The Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu
|State||: Tamil Nadu|
|Type of Tourism||: Heritage Tourism|
|Area||: 36 sq km|
|Population||: 290,732 (As per Indian census- 2011)|
|Altitude||: 88 meters|
|Languages spoken||: Tamil, Telugu, Thanjavur Marathi , Saurashtra, Hindi, English|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Rajasthani, Mewari, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (04362), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 613001|
|What to buy||: Thanjavur dancing doll, Tanjore Paintings, Tanjore art plates, bronze idols, jewelry, silk saris with broad border and unique motifs laden with Zari, silk carpets, garlands, musical instruments like veena, mridangam and tambura, woodworks, bell metal products, pith models of temples, unhusked paddy models, other handicraft and handloom items.|
|Food Specialties||: Thavala Adai, rasam, boiled rice, idly, dosa, uttapam, appam, vada, Surul Poli, Kozhakottai, Pal Payasam, Vasantha Neer, delicacies of fishes prepared in fresh coconut milk, etc.|
|Local transportation||: Auto Rickshaws, Cycle Rickshaws, Buses, Cabs|
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.
History Of Tanjore
‘Tanjore’ or Thanjavur, one of the earliest existing settlements of Tamil Nadu is believed to be as old as the Sangam Era. Having stood a witness to the ‘Battle of Venni’ that was fought between the King Karikala Cholan and the combined armies of the Cheras and the Pandyas, Tanjore was invaded by the Kalabhras in 3rd century AD. For around 300 years, the province was shrouded under the veil of obscurity until 6th century when the terrain around the present day Thanjavur was conquered by the Mutharayars. With the rise of the King Vijayalaya Cholan in 850 AD, the Chola dynasty once again came into prominence. King Vijayalaya vanquished Thanjavur from King Elango Mutharayar and constructed a temple of Goddess Nisumbhasudani here. His son and successor King Aditya I strengthened their dominance over the city and gradually Thanjavur attained the rank of dignity and eminence under the Later Cholas.
It burgeoned as the supreme center of culture and learning and also flourished as the capital of the Chola Empire till the creation of the Gangaikonda Cholapuram. King Raja Raja Chola I erected the legendary Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur in 11th century AD. With the decline of the Chola Empire in 13th century, Thanjavur was twice overpowered by the Pandyas from the south. Eventually, in 1279 AD, Thanjavur or Tanjore was annexed to the Pandya Kingdom and Cholas were enforced to admit the suzerainty of the Pandyas. Pandyas held the reigns till 1311 AD when they were defeated by Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultanate. Tanjore was ruled by the Ma’bar Sultanate under the feudality of the Delhi Sultanate till late 14th century AD when Vijayanagar Empire overwhelmed them. The Vijayanagar King appointed a Nayak King which ushered the epoch of the Tanjore Nayaks.
In 17th century AD Tanjore Nayaks were whitewashed by the Madurai Nayaks who were later beaten by the Marathas. Venkoji Bhonsle; the half-brother of Shivaji Maharaj conquered Tanjore in 1674 AD and thus established the Maratha Empire in this region. Marathas lost Tanjore to the British East India Company in 1799 who installed Raja Serfoji II as the absolute sovereign of Tanjore. Serfoji II was succeeded by his son Shivaji who perished without leaving an heir in 1855 AD. With his demise, Thanjavur was taken over by the British on the word of the provisions of the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. The present day Tanjore or Thanjavur is a municipality in the Thanjavur District of the state of Tamil Nadu.