Thanjavur or Tanjore as it used to be known earlier reflects the best of Tamil Nadu. A temple town that is rich in culture and tradition of South India. We have been to Thanjavur many times and every time we have come back with good memories.
We were there again in October this year. This was more of a night stay on our trip to Navagriha temples in the region. This was a week before Dasara. Weather was good. A good spell of rain in the region had ensured we saw green and only green everywhere. Our main aim of staying in Thanjavur was to visit Brihadeeswara temple at dawn and click the pictures of magnificent temple. A new boutique hotel in a heritage building was our place of stay.
We were there in time when temple opened at 6.30 in the morning. The place of our stay being close to temple helped. There weren't many people at this time of the day. The weather was cool and mornings are the best time to visit temples in Tamil Nadu.
As we entered, the sheer magnificence of the temple left us wondering how it could have been possible one thousand years ago. The grandeur of the sculptures start at the entrance itself. We marvel at the life size sculptures of dwarapalakas or divine guardians. The Brihadeeshwara temple or the Big temple as it is known depicts the zenith of Chola architecture and sculptural tradition.
The temple is bound by huge wall with a moat which is dry. The tower at the entrance is small but elegantly carved. As we were entering the temple, a bass relief next to the dwarapalakas strike our eyes. This is a beautifully carved scene of Girija Kalyana or Lord Shiva's marriage to Parvati.
This temple along with temples at Darasuram and Gangai Konda Cholapuram form the cluster of Chola temples which is now a UNESCO world heritage site.
By Road - Thanjavur is well connected to different parts of Tamil Nadu by bus. If you plan to drive from Bangalore or Chennai, the roads are excellent.
By Train - Thanjavur is well connected to other parts of the country by Train.
By Air - The nearest airport is at Trichy which is at a distance of 40 KMs
Being a small town the city do not have too many good options though hotels suiting different budgets are available. If you looking for something different, then you should check into Tanjore Hi
, the new boutique hotel in a restored heritage mansion.
a) Visit the temple when it opens in the morning. It is tranquil and divine. No crowds. No noise. Since the temple faces east, it glows in morning light. It is also the coolest time of the day to visit the temple. The temple has second tallest Shiva linga next only to the one in Bhojpur details of which can be seen here in this blog.
Bhojpur - Temple with tallest Shiva Linga in the world!
b) Apart from the big temple the other places worth a visit are the Palace - for lovely murals - and Saraswathi Mahal library which stores rare manuscripts written in Sanskrit.
c) Thanjavur can be made as a base to explore Cauvery delta region. Day trips can be done to Tichy/Srirangam (temple town), Tranquebar (Danish fort and lovely beach), Velankanni/Nagore (Basilica and Dargah), Darasuram/Swamimalai/Thiruvaiyaru (Chola temples and birth place of Saint Thyagaraja on the banks of River Cauvery)
d) Navagriha temple circuit can also be done making Thanajvur as base ( Look out for a post on this soon on this blog)
e) Head to Poom Puhar show room to take a look at some stunning Chola bronzes. You may buy one if you have a fat wallet!
f) Watch the local artisans make lovely Tanjore paintings in small households on the southern side of big temple. You may buy one as well.
g) Lastly, don't forget to drink "Kumbakonam Degree Coffee" in any of the many outlets in the city.
h) For more details on Architectural heritage of the temple, please look at this link in this blog
Back of the Blog - Indian Architecture by Takeo Kamiya
i) For a driving holiday in Tamil Nadu covering Thanjavur, please take a look at this post in this blog
Driving Holidays from Bangalore 3 - A Tryst with Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu
Dont miss to click the link below to see the brilliant pictures of the temple by Arun Christopher and lovely murals of Tanjore palace by Saurabh Chatterjee. The panoramic view of temple by Arun is just brilliant.
Arun Christopher captures Big Temple!
Saurabh Captures the beautiful murals in Tanjore Palace!
You may also be interested to take a look at this link in this blog on magnificent Halebid in Karnataka, shortlisted for UNESCO Heritage sites.
Halebid - Where stones speak to you!
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