This is 350 km from Chennai and is considered the 'ricebowl' of India

Thanjavur thrived as the ancient capital of the Chola kingdom, later of Marathas and Nayaks.

Thanjavur was at the height of its glory during the Chola period between the 10th and the 14th century and became a great centre of learning and culture. The most important landmark in Thanjavur is the Brahadeeswara Temple built in 1011 CE as a result of the extension of the Chola kingdom to Ceylon and beyond.



Brihadishwara Temple

This temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions of Tamil Nadu. (Rajarajeswaram or Big Temple), Hopital road, Thanjavur (Behind old bus stand). This is the most important place to see in Thanjavur. This is a must see. One can enjoy the architecture of the whole temple and also the cute little garden on the temple's backyard. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, hundreds of lingam are in the pillared cloister. Free entrance.

The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples",

"Swot up on some history before seeing this temple"

Arulmozhivarman, a Tamil emperor who was popular as Rajaraja Chola I laid out foundations of Brihadeeswarar Temple during 1002 CE. It was first among other great building projects by Tamil Chola. Main purpose of building this temple was to grace throne of Chola Empire with compliance of one command Rajaraja Chola I receive in a dream. Grandeur and scale is in Chola tradition. A symmetrical and axial geometry rules layout of this temple. Temples from same period and two following centuries are expressions of Tamils Chola power, artistic expertise and wealth. Emergence of these types of features, such as multifaceted columns along with projecting signals of square capitals signifies arrival of Chola style, which was new at that time. Brihadeeswarar Temple’s build was like one royal temple for displaying emperor’s vision for relationship and power to universal order. This temple was one site of primary royal ceremonies, such as anointing emperor and to link emperor with Shiva, its deity and deity’s daily rituals was a mirror of those by king. It is one architectural exemplar, which showcases true form of Dravida kind of architecture in temples and is a representative of ideology of Chola Empire and Southern India’s Tamil civilization. Brihadeeswarar Temple “testifies to Chola’s brilliant achievements in architecture, painting, bronze casting and sculpture.” A wish for establishing such a huge temple as per saying of people occurred to then king Raja Raja, who was staying as one emperor in Sri Lanka. Brihadeeswarar Temple is first among all buildings, which make use of granite fully and it finished within five years from 1004 AD to 1009 AD.

Temple in Darasuram

Darasuram or Dharasuram is a panchayat town located 3 kilometres from Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, India. The town is known for the Airavateswara temple constructed by the Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD. The temple is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage monument. King Raja Raja II constructed in his name a beautiful temple called Raja Rajechuram (at present Airavatheeswara) in 1160 A.D. to 1162 A.D. This Raja Rajechuram (Raja Rajeschuram – Tharechuram – Darachuram -Darasurm) became Darasuram at present.

Airavatham is an elephant (white in colour) and is a vehicle of Indra. It was cursed by sage Durvasa to lose its shining white. Airavatha came to his temple and got its original colour after worshipping the Lord. Hence the deity came to known as Airavatheeswara (the protector of the elephant).

Other Sights

Palace & Saraswathi Mahal Library

Possesses very old manuscripts mostly in Tamil and Sanskrit. The library is situated inside the Saraboji Palace which contains many rare paintings depicting various Indian cities during the reign of King Saraboji.

Palace tower

Siva Ganga Garden

A cute little park sandwiched between the Brihadeshwara Temple and the Schwartz Church. There are children playing area at the heart of the park and it is very pleasant to watch the innocent laughs and smile. The park has a cute little train and also a theppakulam ( a temple in the middle of pond). Boating is also available in the pond.

Art Gallery,

East main road (Inside the palace). 09:00-13:00 and 15:00-18:00 (closed on holidays). Art exposition of bronzes and statues of the Chola period. The ticket gives also access to a construction of the palace with a nice view on the town.

Sangeetha Mahal

Saraswathi Mahal Library

One of the oldest libraries in Asia. Find interesting manuscripts of 17th century.

Schwartz Church

This church was constructed by Rev. Schwartz more than 200 ago. Though there is nothing much great about the artistic work, the church is still operational under the CSI Trichy-Tanjore Diocease. It is good to attend the morning service which is conducted in English, every Sunday at 7:00am.


There is a music festival in January to celebrate the south Indian saint Thyagaraja. Every 12 years the Mahamaham fair is held at Kumbakonam (next one 2016). Like most places in South India Pongal is celebrated in January. Raja Raja's birthday (see above) is celebrated in October.

Travel Information

Thanjavur is about 350km from Chennai.


Nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli, from which Thanjavur is a taxi ride (~1500 Rs) away


There are connections from major Indian cities to Thanjavur junction


Many buses exist from major cities, some overnight


The period from November to February in Thanjavur is pleasant, with a climate full of warm days and cool nights. The onset of summer is from March, with the mercury reaching its peak by the end of May and June. The average temperatures range from 27 °C in January to 36 °C in May and June.