Thanjavur , also Tanjore, is a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is the 8th biggest city in Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian religion, art, and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost among these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, built by the Chola emperor Rajaraja I, is located in the centre of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region.
Thanjavur is the headquarters of the Thanjavur District. The city is an important agricultural centre located in the Kaveri Delta and is known as the Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is administered by a municipal corporation covering an area of 128.02 km2 (49.43 sq mi) and had a population of 590,720 in 2011. Roadways are the major means of transportation, while the city also has rail connectivity. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport, located 59.6 km (37.0 mi) away from the city. The nearest seaport is Karaikal, which is 94 km (58 mi) away from Thanjavur.
The city first rose to prominence during the reign of the Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties such as the Mutharaiyar dynasty, the Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Madurai Nayaks, the Thanjavur Nayaks, the Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire. It has been a part of independent India since 1947.
The city’s name is believed to be derived from a portmanteau of “thanjam puguntha oor” (Tamil: தஞ்சம் புகுந்த ஊர்) which means “the town where refugees entered”, referring to the town’s history of providing hospitality to newcomers. According to another local legend, the word Thanjavur was derived from “Tanjan”, who was a Demon who was killed on this very place and that asura asked to make a beautiful city there in Hindu mythology and later the asura was slain in what is now Thanjavur by the Hindu god Neelamegha Perumal, a form of Vishnu. The city’s name “Thanjavur” might also be derived from the name of a Mutharayar king, “Thananjay” or “Dhananjaya”. Thananjaya (Dhananjaya) added to -Oor gives the name Thanjavur. The Kalamalla stone inscription (the first stone inscription) was made by the Renati Chola king, Erikal Muthuraju Dhanunjaya Varma of 575 CE
Map of Thanjavur city in 1955
This place was previously called Śiyāli. Indra once fled to this place in fear of the asura called Śūrapadma and did tapas here.
There are no references to Thanjavur in the Sangam period (third century BCE to fourth century CE) Tamil records, though some scholars believe that the city has existed since that time. Kovil Venni, situated 15 miles (24 km) to the east of the city, was the site of the Battle of Venni between the Chola king Karikala and a confederacy of the Cheras and the Pandyas. The Cholas seemed to have faced an invasion of the Kalabhras in the third century CE after which the kingdom faded into obscurity. The region around present day Thanjavur was conquered by the Mutharayars during the sixth century, who ruled it up to 849.
The Cholas came to prominence once more through the rise of the Medieval Chola monarch Vijayalaya (841–878 CE) in about 850 CE.Vijayalaya conquered Thanjavur from the Mutharayar king Elango Mutharayar and built a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Nisumbhasudani.His son Aditya I (871–901) consolidated their hold over the city. The Rashtrakuta king Krishna II (878–914), a contemporary of the Chola king Parantaka I (907–950), claims to have conquered Thanjavur, but there are no records to support the claim. Gradually, Thanjavur became the most important city in the Chola Empire and remained its capital till the emergence of Gangaikonda Cholapuram in about 1025.During the first decade of the eleventh century, the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014) constructed the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of Tamil architecture.
When the Chola Empire began to decline in the 13th century, the Pandyas from the south invaded and captured Thanjavur twice, first between 1218–19 and again in 1230. During the second invasion, the Chola king Rajaraja III (1216–56) was exiled and he sought the help of the Hoysala king Vira Narasimha II (1220–35) to regain Thanjavur.
Thanjavur was eventually annexed along with the rest of the Chola kingdom by the Pandya king Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I (1268–1308) in 1279 and the Chola kings were forced to accept the suzerainty of the Pandyas.
The Pandyas ruled Thanjavur from 1279 to 1311 when their kingdom was raided by the forces of Malik Kafur (1296–1306) and later annexed by the Delhi Sultanate.
The Sultanate extended its authority directly over the conquered regions from 1311 to 1335 and then through the semi-independent Ma’bar Sultanate from 1335 to 1378. Starting from the 1350s, the Ma’bar Sultanate was steadily absorbed into the rising Vijayanagar Empire.
2000 — Cholas
Bhonsle dynasty of the Marathas
An approximate time-scale of Thanjavur rulers.
Thanjavur in 1869
Thanjavur is believed to have been conquered by Kampanna Udayar during his invasion of Srirangam between 1365 and 1371. Deva Raya’s inscription dated 1443, Thirumala’s inscription dated 1455 and Achuta Deva’s land grants dated 1532 and 1539 attest Vijayanagar’s dominance over Thanjavur. Sevappa Nayak (1532–80), the Vijayanagar viceroy of Arcot, established himself as an independent monarch in 1532 (1549, according to some sources) and founded the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom. Achuthappa Nayak (1560–1614), Raghunatha Nayak (1600–34) and Vijaya Raghava Nayak (1634–73) are some of the important rulers of the Nayak dynasty who ruled Thanjavur. Thanjavur Nayaks were notable for their patronage of literature and arts.The rule of the dynasty came to an end when Thanjavur fell to the Madurai Nayak king Chokkanatha Nayak (1662–82) in 1673. Vijaya Raghunatha Nayak, the son of Chokkanatha, was killed in a battle and Chokkanatha’s brother Alagiri Nayak (1673–75) was crowned as the ruler of the empire.
Thanjavur was successfully conquered in 1674 by Ekoji I (1675–84), the Maratha feudatory of the sultan of Bijapur and half-brother of Shivaji (1627/30-80) of the Bhonsle dynasty. Ekoji founded the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom which ruled Thanjavur till 1855. The Marathas exercised their sovereignty over Thanjavur throughout the last quarter of the 17th and the whole of the 18th century. The Maratha rulers patronized Carnatic music. In 1787, Amar Singh, the regent of Thanjavur, deposed the minor Raja, his nephew Serfoji II (1787–93) and captured the throne. Serfoji II was restored in 1799 with the assistance of the British, who induced him to relinquish the administration of the kingdom and left him in charge of Thanjavur fort and surrounding areas. The kingdom was eventually absorbed into British India in 1855 by the Doctrine of Lapse when Shivaji II (1832–55), the last Thanjavur Maratha ruler, died without a legitimate male heir. The British referred to the city as Tanjore in their records. Five years after its annexation, the British replaced Negapatam (modern-day Nagapattinam) with Thanjavur as the seat of the district administration. Under the British, Thanjavur emerged as an important regional centre. The 1871 India census recorded a population of 52,171, making Thanjavur the third largest city in the Madras Presidency. After India’s independence, Thanjavur continued as the district headquarters.
Geography and climate
Thanjavur is located at 10.8°N 79.15°E The tributaries of river Cauvery, namely, the Grand Anaicut canal (Pudhaaru), Vadavaaru and Vennaaru rivers flow through the city. Thanjavur is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of 314 km (195 mi) south-west of Chennai and 56 km (35 mi) east of Tiruchirappalli. While the plains immediately adjoining the Cauvery river have been under cultivation from time immemorial, most of Thanjavur city and the surrounding areas lie in the “New Delta” – a dry, barren upland tract which was brought under irrigation during the early 19th century. To the south of Thanjavur city, is the Vallam tableland, a small plateau interspersed at regular intervals by ridges of sandstone. The nearest seaport is Nagapattinam which is 84 km (52 mi) east of Thanjavur. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport, located at a distance of 56 km (35 mi). The city has an elevation of 59 m (194 ft) above mean sea level. The total area of the city is 36.33 km2 (14.03 sq mi).
Climate data for Thanjavur (1981–1999, extremes 1975–1999)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 34.2
Average high °C (°F) 30.8
Average low °C (°F) 20.6
Record low °C (°F) 17.1
Average rainfall mm (inches) 25.7
Average rainy days 1.7 0.8 0.8 1.2 2.3 2.8 3.5 6.0 6.7 8.1 8.0 6.6 48.4
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 63 53 49 52 51 50 49 52 61 68 75 74 58
The period from November to February in Thanjavur is pleasant, with a climate full of warm days and cool nights. The onset of summer is from March, with the mercury reaching its peak by the end of May and June.The average temperatures range from 81 °F (27 °C) in January to 97 °F (36 °C) in May and June. Summer rains are sparse and the first monsoon, the South-West monsoon, commences in June and continues till September. North-East monsoon begins October and continues till January. The rainfall during the South-West monsoon period is much lower than that of the North-East monsoon. The North-East monsoon is beneficial to the district at large because of the heavy rainfall and the Western ghats (mountain ranges) feeding the river Cauvery.The average rainfall is 37 inches (940 mm), most of which is contributed by the North-East monsoon.
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