Thanjavur is the headquarters of the Thanjavur District in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.The city lies on the south bank of the Kaveri River, 200 miles south of Chennai. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (demon) who according to local legend caused devastation and was Killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan’s last request that the city might be named after him was granted.
Thanjavur is famous for the Brahadeeswara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola, the first sailor king of India. The Brahadeeswara Temple also known as the Big Temple is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The temple is enclosed in two courts, surmounted by a lofty tower and including the exquisitely decorated shrine of Subrahmanya. Among the other historic buildings is the Vijayanagara fort, which contains a palace that was expanded by the Maratha king Serfoji II with an armoury, a Bell Tower and the Saraswathi Mahal Library, which contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper.
The town first started to prominence during the reigon of the Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the town was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks,Thanjavur Marathas and the British Empire. It has been a part of independent India since 1947.
Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian religion, 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 these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the town. Thanjavur is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region