place of worship but also a perfect destination for history buffs as a walk through the temple will help you get an insight into the life and rule of the royals of this region many years ago.
#12 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 386 times in trip plans
Inathukkanpatti, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu- 613001
10:00 am - 05:00 pm
It was originally known as ‘Navaratnamana maina Nataka Sala’. This tongue twisting name means ‘the thatre adorned with gems’. It was so called as the interiors of this hall were all decorated with precious gemstones. It was built many many years ago by the Nayak king, Sevappa Nayak during the 1600s. Later, when the Marathas started ruling this place, it came to be known as the Sangeetha Mahal.
It is situated in the first floor of the Thanjavur palace. It is a unique hall with features that stops the echo of sounds despite the huge area. It is said to have been the place for the royal entertainment. The Kings were entertained in the Sangeetha Mahal by eminent singers and dancers of that time. The hall can accommodate 1000 audience at a time. The place for performance is quite a few levels below the ground.
Sangeetha Mahal is an example of brilliant architecture and excellent finesse that was way ahead of that time. It is a rectangular hall with glamorous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It still gives a royal feel to the visitors.
The architectural brilliance can be seen from the fact that the hall has a rare feature of controlled sound absorption in such a way that sound reaches perfectly till the very last row. The construction of the audience seats are in such a way, that you will get the same clear view of the performance wherever you sit. The water body made just in front of the stage works as a scientific area for absorbing sound and enhancing the beauty of the place as well.
In early times the common people viewed the functions from the floor whereas the royals were seated behind the huge widows on the upper level. It was organized in such a manner to ensure that the performers or any of the common people could not get a glance of the royal families but the king could view each one of them. This was done to ensure the safety of the royal family.
In recent times, the Sangeetha Mahal is a place for the ultimate musical experience. Modern concerts and functions are held here. Now, of course the royal instruments have given way for amplifiers, mikes and other western musical instruments along with colourful lighting instead of the sparkling chandeliers. But, even now the architecture of the hall is a symbol of the grandeur of the Chola kings.
There is also an exhibition hall where permanent exhibitions of local crafts and handicrafts are put up here. It showcases the importance and culture of the ancient Tanjore life.
#13 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 987 times in trip plans
Balaganapathynagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu- 613007
06:00 am - 07:00 pm
Thanjavur was originally the kingdom of the Chola kings and the nayaks. Later after the fall of this kingdom the Marathas took over and ruled this place for more than 180 years. Within this time there was the entry of the British eho started rising in power but were then defeated by the French colonials in the 18th century. The wealth was overflowing the kingdom due to these foreign invasions. This was the time when the Schwartz Church was built by the Maratha King Serfoji II.
The church was a symbol of respect to the Danish Reverend Frederick Christian Schwartz. It was completed by the Danish Missionary under the instructions of the Maratha ruler. Schwartz lived just behind the church and later, the house was turned into a school much after his death.
Located on the eastern side of the Sivaganga Gardens, this church is an excellent combination of Maratha and French architecture. It is basically a simple building but it surely has some very stunning features such as- the doorways exquisitely designed and the walls and pathways all done in a very French manner.
The most remarkable feature of the church complex is the white tablet gifted by the very kind king Serfoji II as a sign of respect to Scwartz. This is a marble tablet made by John Flaxman is placed on the western part of the premises. On the marble is sculpted the scene of the reverend blessing his royal patron before dying. The two are surrounded by many ministers and followers of the church.
The church is surrounded with lush greenery and tall shady trees which are apt for a religious ambience. This place is a must visit to get an insight into the colonial era of Thanjavur.
#14 of 23 Things to do in Thanjavur | Added 566 times in trip plans
Viswanathan Colony, Solaiappan Street, Kumbanokam, Tamil Nadu- 612001
07:00 am - 08:00 pm
This temple is built around the Mahamaham tank in the town of Kumbakonam. Legends say that this temple dates back to the time of Ramayana. It is said that Lord Rama worshipped Shiva when Ravana captured Sita. Lord Shiva is said to have gifted lord Rama with supernatural strength and energy in him to win a war against the evil Ravana. This is the place where Rama converted into his Rudravatar from being a soft hearted human being so that he could successfully fight against Ravana.
Another legend says that the 9 river goddesses namely- Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, saraswati, Cauvery, Narmada, Tungabhadra, Krishna and Sarayu had gone to Lord Kasi Viswanatha and asked him for a remedy of how they could wash away the sins set on them by people taking a bath in them to free themselves from the sins of the world. It is said that Lord Shiva instructed them to go and take a bath in the holy tank of Mahamaham where the navakanikas had taken a dip and in this way they could get rid of all the sins on them.
The local people believe that the lord residing in this temple blesses girls who are unable to give birth to children or do not get married in time. There is a separate temple in the banks of the tank where devotees pray for these remedies. It is said that if those girls keep a fast for 16 consecutive Fridays, they will receive blessings of the Lord and all their problems would get solved. The strangest part is that the Shivalinga in this temple is formed by itself under a Neem tree and is said to have grown with time and still continues to grow.
The prime deities here are Lord KasiViswanathan and Mother Visalakshi. The name comes from the story which says that Lord Shiva came here from Kasi, Varanasi to help the Navakanikas get rid of their sins. Thus this temple came to be known as the KasiViswanathan Temple.
The architecture of the temple is a beautiful example of the ancient south Indian style of the royals. The most imminent feature of the temple is that Mother Durga is in a position facing Lord Chandikeswarar. The temple has shrines of Lord Bhairava, Saptamadhas, Sun, Moon, Jeshtha Devi, Lingodhbava, Sri Anjaneya, Mahisasuramardini and Lord Dakshinamurthy.
This temple is around 2000 years old and is a place which brings out your religious side and may gives you a positive feeling.
This temple was built under the instructions of King Raghunata nayaka, who was a great devotee of Lord Rama. The work was supervised by his minister Govinda Dikshitar. This temple is linked by a pathway with the Chakrapani temple which was also built by Dikshitar.
According to the pages of History, King Dasaratha was very disappointed as he had no children to take forward his legacy so he conducted a yagna to worship Lord Vishnu. The Lord was pleased and thus was born Rama, who was himself an avatar of the Lord to Dasaratha’s first wife Kaushalya, Lakshmana and Shatrughna were the lotus and conch of Lord Vishnu who were born to his third wife Sumitra and Bharatha was the Lord’s discus born to his second wife Kaikeyi. The epic tells us the story how Lakshmana accompanied Rama and Sita to the jungle and at the same time Bharatha ruled the kingdom as an acting governor by placing Rama’s slippers on the throne till he returned from his exile after 14 years. The four brothers were living examples of Dharma. They were inseparable given their bond and love. Also, the hardships faced by Mother Sita and the ideal disciple in the form of Hanumana.
This is the only temple in which the idols and paintings of lord Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna and Mother Sita along with Hanuman and his group can be seen together. The temple has a lovely interior with inscriptions from Ramayana Painted all over the walls. Here the coronation ceremony of Rama with his consort Sita by his side and also his brothers is the main fresco.
The temple has three different halls surrounded with walls. The central shrine has the image of Lord Rama in a sitting position with his beloved Sita. The other paintings are Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrughna standing and Hanuman in a worship position. The pillars inside the temple are built of one single piece of stone each and are carved. The paintings are awesome. In the other hall Rama is in a vykarna mudra and Hanuman is holding manuscripts. It is such a rare scene. The other unique frescoes are of the coronation of Sugriva, Bhibhisana, relieving Agalya from his curse and Hanumana playing the veena.
There is also a shrine of Lord Perumal with Mothers Bhoodevi and Sridevi. The paintings in this 500 year old temple are all done with herbal colours. The finesse is fantastic. It is said that those facing obstacles in marriage should taking blessings from here.
So, if you want to experience Ramayana from the roots, this is the perfect place which gives you all the details like no other book can. Moreover, the beauty and elegance of the temple is a cherry on the cake.