Take A Tour
Art & Culture
Carnatic Music in Thanjavur
The enchanting melodies of the Carnatic music relieve the audience from the stress and strains of regular life.
An integral part of art and culture of Thanjavur, the musical and dance festivals of the place are celebrated on a grand scale.
Thanjavur paintings are characterised by rich and vivid colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or very rarely precious and semi-precious gems.
In Thanjavur paintings one can see the influence of Deccani, Vijayanagar, Maratha and even European or Company styles of painting. Essentially serving as devotional icons, the subjects of most paintings are Hindu gods, goddesses, and saints. Episodes from Hindu Puranas, Sthala-puranas and other religious texts were visualised, sketched or traced and painted with the main figure or figures placed in the central section of the picture (mostly within an architecturally delineated space such as a mantapa or prabhavali) surrounded by several subsidiary figures, themes and subjects. There are also many instances when Jain, Sikh, Muslim, other religious and even secular subjects were depicted in Tanjore paintings.
Thanjavur paintings are panel paintings done on wooden planks, and hence referred to as palagai padam (palagai = “wooden plank”; padam = “picture”) in local parlance. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs for festive occasions in South India – colourful pieces of art to decorate walls, and collectors’ items for art lovers, as also sadly sometimes, dime-a-dozen bric-a-bracs to be purchased from street corner practitioners.
The unique pieces of art work of Thanjavur paintings of the ancient times are an inspiration for the painters of the modern time
According to one theory the ubiquitous South Indian sambhar was first cooked in the Maratha royal kitchens of Thanjavur. Since kokham was not available in Thanjavur the cook used his ingenuity and added tamarind to the dal with sautéed vegetables and lo, sambhar was served. Some culinary historians say coconut that is liberally used as a garnish and dip (thohayal, chutney) in southern food, came from the Maratha influence in Thanjavur and elsewhere in Kerala.
The Tanjore Wedding Repast
Lunch was the big meal with more than 20 dishes made of locally sourced ingredients. Country vegetables like pumpkin, brinjal and raw plantain were primary vegetables but garnished differently. Pachadis (vegetable salads in yoghurt) were important as was sambhar and its variant pitlai. Then followed rasam (without tomatoes called poricha rasam) and chips made of raw plantain and a galaxy of different appalams. Many types of payasam, and laddus were standard desserts.
The perennial waters of the Kaveri ensured year after year of harvests. Harvests got prosperity and a love for the good life. “Learn how to squander your inheritance by just eating from a Tanjorean”, was what others said but the Thanjavurites never bothered!
Where best to study food if not a Tamil wedding in Thanjavur? Even a century ago food and cuisine formed the backbone of any occasion, especially weddings.
Breakfast for children was the rice gruel from the previous night. For others dosai, thick ones called kal dosai (made on an iron flatpan) with molagai podi (gunpowder) was the standard. Idlis were not so important but sevai (steamed rice string hopper) was. Vadais were favoured but the patted ones that have no holes in them. Vaishnavaite families had pongal for sure. Before coffee, a buttermilk based drink with rice was served called neermore sadam.
Travel to Thanjavur
The much-famed Brihadeeswarar Temple welcomes you as you travel to Tanjore. Constructed more than a hundred years ago, it is an architect’s marvel.
Travel to Tanjore to see how the collection of 30,433 Sanskrit and other vernacular palm leaf manuscripts and 6,426 printed volumes, besides a large number of journals in Saraswathi Mahal Library. Don’t forget to visit the ancient historical site at Papanasham as you travel to Tanjore. The granary built here in 17th century had the capacity to store 3,000 Kalam (measure).
How to Reach Thanjavur
The city does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport is in Trichy only 54kms away from Tanjore. Many private and public airlines operate domestic flights to and from Trichy. Some other international airlines too operate regular flights to this airport.
A good network of well maintained roads connect Tanjore with major south Indian cities like Chennai, Madurai, Trichy and so on. These places again are linked to rest of the country by road.
The city has a railway station of its own. A well laid out rail network links Tanjore with cities in this part of India. Many important trains service the station regularly.
Shopping in Thanjavur
The city of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu is a haven for craft lovers. The city draws much of its fame from the exquisite handicrafts and handlooms that its skilled artisans produce.
Weaving, painting, jewelry, woodworks are some of its renowned handicrafts which make for wonderful shopping in Tanjore. Since long past Tanjore has been a princely state and under the patronage of the royals, tradition of art and craft attained a glorious height in Tanjore. Do remember to take back some artifacts while shopping in Tanjore.
Silk weaving is a major traditional craft in Tanjore. A lot of people are engaged in the profession. They specialize in weaving silk saris with broad border and unique motifs laden all over with Zari work. The saris are huge hit for weddings and religious occasions. Pick up graceful Tanjore silk saris while shopping in Tanjore.
Another must-buy in Tanjore is traditional paintings. Richly adorned paintings of mostly Hindu gods are quite popular with those who want to do shopping in Tanjore.
Check out Thalaiyatti Bommai (literally the head-nodding doll), which serve as great souvenirs of a Tanjore tour. Thanjavur Plates (with sombu, coconut), brass and bronze idols, bowls and vessels are other items for shopping in Thanjavur.
There are many shopping joints within the city. Several government run shops and private ones dot over the townscape, which you may explore for great variety and right price.
Visiting the craftsmen at work and buying directly from them is also a good option for shopping in Tanjore.
Thanjavur Palace Fascinating Piece of History
e original name of Thanjavur Palace is Sivaganga Fort, which is rarely used these days. If you observe carefully, there is even a small moat around it which provided security against enemy access. Often mistakenly called the “Thanjavur Maratha Palace” was not built by Maratha Kings, but by Thanjavur Nayaks. However, the Marathas made some enhancements to suit their needs. It is more popularly called “Thanjavur Aranmanai” by the people of Tamil Nadu. Today, the Thanjavur Palace Complex is a tourist attraction which houses 3 separate venues: the palace, the art gallery and a manuscript library (Saraswathi Mahal). This article is just about the palace, as there are many interesting and intriguing features that are worth exploring.
Address: East Main Street, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India ( 1.2 K.M from Brihadeeswarar Temple )
Phone: +91-4362-223384 ; +91-4362-230984
E-mail: Not Available
Timings: 9 A.M to 5 P.M ; Open Everyday
Entrance Fee: Indians – 5 Rupees; Foreigners – 50 Rupees
Note: Art Gallery which is inside the palace has a separate fee. Click here to read about the Art Gallery
Camera Fee: Still Camera – 30 Rupees; Video Camera – 300 Rupees.
Car Parking: Available; Free
Average Visitor Time: 3 Hours
Arsenal Tower (Koodagopuram)
This is a 192 feet tall pyramidal structure with eight floors. The initial building was constructed by Nayaks in 1645 with only 2 floors. The Marathas later renovated and finished the tower in 1855, and used it for various military purposes. The top floor was used as a watch tower, and the remaining floors were used to store arms and ammunition. The second floor was exclusively used for the King’s martial arts training.