Thanjavur or Tanjore is an important city in Tamil Nadu for South Indian art and architecture. The Thanjavur region is also known as the "rice bowl of Tamil Nadu" and rice is transported throughout the country as well as exported elsewhere.
Thanjavur (Tanjore) was considered to be the cultural capital of India in 1790. Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital. Thereafter, it was ruled by Nayaks and Maratha Kings, who wanted to nurture it with art and culture. And that is the reason why even today Thanjavur's monuments are being reflected rich in these cultural, the architectural and the scholarly pursuits.
The Bragatheeswara or Big Temple is an example for the Indian sculptural architecture greatness and is the most famous place in Thanjavur. This temple is unique to have the tallest tower over the sanctum sanctorum unlike the other temples. The internal walls are covered with the paintings of Chola and Nayak periods. Guarding the inner shrine of the temple is the gigantic statue of Nandi, the Bull. It is said that the shadow of this temple never falls on the ground.
The Chola palace also known as Tanjavur Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument is located in Thanjavur city, off old bus stop. The Tanjavur Palace is a massive complex with huge halls, corridors, observation towers and a shady courtyard. The wooden pillars are colourfully painted and the Durbar hall or sitting place is decorated with mirrors.
The palace is also home to Saraswathi Mahal Library, an art gallery and a museum. The Royal museum has a display of items from the past rulers. The Saraswathi Mahal Library has an amazing collection of manuscripts written on palm leaves and paper.
Thanjavur is also famous for a unique painting style, called Tanjore painting, of this region. It is also famous for its ancient handicrafts of making of bronze icons and Thanjavur art plates. The artisan's village is another place to know how these icons are made.
It is equally well-known for making of dolls & musical instruments out of of jack-wood. It is also a flourishing center of handloom silk and cotton sarees.
Thanjavur has a tropical climate with not much change in summer and winter temperatures. April and May are the hottest months with the mercury soaring up to the 40 °C mark. Due to its proximity to the coastal region it gets uncomfortably warm and humid during these months but the nights are usually cool.
Winter falls between November-February when the climate is pleasantly cool. In Tamil Nadu the rainy season is between October and December when the northeast monsoon brings rain in spurts.
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 located at a distance of 56 kilometres.
Thanjavur is directly connected with towns and cities of India like Trichy, Madurai, Nagore and Chennai by rail. There are 4-5 trains from Chennai for overnight journey. For more details about timings, fare and availability of seats have a look at the Indian Railways official website.
The nearest seaport in Nagapattinam is 84 kilometres from Thanjavur.
The city buses are very cheap and frequent. One can get buses from old bus stop. Autorickshaws ply in plenty but one needs to bargain for rate before starting one's journey.
The distances between major sites are not much and are within walkable distance of 2-3 kilometres.
Since the tourist places are all close by, one can hire a bicycle to move around. The rent is around Rs 100/- per day.
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There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.
Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.
See also International Telephone Calls
The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.
The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.
Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.
If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.
Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.
India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.
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