Thanjavur is mostly known as the City of Temples or Tanjore. You can find very rich culture in this city, as it is famous for Tanjore paintings, handicrafts, textiles, and saris. Other popular things are its carnatic music and musical instruments. And of course, we can’t forget to mention the temples. Thanjavur is considered the granary and “rice bowl” of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is totally dominated by agriculture, but still it is diverse in its own way.
There are many cultural and interesting places you should not miss during your visit to Thanjavur. Here is a list of the best things to do in Thanjavur.
1. Brihadeshwara Temple
Brihadeshwara Temple is one of the biggest attractions in Thanjavur. It is also known as the Big Temple. This architectural marvel was built during the reign of the Great Chola emperor, Raja Raja Chola. You should come here in the morning, when the honey-hued granite begins to dominate over the white dawn light, and in evening, when the rocks catch the hot palette of reds, yellows, and oranges on the temple’s carvings. There are gopurams (a large pyramidal tower), which is followed by the Nayak Gate. You might also meet the temple elephant under one of the gopurams. Images of deities around the vimana’s lower outer levels including Shiva as the beggar Bhikshatana, Shiva as Nataraja (the cosmic dancer), and Harihara on the west wall.
Website: Brihadeshwara Temple
2. Vijayanagar Fort
The famous Vijayanagar Fort is located 2 km (1.2 mi) away from Brahadeshwar Temple. The fort was built by Nayaks and partly by Maratha rulers during the early 1550s AD. This beautiful fort includes Tanjore Palace, a library, and Sangeetha Mahal. Even though the fort is in ruins, it still echoes its grandeur and strength.
*Images of the Fort are unavailable. For images, please refer to Tamil-Nadu Tourism.
3. Alangudi Temple
The Alangudi Temple is a divine place where Lord Guru can be pacified in the form of Shri Dakshinamurthy. This temple is famous for its tri-story, Moorthy, Theeratham, and Sthalam. Free mid-day meals for 100 devotees on is conducted at Annadhana Kattalai. If you are in Thanjavur on Thursday, then do not forget to visit Alangundi Temple as Thursday is considered to be the most auspicious day.
Website: Alangudi Temple
4. Schwartz Church
Schwartz Church was founded 1779 and it’s a simple plain building with few distinct features. Father Schwartz, a Danish missionary, initially founded this church and was the priest there until he died in 1798. The building has a white marble tablet located in the western portion that was placed in 1798 to commemorate Father Schwartz’s death. This whole marble structure is noted for its amazing carvings, which depict Father Schwartz and his loving church community.
Website: Schwartz Church
5. Thirunallar Temple
Located between two rivers, Arasalar and Vanchai, the Thirunallar Temple is a shrine to the God Shani. The temple is located 3 km (1.86 mi) away from Karaika in Thanjavur and it belongs to the Pondicherry Union Territory. Because of its interesting story, it attracts a wide range of visitors every year. This temple marks the place where Lord Shani lost his powers to Lord Shiva in order to save his devotees. People from all around the world generally plan their visit to Thirunallar temple on Saturdays, as in Hindu religion Saturdays are dedicated to Lord Shani. It is also believed that if you take bath in the “Theertams” then all your past karmas and sufferings are cleared.
Website: Thirunallar Temple
6. Swami Malai Temple
Swami Malai Temple is located 8 km (~5 mi) from Kumbakonam on the banks of the Cauvery River. This temple is in one of the six shrines of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu. The temple is built on a small hill and reflects his mother Meenakshi and father Shiva. You can enter from one of its three big gateway towers called gopuram, three precincts, and sixty steps. Every step is named after the sixty Tamil years. Daily rituals start from anytime between 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM. The largest festival, which has grand celebrations here, is Vaikasi Visakam, and it is attended by thousands of devotees from different places.
Swami Malai Temple
Website: Swami Malai Temple
Thirumananjeri is a village near the Cauvery River. Thirumananjeri means marriage and jeri mean village. Lord Shiva married Parvathi at Thirumananjeri so the village is named after this wedding. Shri Kalyanasundareshwarar Swamy temple is famous here. It is believed that this temple helps visitors to overcome the obstacles of marriage and divorce. There is a special pooja (prayer) for a person who seeks a nice partner. You can visit the temple between 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM to 8:00 PM. If you are taking the bus, then the nearest bus station is from Kuttalam and Mayiladuthurai.
8. Chandra Bhagwan Temple
Chandra Bhagwan Temple, or Thingular Temple, is a popular pilgrimage destination among tourists. The temple is located 25 km (15.5 mi) away from Thanjavur, and you can see this temple on the Thiruvaiyaru-Kumbakonam route. It is one of the prominent Navgraha temples in southern India. It is also believed that Lord Chandra worshiped Lord Shiva to be relieved of the curse by Daksha Prajapati. If a person is suffering from the effects of having a bad moon in their horoscope then they can visit this temple. Pets are strictly not allowed as it is a purely religious place.
Chandra Bhagwan Temple
Website: Chandra Bhagwan Temple
9. Saraswathi Mahal Library
Saraswathi Mahal Library is one of the oldest libraries in Asia and it has a rare collection of paper written in Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, and English. This collection includes more than 60,000 volumes, and few are displayed in the library. You can still see some of the rare holdings on site by making a prior arrangement. From 1918, the Saraswathi Mahal Library is maintained and controlled by the state of Tamil Nadu. After the possession, the official name of this library changed to “The Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji Sarasvati Mahal Library.” The library is open to the public, so you don’t need any kind of permission to visit it.
Saraswathi Mahal Library
Website: Saraswathi Mahal Library
10. Raghavendra Temple
Raghavendra temple was built 500 years ago. The temple was built in the honor of Acharyas, generally known as Brindavan. Brindavan is a garden with tulsi plants (holy basil) and is the first and is very ancient in India. Because of the prayers and temple rules, You should not visit this temple in afternoon from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. People come across India to visit this temple and pray for relief from debt, burden, illness, and to wish for a child.
Journey to Thanjavur
Even though Thanjavur is dominated by agriculture, the literacy percentage is very high, nearly 75%. Thanjavur is the only place where you can constantly witness the magnificent culture of the past combined with the present, breathing life into the everyday, which gives it a unique identity. The best time to visit Thanjavur is from October to March.
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