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Earlier known as ‘Thanjai’ and commonly referred to as ‘Thanjavur’ Tanjore is a municipal corporation and the administrative headquarters of the Thanjavur District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Greatly applauded as the cultural capital of the Indian peninsula and the paradise for the lovers of art and craft, Tanjore is also acclaimed as the vital center of South Indian art and architecture. Positioned in the midst of the highly fertile Cauvery Delta and affluent both in its agricultural vegetation and its natural timber, Tanjore, teeming with lush green paddy fields is reckoned by the laurel; the ‘Rice Bowl’ or ‘granary’ of Tamil Nadu. Boasting of its elongated and illustrious history dating back to the Sangam period and deemed amongst the most ancient cities of the country, Tanjore founded by a Mutharayar sovereign ‘Maharaja Swaran Maran’ rose to prominence during the governance of the Later Cholas.
The civic receives its epithet from the name of a mythological demon ‘Tanjan’ who was killed here by the hands of Lord Vishnu. It is also believed that the term Tanjore has derived from another expression ‘Than-sei-oor’ meaning ‘the place enclosed by rivers and verdant paddy fields’. Further interpretation suggests that ‘Thanjam’ means ‘to seek shelter’. As the Chola emperor Karikalan had to move his capital from Poompuhar to this place to save it from the tides of the sea, it came to be known as Tanjore, meaning ‘asylum’ or ‘refuge’. Also honored by the salutation ‘the temple town’, Tanjore is a home to a number of exemplary Chola temples accredited as the ‘World Heritage Monuments’ by the UNESCO. The chief amongst them being the ‘Brihadeeswara Temple’ nested right in the heart of the city and the ‘Nav Graha Temples’ situated at nine distinct locations in and around Tanjore.
The most glorious chapter in the dazzling legacy of Tanjore is its ‘Tanjore School of Painting’ essentially depicting various Hindu Gods, Goddesses and saints. Furthermore, the Tanjore Doll or the ‘Thanjavur Bommai’ made out of terracotta has earned this conurbation an international repute in the domain of art and artistry. In addition to that, Tanjore is fêted for its splendid handloom and handicraft items, silk and cotton saris and silk carpets. Tanjore is also the home to the Carnatic music and the performing arts and the musical instruments of Tanjore made out of jack-wood are exceedingly appreciated by the experts and the admirers of music. A ‘South Zone Culture Centre’ established by the Indian Government in Tanjore operates with an objective of preserving and promoting the effulgent traditional and cultural heritage of India.