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Thanjavur

Thanjavur, formerly known as Tanjore, lies in the fertile Cauvery river delta in the state of Tamil Nadu in southeast India. It is one of India’s agricultural “rice baskets” but is better known as the capital of Tamil civilization. Tamils have a distinct language ...

Thanjavur, formerly known as Tanjore, lies in the fertile Cauvery river delta in the state of Tamil Nadu in southeast India. It is one of India’s agricultural “rice baskets” but is better known as the capital of Tamil civilization. Tamils have a distinct language and culture that was preserved from the foreign invasion by a powerful classical empire. At the height of the Chola dynasty (300 BCE-1200 CE), Tamil influence stretched from south India across the Bay of Bengal as far as Malaysia. 

The Chola rulers were prolific builders, and their legacy is a number of impressive Dravidian temples featuring gopuras, tall pyramids covered in ornate sculpture. Three of these temples make up the Great Living Chola Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which are the primary tourist attraction in the city. Brihadishvara temple, in central Thanjavur, is one of the largest Hindu temples in India and remains an active part of local religious life. Aside from temples, visitors to Thanjavur can explore the markets and antiques shops for wares produced by local craftspeople. The city is home to a large number of silk weavers and metal workers famous for producing bronze icons of the god Shiva using traditional methods. 

As of 2017, the nearby Tiruchirappalli International Airport has made the city more accessible via direct flights from Mumbai and Chennai. Summers can be terribly hot, and the monsoon rains fall between June and September, so visiting between October and March is advised.

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