A Journey to the Heart of Tanjore
Thanjavur is the hub of South Indian art and architecture – a cradle of civilization for many dynasties. It earned name and fame during reign of the Chola dynasty. Most of the great Chola temples are recognised by UNESCO under World Heritage Monuments.
Tanjore is the anglicised version of Thanjavur. There are different explanations for how the place got its name. ‘Thanjavur’ is either derived from the asura Tanjan, who is believed to have to have been killed by the Hindu God Vishnu.
Tanjore is known as the “rice bowl of Tamil Nadu” as the entire area is surrounded by rivers and green paddy fields. Some say the name is derived from ‘Than-sei-oor’ which actually denotes a place surrounded by rivers and paddy fields.
Thanjavur is home to over 90 temples, each for different deities. There is an exquisitely decorated shrine of Murugan which is visited by devotees across India as well as tourists from abroad.
The most prominent worshipping place is Brahadishwara Temple, which is believed to be built by Rajaraja Chola during the 11th century. Brahadishwara Temple comes under UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The Tanjore silk sarees are famous for gold embroidery all over, ‘zari’, as it’s called in India. Their intricate designs and handiwork make them unique and expensive.
The place is resonating with art and music. Tiruvaiyaru, the place where great musician Thyagaraja lived, is close to Tanjore. Musicians from all over the country visit this place to participate in the Thyagaraja Aradhana which is held annually.
Another specialty of Tanjore are the dolls. Whoever visits this place is sure to buy these richly decked colourful bobble-headed dolls, which are kept as souvenirs.
The stone art inspired from mythology is another specialty of this place. We can find mythical characters etched in these ‘lifeless stones’, almost as if they’re about to come to life.
Tanjore is famous for its painting style known as Tanjore Painting which is popular around the world. Instead of the artificial paint, the artists use natural colours to work on glass or metal sheets, mainly depicting extracts from Hindu mythology.