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Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore
Dharmapuri
Thanjavur
Dindigul
Sivaganga

Erode






 
Thanjavur District
     
Thanjavur District is the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu.  The Big Temple and the other famous temples in the district are known all over the world.   Thanjavur was the cultural capital of the country in 1790.   Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital.  Thereafter, it was ruled by Nayaks  and Maratta Kings, who nurtured art and culture.  The cultural, the architectural and the scholarly pursuits of these rulers are reflected in the great monuments like Grand Anaicut, Big Temple and Serfoji Mahal Library etc.  in the district. 



Location

Thanjavur District lies as the East Coast of Tamil Nadu.  It is situated between 9  50’  and 11  25’ of the  northern latitude and  78  45’ and 70  25’ of the Eastern longitude.  It extents to an area of  3396.57 sq.kms.  The District is bounded on the north by the  Coloroon which separate it from Perambalur and Tiruchirappalli district, and on the East it is bounded by the Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts, and on the South by the Palk Strait and Pudukottai district and on the West by Pudukkottai and Thiruchirappalli districts.
The district can be divided into two distinct division, viz., the deltaic region, the upland area or on-deltaic region.  The deltatic region covers the whole northern and eastern portions of the district where the Cauvery with its wide network of branches irrigate more than half of the district.  It comprises the whole of Kumbakonam taluk and parts of Thanjavur, Papanasam taluks.  The rest of the southern and western areas of the district are non-deltaic or upland region.  A good portion of upland regions which was dry has now been brought under irrigation with the help of Grand Anaicut canal, fed by the Cauvery-Mettur Project and by extension of the Vadavar river.  Non-deltaic region is also devoid of hills and slopes gradually seawards.

History of Thanjavur

Thanjavur district stands unique from time immemorial for its agricultural activities and is rightly acclaimed as the Granary of the South India lying in the deltaic region of the famous river Cauvery and criss-crossed by lengthy network of irrigation canals, this coastal district abounds in green paddy fields, tall coconut groves, vast gardens of mango and plantain trees and other verdant vegetation.  Various testimonials available in the ancient Tamil literature referring to the Cauvery as possessing the sanctity of the Ganges in conformity with the legendry and mythological stories attributed to its divine origin, rightly point out why the river is popularly called the ' Mother Cauvery' and its sacredness is evident from 'Kaviri-Thala-Puranam'.  The river has also been named 'Ponni' because it is yielding 'pon' -Gold in the form of paddy.  That is why it is said with pride that every iota of the earth of Thanjavur is equal to an iota of gold.  The tillers in Tamil literature have been rightly called as 'Kauvirippudhalvars' - the sons of the Cauvery as they alone are worthy of this title for the rich production of grains in this fertile soil.
It is no wonder therefore that at the very Threshold of the district itself one can feel the distinguish green vegetation and call Thanjavur as 'the green mansion' of the South.  With an average annual rice yield touching  6.5 lakh metric tonnes during   1991-92  the district tops all the other districts of India in the production of rice and remarked as the rice bowl of India.  The economy of the district is, therefore, primarily agrarian in nature with very few industrial units.

Thanjavur is one of the thirteen coastal districts of Tamil Nadu in the production of marine fish which accounts for about 5 % of the total marine fish catch of the State.  The district is famous for its exquisite ancient handicrafts-making of bronze icons, Thanjavur art plates, bell-metal castings, bowls, napkin and powder  boxes of metal with beautiful and artistic in-laying and engraving work of motifs well known as "Tanjore swami work".  It is equally well-known for pith-work, ornamental fans, mats and making of musical instruments of jack-wood.  It is also a flourishing center of handloom silk and cotton sarees.

Thanjavur attained prominence under the Chola rulers who were paramount in South India during 9th to 12th centuries.  They were not only excellent rulers but also mighty builders, who erected a large number of exquisite temples in their empire, some of which constitute the finest specimens of architecture.  Hence the district stands distinguished in the state even in its large number of temples, whose legends extend deep into early historic times.  Many of these temples reflect the power, genius and architectural grandeurs of their authors displaying the unique and magnificent proficiency in sculpture, painting and wood carving.  Art gallery the great Saraswathi Mahal library, the 'Sangeetha Mahal' (hall of music), the thriving of classical music and dance known as 'Bharathanatyam' and the celebration of grand annual music festival at Thiruvaiyaru, in honour of the great Saint Thiagaraja, all bear testimony to the cultural heritage.

The period of Chola Kings was not only considered as epoch-making but also an era of the cultural renaissance.  Thanjavur under the Chola rulers was the cradle of Tamil Culture.  Literature and civilisation and the rare Tamil manuscripts in the Thanjavur library corroborate this fact.  Another notable feature is that in spite of several alien invasions, onslaughts and internal conflicts, the ancient culture and civilisation have not suffered much devastation.  The inhabitants have successfully concentrated their histrionic talents in the field of art, literature, drama, music and dancing and are known for their rich cultural and religious fervour.  They live in close harmony as a well knit community and the three main religious groups viz., Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, celebrate their fairs and festivals with a sense of mutual respect. On festive occasion, the Hindu devotees out-number all other participants in the shrines belonging to other religions.  Similarly, in the case of some Hindu festivals, the temples are thronged by a substantial number of persons belonging to other religious group as well, who have a staunch faith and come in full reverence to pay homage to the presiding deities.

According to the known history dating back to Sangam age, the Cholas ruled over Thanjavur for about one thousand years.  It was here that plans were formulated to extent the Chola supremacy by spreading their glory from Kanniyakumari in the south to Himalayas in the north.  They also under their patronage cultivated fine arts, erected temples, constructed anaicuts, built ports and cities.

Among the Chola Kings who found place Sangam literature, Karikala and Koccengan were the most prominent.  The name ' Karikala' which in Tamil refers to a man with charred leg, was derived by this King from a fire accident.  He was assailed imprisoned and deprived of his birth right by his enemies.  He, however, managed to regain the throne and in the great battle at Venni he defeated Pandya and Chera rulers and secured for himself the hegemony over them.  He crushed both the internal and external opposition and became complete master of his country.  He renovated the capital of Uraiyur, built up the renowned port of Puhar (Kaveripoompattinam) and patronised liberal arts and letters.  Karikala was succeeded by two rival kings- Nalangilli and Nedungilli who ruled from Puhar and Uraiyur respectively.  The next Chola King Killivalavan from Uraiyur was a brave and able warrior, besides a patron of letters.

            Of the Chola of later Sangam age, Koccengan was more brilliant and illustrious in both war and peace.  He showed equal zeal for both Saivism and Vaishnavism, built numerous saivite temples including the famous Jambukeswara Temple at Tirunaraiyur.

            After a brief set back in the Chola regime between the third century to ninth century A.D., the Cholas became the mighty race of rulers.  Once again Vijayalaya (850-870) the founder of the new Chola dynasty, drove away the Muttaraiyar Chieftains from Thanjavur and assisted the Pallava King to stem the tide of the Pandiyan overlordship.  His son Aditya I (870-907) soon over-threw the Pallava King Aparajita and expelled him from his territory.  After conquering the Kongu country and Pandyas, he further extended his kingdom.  He was an ardent saivite like his father and built temples along the banks of cauvery from Sahyadri to the sea.  Parantaka I (907-955)  was more powerful and under his rule Cholas acquired a dominion which foreshadowed the great empires of Rajaraja and Kullottunga.  With the rise of Rajaraja I (985-1014), the days dawned to bring about new and brilliant chapter in the history of Cholas.  Both in war and peace Rajaraja and his son Rajendra proved themselves as the most outstanding personalities of their time.  Rajaraja conquered Kerala (Chera country) the whole of the Pandya country and Malainadu (Coorg ) and extended his dominion.  He also invaded ceylon and destroyed Anuradhapura, its capital.  He was also a great statesman and administrator and endeavoured his best to establish his empire on a firm footing.  He built the most magnificent temple of Rajarajeswara at Thanjavur, the fine specimen of Tamil architecture.  Rajaraja was succeeded by his son Rajendra I (1014-1044).  He had the advantage of possessing an empire which had already been organised on sound lines.  He set about at once to improve its organisation and increase its glory.  He undertook expedition to north in search of the Ganges and assumed the title of Gangai Konda Cholan”.  His most glorious expedition was to Kadaram which shows the great naval strength of the Cholas.  Rajendra I was succeeded by four rulers Rajadhiraja, Rajendra II, Virarajendra and Adirajendra’s reign was brief and it became weak in his time and later the kingdom passed on to the Eastern Chalukyan.  Rajendra Kulottunga (1070-1120) was a remarkable personality.  He was more a statesman than a warrior.  From 1120 to 1163, three Chola kings, viz, Vikrama Chola (1120-1135) Kulottunga II (1136-1150) and Rajaraja II (1151-1163) succeeded Kulottunga I and under all these rulers no wars or invasions distracted the country.  During the reigns of Rajaraja III (1216-1246) and Rajendra III (1247-1279), the Pandyas in the south and Hoysalas in the north monopolised all the power.  By the beginning of the 13th century, the Chola dynasty became extinct and it gave way to Pandyan supremacy.

            The Pandiyan regime was short lived. When the Pandiyan Kingdom was in the thrones of civil war, the muslim ruler Ala-Ud-Din Khiliji, the Sultan of Delhi, took advantage of it and over powered the Pandiyas.  Thanjavur then came under the muslim rulers.  Muslim dominations continued till the middle of  the 14th century when Vijayanagar Kings ended the muslim rule.  Thanjavur remained under the supremacy of the Vijayanagar Kings for a long period.  The Nayak dynasty was established during this period and Sevappa, the founder of Nayak Kingdom of Thanjavur made his appearance on the scene (1532-1560).  In 1560, Sevappa Nayak made over kingdom to his son Achuyutappa Nayak.  His rules unlike that of his father was not one of unbroken peace. Shortly after getting old he abdicated the crown in favour of his son Ragunatha (1600-1630)  During his reign, a Danish settlement was established at Tranquebar (1620).  The Nayaks of Thanjavur were loyal to Vijayanagar after the battle of Talikotta and helped Vijayanagar in repulsing the attacks of the Nayak of Madurai and their temporary ally Golkonda, but the beginning of the 17th Century was the end of the Vijayanagar empire.

            Attempts were then made by the Nayaks of Madurai and the Sultan of Bijapur to capture Thanjavur.  The Marattas also came to Thanjavur in the later half of the 17th century.  Ekogi became the first Maratta ruler of Thanjavur (1676-1683).  The Marattas ruled Thanjavur for some time but became later vassals of the Mughal Governor of Karnataka.  Subsequently there were hostilities between the Arcot Nawab and the Maratta ruler of Thanjavur.  The French and English also began interfering in the internal affairs of South India.  The supremacy of the English was later established.  Saraboji II the adopted son of Tuljaji, was made King of Thanjavur in 1798, after agreeing with all the conditions laid down by the British Government.  A pact was signed between the Maratta ruler and the English by virtue of which the status of the Raja was reduced to a mere vassal.

            The administration of Thanjavur was given over to English fully under the Treaty of 1799.  The ruler of the Thanjavur was allowed to retain the fort of Thanjavur only with limited power of administration.  When the ruler died in 1841 without heir, the Thanjavur fort was also annexed by the British and it became part of the then Madras,  Thanjavur remained under the British until 1947 when India attained freedom.

There are a number of ancient temples in the district and most of them are located on the banks of river Cauvery and its tributaries.  The existence of about 75 ancient temples in the district have been recorded in the “Thevaram” sung by Nayanmar and were discovered from Chidambaram temple by the Chola King-Raja Raja I and only a part of it could be traced out.  Of 108 Vaishnavite Thivyaadesams (Holy Places sung by Vaishnavite Saints-Alwars) 12 places are situated in the district. T || he Brahadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur and the Siva temples at Darasuram and Thirubuvanam are typical landmarks of Chola architecture.  “Raja Rajeswaram” temple at Thanjavur built by Raja Raja I shows the expertise and skill of Tamil architecture.  This temple is remarkable for its stupendous proportions ||  and bold simplicity of designs and continuing a historical  movement of glory and spiritual solace.  During 1987, the temple was inscribed on the world heritage list concerning the protection of world cultural and natural heritage.
The shrines of various religious interest are situated all over the district and in order to understand the significance of the places of tourist importance, a talukwise description is provided below.

Prominent Places in Tanjore

Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple: Built by the great Chola King, Raja Raja I in the 10th Century AD is an outstanding example of Chola architecture.

The Palace: The Palace near the temple is a vast building of masonry built partly by the Nayaks around 1550 AD and partly by the Marathas.

Art Gallery: In the Palace there are a number of granite and bronze statues of the Chola period.          Visiting Times: 9.00 - 13.00 hrs and 15.00 - 18.00 hrs.

Saraswathi Mahal Library: In another section of the Palace is the library where over 30,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in India and European languages are preserved.Visiting Times: 9.00 - 13.00 hrs and 14.00 - 17.00 hrs.Wednesday Holiday.

Tamil University (7 Kms.): Established in 1981, is engaged in research and advanced study in Tamil.
Hall of Music: Also in the Palce is this acoustically perfect ancient music hall.

Schwartz Church: (In the Palace garden) Built in 1779 AD by Rajah Serfoji in token of his affection for the Rev.C.V.Schwartz of the Danish mission.

Sivaganga Tank: Situated near the palace this tank is known for its sweet water.

 

Prominent Places near Tanjore

Thirukandiyur (10 kms.): Temples of Brahmasirekandeswarar and Harshavimochana Perumal.
Kumbakonam (36 kms.): Famous for Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Nageswara and the Remaswamy temple. Mahamagam congregation takes place once in 12 years, last held in 1992.
Tharangambadi (Tranquebar) (105 kms.): This coastal town was a Danish settlement from 1624 to 1825. There are two churches and a fort. This is one of the special tourist areas.
Swamimalai (32 kms.): One of the six Abodes (Arupadaiveedu) dedicated to Lord Subramanya.
Darasuram (34 kms): This temple is dedicated to Lord Siva, was built by Rajendra Chola. Darasuram is also a silk weaving centre.

Thirubuvanam (45 kms): 13th Century Chola temple dedicated to Lord Siva.
Thiruvaiyaru (13 kms.): Where the famous Thyagaraja lived and attained etesnity. A music festival is held here every January in honour of the saint.
Nagore (88 kms.): A renowned Muslim Pligrim centre.
Vailankanni (90 kms.): Roman Catholic Pilgrim centre.
Kodikkarai (Point Calimere) (112 kms.): This place is noted for its congregation of migratory water fowl, particularly flamingoes from November to January. Other wildlife like blackbuck and wild ponies are also found here.
Vedaranyam (104 kms.): Festivals, on full moon days in the Tamil Months of Adi (July-August) and Thai (January-February) attract pilgrims from all over Tamil Nadu.
Manora (65 kms.): The 8-Storey victory tower was built by Rajah Serfoji in 1814.
Nagapattinam (83 kms.): Nagapattinam is an important port town. TTDC runs a Hotel Tamil Nadu here.
Tiruvarur (55 kms.): The Thyagarajaswami Temple here has the biggest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. This is the birth place of Saint Thyagaraja - One of the musical trinity.
Thirunallar (101 kms.) (Pondichery UT): The famous saturn temple town.

PLACE OF WORSHIP

Temple: Sri Brahadeeswarar Temple, Marriammankoil, etc.
Church: Schwartz Church, St. Marry's Church, etc.
Mosque: Dharga near bus stand & Irwin Bridge.


Thiruvidaimaruthur Kanjanur

God Agneeswarasamy and Goddess Sri Karpatgambal Temple is located at Kanjanur in Thiruvidaimarudur Taluk.  20 KM. North East of Kumbakonam.  It is a faith prevails i.e. if we pray God and Goddess all over sins will be removed from us.
Another important Temple is Sooriyanarkovil  ( Sun Temple ) situated in the Middle of the Sooriyanarkoil village in Thiruvidamarudur Taluk 17 KM North East of Kumbakonam.   Large number of people worship the Sun God here.
Sri Mahalingasamy temple at Thiruvidaimarudur is a very big temple and it is believed that Brahmahathi Dosham was removed from King Varagunapandian in this temple.
Thirubuvanam temple was built by king Kulothunga on the model of Thanjavur Brahadeeswarar  temple.  The stately stone gopuram of rare workmanship from the pedestal to the stripe is  a standing monument of the architectural glory.  A stone inscription in the temple disclose the existence of a university here for teaching advanced courses in Miamsa and Tamil.
A Saivat Mutt called Kasimutt founded by Sri.Kumaragurubarar  is situated in Thirupanandal, 20 KM north west of Kumbakonam and has a branch at Varanasi.

KUMBAKONAM

Sri Adhikumbeswaraswamy temple is an ancient shrine located at Kumbakonam.  Kumbakonam was the capital of Cholas during 7th Century.  The temple was built by Cholas and the presiding deity of the temple is Adhikumbeswaraswamy and his consort Mangalambikai.  The temple covers an area of more than 4 acres and bears stone inscriptions.  Lort Kumbeswara is a Swamyambu Lingam  and Sri Mangalambikai is in standing style.  On a single block of stone in the Navarathiri Mandapam all the twenty seven stars and 12 Rasis have been carved out.  Festival is  celebrated almost every month of which the “Maham” festival in the Tamil month “Masi” (Feb-March) is the most important festival.
 “Maha Maham” festival is celebrated in Kumbakonam once in twelve years.  This celebration coincides when Jupiter (Guru) stays in Leo (Shimma Rasi) and the Sun in Aquarius (Mesha Rasi) on the full moon day.  Bathing in the tank at this time is considered to be sacred as the water of the Ganges is supposed to enter the tank.  The Mahamaham festival is attended by lakhs of devotees from all over the country and the last Mahamaham was celebrated on 18.2.92.  The next Maha Maham festival will be celebrated on 2004.
Sri Naganathaswamy temple (Sri Rahu abode) is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which is located at Thirunageswaram, 7 Km east of Kumbakonam.  It is believed that Rahu Bhagavan (One of the nine orbiting planets of Sun) absolved his curse by worshipping the Lord here.   One can see the rare Rahu Bhagavan idol with his two consorts in this temple.  Devotees perform milk abishegam to get rid of their Rahu Dosham or its evil effects.  During the time of the abishegams when the milk  is poured on Rahu idol, the milk looks bluish in colour to the eyes of the devotees.
Another important Vaishnava temple located in Thirunageswaram is Sri Oppilliappan temple.  The deity is also known as Srinivasan and devotees fulfill their vows here instead of Thirupathi since the god is considered as the elder brother of Lord Venkatachalapathy.  It is believed that the God married his consort Boomadevi, here at her very young age.  Every month Sravana Deepam is taken around the temple and is witnessed by large devotees. Sravana Nakshathiram is the birth star of the lord.
Sri Swaminathaswamy temple is built on an artificial hillock about sixty feet high in Swamimalai, a small town near Kumbakonam.  The hill temple has sixty steps coinciding with 60 Tamil years.  The presiding deities are life images of Muruga and Siva- the son imparting the divine message “Pranava” to his father.  Sri Swaminathaswamy is in a six feet high granite idol in a standing poisture offering a spectacular view to devotees.  This temple is one of the six abodes (Arupadaiveedu) of Lord Murugan.  On the way to Swamimalai a famous Vinayaga temple is located in Thiruvalanjuli village where the Vinayaga idol is in white colour.
Sri Ayaravatheeswarar temple known for architectural skill is located in Darasuram near Kumbakonam and was built by Rajendra Chola I.  Famous icons have been discovered during recent renovations and this temple is a protected monument under the control of Archeological Survey of India.

PATTUKOTTAI

MANORA Fort is a Famous picnic spot, located in the village Sarabondrarajanpattinam, is an example of Architecture of Marattas.  It was built in 1814 to commemorate the Victory of the British over Nepolean Bonapart in the war of Waterloo.  The Fort facing  Bay of Bengal, is an seven storeyed victory tower and has steps in a circular way which look enchanting and one can have a panoramic views of the green, surroundings and the sea from this 30 meter high tower and it is a protected monument under Archaeological department. The Government of Tamilnadu and District Administration are taking all steps to improve the surroundings of Manora.  After the Governor’s visit to this Manora, the visit of the people has increased a lot.  Irrespective of aged women, men, school going children are visiting  this Manora  every day.  The local Administration officials, Tourism department officials have proposals to make the sea-shore with sun-bath facilities.  Because of the District Administration’s sincere effort, this Manora is having a fresh look.
There is a famous shrine where saint Sheik Alauddin Sahib is entombed, and it located at Adirampattinam, a small port town lying about 13 KM, south east of Pattukkottai.
There is a famous Goddess Nadiamman Temple in the Pattukottai Town.
There is also famous shrine in Pattukkottai town where saint Venkidu Subbaiah Swamigal is entombed in the midst of Pattukkottai Town.

THIRUVAIYARU

 

Thiruvaiyaru means five holy rivers and this town derives its name by virtue of the five rivers  flow within 5 km of this town.  The name of the rivers apart from Cauvery are Vadavar, Vennar, Vettar and Kudamurutti. The town is considered as holy as Varanasi and ther is a belief that to die here is an eternal blessing leading to salvation.  The temple of Panchanathiswara in this town is considered as the first of the seven shrines called “Sapthasthanams”
The other six Sapthasthanam are Kandiyur, Thiruppanthuruthi, Thirupazhanam, Thiruvedhikudi, Thillaisthanam and Thiruchotruthurai.
The great carnatic music composer and Saint Sri Thiyagaraja lived and died here.  A celebration of annual musical festival at his samadhi on the bank of river Cauvery is well known and is attended by thousands of musicians from all over the country by considering it as a honour and priviledge of every musician to hymn Pancharathnakrithis of Saint Thiagaraja in the streets of Thiruvaiyaru on the occasion.
In between Thiruvaiyaru and Grand Anaicut Main Road there is a Poondi Matha Shrine at Alamelupuram Poondi village it is located in between the River Cauvery and Coleroon.  Just like Velankanni, No.of pilgrims are visiting this shrine and it became a world famous miracular pilgrim centre.  The distance from Thiruvaiyaru to Alamelupuram Poondi  is 20 KM.  and from Grand Anicut to Alamelupuram Poondi is 15 KM.   The Festival of this shrine celebrate every year from May 6th  to 15th

PAPANASAM

There is a famous granary of Naik Dynasty which can store about 1500 bags.  of paddy and is a protected monument of Archaeological Department and is situated in Sri Palaivanthaswamy Temple in Thirupalathurai village, 15 km south west of Kumbakonam.  It was built by stone of lime.

 

ORATHANAD

There is one famous Siva Temple situated at Orathanad town.  Those who are not able to visit  Kasi in North India can have a Dharsan of Kasi Viswanathar and Kasi Visalakshi Amman at Orathanad town itself, Since the main deity in this temple is Kasi Visalakshi amman and Kasi Viswanathar.
White revolution is well implemented in Orathanad Taluk.  There is one big livestock farm in Orathanad town itself and another big one is in Eachankottai village More than 100 acres  of land has been acquired for these two livestock farms and this two farms are the model of the one big livestock farm in Hosur.  Research  and development is being experimented  in Eachankottai by-breed livestock farm.
There is one survey training  Institute in Orathanad Town.  It is one and the only training institute in the State which impart survey training to the Revenue Officials and Survey Officials.
There is an old type of two-tier river bridge in Unjividuthi village of Orathanad Taluk.  It is a telling performance of old architecture.  C.M.B. Canal is running over the first-tier and underneath " Kattaru" river is flowing in the second -tier.  It may be the first type of two -tier bridge in our state.

THANJAVUR

Thanjavur town was the capital of Mutharayars and Cholas.  Sri Brahadeeswarar temple is the most ambitious of the archaeological enterprise of the Cholas and is a fitting symbol of the magnificent achievements of Raja Raja-I.  The temple has been constructed by large blocks of granite.  The pyramidal structure of Vimana.  14 storeys raising to a height of 216 feet is visible from all sides in the small pillars pretty balcony, windows and beautiful images carved thereon.  It enchants the minds and eyes of all spectators.  It was a colossal task, the plinth of central shrine is 45.72 sq.m.  and the shrine proper is 30.48 sq.m.  The most striking feature of this shrine is its imposing Vimanam which raises perpendicularly from a square base to height of 60.96m.  The stone carrying the huge "sikara" is said to weight 81.28 tonnes and was raised to its present height by being dragged on an inclined plane of 6.44km. length.  The height of the Kalasa placed on this stupa is about 4 meters.  The Kalasa is made of 339.5 Kilogram  of copper and covered with gold plates.  The Big Bull (Nandi) opposite to sanctum sanctorum, made up of single stone is about 2m high,  6m in length and 2.5m width and weights roughly 20 tonnes.
The presiding deity, the Sivalinga is 7m high.  The priests have to use a ladder for abhishegams.  There is a separate sannadhi for consort Brohaanayagi, Vinayagar, Murugar and for Karuvarai siddhar.  The structural decoration of tower is very pleasing to look at.  There are beautiful paintings in the first floor of the Vimanam.  The highest achievements in plastic art in the  Chola period is revealed in the fine series of the 108 dance poses carved all around the walls of the first floor of the temple and these from an invaluable document in the history of Indian art.
There is a beautiful palace built by the Sarabhoji Maharajas in this town.  It is a vast building of architectural grandeur built partly by the Nayaks around 1550 A.D. and partly by the Marathas. This fort comprises of an area of 530 acres and is surrounded by 15 feet high wall and 15 feet deep.  Due to expansion of the township in course of time, the moat was filled and the wall demolished in several places.  Only a portion of rampart to length of 21 feet is still preserved on the eastern side with a cannon inscribed with "Rajagopal" Arsenal tower is a structure with 190 feet high and eight storeys and attracts large number of tourists.  According to Fergusson, the mode of the structure with uncontrived ornamentation is a synthesis of Italian and Indian architectural styles.  The Sadar Mahal also known as Sarjah Madi is part of the palace of Maratha period.  Although it is a seven  storeyed building only six storeys remain at present
Bell Tower is situated to a little north of Arsenal Tower.  According to hearsay account Vijayaragunatha Naicker is said to have offered worship towards Srirangam from the top terrace of the tower.  The tower is fashioned in the style of Serginayakas.  The Dharbar hall of Marathas is a place abounding in exquisite paintings to the east of Saraswathi Mahal library with an open courtyard.  There is a verandah with wooden posts along the frontage of the pavilion.  Portraits of several Maratha rulers including Shaji are painted here.
In the centre of Dharbar Hall the portrait of Shivaji with his minister and Dalavai attending on him is found painted.  The open yard in front might perhaps have been put to use as a gymnasium of sports for practicing arts like wrestling, fencing etc, as is popularly believed at that time.
Saraswathy Mahal Library  is housed in the palace.  It is a very famous library which has a rare collection of ancient books and manuscripts on a variety of subjects in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and other European languages.  Among other things, library  is famous for  priceless rare collections of palm leaf and paper manuscripts.  There are more than 50,000 manuscripts in the library.
There is an art gallery which was inaugurated in 1951, it contains a good collection of granite and bronze images and stone sculptures which provide and insight into the rich cultural and historical heritage of Thanjavur especially of Chola period. In the palace, another worth seeing place is Sangeetha Mahal and acoustically perfect musical hall.  It is a striking example of the engineering skill of its ancient builders.

The Ancient Christian Churches of Thanjavur

Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Pookara street, Thanjavur which is fondly known as Viagula Madha Church by the people is the oldest church in the present Thanjavur District.  The Jesuit Annual letters testify that this church was in existence at Pookara street several  years  before the time of Veramamunivar (1740 A.D) who did his wonderful service for the development of Tamil language.  'Serfoji the Great' (1798-1832 A.D.) the great Maratha ruler of Thanjavur had contributed generously both in terms of money and lands to this church  just like he helped other churches in Thanjavur.  People in thousands attend the annual car festival of this church which is celebrated every year with pomp and gaiety in the third week of September.  Christians as well as brothers and sisters of other Religious jubilantly join in the celebration and every Saturday we see people praying in this church without any discrimination of religion or caste.  Even today it stands as a symbol of Religious Harmony existing in Thanjavur District.
Sacred Heart Cathedral Church in Pookara Street, Thanjavur is the next ancient Catholic church in the present Thanjavur District.  With the generous contribution from a Christian man in Madurai and the people of Thanjavur Rev. Fr. Joseph Loro, S.J. took great effort to build this church in 1867 A.D.  in 1969 July 6,7,8 the Centenary of this Cathedral was celebrated under th leadership  of Late Bishop R.A. Sundaram, Former Bishop of Thanjavur.

St. Peter’s Church (CSI) and Lutheran Church (TELC) in Manambuchavady, Thanjavur and Fort Church near Sivagangai Garden are also ancient CSI and Lutheran churches of Thanjavur.

Saint Thyagaraja

Saint. Thyagaraja is one of the greatest composers in the classical music world of South India and respected as a divine name. Saint Thyagaraja was born in 1767 at Thiruvarur in Tamil Nad and later settled down at Thiruvaiyaru in Thirumanchana Veedhi, where he lived till his Mukthi
Saint Thyagaraja and his two illustrious contemporaries Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Sastrigal are called the Trinity of the classical South Indian Music. Saint Thyagaraja stands out in imperishable memory as the composer of countless krithis in a rich variety of common and rare ragas. Sri Thyagaraja’s music came to be widely appreciated for its charm and grandeur, spiritual fervour and transcendental sublimity. Rama Bakthi and Nadhopasana are the two cardinal features of the Music of Saint Thyagaraja. He embodied ethical and philosophical truths in his songs. In Thyagaraja we have a devoted Rama Baktha, an inspired composer of Bhajan songs and classical music, a person who was learned in Puranas, a philosopher and a moralist.
Apart from his musical acumen he came to be adored by people far and wide for his spiritual attainments. It is believed that Saint Thyagaraja was the incarnation of Sage Valmiki who has immoratalised himself as the composer of the glorious epic “The Ramayana”. Self-surrender to the Lord is the quintessence of his compositions, which are Divine in essence. His devotion and piety were equaled only by his humility and his integrity. Saint Thyagaraja composed his songs in Telugu. The language has enriched itself by his compositions.

This great soul attained its eternal rest and peace on the auspicious day called Pushya Bagula Panchami in the year 1847 at Thiruvaiyaru on the banks of the River Kaveri where his mortal remains were buried. Thyagaraja Aradhana festival is celebrated every year on this day at Thiruvaiyaru, as an International Music Festival. (This festival is depicted in the movie “Anniyan”) Music, charged and permeated with devotion marks the Aradhana Mahotsavam which begins the celebrations of that great occasion. The programmes are coordinated by Sri Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha, Thiruvaiyaru







 
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