Thanjavur aka Tanjore is a world famous town, known for three things : Brihadeeswarar temple (also called as Big Temple), Tanjore Palace, Tanjore Paintings and Tanjore dancing dolls. But there’s plenty of locations, apart from the above places to visit in Tanjore . Even a week might not be enough to cover the historical, religious and other architectural marvels around this place.
My latest collaboration with Tamilnadu Tourism department, helped me to explore several places around this beautiful town , which I am listing out here category wise.
How to get to Thanjavur
Thanjavur is well connected by trains across the country and by buses from all southern states . You can either take a train that goes to Thanjavur directly or head to Trichy (more frequency and more options) and take a cab to Thanjavur (travel time 1.5 hours).
The closest airport is Trichy (which is roughly 59kms away) and you can easily get a bus/cab/train from Trichy to Thanjavur any time of the day.
Where to Stay in Thanjavur
The ideal area would be the one near the railway station as its close to many restaurants and also just a few minutes away from the Big Temple. I happened to stay at a 200+ year old Heritage hotel owned by Tamilnadu Tourism called Hotel TamilNadu. This is opposite to the railway station itself and was a huge, delightful hotel with all modern facilities at affordable prices.
Places to visit in Tanjore
Despite being a relatively small city, there are plenty of things to do in Tanjore / Thanjavur.
Tanjore Big Temple / Brihadeeswarar Temple
The Tanjore Big Temple , an archaeological wonder goes by so many different names including : Big Temple, Thanjai Periya Kovil, Brihadeeswarar Temple etc. As the name goes, it is one of the largest temples in the world, made entirely of granite and also one of the key reasons why the city still pulls in a lot of visitors across the world. Brihadeeswarar alias Lord Shiva is the main deity here, while the temple is constructed by Raja Raja Cholan I , 1000 years ago.
There are so many mysteries surrounding this temple and its architectural marvel. One example is that historians still cant figure out how did 30 tons of a Granite Gopuram(tower shaped structured) could have been lifted 200 ft above the temple ceiling, without any modern instruments or facilities, 1000 years before during the Chola dynasty.
Thanjavur Palace & Saraswati Mahal Library
This was the living residence of the Marathas, who ruled this part of the country from 1674 to 1855. You can find the lfelike statue of King Saraboji in the central area.
Adjacent to it is also the library and fort that was used by the Marathas. Incidentally this is one of the oldest libraries in the world. It was also a place used by the then dynasty to build and develop culture .
Punnai Nallur Mariamman Temple
Named after the tree (Punnai), Punnai Nallur Amman temple is just 5 kms from Thanjavur . It is a very powerful ancient temple in the city, with Goddess Devi(Amman) being the main deity.
Rajaraja Cholan Museum / Mani Mandapam
A museum that houses all the archaeological evidence, coins, maps, statues and other items sourced & unearthed from the Chola Dynasty.
5. Shopping for Tanjore Paintings & Dolls
Check with your travel desk with an address of a local craftsmen who are still involved in making Tanjore paintings. Note : A real quality painting will easily cost you 5000 INR +.
Buy Tanjore dolls inside the store at Big temple or one of the shopping streets in the city. A small one costs 500 INR while a bigger one may cost roughly 750-800 INR
Places to See in and around Thanjavur
After exploring the architectural buildings in Thanjavur, take one more day to explore the below places
Mallipattinam Fishing Harbor
Manora Fort & Beach
Temple Cities Adjacent to Tanjore
- Gangai Konda Chola Puram
2-Day Tanjore Itinerary
Here’s a simple 2 day Tanjore Itinerary that you can cover easily within 2 days.
Things to do in Thanjavur – Day 1
- Head to the main Tanjore Big Temple (Brihadeeswara temple) . Be mesmerized at the gigantic ,stunning piece of architecture you would ever witness. (Time : 2 hours). Dont forget to buy Tanjore Dolls in the temple shop itself
- Visit the Raja Raja Cholan Museum / Mani Mandapam . Climb to the top of the tower to see a panoramic view of Tanjore city
- Head to the Tanjore Palace & Fort to see the Maratha king Saraboji’s palace . Also visit Saraswati Mahal library within the same building (Time : 2 hours)
- If you love temples, you can head to Punnai Nallur Mariamman Temple for a short 30 minute visit.
- Just 12 kms , drive down to Thiruvaiyaaru to visit the famous temple there and also the shrine of poet Thiyagarajar
- If you’re an art lover, you should definitely get one authentic Tanjore Painting for your home
Things to do in Thanjavur – Day 2
Visit Manora for the huge Tower and Beach , the Fishing Harbor at Mallipattinam and if time permits visit Gangai Konda Cholapuram (60kms away from Tanjore)
Optional Days :
You can also visit Kumbakonam (one of the most famous temple towns in India), if you’re a religious person.
In case you are looking to explore the nearby town of Rameshwaram-Danushkodi , you can check out my Rameshwarm itinerary here