THANJAVUR (Tanjore) - The Architectural Paradise
110 km down the coast from Chidambaram is Tanjore (now called Thanjavur). Thanjavur town is 158 km from Chennai and only 50 km from Tiruchirapalli.
Tanjore is a historical town and popularly known as the temple city. It was once the capital of the Chola Empire. It is only 113 kms from Chidambaram. The Brihadeeshwara temple, the place built by Nayaks Art Gallary, Saraswathi Mahal Library, Sangeetha Mahal are the major attractions in this temple town. The Brihadeeshwara temple was built by Raja Raja Chola I during his reign from 985 to 1012. This is supposed to be grandest temple in India. The tower over the inner sanctum rises to a height of 15 meters from a square of 18.8 meters and then tapers to a total height of 68.5 meters. A huge Shiva lingam is inside the sanctum. The monolithic Nandi 3.7m heigh, 6 meters long and 2.5 meters board.
This temple city bears a lot of impact of the Chola rulers who followed the Pallavas. The Cholas were mere chieftains from the first to the 8th century. One of them took over Thanjavur and declared it as his State- the ruler claiming descent from the Sun. expansion and consolidation followed. They acquired vast territories, moved into Kerala, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. They conquered the area up to Orissa. From there, the seafaring Cholas landed into neighbouring territories of Malaysia and Indonesia. They had trade links with China, Russia and Arabia.
The system of devadasis (slaves to God) originated during the rule of Chola kings. Parents dedicated one of their daughters to the service of the temple on birth to avoid perceived calamity to her family. The girls spent their lives in worship and in learning Bharatanatyam. But in course of time, the system degenerated and these innocent girls became victims of carnal desires of the priests.
Important Tourist Places in Tanjore:
Nageshvara & Sarangpani Temples
Brihadeshwara Temple (Big Temple)
State Government Emporium