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.
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.
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