Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu and the cultural capital of the country in the 18th century, Thanjavur rose to prominence during the Chola reign. Temple architecture was redefined during their rule, and a new paradigm of Dravidian architecture was set. The 11th century Big Temple or the Brihadeeswara Temple in the heart of the town stands testimony to such a tradition. The structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is unparalleled in terms of grandeur, scale and detailing. Conceived during the heyday of Chola rule by the great Rajaraja Chola I, the Brihadeeswara temple for centuries has attracted fascinated artists, curious historians, sociologists, and travelers who delight in its wealth of sculptures, beautiful calligraphy, frescoes, and over a hundred inscriptions on the walls. This artistic tradition
was righteously carried forward by the Nayak and Maratha kings, and one can get a glimpse of it in monuments such as Serfoji Mahal Library and Tanjore Palace to name a few.
Thanjavur is an interesting destination to shop especially if you are an art collector. Everything you find at the handicraft market here is one-off and unique to this part of South India. They range from the famous āThanjavur dancing dollā, Tanjore paintings to Tanjore art plates. You can find an array of Tanjore paintings and other objet dā art at the Tanjore Palace museum shop. Here old and new artworks are sold, and you can conveniently use your credit card. At the Phoompuhar Art Gallery, both connoisseurs and collectors can revel in its range of artistic bronze statues, Tanjore paintings (nulla style of painting traditionally practiced in Tanjore depicting scenes from the Hindu mythology), and artistic plates. The genuineness of the artifacts here makes it very popular with foreign
A haven for craft lovers, Thanjavur owes much of its fame to the exquisite artwork and bronzes made by dexterous artisans. Browse the craft market some more, and you will find interesting weaves in silk, ethnic jewelry, filigree, woodwork, pottery, handloom products, and paintings. Must put up a bargain, for the prices quoted to tourists are on the higher side.
Silk weaving is a prominent traditional craft in the temple town, and many artists are engaged in this profession. When in Thanjavur, donāt forget to pick up a typical silk sari with a broad border adorned with unique motifs in zari work (nullgolden threadwork). Such a sari is famously worn by the locals for weddings and festivals.
The traditional dancing, rather head-nodding, dolls (nulllocally called Thalaiyatti Bommai) make for a wonderful souvenir for your friends back home. You can even go for the Thanjavur plates or brass and bronze depictions of Hindu deities. Shop for all this and more from government-owned stores or private ones spread across the city. Another option is to visit the workshops of local craftsmen, watch them turn out a work-of-art, and purchase directly from them if you like.
Restaurants - Thanjavur is not really the place for European or Oriental cuisine, sticking to regional delicacies here is a safer bet. The food is flavored with a host of spices and condiments, though coconut and tamarind are added to almost all vegetarian recipes. Not to mention, most dishes are rustled up using coconut oil or coconut milk. Coconut chutney, sambar (nullseasoned lentil broth), rasam (nulla hot broth made of tamarind juice and pepper) and mixed spices are served with every meal to enhance the taste. A typical Tamilian meal comprises steamed rice, lentils, grains and vegetables. And if you are non-vegetarian, there is a great variety of Chettinad delicacies to choose from. Chettinad pepper chicken is an all-time favorite of the locals. You can even try out the Tamil style
of Mughlai cuisine, especially the biryanis and paya (nulla type of spiced broth generally eaten with paranthas or appam).
Typical South Indian breakfast is readily served and to perfection at most local restaurants. Popular breakfast options include idli (nullsteamed rice cakes), dosa (nulla pancake made from a batter of rice) and lentils crisp fried on a pan, vada (nulldeep fried doughnuts made from a batter of lentils), pongal (nulla mash of rice and lentils boiled together and seasoned with ghee, cashew nuts, pepper and cumin seed), yogurt and uppma (nullcooked semolina seasoned in oil with mustard, pepper, cumin seed and dry lentils). Any Tamil meal is incomplete without crisp papadam or appam!
Continental cuisine is served well at Mullai restaurant in Hotel Oriental Towers on Srinivasam Pillai Road. Try out authentic South Indian specialties at the Marutham restaurant of the same hotel. You can enjoy sumptuous Mughlai cuisine at Satharās on Gandhiji Road. And Thevarās is the best biryani place in town. Dheer Garden does a gob job of grilled delights such as tandoori chicken and their in-house specialty āMurthapaā. If you are in mood for some authentic Chinese, head straight to Rice Bowl that whips up an array of Chinese delicacies including some succulent appetizers.
Most of the restaurants in this temple town observe the highest hygiene and cleanliness standards. So much so, the state food department makes regular trips into the kitchens of the restaurants to ensure that safety regulations are maintained.
The ancient temple town of Kumbakonam makes for a great day trip from Thanjavur, about 40 kilometer (null miles) away. Kumbakonam receives a huge influx of Hindu pilgrims from across the country, particularly South India. A lot of visitors come here only for the Mahamaham festival celebrated with great pomp every 12 years in the month of Masi (nullFebruary-March) at the Mahamaham tank in the city. Devotees by the thousands take to the streets, and head for a holy dip in the Mahamaham tank. You canāt miss the frenzy at this time of the year.
The temple town of Thanjavur is approximately in the center of the state of Tamil Nadu. Located in the center of the Cauvery delta and drained by the rivers Vadavar and Vennar to the north, Thanjavur is about 320 kilometer (null miles) from the state capital Chennai, 56 kilometer (null miles) from Tiruchirappalli, about 40 kilometer (null miles) from Kumbakonam, 45 kilometer (null.12 miles) from Pattukkottai and 84 kilometer (null.5 miles) from Nagappattinam. The Thanjavur municipality covers an area of 36 sq. kilometer, while the township and the suburbs on the outskirts spread out over approx. 100 sq. kilometer. It is about 57-meter (null foot) above the mean sea level. A flyover cuts through the city diving it into two; one side of the flyover is the old town which is also the main business
district of the city, while the other is the residential area.
Thanjavur enjoys a tropical climate, with maximum temperature going up to 36 degree Celsius and minimum 22 degree Celsius. The city receives an annual rainfall of 111.37 mm.
Surface - A fleet of state and private buses daily enter Thanjavur from Pattukkottai, Kumbakonam, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchirappalli (nullTrichy). The longest journey is made from Bangalore and Chennai in an overnight bus that takes up to nine hours. One can also drive into the city or hire a private taxi.
Train - From Thanjavur Junction, there are regular trains to and from Chennai, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and all major cities.
Air - The nearest airport is in Tiruchirappalli about 56 kilometer (null miles) away on the NH 210 Tiruchirappalli - Rameshwaram highway. It is serviced by domestic flights to and from Tamil Naduās state capital, Chennai. It also has flights to Colombo, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Sharjah and Kuwait.
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