Architectural Wonders In Thanjavur

An immersion into the cultural magnificence of yesteryears - Thanjavur is an imperial city that’s bound to entice history buffs. Once home to the Chola dynasty, today it’s a place where classical dance enthusiasts can experience dance forms such as Bharatnatyam. 

Thanjavur is a quite popular destination for pilgrims with a number of ancient temples spread across the city. Each displays architectural beauty that takes you back in time when the Pandyas and Mutharaiyar dynasties ruled the land. Wondering what other architectural wonders in Thanjavur you can experience? Read on!

6 Architectural Wonders In Thanjavur

  1. Brihadeeswara Temple
  2. Airavatesvara Temple
  3. Rev. Schwartz Memorial & Church
  4. Sangeetha Mahal
  5. Royal Palace Museum
  6. Sri Vittal Rukmini Samsthan

1. Brihadeeswara Temple

Situated on the banks of River Cauvery, Brihadeeswara Temple is one of the biggest Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. Built by Raja Raja Chola I in the early 11th century, Brihadeeswara Temple depicts Dravidian-style architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple has many names such as Thannjai Periya Kovil and Thanjai Big Temple to name a few. 1,000 years later, the temple still stands strong and tall!

Apart from having strong and secure walls, Brihadeeswara Temple has a tower that is 216 feet high, making it one of the tallest towers in the world. What’s fascinating is the Kumba (a structure on the top of the temple) weighs 80 tons and is made out of just a single rock. The massive statue of Nandi (sacred bull) right at the entrance is also sculpted from a single rock measuring 16 feet long and 13 feet high. 

An exciting thing about the temple is that the shadow of the temple can’t be seen during daytime. Unbelievable, right? Built using granite, the temple boasts 108 sculptures of Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer (Lord Shiva himself). Just one of the many Great Living Chola Temples, Brihadeeswara Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s nothing short of architectural beauty! 

Timings: 6:00 am to 12:30 pm, 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Entry Fee: INR 50

Address: Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 613007

Also read: 7 Temples To Visit In Tamil Nadu

2. Airavatesvara Temple

Nestled away in Kumbakonam city in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, Airavatesvara Temple takes you on a time travel journey with its Dravidian-style architecture. Built by Chola King Raja II in the 12th century, the Airavatesvara Temple is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Great Living Chola Temples.

While the temple’s gopurams lie in ruins, it doesn’t take away from the majesty of the structure which encapsulates the artistry of the Chola Dynasty. Elegantly flaunting Vaishnavism and Shaktism, the temple is evidently dedicated to Lord Shiva. The wheels of the chariot which serve as the morning and evening sun dial surely add to the charm of this remarkable site. 

An urban legend about an elephant named Airavat who was cursed by a sage named Durvasa is believed to be the origin of the temple’s name. It is believed that Airavat lost its color and decided to pray every day to Lord Shiva, who asked Airavat to take a dip in the holy water of the temple. That’s what led to the curse being lifted. 

Timings: 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Entry Fee: Free

Address: Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612702

Also read: Traveling To Tamil Nadu During Covid

Architectural Wonders In Thanjavur

3. Rev. Schwartz Memorial & Church

Just a stone’s throw away from Thanjavur (about 10 minutes), Rev. Schwartz Memorial & Church is one of the oldest churches in Thanjavur. The church was built by the Chola King, Raja Serfoji, in the 18th century. What’s heartwarming is the fact that the church was built as an ode to Reverend Frederick Christian Schwartz, a priest from the Danish Missionary.

Schwartz Church is one of the spots that catch a tourist’s eye, especially for its French architecture. It’s one of the things that came out of the French colonizing the region. While the church’s compound is lined with pretty trees and a captivating lawn, it’s the marble tablet that truly gets visitors’ attention. This piece of history was donated to the church by John Flaxman and Raja Serofji. 

Timings: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm

Entry Fee: Free

Address: Q4PJ+7GG, Fort, Sivaganga Garden, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Also read: 5 Best Road Trips From Bangalore

4. Sangeetha Mahal

Just a kilometer away from the city, Sangeetha Mahal is located on the first floor of Tanjore Palace, Tamil Nadu. If you’re a music enthusiast, count on Sangeetha Mahal to transport you to a melodiously entrancing realm. This architectural wonder has stood the test of time, having been built in the 17th century by the Nayak King, Sevappa.

As the name suggests, Sangeetha Mahal was a stage for musicians and dancers, especially to entertain the Kings of the Chola and Nayak dynasties. With the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people at a time, you can surely imagine how huge the hall is.

You don’t need to be blessed with a seasoned musician’s ears to understand just how great the acoustics here are. What exemplifies Sangeetha Mahal’s splendor is how even the last row can clearly listen to the performers. Designed in a manner that even the last row can clearly see the performers without any obstruction, the Nayak Kings’ architectural proficiency clearly knew no bounds. 

Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Entry Fee: Free

Address: Q4RP+V7G, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 613001

Also read: Experience The Coracle Ride At Hogenakkal Falls In Tamil Nadu

Architectural Wonders In Thanjavur

5. Royal Palace Museum

Royal Palace Museum rolls back the years and lets you get a taste of the Chola, Pallava, and Nayak dynasties. A haven for history buffs, the museum is just 12 minutes away from Thanjavur. Of countless ancient sculptures and paintings to immerse yourself into, the museum is also home to a bunch of manuscripts and sculptures from Gangaikondacholapuram Temple and Brihadeeswarar Temple.

A testament to the museum’s diverse display are the idols of various Hindu gods and goddesses which are made with stone and bronze. Some of these sculptures feature Lord Shiva in different roles. Want to get a glimpse of life in the bygone era? Then you’ll surely love the artworks featuring common people's lives, the society in which they lived, and the interiors of their homes. The antique woodworking and the furniture are proof of the patronage the kings of Thanjavur gave to art and craft. 

Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entry Fee: INR 50

Address: Q4VP+GJG, Rajakrisnapuram, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu 613001

Also read: 7 Best Camping Sites In South India

6. Sri Vittal Rukmini Samsthan

Out of all the temples Thanjavur has, Sri Vittal Rukmini Samsthan Temple is one that clearly stands out because of its Maharashtrian style. The massive temple’s architecture is designed in the Hemadpanthi style for Sri Pandurangan and Rukmini Devi. It’s the fusion of South Indian and Maharashtrian style architecture that gives the temple its distinct look. 

An interesting facet of the temple is the wall paintings in the form of stories on the inside of the temple. The stories are all about Sant Tukaram, Sri Krishna, Marathi saints, and poets. To add more to the beauty of the temple, there’s also an 18 feet long Kalash. If you look at the ceiling, it has been decorated with a fiber print, augmenting the elegance of the temple.

But that’s not all, Sri Vittal Rukmini Samsthan also boasts 16 massive statues of Lord Krishna performing yoga in different postures. If that wasn’t enough, the temple also houses a small pond for devotees to take a dip.

Timings: 8:00 am to11:30 am, 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm

Entry Fee: Free

Address: Mutt Rd, Govindapuram, Tamil Nadu 612101

Also read: 5 Places To Go Glamping In South India

Architectural Wonders In Thanjavur

Summing Up

It’s clear that Thanjavur as a city has a lot of things to discover as it is an undeniable haven for its rich heritage, culture, and art. Hope the article has given you an idea of how beautiful Thanjavur as a city is. So if you’re planning to experience the architectural wonders in Thanjavur, you have a bucket list to start off with. 


Who Was The Architect Of Thanjavur Temple?

Brihadeeswara Temple, also known as Thanjavur Temple, is known for its amazing architecture, and the man behind the design is the brilliant architect Kunjara Mallan Raja Raja Perunthachan.

What Is The Main Theme Of Thanjavur's Art?

The Thanjavur art focuses mainly on the Hindu gods, and in most of the paintings, you’ll see the images of Lord Rama, Bal Krishna, and numerous other gods and goddesses.

Why Are Tanjore Paintings Expensive?

The Tanjore paintings are very old, and to make the paintings a lot of time was required, which makes the value of money higher.

What Are The Special Things In Thanjavur?

The city of Thanjavur in South India is a major hub for religion, architecture, and art. The city has many temples located and most of them are built by Chola rulers. Some of the temples are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Who Developed Dravidian Style?

The Dravidian Style is said to be developed by the Pallava Dynasty which ruled various parts of south India between 275 CE to 897 CE

Which God Is Worshipped In Airavatesvara Temple?

Airavatesvara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and as per legends, the white elephant of Indra and King Yama (the king of Death) are said to have worshipped Lord Shiva here.

Which Is The World's First Granite Temple?

The Brihadeeswara Temple is the first ever temple built using only granite and the temple is more than one thousand years old.

What Were The Chola Temples Known For? 

The Chola Temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that are known for their unique architecture. In addition, the temples are also known for the beautiful sculptures and paintings within their premises.