Thanjavur (Tanjore), is a city in Thanjavur district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The city lies on the south bank of the Caveri River. Thanjavur was the capital of the Mutharayar and Chola dynasties when they were at the peak of their power. Thanjavur, The City Of Temples, has over 90 temples across the district.
The world-famous Brihadeeswara Temple, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is the prime attraction. It takes about two days to explore this historical temple. Every statue and carving conveys hundreds of stories of that ancient time. The first and most appealing feature of the temple is a huge Nandi at the entrance which is carved out of one single stone.
Gangaikonda cholapuram temple was constructed by Rajendra Cholan, son of Raja Raja Cholan who constructed Thanjavur Big Temple (Brihadeeswara Temple,). This temple was constructed in the year 1035AD and like Thanjavur’s Big Temple; it took very few years for construction i.e. 9 years.
This temple has its uniqueness because of which it is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Before seeing the uniqueness of the Gangaikonda temple, there are some similarities between Thanjavur Big Temple and this temple. Shadow of both the temples’ Vimana doesn’t fall on the ground and both the temples have a symmetrical architecture. Both the temples were constructed using an interlocked blocking method i.e. without using any binding material like adhesive or cement.
Try visiting Gangaikonda temple either in the evening or in the morning during the golden hour because when the sun rays fall on the Gopuram it looks brilliant. Another reason is the Nandi here is placed in such a way that the sun rays fall on the Nandi and reflect on the Shiva Lingam.
The Shiva Lingam in this temple is 13.5 meters tall and there is a moonstone installed beneath the Lingam which observes magical power from the moon and due to this, the place remains warm in winter and cool in summer.
Gangaikonda Temple was constructed as a victory symbol of conquering Gangetic Planes, present-day Bangladesh. Rajendra Cholan brought some gallons of water from Ganga and mixed it with river Kaveri here. That is how this place got its name Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple
Other temples not to be missed are Swami Malai Temple, Thirunallar Temple, Alangudi Temple, and Ramaswamy Temple.
The Thanjavur Palace built around 1550 AD is another attraction. Among the other historic buildings is the Vijayanagar fort, which contains a palace. Among other tourist attractions are the Bell Tower and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, which contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper.
The nearest airport is Tiruchirapally. Thanjavur is reachable by train from Chennai, Bangalore, and other main Indian cities. By road, the City can be reached by private vehicles and buses which ply from Bangalore, Chennai, Madurai, and Trichy.