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Thanjavur (India)
Red pog.svg
State : IndiaIndia India
State : Tamil Nadu
District : Thanjavur
Sub-district : Thanjavur
Location : 10 ° 46 '  N , 79 ° 9'  E Coordinates: 10 ° 46 '  N , 79 ° 9'  E
Height : 57 m
Area : 36.31 km²
Residents : 500,000 (2011)
Population density : 13,770 inhabitants / km²
View over Thanjavur with the Brihadishvara Temple in the background
View over Thanjavur with the Brihadishvara Temple in the background


Thanjavur ( Tamil : தஞ்சாவூர் Tañcāvūr [ t̪aɲd͡ʒaːʋuːr ]), formerly anglicised Tanjore , is a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu . The then municipality Thanjavur had about 223,000 inhabitants at the 2011 census. It is located in the delta of the Kaveri River, around 320 kilometers south of Chennai . From the 9th to the 11th centuries, Thanjavur was the capital of the Chola Empire, the most important medieval kingdom in southern India. Later the Nayaks (1535–1673) and the Marathas (1674–1855) ruled Thanjavur . Today the city is the administrative seat of the Thanjavur district and the location of Tamil University . Thanjavur's main attraction is the monumental Brihadishvara Temple , which was built in 1010 at the height of the power of the Chola dynasty.

As of February 18, 2014, Thanjavur is a municipal corporation . It is divided into 51 wards . The urban area was enlarged to 36.31 km² and is home to around 500,000 people.


Thanjavur is located in the fertile Kaveri Delta in central Tamil Nadu, around 320 kilometers south of Chennai (Madras), the capital of the state, and 56 kilometers east of Tiruchirappalli (Trichy). The Grand Anicut Canal and the Kaveri estuaries Vadavar and Vennar flow through Thanjavur . The city is the administrative seat of the Thanjavur district and the center of the Chola Nadu region , the historic heartland of the Chola dynasty.

The old town of Thanjavur is north of the Grand Anicut Canal. Their shape corresponds to an irregular circle with a diameter of around one kilometer. Originally it was surrounded by a fortification, which no longer exists. Southwest of the old town is the walled temple area with the Brihadishvara temple.


Chola time

Wall painting in Brihadishvara Temple showing Rajaraj I and his Guru Karuvurar

Between the 9th and 11th centuries Thanjavur was the capital of the Chola Empire, the most important southern Indian kingdom of that time. Around 850, the Chola King Vijayalaya conquered Thanjavur and founded a temple in the city for the goddess Nishumbhasudini ( Durga ). With that he laid the foundation stone for the rise of the Chola Empire to a great power. Under Rajaraja I. (r. 985-1014) and Rajendra I. (1014-44) the Chola reached the height of their power and controlled all of southern India and Sri Lanka . Rajaraja was considered a patron of the arts and had the monumental Brihadishvara Temple (completed in 1010) built in Thanjavur as a symbol of his imperial power. After Rajaraja's son Rajendra had moved the capital of the Chola Empire to the newly founded Gangaikonda Cholapuram , Thanjavur lost its importance again.

Nayaks and Marathas

After the fall of the Chola Empire, Thanjavur came under the rule first of the Hoysala of Dorasamudra and then of the Pandya kings residing in Madurai in the 13th century . After Malik Kafur , a general of the Muslim Sultanate of Delhi , defeated the Pandyas in a campaign to southern India and founded the short-lived Sultanate of Madurai at the beginning of the 14th century , Thanjavur, like all of southern India, came under the rule of Vijayanagar towards the end of the 14th century -Richs. The Vijayanagar king Achyuta Raya installed a military governor ( nayak ) in Thanjavur in 1535 . The Nayaks of Thanjavur ruled the region de facto as an independent kingdom, although they remained nominally loyal to Vijayanagar even after its defeat by the united Dekkan sultanates in the Battle of Talikota in 1565.

In the power struggles of the successor empires of Vijayanagar, Chokkanatha , the nayak of Madurai , defeated Vijaya Raghava , the last nayak of Thanjavur, and conquered the city in 1673 . A son of Vijaya Raghavas was able to flee and asked the Sultan of Bijapur for support. This sent the Marathas -General Venkaji , a half brother of the famous Shivaji , the Nayak of Madurai to drive back from Thanjavur. Venkaji was able to conquer Thanjavur in 1674, but usurped the rule and founded the Marathen dynasty of the Rajas of Thanjavur, who were to rule the region of the Kaveri Delta until the end of the 18th century.

Colonial times and independence

Samuel Bourne: Great Pagoda and Stone Bull, Tanjore , 1860s

In the 18th century, Thanjavur was drawn into the conflicts between the European colonial powers. In the Carnatic Wars , in which the British and French vied for supremacy in India, the Raja of Thanjavur allied with the British and the Nawabs of Arcot against the French, who were allied with Mysore . In 1749 and 1758 French troops besieged Thanjavur without success. In 1773 the British occupied the city because the Raja was in arrears with his tribute payments to the Nawab of Arcot, but three years later they reinstated the Raja of Thanjavur. 1799 ceded Raja Serfoji II. His possessions with the exception of the capital Thanjavur to the British. The Marathas continued to reside in Thanjavur until Serfoji's only son Shivaji II died in 1855 without an heir. After the Doctrine of Lapse , the British annexed Thanjavur and incorporated it into British India .

After Indian independence in 1947, Thanjavur came to the state of Madras , which was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969 .


Street scene in Thanjavur

According to the 2011 census, Thanjavur has 222,619 inhabitants in the city proper and 290,724 in the agglomeration . This makes Thanjavur the thirteenth largest city in Tamil Nadu.

As everywhere in Tamil Nadu, the main language in Thanjavur is Tamil . According to the 2001 census, 94 percent of the city's population speak it as their mother tongue. There are also smaller linguistic minorities: As in other places in Tamil Nadu, Telugu- speaking castes have lived in Thanjavur since the Vijayanagar period . In addition, in Thanjavur by members of the Weber Caste is Patnulkarar that works closely with the Northwest Indian language Gujarati related Saurashtra spoken. Telugu and Saurashtri speakers each make up 2 percent of the city's population. Urdu (1 percent) is common among part of the Muslim population of Thanjavur . During the reign of the Marathen kings, Marathi speakers immigrated to Thanjavur, leaving behind numerous cultural influences. Today, however, the number of Marathi speakers has shrunk to less than 1,000 people (0.4 percent of the city's population).

According to the 2011 census, Hindus make up the majority of the population of Thanjavur with 83 percent. There are also minorities of Christians (9 percent) and Muslims (8 percent). Thanjavur is the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Tanjore .

Culture and sights


Vimana of the Brihadishvara Temple

Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadishvara Temple , dedicated to Lord Shiva , which was built between 1003 and 1010 under the Chola King Rajaraja I. The monumental building is considered to be the highlight of medieval Hindu temple architecture in the South Indian Dravida style and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 as one of three “ great temples of the Chola dynasty ” .

The layout of the Brihadishvara Temple follows a strictly axially symmetrical plan. An outer wall encloses the rectangular temple area measuring 240 by 120 meters. In the center of the colonnaded inner courtyard is the actual temple, consisting of the Holy of Holies ( Garbhagriha ), in which there is a 3.5 meter high linga , and two pillared halls ( Ardhamandapa and Mahamandapa ). A 61 meter high Vimana (temple tower) rises above the Garbhagriha . Opposite the sanctuary is a monolithic Nandi statue, the third largest in India. In addition to the main shrine, there are side shrines for Shiva's sons Ganesha and Subrahmanya as well as his consort Parvati on the temple grounds . The entrance gate is crowned by a gopuram (gate tower), which, in contrast to later Dravidian temple buildings, is modeled on the Vimana in size and splendor .

The palace of Thanjavur was built under the Nayaks in the 16th century and was later expanded by the Marathan rulers. The extensive palace complex consists of numerous parts of the building and is now largely in disrepair. The audience hall ( Durbar Hall ) and the almost 60 meter high tower are worth seeing . The palace houses an art gallery and the Saraswati Mahal library. This has a large collection of valuable palm leaf manuscripts , the majority of which are written in Sanskrit .

Thanks mainly to the Brihadishvara Temple, Thanjavur is one of the main attractions of Tamil Nadu for domestic and foreign tourists. In 2011 the city received 5.7 million visitors.

Arts and Culture

Tanjore painting depicting Balakrishnas

As the seat of several ruling dynasties, Thanjavur has been a center of art and culture in Tamil Nadu for centuries. The Chola kings already promoted music and dance. From the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire until the end of the 19th century, Thanjavur was the center of classical South Indian music . During the Nayak rule in Thanjavur (1535–1673) the South Indian lute Vina came to the court, was developed here to its present form and served as the basis for the South Indian theoretical classification of the ragas . The Marathen Raja Serfoji II (ruled 1798-1832) was one of the greatest patrons of the arts. He is said to have employed 360 musicians at his court. Everyone should have been allowed to sing once a year and accordingly prepared intensively for their appearance at the ruler. A large number of the most important South Indian musicians, including Tyagaraja (1767–1847), lived in Thanjavur and the surrounding area or were connected to the ruling house through families, teachers or successors.

In addition to music, the Nayak and Marathen rulers also promoted miniature painting . Under these conditions, a special style known as Tanjore painting developed in Thanjavur in the 18th century . The Tanjore paintings are panel paintings on a solid wooden base, which are characterized by the incorporation of materials such as glass, pearls, semi-precious and precious stones and gold leaf. The motifs come from the Hindu, mostly Vishnuit world of gods. Krishna is particularly happy to be represented in his form as Balakrishna (child Krishna).


National Highway 67 runs through Thanjavur from Gundlupet in Karnataka via Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli to Nagapattinam . Furthermore, the city is the starting point of the National Highway 226 to Manamadurai near Sivaganga and the National Highway 45C to Vikravandi near Viluppuram . There are numerous bus connections to all major cities in Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur Railway Station ( Thanjavur Junction ) is on the Chennai-Tiruchirappalli railway line. In addition, a branch line branches off here via Tiruvarur to Nagapattinam. The nearest airport is in Tiruchirappalli.


Web links

Commons : Thanjavur  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. ^ A b c Thanjavur District: Thanjavur Corporation
  3. ^ The Hindu, January 15, 2000: "Struggle for survival".
  4. Census of India 2001: C-16 City: Population by Mother Tongue (Tamil Nadu), accessed under Tabulations Plan of Census Year - 2001 .
  5. ^ Census of India 2011: C-1 Population By Religious Community. Tamil Nadu.
  6. Dominik Wujastyk: Thanjavur Library as a Realm of Knowledge. National Mission for Manuscripts, Newsletter, February 2006 ( Memento of the original from November 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 2.1 MB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ The Hindu, March 1, 2012: "State attracted over 14 crore tourists during 2011".
  8. ^ Josef Kuckertz : The art music of South India in the 19th century. In: Robert Günther (Hrsg.): Musical cultures of Asia, Africa and Oceania in the 19th century. Gustav Bosse, Regensburg 1973, pp. 99-109