15 Things To Do In Thanjavur

Things To Do In Thanjavur

Nestled in the heart of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur is a city that resonates with the echoes of ancient history and vibrates with the thrum of vibrant cultural practices. Known as the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur is not just celebrated for its architectural marvels and deep historical roots but also for its profound cultural influence on music, art, and literature. Whether you are an ardent historian, an art lover, a food enthusiast, or simply a traveler seeking new experiences, Thanjavur offers a plethora of activities to satisfy your curiosities. In this blog post, we explore the top things to do in Thanjavur, each offering a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry that makes up this magnificent city.

Things To Do In Thanjavur

  1. Explore the Brihadeeswarar Temple

The Brihadeeswarar Temple stands as a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This grand temple, built over a thousand years ago by Raja Raja Chola I, is famed for its magnificent architecture and the towering vimana, which is one of the tallest in the world. The temple complex is an awe-inspiring sight with its massive structures and intricate rock carvings that depict Hindu mythology. Walking through the temple, one can’t help but be overwhelmed by the ancient stonework and the peaceful aura that surrounds this sacred place.

  1. Visit the Thanjavur Royal Palace

The Thanjavur Royal Palace, dating back to the 16th century, offers a deep dive into the royal heritage of the Tamil Nadu region. The palace complex includes the Saraswathi Mahal Library, with a collection of rare manuscripts, and the Art Gallery, which houses an impressive array of Chola bronzes and stone sculptures. Each corner of the palace tells a story, from its sprawling courtyards to its ornate halls, making it a fascinating visit for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.

  1. Discover the Art of Tanjore Painting

Tanjore paintings, originating in the city, are known for their surface richness, vivid colors, and compact composition. Participating in a Tanjore painting workshop allows visitors to understand the meticulous skill and creativity involved in this art form. These workshops offer a hands-on experience where you can learn about the traditional techniques used, such as the application of gold foil and the intricate layering process. It’s a unique opportunity to create your own piece of traditional Indian art to take home as a memento.

  1. Stroll Through the Sivaganga Park

Located close to the Brihadeeswarar Temple, Sivaganga Park is a serene spot ideal for a leisurely walk or a relaxing afternoon. The park features well-maintained paths, a variety of flora, and a small pond that adds to the tranquility of the place. It’s a popular spot among locals and tourists alike for picnics, light strolls, or simply sitting back and enjoying the lush surroundings. The park also occasionally hosts cultural events that showcase local talent and traditions.

  1. Experience the Vibrancy of the Thanjavur Local Market

Thanjavur’s local market is a bustling hub where the colors, sounds, and smells of Tamil Nadu come alive. This market is the perfect place to experience the daily life of the locals. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce and spices to traditional handicrafts and silk fabrics. Exploring the market not only gives you a glimpse into the culinary tastes of the region but also offers the chance to pick up unique souvenirs and gifts. Don’t forget to try some of the street food, like the famous Thanjavur thalayatti bommai, a type of terracotta doll, which is a special find.

  1. Attend a Classical Music and Dance Performance

Thanjavur is a hub for South Indian classical music and dance, especially Bharatanatyam. Attending a live performance is an unforgettable experience that showcases the city’s deep cultural roots. These performances are often held in local temples or cultural centers, featuring talented artists who bring mythological tales to life through exquisite dance movements and rhythmic musical accompaniment. The vibrant costumes and expressive art form transport audiences to ancient times, reflecting the spiritual and artistic history of Thanjavur.

  1. Visit the Thanjavur Maratha Palace

The Thanjavur Maratha Palace, distinct from the Royal Palace, was the residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over Thanjavur after the fall of the Cholas. This architectural gem blends Maratha, Saracenic, and Tamil styles, creating a unique visual experience. Inside, visitors can explore the Durbar Hall, adorned with large portraits of the Bhonsle rulers and intricate woodwork, offering insights into the regal lifestyle and governance of the Maratha era.

  1. Explore the Punnainallur Mariamman Temple

This revered temple, located just a few kilometers from the main city, is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman. Known for its miraculous powers, the temple attracts devotees from across the region who come to seek blessings and healing. The peaceful ambiance and the ornate carvings on the temple walls make it a spiritually enriching visit for pilgrims and tourists alike.

  1. Enjoy a Traditional Meal at a Local Restaurant

No visit to Thanjavur is complete without sampling its traditional cuisine. Local restaurants serve a variety of Tamil dishes that are rich in flavor and tradition. Must-try items include the Thanjavur thali, which offers a taste of different regional specialties served on a banana leaf. Delicacies such as dosai, idli, sambar, and a variety of chutneys provide a flavorful insight into Tamil culinary arts.

  1. Take a Day Trip to the Great Living Chola Temples

While the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur is undoubtedly a highlight, the nearby ‘Great Living Chola Temples’, also UNESCO World Heritage sites, are worth a day trip. These include the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram and the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple. Each site boasts unique architectural styles and histories, offering a broader perspective on the Chola dynasty’s contributions to art and architecture.

  1. Visit Schwartz Church

Schwartz Church, built in 1779 by Raja Serfoji as a tribute to the Danish missionary, Rev. C.F. Schwartz, stands as a symbol of the historical European influence in Thanjavur. The church’s stark white structure contrasted against the lush greenery around it offers a tranquil retreat. Visitors can admire the colonial architecture and explore the serene surroundings, making it an ideal spot for reflection and learning about the cultural integration in Thanjavur’s history.

  1. Explore the Chettinad Mansions

A short drive from Thanjavur will take you to the Chettinad region, known for its grand mansions and unique culinary heritage. These mansions, built by wealthy Chettiar merchants, feature detailed woodwork, colorful tiles, and expansive courtyards. Touring these homes offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Chettiars and their rich cultural practices, including the famed Chettinad cuisine, which visitors can also indulge in during their trip.

  1. Attend the Thanjavur Craft Fair

Thanjavur is not only about temples and history; it’s also a vibrant center for crafts. The annual Thanjavur Craft Fair, held typically in December, showcases a wide range of handicrafts and artworks from local artisans. From traditional Tanjore paintings to intricately carved wooden sculptures, the fair is a paradise for art lovers and collectors. It’s also a great place to interact with artisans, witness live craft demonstrations, and purchase authentic handmade items.

  1. Bird Watching at Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary

For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary, located about 20 kilometers from Thanjavur, is a must. The sanctuary is home to numerous species of resident and migratory birds, including the flamboyant flamingos and pelicans. The best time to visit is between October and March, when the sanctuary becomes a thriving hub of avian activity. The serene environment and the chance to observe birds in their natural habitat make for a peaceful and educational experience.

  1. Relax at Kaveri River

Spend a quiet afternoon by the banks of the Kaveri River, which flows through Thanjavur. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic or just to sit and watch the sunset. The river is central to the agriculture of the region and is revered by the locals. Visitors can learn about the river’s importance in Tamil culture and enjoy the scenic beauty that surrounds this vital waterway.


Thanjavur is a city that leaves a lasting impression on its visitors, with its splendid temples, historical monuments, vibrant markets, and rich artistic traditions. Each activity listed offers a unique way to engage with the city’s heritage and vibrant contemporary life. From exploring the grandeur of ancient temples to witnessing the skill of local artisans, and relaxing by the serene Kaveri River, the array of things to do in Thanjavur ensures that every visitor can find something that resonates. So, pack your bags and set off on a journey that promises to be as enriching as it is delightful. Thanjavur awaits to tell you its stories, show you its beauty, and engrave memorable experiences in your heart. Whether you’re seeking spiritual solace, cultural treasures, or natural beauty, Thanjavur’s diverse offerings will undoubtedly make your visit unforgettable.

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