Thanjavur (Tamil: தஞ்சாவூர் (tañcāvūr))’, formerly Tanjore, is a municipality and the headquarters of the Thanjavur district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The name Thanjavur is derived from “Tanjan”, a legendary asura in Hindu mythology. Thanjavur is one of the ancient cities in India and has a long and varied history dating back to the Sangam period. The town was founded by Mutharayar king Swaran Maran and rose to prominence during the rule of the Later Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and British. It has been a part of independent India since 1947.
Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian art and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost among the Great Living Chola temples, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. The city is an important agricultural center located at the heart of the region, known as the Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. South Zone Culture Centre in Thanjavur is one of many regional cultural centres established by Indian Government to preserve and promote traditional cultural heritage of India. It had a population of a 2,21,190 in 2001.
Thanjavur is well-connected by roads and railways with other parts of India and with cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport located at a distance of 56 kilometres. The nearest seaport is Nagapattinam which is 84 kilometres (52 mi) from Thanjavur.
There are no references to Thanjavur in any of the Sangam period records though some scholars believe that the city has been existing since then. Kovil Venni, situated at a distance of 15 miles to the east of Thanjavur, was the site of the Battle of Venni between Karikala and a confederacy of the Cheras and the Pandyas. The Cholas seemed to have faced an invasion of the Kalabhras in the 3rd century AD after which the kingdom faded into obscurity. The region around the present-day Thanjavur was conquered by the Mutharayars in the 6th century CE and ruled up to 849 AD.
Geography and climate
It is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of 314 kilometres (195 mi) south-west of Chennai and 56 kilometres (35 mi) east of Tiruchirappalli. Though most of Thanjavur district is a level plain watered by the Kaveri and tributaries, the taluk of Thanjavur is made up mostly of barren uplands sloping towards the east. To the south of Thanjavur town, is the Vallam tableland, a small plateau insterspersed at regular intervals by ridges of sandstone. The nearest seaport in Nagapattinam which is 84 kilometres (52 mi) east of Thanjavur. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport located at a distance of 56 kilometres. The town has an elevation of 57 metres above mean sea level. The total area of the city is 36 km2.
The urban agglomeration encompasses Vallam to Mariamman Koil (west – east) and Vayalur to the Air Force Station (north-south) for an area of about 100 km2.