Museums & Art Galleries

Saraswathi Mahal Library or Tanjore Maharaja Serfoji's Sarasvati Mahal Library is located in Thanjavur. It is one of the oldest libraries in Asia and has on display a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in Tamil, Hindi, English, Telugu, Marathi, and a few other languages indigenous to India. The collection comprises well over 60,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display. The library has a complete catalogue of holdings, which is being made available online. Some rare holdings can be viewed on site by prior arrangement.The Saraswathi Mahal library started as a Royal Library for the private pleasure of the Nayak Kings of Thanjavur who ruled 1535 - 1675 AD.Most notable among the Maratha Kings was Serfoji II (1798–1832), who was an eminent scholar in many branches of learning and the arts. In his early age Serfoji studied under the influence of the German Reverent Schwartz and learned many languages including English, French, Italian and Latin. He enthusiastically took special interest in the enrichment of the Library, employing many Pandits to collect, buy and copy a vast number of works from all renowned Centres of Sanskrit learning in Northern India.Tamil manuscripts number over 3500000, comprising titles in literature, music and medicine. The Library has a collection of 3076 Marathi manuscripts from the South Indian Maharastrian of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.The Raj records were written in the Modi script of the Marathi language. These records encompass the information of the political, cultural and social administration of the Maratha kings of Thanjavur.

The Tamil University Thanjavur was established in tha year 1981 to provide higher research in the Tamil language and advanced study in allied branches such as linguistics, translation, lexicography, music, drama and manuscriptology. M.Phil and Ph.D programmes were introduced in 1992 for disciplines such as Language, Literature, Translation, and Sculpture.The university is situated in a campus of about 900 acres granted by the State government of Tamil Nadu making it the largest university in the state by area. The library is reminiscent of the Indian Parliament at New Delhi. The Karikalan Gallery built on the occasion of the World Tamil Conference is capable of accommodating about 2000 people.


The Thanjavur Maratha Palace Complex locally known as Aranmanai it is the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Tanjore region from 1674 to 1855.The Thanjavur Maratha palace was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom. After the fall of the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Maratha. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed to the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. The Bhonsle family continued to hold on to the palace even after the last king Shivaji II.

Rajarajan Mani Mandapam was built during the 8th World Tamil Conference and is rather a modern construction in Tanjore. On the Chola architecture tradition Rajarajan Mani Mandapam was constructed to host the World Tamil Conference. It is having a small garden with Children's-play materials.It had a museum in the ground floor which was built in 1984 to commemorate the 1000th birth anniversary of Raja Raja Chola who as the most famous king in Thanjavur.The museum at Thanjavur Manimandapam has a collection of sculptures, bronze statues, paintings and coins. Rajarajan Mani Mandapam can be visit between 10 a.m to 8 p.m daily.

The fort is located 65 km away from Thanjavur in a place called Sarebendrarajapattinam in shores of Bay of Bengal.The fort was built by Maratha ruler Serfoji II in 1814–1815 to commemorate the successful advance of the British over Napoleon Bonaparte.The fort is hexagonal structure and has eight storeys, raising to a height of 75 ft tapering to its top overlooking the Bay of Bengal.The tower is surrounded by a wall and a moat ant it resembles a fort.The fort acted as a residence for the royal family and also as a light house.A considerable part of the fort was damaged during the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2005.

Places of Worship

The Peruvudaiyar Kovil is also known as Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is an important example of Tamil architecture achieved during the Chola dynasty. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Great Living Chola Temples. This is one of the largest temples in India and one of India's most prized architectural sites. Built by emperor Raja Raja Chola I and completed in 1010 AD also popularly known as the Big Temple turned 1000 years old in 2010.On 26th September 2010 which was the fifth day of the millennium celebrations Indian post released 5 special postage stamps featuring the 216ft tall giant Raja Gopuram.
The temple stands amidst fortified walls that were probably added in the 16th century. The temple tower is 216 ft high and is among the tallest of its kind in the world. The Kalasha kumbam of the temple is carved out of a single stone and it weighs around 80 tons. There is a big statue of Nandi carved out of a single rock at the entrance measuring about 16 feet long and 13 feet high. The entire temple structure is made out of granite.
The Brihadeeswarar Temple was built to be the royal temple to display the emperor's vision of his power and his relationship to the universal order. The temple was the site of the major royal ceremonies such as anointing the emperor and linking him with its deity, Shiva, and the daily rituals of the deities were mirrored by those of the king. It is an architectural exemplar showcasing the pure form of the Dravida type of temple architecture and representative of the Chola Empire ideology and the Tamil civilisation in Southern India. The temple testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.

The Punnai Nallur Mariamman temple is an Hindu temple located at Thanjavur which is 5 km from Thanjavur Old Bus stand.The temple of goddess Mariamman is one of the famous temples around Thanjavur District.In the year 1680, when the Maharashtra king Venkoji Maharaja Chatrapati 1676–1688 of Tanjore was on a pilgrimage at Samayapuram where there is a famous temple dedicated to Kali, Mariamman appeared to the King in his dream and told him that she was in the idol form, in a forest of Punna trees at a distance of about 3 miles from Tanjore. The King lost no time in rushing to the spot indicated to him and recovered the idol from the jungle.A temple was constructed at the place and the idol installed and so the deity of this temple is known as Punnainallur Mariamman. It is said that the daughter of Tulaja Raja 1729–35 of Tanjore, who lost her eyesight in an illness, regained it on offering worship at this temple.