Thanjavur has been in existence since antiquity, during what is known as the Sangam period, around the 4th century B.C. A local legend states that the name was derived after Neelamegha Perumal, an avatar of Vishnu, killed a 'Tanjan' or Asura (demon) here. Thanjavur finds mention during the reign of the Mutharayar Kingdom from the 6th to the 9th century A.D. The medieval Chola kingdom from the 9th century had their center of power here and this is when Thanjavur rose to prominence, during the 10th to 12th century A.D.\nIt was the Chola King, Raja Raja Chola I who built the Brihadeeswarar Temple in the 10th century A.D. After the decline of the Chola empire, Thanjavur was ruled by the Pandyas. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Pandya Kingdom was annexed by Malik Kafur of the Delhi Sultanate. However, the Delhi Sultanate was defeated and absorbed by the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century, and they had a firm grasp over this area till the 16th century before the Maratha Empire came to prominence. The Marathas ruled over this region for quite some time until the kingdom was included it in the Madras Presidency after being seceded to the British. After independence, Thanjavur finally became a part of Tamil Nadu.
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