"Thanjavur" Thanjavur by tayloretc

Thanjavur Travel Guide: 72 reviews and 307 photos

Thanjavur (Tanjore) is a hot and dusty South Indian temple town with a huge, old, really cool temple in the middle. The Brahadeeswara Temple is a big part of Tanjore’s reason for being these days, although it’s not the only thing there, and three of four guidebooks mention that it’s too bad most travelers give the city a miss. We were only there for a day, and so only saw the temple, the Art Gallery, and a little of the town on this trip.

Tanjore was the original center of Chola power (around A.D. 1000, interesting history if you have a chance to look into it). Now it’s mostly a tourist destination and a center for the arts of bronze work and Tanjore painting. The Art Gallery has the largest collection of Chola bronzes in the world, and both bronze work and painting are kept alive at several workshops/studios in town, some of which you can visit.

Visiting the temple is interesting, since it’s a world heritage site (and so almost everything is open to non-Hindus), but is also a working temple (so it’s kind of weird that almost everything is open to non-Hindus). For practical purposes, it means tourists have ghee lamps* foisted upon them, and are then over-charged by about ten-fold.

The temple is a beautiful piece of architecture and artistry, and is beautifully preserved. The Art Gallery has that large collection of bronzes, as well as a great view of the town from the tower. There are other old temples to visit. The town itself is fine: smallish, conservative, but pretty low-key, and pleasant on the outskirts. It’s worth adding to a trip around Tamil Nadu, both for the history and as a contrast to Madurai, where we ended up next.

* Tiny lamps filled with clarified butter to leave at the shrine of your choice.

  • Last visit to Thanjavur: Jan 2007
  • Intro Written Feb 20, 2007
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