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Thanjavur Tourism and Travel Guide

History of The City

Thanjavur was the royal city of the cholas, Nayaks and the Mahrattas. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli AmmanThanjavur and Vishnu, Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan's last request that the city might be named after him was granted.

Chola, Chera and Pandya kings were ruling Tamizhagam even before Mahabharat period. Chola kingdom was leading and patronizing literature, art, science and religion than the other two kingdoms. The capital city of Chola was always changing. Thiruvarur was the capital during Manuneethi Cholan. Kaveripoompattinam was the capital after that and was an important harbour. Uraiyur, Pazhaiyarai, Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram used to be the capitals of Chola Kingdom. Its been believed from the Epics that many Chola kings were ruling from Thanjavur even before Karikal Cholan.

Historian believe Thanjavur was captured by Vijayalaya Cholan (AD 846-880) from Perumpidugu Muttaraiyan. From then till Rajaraja Cholan Thanjavur was flourishing. Chola kings were ruling till 13th Century AD with Thanjavur as their capital. Rajendra Cholan, Rajarajan’s son moved the Chola capital to Gangaikonda Cholapuram. After that Chola Kingdom was declining and the Pandya Kings captured Thanjavur.

Vijayanagar Kings captured in 14th Century AD. Sevvappa Nayak (AD 1549-1572), an erstwhile viceroy of the Vijayanager empire assumed independence and founded the dynasty of the Thanjavur Nayaks. Thanjavur remained the capital of the Nayaks for the next one hundred and twenty five years till Vijayaraghava - the last prince of the line - perished in a tragic but a heroic war with Chokkanatha of Madurai in 1662 AD. His General Alagiri ruled for another fourteen years. The claim to the Nayak throne through Sengamaladas, the infant son of Vijayaraghava brought on the scene the Bijapur King and his general.

General Venkaji alias Ekoji, was the half brother of Sivaji the Great. He defeated Alagiri and seized the throne in 1676 Thanjavurbecause of the dissensions in Nayaks. Mahrattas kings for one hundred and seventy-nine year ruled with Thanjavur as the capital. The English first interfered in 1749 AD with a view to the restoration of deposed King, Saiyaji.

In 1758 AD French attacked but was retaken by British in 1773 AD. Thanjavur became a protected state under the East India Company. In 1799 AD Thanjavur became a British principality and its ruler Sarafoji II was given the fort of Thanjavur and an area outside it. Sivaji, his successor died in 1855 AD without an heir and after him Thanjavur passed directly under British. Its accquisition never costing the British the life of a single soldier, in the same manner as the Mahrattas had taken the country previously from the Nayaks.

Of the various rulers of Thanjavur the Cholas seem to have left in the Great Temple of Sri Bragatheeswara a striking relic of their genius. The temple stands tall within the small fort, commonly called the Sivaganga Fort, ascribed to the Sevvappa Nayak and the big fort which encircles the city and the palace was built by Vijayaraghava the last. These two forts could the renovations of the earlier chola fortifications.

How to Reach:

By Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy, 65 km from Thanjavur.

By Train: Thanjavur is well connected with a network of railways to and from Trichy, Chennai, Madurai and Nagore.

By Road: Well connected by roads to all the major towns and cities in Tamil Nadu, Kochi, Ernakulam, and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Bangalore in Karnataka.


The city of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu is a haven for craft lovers. The city draws much of its fame from the exquisiteThanjavur 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.


The traditional Thanjavur food comprises of several lip smacking vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. The Thanjavurindigenous dishes of the local inhabitants of Thanjavur include exotic South Indian recipes that are easy to cook and delicious to relish.

Upholding the rich art and culture of Thanjavur, the ancient city of the state of Tamil Nadu celebrates the food festival with great enthusiasm and fervor during the monsoons of every year. The Leela Palace Kempinski organizes an annual grand fest of pure South Indian delicacies.

The food festival offers the local inhabitants as well as the tourists with a wonderful opportunity to experience the traditional cuisines of Thanjavur. The guests are served with an exotic drink of Vasantha Neer which is made from the water of coconut. The drink has an essence of mint which quenches one's thirst and enhances appetite.

The vegetarian dishes of the region comprises of Thavala Adai, which is a kind of vada. The Thavala Adai with rasam imparts a heavenly taste and is an important cuisine of Thanjavur. Boiled rice, dosa, idly, uttapam and vada are some of the other mouth watering vegetarian dishes of the local citizens of the ancient city of Thanjavur.

Among the non-vegetarian dishes, the sea foods of crab and lobsters are very common. The non-vegetarian cuisine of Thanjavur comprises of several sumptuous delicacies of fishes that are prepared in coconut milk.

The sweet dishes of Thanjavur comprises of Surul Poli, Pal Payasam and Kozhakottai. The wide variety of traditional cuisines of Thanjavur reflects the rich socio-cultural lifestyle of the native population of the place.

Hotels in Thanjavur

Hotel parisutham
Hotel parisutham
Hotel Oriental Towers