October 19th, 2015 by admin

The royal palace in Thanjavur, also called the Maratha palace as the then Maratha rulers used to stay here. The Bhonsle family ruled this part of Tamil Nadu from 1674 to 1855. The last Maratha king did not had any heir and the British took over the kingdom by coercive means.

Address:

E Main St, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 613001

I visited the palace recently. We reached there in the afternoon.

There is an entry frees for some sections of the palace. If you want to shoot, pay for camera fees as well.

Entry fees: Rs 10 for Adult (Indian), Rs 5 for children (Indian), Rs 50 for foreigners

Camera fees: Rs 30

Car parking: Rs 10

We can divide the palace into the following sections for easy exploration:

1. Art Gallery
2. Bell Tower
3. Saraswati Mahal Library
4. Maratha Darbar
5. Sangeetha Mahal

I suggest you start with the Art Gallery. At the gate, your tickets will be checked. Keep your tickets properly as you will be asked to show it different sections. First you will be able to see a huge collection stone sculpture starting from as old as 8th century AD to as recent as 17 / 18th century. Go little further you can see the Nayak Durbar hall, where a huge cache of antique coins from various periods and countries are kept. Also, you should be able to see antique bronze statues from various ruling periods of Tamil Nadu. This hall also has a statue of King Serfoji II. Nearby, there is another newly built hall containing artifacts. Pass this art gallery halls, you will enter a staircase, the right hand side corridor lead to a hall which has miniatures of the Brihadeeshwara temple, the palace and some more bronze statues. Also, you should be a able to see a big golden colour statue of King Raja Raja Chola.

Follow the path of the staircase to go to the first floor. The first floor opens to terrace on both sides. The staircase further leads to the top of the gopuram like structure. But the staircase from the first floor is locked from both sides. So looks like entry is restricted. At the first floor, staircase leads to a place, where most probably the king or royals used to sit.

From the terrace on the right hand side, one can see Sangeetha Mahal and the Bell tower. It also has a few solar panels, showing the palace is keeping parleys with modern times by harnessing solar power. On the left hand side terrace, one can see some elevated cement tables. Looks like used for sitting. If not, what could be they used for? Also, you can see a big skeleton of a whale.

I also felt sad here by seeing the walls being desecrated by people. When people, do not understand its their cultural hetitage, authorities need to be more watchful.

The next stop was Bell tower. It seems to be a 5 story building, which has a bell on its top floor. It was under renovation during my visit and the staircase was closed.

Then went to Saraswati Mahal Library. King Serfoji II was very interested in Books and created this place of learning. The library is only for research scholars and the timings are as follows:

Timing: 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. & 1.30 pm. to 5.30

However, you can visit the library museum. The official Tamil Nadu tourism website shows, admission is free here, but our tickets were checked which we bought. It also looks like, some offices are housed here.

Then on the left hand side a small lane led us to the Maratha durbar. Here, the Maratha rulers used to give audience. From what is remaining, it looked a very beautiful and grand durbar hall in its heydays. But it is also desecrated.

For more pictures visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

October 6th, 2015 by admin

The royal palace at Thanjavur has a good collection of antique stone sculpture collection from various parts of Tamil Nadu. The oldest I saw was from around 8th century AD. Take a look at few of the sculptures there.

October 2nd, 2015 by admin

The Maratha royal palace in Thanjavur is just not about seeing how the Maratha kings (who ruled this part of the country then) lived here. It is also a powerhouse of collection of centuries old artifacts and antiques. Check few images of the collection of bronze statues I clicked there.

September 28th, 2015 by admin

The seat of the Maratha rulers at Thanjavur has a good collection of items from history. At the palace, saw a diverse collection of coins from various periods of the past. Take a look:

September 25th, 2015 by admin

Brihadeeshwara temple, also know as the Big temple is probably one of the best temples in the world. No wonder, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Address:

Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Timings:

6:00 am – 12:30 pm and 4:00 – 8:30 pm

Entry fees: Free

Note: Parking available on the opposite side of the temple (on the other side of the road)

We planned to see the temple in the late afternoon as that would allow us to see it in both daylight and night. As we proceeded towards the temple, we were welcomed by a huge arch. From the second arch onwards on has to walk barefoot, so either leave your shoes in your personal vehicle or at the shoe stand available at the temple for Rs 2. If you have any bag, there will be a checking at the second arch. Entry to the temple is free. Once we crossed the second arch, we could see the full view of the temple and its splendor. The arches were positioned such that one can see the Nandi sitting on a platform facing Lord Shiva. From here one has to climb a small platform on which the Nandi sat. From here some steps straight took us to the main sanctum. The elevated platform of the main temple and Nandi forms the center of the rectangle.

During day its hot but as the sun was setting the weather started to cool down. A gentle breeze started to blow all over the temple. We took a walk around the main temple exploring it. At dark a different view of the temple came alive and was a treat to the eyes. We sat on the nicely maintained grass lawn to enjoy the view around and thinking about the temple.

The construction of the temple was started by great Chola emperor Rajaraja I in 1003 AD and was completed in 1010 AD. The design of the temple is an engineering marvel and whoever has designed it was an architect per excellence. The temple was designed to represent a cosmic structure called the Mahameru. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva represented by a 3.66 meter high linga. The area of the temple is a rectangle in shape. The vimana soars to a height of 60.96 meters and the stone Shikara (8 pieces) at the top weighs 81.284 tonnes. The inner scantum is a square and there is a circumambulatory passage around it like most south Indian temples. Along with the main temple, the complex has 5 sub shrines for Chandikeshava, Amman, Subhramanya, Ganesha and Karuvur devar – the royal priest. There are two mandapas for Nataraj and Nandi. The beautiful Nandi has been chessiled for a single granite rock. Two gopuras Rajarajan thiruvasal and Keralantaka are of the same period as the main temple and the arch is of the Maratha period. The walls have numerous inscriptions from the period of Chola, Pandaya, Vijaynagar, Nayaka and Maratha rulers. From the writings it can be seen that the temple was patronized by various rulers and received generous donations.

If anyone ask me to describe this temple, I would say – “It is a poetry written in stones”. Go there in leisure and you wont complain.

September 20th, 2015 by admin

After traveling for around 90 minutes covering a distance of around 70 km from Tanjavur, we reached Gangaikonda Cholapuram . Currently a small village. But it was not so little over 700 years ago. For it was the then capital of the Chola empire. Built by Rajendra Chola I after his great victory in the north of India.

Once we reached there, we saw one has to leave their shoes before entering the temple. So we decided to keep shoes in the car. A shoe stand is available which looks over them on payment. During day time, stone becomes and a carpet has been rolled over the stones leading to the main gate. But does not help. The huge main gate leads to a large Nandi statue made of sand stone. It is one the most decorated Nandi I have ever seen. Little further, on an elevated platform is a small blank Nandi statue. Both these Nandis are facing lord Shiva. To reach the sanctum sanatorium, one has to take stairs from the left or right hand side and go through a beautifully crafted pillared passage. Inside the sanctum sanatorium, only oil lamps are lit. This added to the beauty and mystique when we saw the Shiva linga. The overall structure has some similarity with Brihadeshwara temple in Tanjavur. But Gangaikonda cholapuram temple is smaller in scale.

The temple area is a rectangle in shape and has a fortified boundary wall. Besides the main temple there are nice grass lawn. On the left hand side of the large Nandi, is a statue of lion. My mind ran wild on the thought, whether lion existed in Tamil Nadu around 1000 years back?

We took a walk through the grass lawns while exploring old stone statues and the temple architecture. It is a living temple, that is, prayer to the lord is still performed everyday. It is also home to many birds like pigeons and parrots.

The temple is very nicely maintained. It should on your must visit list, if you tour Kumbakonam / Tanjavur.

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