Tourism and culture
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India
Further information: Brihadeeswarar Temple and Great Living Chola Temples
Thanjavur is an important pilgrim centre and a major tourist destination of Tamil Nadu. South Zone Culture Centre in Thanjavur is one of the regional cultural centres established by the Government of India to preserve and promote cultural heritage of India. There were 2,002,225 Indian and 81,435 foreign tourist arrivals in 2009 to Thanjavur. The most visited monument in Thanjavur is the Brihadeeswarar Temple, whose construction, the historian Percy Brown described as “a landmark in the evolution of building art in South India”. Built in the 11th century by the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014), the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.The walls of the sanctum are covered with wall paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods.
The temple was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is replicated in the Gangaikonda Cholesvarar Temple constructed by Raja Raja’s son Rajendra Chola I (1012–44).King Raja Raja Chola memorial to have a complete makeover soon in Thanjavur.
Thanjavur Royal Palace courtyard
Figure depicting a Thanjavur painting
The Thanjavur Maratha palace was the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Thanjavur region from 1674 to 1855. It was originally constructed by the rulers of the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom and after their fall, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Marathas. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed by the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. The southern side of the third quadrangle of the palace has a 190 ft (58 m) tower-like building, called the Goodagopuram. Punnainallur Mariamman temple is about 7 Kms from Brihadeeswara temple. This temple was built by the first Maratha king of Thanjavur Venkoji in the year 1680.
The Saraswathi Mahal Library, established around 1700 and located in the premises of the palace, contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper. Over eighty per cent of its manuscripts are in Sanskrit and many of them are on palm leaves. The Tamil works include treatises on medicine, and commentaries on Sangam literature. The Rajaraja Chola art gallery is located inside the palace – it has a large collection of stone and bronze images from the ninth to 12th centuries. Most of the idols present in the gallery were collected from various temples in the Thanjavur district. The Sivaganga Park is situated to the east of the Brihadeeswarar Temple and encompasses the Sivaganga Tank believed to have been built by the king Raja Raja Chola. It was created as a people’s park by the Tanjore municipality in 1871–72. It has a collection of plants, animals and birds and serves as a zoo for children within the city.
Bharathanatyam, the South Indian dance form in display in Brihadeeswarar Temple
A modern statue of Rajaraja Chola I, Thanjavur
Schwartz Church, a historic monument located in the palace garden, was built in 1779 by Serfoji II as a token of affection for Rev. C.V. Schwartz of the Danish Mission. There are five museums in the city, namely: Archeological Museum, Tamil University Museum located with the Tamil University premises, the Saraswathi Mahal Library Museum located inside the Saraswathi Mahal, Nayak Durbar Hall Art Museum and Rajaraja Chola Museum.Raja Rajan Manimandapam is one of the tourist attractions in Thanjavur, built during the Thanjavur Tamil Conference in 1991. “Sangeetha Mahal” has a permanent handicrafts exhibition centre. Thanjavur is the cradle for many of the arts and crafts in South India. Carnatic music was codified in Thanjavur and the art flourished during the Nayak rule in the 16th century. Bharathanatyam, a classical dance form of South India, had its major styles developed in Thanjavur.
Sathaya Thiruvizha is the annual birthday festival of Raja Raja Chola held during October every year. Thanjavur is the base for the Tyagaraja Aradhana, a Carnatic music festival held annually during January – February at Thiruvaiyaru, located 13 km (8.1 mi) away from the city. Thanjavur painting is a major form of classical South Indian painting from Thanjavur. It dates back to about the 1600s, the period of Nayakas of Thanjavur, who encouraged art, classical dance and music literature, both in Telugu and Tamil. The art is usually a combination of raised and painted surfaces, with the Hindu god Krishna being the most popular image depicted. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs of festive occasions in South India, wall decors, and collectors’ items for art lovers.
Thanjavur “thalayatti bommai” stall
Paddy field in Thanjavur district
The major occupation of the inhabitants of the city is tourism and service-oriented industry, while the traditional occupation is agriculture.
Thanjavur is known as the “Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu”. Paddy (unmilled rice) is the crop and the other crops grown are blackgram, banana, coconut, gingelly, ragi, red gram, green gram, sugarcane and maize. The total percentage of land fit for cultivation is 58%. There are three seasons for agriculture in Thanjavur – Kuruvai (June to September), Samba (August to January) and Thaladi (September, October to February, March).The total rice production has been maintained at 10.615 L.M.T and 7.077 L.M.T. The city acts as a focal point for food grains transported from the adjoining areas of the Cauvery Delta. Organic farming is gradually becoming known to the farmers of Thanjavur. To maximise agricultural produce, organic farming is being implemented. Though agriculture is the main economic activity, only 7% of the population is involved in it. There is a lot of agricultural related trading that forms the key economic activity in the city.
Almond cultivation has been gaining popularity in Thanjavur, a district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The region’s warm and dry climate, coupled with fertile soil, provides ideal conditions for growing almonds. The almonds produced in Thanjavur are known for their high quality and rich flavor. The trees bloom in early spring with beautiful pink and white flowers, and the nuts are ready for harvest in the fall. The almond crop in Thanjavur has become an important source of income for local farmers and has contributed to the region’s agricultural diversity.
Thanjavur is an important centre of silk weaving in Tamil Nadu. There were 200 silk weaving units in the city in 1991 with around 80,000 people working in them. Thanjavur is also famous for the ‘Thalaiyatti bommai’ or ‘Dancing dolls’ which is a doll made from clay, wood or plastic.The sarees produced in the villages surrounding Thanjavur are sold in Thanjavur and neighbouring towns.
Increasing production costs and competition from large-scale producers have reduced the number of people involved in the production. The city produces bell metal craft like Thanjavur metal plates, bronze images bowls, napkins and powder boxes made of copper and bronze. The city is a major manufacturer of pith works consisting of models of Hindu idols, mosques, garlands and other bird figurines. Manufacture of musical instruments like veena, tambura, violin, mrithamgam, thavil and kanjira is another economic activity in the city.
All major nationalised banks such as State Bank of India, Indian Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and private banks like ICICI Bank, City Union Bank have their branches in Thanjavur. All these banks have their automated teller machines located in various parts of the city. Thanjavur farmers insure additional 2.5 lakh acres in 10 days, but acreage still lower than last year.
No religion 0.01%
According to 2011 census, Thanjavur had a population of approximately 250,000 with a sex-ratio of 1,042 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 19,860 were under the age of six, constituting 10,237 males and 9,623 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 9.22% and .21% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the city was 83.14%, compared to the national average of 72.99%.
There were a total of 78,005 workers, comprising 803 cultivators, 2,331 main agricultural labourers, 2,746 in house hold industries, 65,211 other workers, 6,914 marginal workers, 110 marginal cultivators, 235 marginal agricultural labourers, 322 marginal workers in household industries and 6,247 other marginal workers. As per the religious census of 2011, Thanjavur (M) had 82.87% Hindus, 8.34% Muslims, 8.58% Christians, 0.01% Sikhs, 0.01% Buddhists, 0.06% Jains, 0.11% following other religions and 0.01% following no religion or did not indicate any religious preference.
As of 2008, a total 2,013.34 ha (4,975.1 acres) (55.4%) of the land was used for residential, 11.32 ha (28.0 acres) (3.06%) for commercial, 82.68 ha (204.3 acres) (2.28%) for industrial, 320.2 ha (791 acres) (8.81%) for public & semi public, 108.11 ha (267.1 acres) (2.98%) for educational and 996.85 ha (2,463.3 acres) (27.47%) for agriculture.
Tamil is the widely spoken language, with the standard dialect being Central Tamil dialect. Telugu, Thanjavur Marathi and Saurashtra are other languages spoken in the city. Thanjavur is the cultural and political center of the Thanjavur Marathi people. While Hindus form the majority, the city also has a substantial population of Muslims and Christians. Roman Catholics in Thanjavur are affiliated to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tanjore and Protestants are affiliated to the Trichy–Tanjore Diocese of the Church of South India.
The workforce is predominantly involved in service industry involving trade and commerce. With the expansion of the city area, the opportunities for agriculture is limited and only 7% of the population is involved in it.
NH 67 in Thanjavur city
The National Highways NH 83 and NH 36 pass through Thanjavur and NH 136 and NH 67 connect Thanjavur respectively with Perambalur and Thiruvurur. The city is connected with Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Karur, Tirupur, Vellore, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Mysuru, Salem, Cuddalore, Viluppuram, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai, Karaikal, Mannargudi, Thiruthuraipoondi, Vedaranyam, Pattukkottai, Dindigul, Oddanchatram, Palani, Pudukkottai, Karaikudi, Tirunelveli, Bengaluru, Ernakulam, Nagercoil, Tirupathi, Trivandrum and Ooty through regular bus services. Thanjavur had a single bus terminus located at the heart of the city.
An integrated bus terminus, called New Bus stand was constructed in 1997 near Raja Serfoji College to handle the passenger traffic. Thanjavur has a well-maintained sub-urban public transport system. Government and private buses operate frequently between the two bus termini and other towns and villages like Vallam, Budalur, Mohamed Bunder, Nadukkavery, Pillaiyarpatti, Vallam Pudursethi, Sengipatti, Ammapettai, Mariamman Kovil, Thiruvaiyaru and Kuruvadipatti.
Thanjavur Junction railway station
The railway line connecting Tiruchirappalli Junction railway station to Chennai Egmore via Thanjavur, the Main Line is a historical line established by South Indian Railway Company in 1879.
The Great Southern of India Railway Company (GSIR) operated a broad gauge rail service between Nagapattinam and Tiruchirapalli via Thanjavur between 1861 and 1875. During 1875 it was converted to a meter gauge line (MG line). Modern day Thanjavur railway junction has three rail heads leading to Tiruchirapalli, Kumbakonam and Thiruvarur. Thanjavur is connected by rail with most important cities and towns in India. There are daily express trains to Chennai, Mysuru, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode, Tiruppur, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, Karur, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram, Tiruchendur, Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Viluppuram, Chengalpattu, Mannargudi, Bengaluru, Dindigul, Pudukkottai, Karaikudi, Sivagangai, Manamadurai and weekly trains to Pondicherry, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari, Tirupati, Nellore, Itarsi, Visakhapatnam, Hubli, Vasco da Gama, Goa, Vijayawada, Chandrapur, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Satna, Katni, Allahabad, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Ayodhya, and Bhubaneswar. There are frequent passenger trains from the city to towns like Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Tiruchirapalli, Kumbakonam, Mayiladuthurai and Nagore, hubbali.
In the early 1990s, Thanjavur was connected with Chennai via the Vayudoot flight service, which was stopped due to poor patronage. A full-fledged air force station is operational at Thanjavur. Thanjavur Air Force Station was to become a major air base by 2012, to handle Fighter, Transport aircraft and also refuelling aircraft. However, the inauguration of the Thanjavur Air Force Station took place in 27 May 2013. The Thanjavur Air Force Station bases a squadron of its Sukhoi Su-30 Supermaneuverability Fighter aircraft at Thanjavur, making it the first fighter squadron in Tamil Nadu.The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport. The nearest Seaport is located at Nagapattinam.
The municipality of Tanjore was created in 1866 as a third grade municipality as per Town Improvements Act 1865 and initially consisted of 12 members. The number was increased to 18 in 1879 and 24 in 1883. In 1897, the members were empowered to elect a Municipal Chairperson to lead them. Tanjore was upgraded to a second grade municipality in 1933, first grade in 1943 and a special grade in 1983. The functions of the municipality are devolved into six departments: General, Engineering, Revenue, Public Health, Town planning and the Computer Wing. All these departments are under the control of a Municipal Commissioner who is the supreme executive head. The legislative powers are vested in a body of 52 members, one each from the 52 wards. The legislative body is headed by an elected Chairperson assisted by a Deputy Chairperson.
On 10 April 2013, the state government announced in the Assembly that Thanjavur municipality will be upgraded to a Municipal corporation. Thanjavur City Corporation is likely to have an area of 110.27 km2 (42.58 sq mi) of area, with a population of 3,20,828 and an income of ₹411.8 million (US$5.2 million). The villages Pudupattinam, Nanjikottai, Neelagiri, Melaveli, Pillaiyarpatti, Ramanathapuram, Pallieri, Vilar and Inathukanpatti are likely to be added to the municipal corporation limits. Thanjavur became City Corporation on 10th April 2014.
Thanjavur comes under the Thanjavur State Assembly Constituency and it elects a member to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly once every five years. From the 1977 elections, the assembly seat was won by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) six times during the 1977, 1980, 1989, 1996, 2001 and 2006 elections, the Indian National Congress party once during the 1984 elections and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) twice during the 1991 and 2011 election M. Karunanidhi, who served as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a record five terms, was elected from the Thanjavur assembly constituency in the 1962 elections.
Thanjavur is also a part of the Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency and elects a member to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament of India, once every five years. The Lok Sabha seat has been held by the Indian National Congress for Seven terms during 1951–56, 1957–62, 1962–1967, 1980–84, 1984–1989,1989–91 and 1991–96, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for Seven terms during 1967–71, 1971–77, 1996–98, 1998–99, 1999–04, 2004–09 and 2009–present and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam for one term during 1977–80. R. Venkataraman, who served as the President of India from 1987 to 1992, was elected from the Thanjavur Lok Sabha constituency in the 1951 elections.
Law and order in the city is maintained by the Thanjavur subdivision of the Tamil Nadu Police, headed by a Deputy Superintendent (DSP). The Thanjavur district level police administration is headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Police, whose office is located in the city. There are six police stations in the city, one of them being an all-women police station. Some special units include prohibition enforcement, district crime, social justice and human rights, district crime records and a special branch that operates at the district level police division headed by a Superintendent of Police (SP).
Thanjavur Medical College
Thanjavur has a total of four Universities, namely the Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science & Technology, PRIST University, SASTRA University and Tamil University. The Tamil University is a state run institute, started during 1981 and obtained its statutory recognition from the University Grants Commission in 1983. It is the only one of its kind for the Tamil language doing higher research in Tamilology and advanced study in various allied branches like linguistics, translation, lexicography, music, drama and manuscriptology.
Thanjavur has a total of 15 arts, science & management colleges and nine engineering colleges.The Thanjavur Medical College was established in 1961 and is one of the oldest medical colleges in Tamil Nadu.The Paddy Processing Research Centre (PPRC), which later became the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology in 2017, is a hub for food processing research. The Saraswati Mahal Library which dates back to the end of the 16th century and the Central Library, managed by the district administration are the two most prominent libraries in the city.
There are 20 registered schools in Thanjavur, catering to the primary, secondary and higher secondary educational needs of the city. St. Peter’s Higher Secondary School at Thanjavur was established by Rev. C F Schwartz during 1784. Originally established as a college, it was the first school in South India which taught English to the local populace. St. Antony’s Higher Secondary School, established in 1885 by the Diocese of Thanjavur, is one of the oldest schools in Thanjavur district. Christian Missionaries played a prominent role in promoting English education in Thanjavur. Kalyanasundaram Higher Secondary School, established in 1891, is one of the oldest schools in the city.
Electricity supply to Thanjavur is regulated and distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). The city along with its suburbs is a part of Trichy Electricity Distribution Circle. Water supply is provided by the Thanjavur Corporation from the Vadavar Canal, supplied through overhead tanks located in various parts of the city. During the 2000–01 period, a total of 31 million litres of water was supplied every day for households in the city.
About 110 metric tonnes of solid waste are collected from Thanjavur every day by door-to-door collection and subsequently the source segregation and dumping is carried out by the sanitary department of the Thanjavur Corporation. The coverage of solid waste management had an efficiency of 100% as of 2001. The underground drainage system covers 70% of the city and the remaining sewerage system for disposal of sullage is through septic tanks, open drains and public conveniences. The corporation maintains a total of 155 km (96 mi) of storm water drains: 53.27 km (33.10 mi) surfaced drains and 101.73 km (63.21 mi) unlined drains.
Neo tidel park announced in newly added city pillayarpatti
There are 37 hospitals and seven clinical labs in Thanjavur that take care of the health care needs of the citizens. There are a total of 9,745 street lamps: 492 sodium lamps, 2,061 mercury vapour lamps, 7,180 tube lights and twelve high-mast beam lamps. The corporation operates three markets, namely the Serfoji Market, Amarar Swaminathan Market and Kamaraj Market and another market, the Subramaniya Swami Koil Market, is maintained by the Subramania Swami Temple authority.
Thanjavur comes under the Thanjavur Telecom circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India’s state-owned telecom and internet services provider. Apart from telecom, BSNL also provides broadband internet service. The Regional Passport office, Trichy, operates a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Thanjavur, which PSK covers the Nagappattinam, Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, and Ariyalur revenue districts.
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