Renowned as the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur, located in the fertile Cauvery delta, is popular for its temples, arts, handicrafts, paintings and history. A prominent centre of rice cultivation, Thanjavur is also known by the sobriquet ‘Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu’.

The city is believed to have been named after an asura (demon) ‘Tanjan’ who was killed by Lord Vishnu. Another school of thought believes the city gets its name from ‘Than-sei-oor’, which means a place surrounded by rivers and green paddy fields. During the colonial period, the name got anglicized to ‘Tanjore’.

The city shot into prominence as the capital of the might Cholas between 11th and 14th century. During these periods, the Cholas built several temples in the city and developed Thanjavur as an important centre of art and culture. Brahadeeshwarar Temple stands testimony to the wealth and might of the Cholas. Thanjavur remained the capital of the Cholas till the construction of Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

Today, Thanjavur is well-known for its agricultural activities. Rice is the main crop cultivated in the city. Due to large scale of agricultural production, the city is also called as the ‘Granary of South India’.

Though it ceased to be the capital after the end of Chola rule, Thanjavur remained an important city. The city became the capital again under the Marathas.

Remnants of Thanjavur’s historic past can be seen in the form of its grand buildings. The main attraction of the city is the Brahadeeswara temple, built in the early 11th century by Rajaraja Chola I. Thanjavur Royal palace, Saraswathi Mahal library and the Vijaynagara fort speak eloquently of the city’s past.

Thanjavur is renowned for its culture, music and art. Thiruvaiyaru, about 54 km from the city, is the birthplace of Sri Thyagaraja, the numero uno musician-composer of Carnatic music.

Thanjavur is also renowned for its paintings which originated around 1600. The city is a shopper’s paradise and is the best place to buy handloom silk and cotton saris. Paintings, bronze and brass idols and jewellery are also worth a buy.


The city has been ruled by the Nayaks, Marathas, British but it were the Cholas who developed Thanjavur into important centre of art and culture.
During the regime of Rajaraja Chola, the city was divided in two parts Ullalai, which means the inner city and Parumbadi, the other city. Thanjavur was under the Cholas till the 13th century, later it was conquered by the Pandyas.
The Marathas took over the city in the late 17th century from the Nayaks. The death of Raja Serfoji II in 1833 led to Thanjavur’s merger with the Madras Presidency in1855.

Where to stay

Accommodation options are several in the city. One can find many budget, mid-range and luxury hotels.

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Where to eat

There are many multi-cuisine restaurants in the city, which serve Indian, Chinese, continental cuisine. One should try the local South-Indian dishes, which can be found at the local food stalls in the city.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Thanjavur is during the months of October to April.

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