The place easily takes 2-3 hours. There is a giant Nandi statue opposite to the temple. Overall, a very good and memorable experience.
We visited the temple twice in the same day. Once in the evening, as the sun rays falling on the temple would give a very beautiful view.
The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Great Living Chola Temples". The 'Vimana' or the temple tower is 216 ft high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. It was so designed that the Vimana never casts a shadow at noon at any magnificent temples as well as exquisite bronze sculptures. This is to avoid people walking on the shadow as per Indian culture no valuable things should be stepped by human foot.
There a single granite stone of about 80 tonnes positioned at the top of the tall tower to make it stable against all natural calamities due to its height. There is a big statue of Nandi carved out of a single rock, at the entrance.
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History of Thanjavur
Located in the southernmost tip of the country, Thanjavur is situated in the Cauvery delta of the state of Tamil Nadu. Due to its substantial paddy production, the place is popularly referred to as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is known for its agricultural activities and because of its agricultural produce, it is known as the granary of south India. The district is bounded by the green paddy fields, coconut trees and vegetation all around. It is believed that the name Thanjavur derives its origin from the word 'tanjan', which is the name of an asura in the Hindu mythological stories. There are again those who believe that the name is derived from 'than-sei-oor', as it means a place surrounded by rivers and paddy fields. Thanjavur is located quite close to the well-known town of Tirucirapalli. The place is one of the oldest cities in India and exists since the times of the Chola Kings. It was being ruled by Nayaks and Maratta kings who integrated the art and culture into the monuments like Grand Anaicut, The Big Temple, The Serfoji Mahal Library, etc. The place has a mythological background attached to it making it a divine place. It is popularly known as Mother Cauvery, which is clearly evident from 'Kaviri-Thala-Puranam'. The river flowing in the district is named as Ponni, because it is believed that it yields 'pon' meaning gold in the form of paddy. It is also said that every bit of earth in the place is a piece of gold. This is the reason why it is often said, especially among the natives, that every iota of the earth of Thanjavur is equal to an iota of gold. In Tamil literature, the tillers are rightly called as the sons of the Cauvery as they alone are worthy of this title for the rich production of grains in this fertile soil. In Hindu mythology, the sons of Mother Cauvery are called 'Kauvirippudhalvars' as they produce grains in this fertile soil.
People and Culture of Thanjavur
Thanjavur is regarded as the major learning centre for culture and education. It is a home to art and architecture and has given birth to one of the most popular classical form of dance called Bharatanatyam. The carnatic form of music also has its origination from Thanjavur along with Tanjore paintings. The place is rich with culture and music and still holds the essence of olden times. The people here speak one of the ancient languages of the country, Tamil. The place is famous among the pilgrims.
Things To Do in Thanjavur
The prime tourist attraction of Thanjavur is the Brihadeeswara Temple or the Big temple which was built in the early 11th century by Rajaraja Chola I. The other popular religious spots offered by Thanjavur are Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Schwartz Church, Thirumananjeri Temple, Thiruvannamalai Temple, Vellai Puliar Temple and Airavatesvara Temple among others. Pilgrims can opt for Thanjavur holiday packages to plan their holiday to this pilgrimage destination better. Thanjavur hosts a music festival in the month of January in honour of the south Indian saint Thyagaraja. Every twelve years, the Mahamaham Fair is held at Kumbakonam. The next Mahamaham Fair will be held in 2016.
Thanjavur is known for its handicrafts by highly competent craftsmen. Thanjavur is also famous for silk weaving; tourists can buy the typical large border silk sarees here. Another thing that tourists can pick up from Thanjavur are Tanjore paintings, which are in demand all the over the world.
Accommodation in Thanjavur
Thanjavur is well connected by air, rail and road. Trichy international airport serves as the closest airport from Thanjavur which is at a distance of 58 km. There are regular flights connecting Trichy to Chennai (345 km), Bangalore (390 km) and other major cities. Tourists can hire cabs from the airport to reach Thanjavur which costs around Rs 1000. Trichy railhead is the closest railhead, which is at a distance of 58 km from Thanjavur. There are regular train services from Trichy to Madurai and Chennai. Thanjavur is well connected to all major cities of the state by Tamil Nadu road transport corporation buses. There are regular bus services to Thanjavur from Trichy and Madurai. Private buses ply from Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Chennai and Bangalore to reach Thanjavur. The best time to visit the place is during the winter season which is pleasant with comfortable weather. Summers are hot and humid and not the best time to visit. Accommodation options in Thanjavur Pilgrimage are an important part of Thanjavur tourism. Therefore, during peak season, tourists are advised to book hotels in advance. Hotel options in Thanjavur range from budget hotels to resorts, guesthouses and lodges.