Thanjavur ( (tañcāvūr), also
known by its anglicised name
Tanjore, is a municipality and the headquarters of the
Thanjavur district in the
Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
It has a population of a 221,185 (2001
The name Thanjavur is derived from "Tanjan", a legendary asura
in Hindu mythology. Thanjavur is one of the
oldest cities in India and has a long and varied history dating
back to Sangam period. The city rose into prominence during the
rule of the Later Cholas
when it served
as the capital of the Chola empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the city was
ruled by the Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks, the Thanjavur Nayaks, the Thanjavur Marathas and the British.
It has been a part of independent India
Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian art and
architecture. Most of the Great Living
Chola Temples, an UNESCO World
Heritage Monument are located in an around Thanjavur.
The foremost among the Great Living Chola temples, the Brihadeeswara Temple
, is located in the
center of the town. Thanjavur is also the home of the Tanjore painting
, a painting style unique
to the region. The town is an important agricultural center located
at the heart of the region, known as the "rice bowl of Tamil
Nadu".South Zone Culture
in Thanjavur is one of many regional cultural centres
established by Indian Government to preserve and promote
traditional cultural heritage of India.
Thanjavur is well-connected by roads and railways with other parts
of India and with cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. The nearest airport is
Tiruchirapalli located at a distance of 56 kilometres and the
nearest seaport in Nagapattinam which is 84 kilometres from Thanjavur.
The name Thanjavur is believed to have been derived from Tanjan, an
, who is believed to have to have been killed at this
spot by the Hindu god Vishnu
. Also the name
is believed to have been derived from Than-sei-oor, it means the
place is surrounded by rivers and green paddy fields.
Origin of city name
It is a known fact that Thanjavur was founded as capital city and
ruled by a Munaithirayar alias Moovaraiyar king of kallar
community. Since Thananjayarayar is one of the surnames of kallars
/ Munaithirayar alias Moovaraiyar is living at
and the surrounding village of Thanjavur
District in Tamilnadu today. One Formerly Deputy Commissioner of
H.R& C.E. of Srirangam Temple Tr.N.Srinivasan
and their family also living at Thanjavur with the title of
Moovarayar, the city seems to be named as "Thananjaya Ur" after the
name of the king Thananjayarayar (Dhananjaya Rayar). The
Munaithirayar alias Moovaraiyar were the descendants of Kalabhras
and Kalabras were Jain and Buddhist kings who antogonised Hindu
Brahmins. The city name seems to be gradually modified as Thanjavur
and also Thanjai. The Brahmin legend which says that the city was
named after a demon "Tanjan or Tanjam" was purely a cooked up story
to bury the historical facts out of their vengency and old rivalry
with the kings.
Another one known fact that Thanjavur town is inside Two
(1.East Gate, 2.North Gate), Four Ram
(1.East Rampart, 2.West Ram Part, 3.South Rampart,
4.North Rampart), Four Main streets
street, 2.West Main street, 3.South Main street, 4.North Main
street), Two streets
street,2.Manojiyappa street) and hundreds of lanes was situated as
a round town and also fully rounded by Fort. Next to the fort moat
(akali) was filled by lakewater. The Bragadeeswara Temple also
situated in side the fort and moat. In-back of Bragadeeswara temple
and the moat there was one Lake(Reservoir)was Connected with that
moat. The lake was constructed by Sevappa Naickan. After the
construction the town was called as Than Sei OOr. Than means Cooled
(Thanneer means cooled water), sei means do, Oor means village. The
city name seems to be gradually modified as Thanjavur and also
The Thanjavur area has a rich historical heritage and is a prism of
ancient as well as the modern south Indian civilizations. The city
was once the stronghold of the historic Cholas
and at one time was also the capital of the
when they were at the peak of
their power. Since then, Thanjavur has been one of the chief
political, cultural and religious centres of South India
Thanjavur contains over 90 temples, as it was favored by the
rulers between the 1st - 12th centuries,
in the 16th century, and the
in the 17th and 18th
Under the Cholas
Brihadishwara Temple built by Rajaraja
Thanjavur, or Tanjapuri
as it was called in the ancient
times was chosen by the Moovarayar
and later conquered by Vijayalaya
. Vijayalaya built a temple for his favourite goddess
Nisumbhasudani in the city. Although subsequent emperors made Kanchipuram a subsidiary capital, Thanjavur maintained its
position as the chief city.
The great Brihadeeswara Temple
, built by Rajaraja Chola I
was completed around 1010
AD. It remained the centre of the Chola administration for many
years, channelling the state revenue into a number of civic
projects. It also acted as a repository of the empire's records, as
the great Rajaraja had its walls covered with numerous inscriptions
recording his conquests and his endowments to various charities.
The impression we get from the inscriptions is of a wealthy,
progressive city, although totally dominated by the temple.
The inscriptions tell us about a number of royal palaces in the
city and of the districts where palace servants lived. We also
learn the names of a number of streets: the big street of Virasola
and the big market of Tribhuvanamadeviyar. During the reign of
Rajaraja we learn that the city was divided into two parts:
(inner) and Purambadi
Purambadi could have been an extension to the city built during
Rajaraja's reign. Among the new streets built by Rajaraja were two
running east to west in front of the Brihadeeswara Temple
Northern and Southern Talichcheries
. People who worked in
the temple occupied these streets. There were other temples then,
such as the Jayabhima temple and Tanjai Mamani found in the
inscriptions, which do not exist anymore. There was also a public
hospital attached to a Vishnu temple named after Sundara Chola
which was endowed by Kundavai, the sister of
influence of Thanjavur began to diminish when Rajendra Chola I built a new city named
Cholapuram and moved his capital there.
Under the Nayaks and Marathas
Thanjavur town in 1955
After the Cholas
conquered the Chola
country. Madurai was the
Pandya capital and Thanjavur remained in the background, as a
province of Vijayanagara empire.
1535,the Vijayanagara king installed a Nayak king
hence the era of Tanjore Nayaks which
lasted till mid-17th century, until attacked by the Madurai Nayaks.
Later slipped into the
hands of Marathas
Tanjore was conquered by the Marathas
1674 under Venkoji
, the half-brother of
the Great; his successors ruled as
Maharajas of Tanjore
The British first came into contact with Tanjore by their
expedition in 1749 with a view to the restoration of a deposed raja
of Tanjore Nayak lineage. In this they failed, and a subsequent
expedition was bought off. The Maratha rajas held Tanjore until
In October 1799, the district was ceded to the British East India Company
absolute sovereignty by Raja Serfoji II
a pupil of the missionary Schwartz. The raja retained only the
capital and a small tract of surrounding country. He died in 1833
and was succeeded by his son Sivaji, on whose death in 1855 without
an heir the house became extinct.
Thanjavur is located at approximately in the centre of the Indian
state of Tamil Nadu. The town is located in the centre of the
Cauvery delta, about 320 kilomtres from the state capital Chennai
and 56 kilometres from Tiruchirapalli. Some of the nearby
towns are Kumbakonam (40 km), Pattukkottai (45 km), Mannargudi (37 km), Pudukkottai (55 km), Tiruvarur (58 km),peravurani (80) and Nagappattinam (84 km) The municipality has an area of about
The township and its exterior
suburbs extend for an area of about 100 km2
town has an elevation of 57 metres above mean sea level. It is
drained by the rivers Vadavar and Vennar
in the north.
Places of interest
Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadishwara Temple
temple) built by Rajaraja Chola
during the 11th century The Handbook of India By Publications
Division, India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Brihadishwara Temple, also known as the Big Temple, is one of
UNESCO World Heritage
The temple is enclosed in two courts, surmounted
by a lofty tower and including the exquisitely decorated shrine of
. Among the other historic buildings is the
Vijayanagara fort, which contains a palace that was expanded by
the Maratha king Serfoji II with an
armoury, a Bell Tower and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, which
contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on
palm leaf and paper.
Also built by Serfoji II is the
, a monumental tower,
situated about 65 km away from Thanjavur. The then "Sangeetha
Mahal" has been converted to a handicrafts exhibition centre now
which has handicrafts from local artisans. Raja Rajan Manimandapam
which is also one among the tourist places in Thanjavur, Thanjavur
is in the second place next only to Chennai in attracting more
Arts and culture
Thanjavur is one of the chief political, literary and religious
centres of southern India, known for its contribution to Carnatic music
, it has produced many
classical musicians and Bharathanatyam
dancers. It has become the second most important site for the
Tiruvaiyaru, which is close to Thanjavur, is the place where
the great musician Saint Tyagaraja
Here in Tiruvaiyaru every year in the Tamil month of
'Thai' (second half of January) Thyagaraja Aradhana will be held
where musicians from all over the country will participate.
Tanjore is well known for bronze sculptures and its unique painting
style called Tanjore Painting
percussion instrument called the Thavil
divine classical string instrument Veenai
Thanjavur Bobblehead Dolls - Animated Version
Thanjavur Rocking Doll - Animated Version
The Tanjore paintings
popular and are renown around the world. The artists use a
combination of canvas background with glass, metals, etc. to depict
and decorate various scenes from Hindu mythology.
Tanjore plates which are made of color glass pieces which are
aesthetically cut and embedded on velvet cloth. It will have god
image or birds at the center.
Sacred Heart Cathedral in the city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of
The South Zone Cultural Centre
Zone Cultural Center (SZCC), corresponding to the North, West and
North-East zone cultural centres, was moved to Thanjavur after
functioning initially from the town of Tiruvaiyaru.
It is the only one of its kind in South India
and is dedicated to the promotion of
fine arts, dance, drama, music, theater and other arts by providing
opportunities for the artists, documenting dying art forms and
ensuring the participation of the youth in cultural activities.It
organizes special programs and collaborative programs with the
Lalit Kala Akademi, Sangeet Natak Academi, Sahitya Akademi and
National School of Drama.
Thanjavur's economy is mainly agro-based. The town acts as a focal
point for food grains transported from the adjoining areas of the
Cauvery Delta. The town also has some medium and small-scale
enterprises. Tourism constitutes a major portion of the town's
revenue. Prominent supermarket chains such as Food World
have their branches in Thanjavur. There are also a few local
supermarket chains of which Punniyamoorthi Pillai
(PPDS) is the largest.
is the eleventh largest city in Tamil Nadu with a population of 221,185 (est.
Males constitute 50% of the population and females 50%. Thanjavur
has an average literacy rate of 80%, higher than the national
average of 59.5%: male literacy is 85%, and female literacy is 76%.
In Thanjavur, 9% of the population is under 6 years of age. Tamil
is the most widely spoken language while Telugu
and Thanjavur Marathi
are also spoken. The
Tamil spoken in Thanjavur constitutes the Thanjavur dialect which
is the standard lingua franca of the Cauvery delta. Hindus
form the majority, but the town has
Street life in Thanjavur
Thanjavur is well-connected with Chennai, Coimbatore,
Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Kumbakonam, Pattukkottai,
Bangalore, Ernakulam, Marthandam, Nagercoil, Tirupathi,
Thiruvananthapuram, Ooty and Mysore through regular bus services.
Previously, Thanjavur had a single bus terminus located at the
heart of the town. However, recently a new bus terminus has been
constructed outside the town limits in order to handle the
passenger traffic. Thanjavur also has a well-maintained domestic
public transport system. Government and private buses operate
frequently between Old Bus Stand and New Bus Stand and between Old
Bus Stand and outlying towns as Vallam and Budalur and villages as Pillaiyarpatti, Vallam Pudursethi, Sengipatti and Kuruvadipatti.
There are also minibus
services between Old Bus Stand and Reddipalaiyam and share auto
services along the Thanjavur-Trichy national highway.
Thanjavur is an important railway junction of Southern Railways.
Thanjavur is connected by rail with most important cities and towns
In early 1990s, Thanjavur was connected with Chennai via the
Flight Service, which was stopped
due to poor patronage. Now a full fledged Air Force Station is
coming up at Thanjavur to station Fighter
jets and is expected to include civil service for passengers.
City officials, as of
Thanjavur is a Special Grade municipality
administered by a municipal
corporation. The municipal corporation is headed by a Chairman
assisted by a Deputy Chairman. The general administration of the
town is headed by a Commissioner. The municipal corporation
consists of six departments: general administration, revenue,
accounts, engineering, town planning and public health. The
legislative powers are held by an elected council of 51
Thanjavur is renowned for its culture of education. It is home to
the famous Saraswati Mahal library which dates back to the end of
the 16th century and contains over 30,000 rare manuscripts. It has
now been fully computerized.One of the famous school in the city is
MMS. St.Antony's Hr sec School.
St. Peter's, founded in the 18th century by Schwartz, is a renowned
school. Currently, Thanjavur has four universities, viz., the
Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy
Ramajayam Institute Of Science & Technology and Periyar Maniammai University
and several colleges including the renowned Thanjavur Medical College
are other Engineering Colleges namely the upcoming Parisutham
Institute of Technology & Science
& St Joseph's College
of Engineeringand Teacher educational colleges like Dr.S.R.J College of Education
There are also many research centres, including the Paddy
Processing Research Centre (Now Indian Institute of Crop Processing
Technology) and Soil and Water Research Centre.
People from Thanjavur
- Kalki (Tamil: கல்கி) was the pen
name of R. Krishnamurthy-Author of famous Tamil novels such as
Ponnniyin Selvan, Alai Osai, Paarthiban Kanavu (பொன்னியின் செல்வன்,
அலை ஒசை,பார்த்திபன் கனவு), Kalvanin Kaadhali
- "Muththamizh Vallal" Rao Bahadur A.Y. Arulanandhaswamy Nadar -
Co-Founder and Second President of Karanthai Thamil Sangam.
- S.Sridhar, CEO of Two Wheelers, Bajaj- Head of Pulsar Team
- A Balasubramanian, CEO of Birla SunLife MF
- Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister, DMK supremo,
born in Tirukuvalai, later Thanjavur Dt.
- Sir A.T.Panneer Selvam - Barrister-at-law, Minister in the
erstwhile composite State of Madras (Presidency) and Justice Party
Leader. Co-Founder of Karanthai Thamizh Sangam.
- Thiru. Uma Maheshwarar, Renowned Tamil Scholar & Founder of
Karanthai Tamil Sangam.
- Nadigar Thilagam Padmashree Sivaji
Ganesan - Actor
- Thiru P.A.Yagappa Nadar - Donor of the lands now occupied by
the Thanjavur Medical College, Rajah Serafoji College and the New
- Thiru Chaandilyan - Tamil Writer - Author of kadal Pura, Yavana
- Thiru T. Janakiraman (Thi. Jaa) - Tamil Writer - Author of Moha
Mul, Mara Pasu..
- Thiru A.Y.S. Parisutha Nadar - Long time M.L.A.
and Municipal Chairman of Thanjavur, Philanthropist
- Prof Ku.Sivagnanam - Orator, Tamil scholar and Ex-Director of
State Government's Dept of Tamil Development.
- Hema Malini -Famous Actress
- Shankar - Famous Tamil Film
- Madan - Cartoonists
- Late Shri.Subburama Bhagavadhar
- Bhagavadha Sironmani Shri. Kovai S. Jayaraman
- SVe.Shekar - Actor, Politician
- Thirumathi Manorama- Tamil Actress
- Dr.S.Janikiraman - Well known Child Specialist.
- Thiru G. Ramaswamy - ex. Attorney General of India.
- Late Dr. N. Ramanathan - The first M.B.B.S Doctor after whom a
landmark, Ramanathan Hospital bus stop, is named.
- Dr. R. Radhakrishnan - Well known Physician, ex. Dean of
Thanjavur Medical College.
- D.Rajasekar IFS, Secretary, Animal Welfare
Board of India (AWBI)
- Late R. Venkataraman- Former President of
- Krishnan Iyer- Senior Turtle
farmer of Fiji
- G.M. Akbar Ali B.Sc. M.L. - Tamil Nadu Chief Judge born in
- Dr.A.Srinivasan - Senior Paediatrician & social
- S.D.Somasundaram B.E., - Formerly Minister of Tamilnadu
- Vellur T.Veerasamy M.A. - Formerly Minister of Tamilnadu.
- K.Thulasiayya Vandayar B.A.(Honours),Kalvikavalar,Formerly
Member of Parliament.
Thanjavur also famous for fine arts, music instruments, paintings,