Treasure Trove Of Tamil Heritage – Tanjavur

History Of Tanjavur

#Thanjavur, also known as Tanjavur or Tanjore, is a sacred location in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Rajaraja I, a renowned Chola (Cola) monarch, established Thanjavur as his capital. It was he who ordered the construction of the site’s majestic temple. The #Brihadeeswara, at the beginning of the 11th century CE. Over the ages, numerous other temples and shrines were erected, making Thanjavur one of the most significant and popular historical sites in India today. #UNESCO has included Thanjavur on its list of World Heritage Sites.

History Of Tanjavur

From the ninth to the twelfth centuries, when the #Chola kingdom ruled over the city, Thanjavur’s history can be traced. It underwent significant development in the realms of literature, art, and architecture. Previously known as “Tanjapuri.” The Chola monarchs built a number of magnificent temples and monuments that are today. It serves as a living testament to the city’s historic architectural legacy. Rajaraja I was one of the many successful monarchs who built the renowned Rajarajeshwara Temple. He was also one of the most intelligent kings.


The #Pandyas overthrew the Chola dynasty in the late 13th century. Their authority over Thanjavur was short-lived because Ala-ud-din Khilji, a well-known #Muslim ruler, came to power. The #Nayak dynasty was created in Thanjavur in the fourteenth century when the rulers of Vijaynagar seized control of the city. The historical city was briefly ruled by the Marathas later in the 17th century. Finally, the city was taken by the British in 1773, and Thanjavur Fort was annexed in 1841. Thanjavur remained under British control until 1947, and with India’s Independence, it grew to become a significant Tamilnadu city.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple

Raja Raja Chola I began building on the Shiva-dedicated #Brihadeeswarar temple. He finished it in 1010, making the temple more than 1000 years old. The building provides evidence of the Chola kingdom’s wealth, creative talent, and dominance. The engineer and builder of this well-known temple were Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perumthachan. According to the inscriptions found inside the temple. The building exhibits Dravidian architecture and depicts Tamil civilization and the Chola Empire’s ideologies. The temple boasts the tallest vimanam (temple tower) in the entire world and its Kumbam (the building at the top) weighs about 80 tonnes. At the entrance to the temple is a sizable statue of the sacred bull Nandi. The statue weighs over 20 tonnes and is made out of a single rock. The 3.7-meter-tall Lingam within the temple.

Brihadeeswarar Temple

One of the few temples with Ashta-dikpaalakas (Guardians of the Directions) idols is Brihadeeswarar Temple. The temple’s walls are decorated with Chola frescoes that feature Shiva in a variety of postures. The first fully constructed granite temple in the world is Brihadeeswarar. It is estimated that 60,000 tonnes of stone were utilized to construct the temple.

Reason Why Tanjavur Called A ‘Cradle Of Arts’

#1. Birthplace Of ‘Trinity Of Carnatic Music’
Carnatic music.

Although Chennai has recently taken on the responsibility of popularising Carnatic music. Thanjavur will always hold the honor of being the “Birthplace of Carnatic Music.” Particularly because of three of the greatest composers and saints of Carnatic music, Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, Syama Sastri, and Muthuswami Dikshithar. They lived in the area around the town and were collectively known as the “Trinity of Carnatic Music.” The three composers, all lived and worked in the second half of the 19th century. They were contemporary with one another. Particularly Saint Thyagaraja is credited with making the art form more well-known and accessible to the general public.

#2. Cultural Center Of History
Cultural Center Of History

While the Sangam era, centered in Madurai, is when Tamil Nadu’s history of art and poetry began. This evidence suggests that Tanjavur also has a roughly two-thousand-year-old past. But it was the Chola monarchs, who were famed for their support of the arts. He brought the city truly back to its historical prominence at the turn of the second millennium. While dance, poetry, and sculpture were among the creative genres encouraged by the Chola dynasty, architecture achieved the most advancements. Raja Raja Chola I oversaw the construction of the beautiful Brihadeeswarar Temple. It was a hub for intellectual and aesthetic development for many years.

#3. Cultural Confluence

Vijayanagara Empire

However, it would be incorrect to give the Cholas exclusive credit for Tanjavur’s reputation as the birthplace of the arts. The fact that this ancient city was ruled by at least five different dynasties and empires during the period of the second millennium. It including the Vijayanagara Empire, the Nayaks of Tanjavur, and the Maratha empire, is what truly distinguishes it. The art styles of Tanjavur were molded by the fusion of these numerous dynasties and their civilizations. The Maratha kings introduced their own architectural and artistic styles through palaces and other monuments, but the Vijayanagara kings were renowned for their patronage of the arts and affected local architecture through the restoration of existing sites.

#4. Tanjavur Dolls

Tanjavur Bobblehead Dolls

The Tanjavur Bobblehead Dolls, which are indigenous to this area, are one of the well-known variants in India’s centuries-old doll-making tradition. Making and displaying these dolls is a long-standing custom that is intimately related to the Indian holiday of Navaratri, which Tamil families celebrate by adorning their homes with a variety of dolls and deity images. In recent decades, interest in the Tanjore Dolls has increased, both as a handcrafted item and as a geographical identifier. The Tanjavur market, which is situated next to the Brihadeeswarar Temple, is the ideal location to shop for Tanjore dolls.

#5. Architecture And Sculptures

In contrast to western traditions, Tamil culture regards sculptures as an essential component of temple architecture. Additionally, Tanjavur served as a significant historical center for both art and architecture and was home to some of the most notable temples in the state. The Brihadeeswarar Temple, which not only used cutting-edge architectural and engineering techniques for its time but also established the standard for sculpture work in Tamil buildings, contains some of the best and largest instances of both these types.

#6. Bhagavata Mela
Melattur Bhagavata Mela

In many aspects, the Melattur Bhagavata Mela stands out in the history of South Indian performance art. This theatrical production, which dates back to the 16th century, has been ongoing for more than 300 years in the quaint village of Melattur in the Tanjavur district. Although the event is held in the heartland of Tamilia, it is performed in Telugu and has its origins in the Andhra Pradeshi dance genre known as Kuchipudi. The theatrical production typically features Hindu gods and goddesses and centers on mythological Hindu themes.

#7. Tanjavur paintings

Tanjavur paintings

One of the most significant South Indian traditional art forms is Tanjavur Painting, which the Indian government has recognized as a geographical marker. This style, which has historically been used to depict Hindu gods and goddesses, uses vibrant color schemes and is particularly well-known for its use of inlay work, the most popular of which are glass beads, semi-precious stones, and gold foil. Since numerous galleries are now making Tanjavur paintings easily accessible, there has been a renaissance in interest in this traditional art genre.

#8. The Influence Of Tanjavur Art

Tanjavur Art

Thanjavur paintings are notable for their effect on well-known artists and South Indian art movements in addition to being one of the most well-liked South Indian art trends. The works of the renowned Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma and other painters like C Kondiah Raju reflect its influence. Apart from modern art trends, the Thanjavur painting style has had an impact on regional traditional art forms like Kalamkari and Tirupati.

#9. Thyagaraja And the Thiruvaiyaru Aradhana
Thiruvaiyaru Aradhana

The Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana serves as the Carnatic music genre’s annual cultural epicenter, even though the Madras Music Season is the longest and largest Carnatic music festival. This festival honors Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, one of the pioneers of Carnatic music, and is held on the banks of the Cauvery in the Tanjavur district town of Thiruvaiyaru. Nearly all of the top personalities in Carnatic music attend the Thyagaraja Aradhana, a musical extravaganza unlike any other. It attracts followers and devotees from all over the world and is well known for its spiritual undertone.

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