Thanjavur – General Information
Thanjavur District is one of the 32 districts of the state of Tamil Nadu, in southeastern India. Its headquarters is Thanjavur. As of 2011, Thanjavur district had a population of 2,405,890 with a sex-ratio of 1,035 females for every 1,000 males. 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 Brihadeeswarar Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region.
It consists of nine Taluks- Thiruvidaimarudur, Kumbakonam, Papanasam, Pattukkottai, Peravurani, Orathanadu, Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru and Budalur. Thanjavur district is called ‘the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu’ because of its agricultural activities in the delta region of river Cauvery. The temples, culture and architecture of Thanjavur are famous throughout the world. It is an historical place ruled by Cholas, Pandyas, Nayaks, and Marathas and was under British rule till Independence.
The population density is 708 persons per sq.km. The district is 35% urbanized and constitutes literacy rate of 82.72%. Thanjavur is the headquarters of the Thanjavur District. The city is an important agricultural center located in the Cauvery Delta and is known as the "Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu". Thanjavur is administered by a municipal corporation covering an area of 36.33 km2 (14.03 sq. mi) and had a population of 222,943 in 2011. Roadways are the major means of transportation, while the city also has rail connectivity.
Scholars believe the name Thanjavur is derived from Tanjan, a legendary demon in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the empire. After the fall of Cholas, the city 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.
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Geography & Climate
Thanjavur district is in the east coast of Tamilnadu. The district lies between 78° 45’ and 70° 25' of the Eastern longitudes and 9° 50' and 11° 25' of the Northern Latitudes. Thanjavur is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of 314 km (195 mi) south-west of Chennai and 56 km (35 mi) east of Tiruchirappalli. The District is bound by Coleroon on the North which separates it from Ariyalur and Tiruchirapalli district; Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts on the east; Palk Strait and Pudukottai on the South and Pudukottai and Tiruchirapalli on the West. The city has an elevation of 57 m (187 ft.) above mean sea level. The area of the district is 3396.57Sq.Km.
Thanjavur is located at 10.8°N 79.15°E The tributaries of river Cauvery, namely, the Grand Anaicut canal (Pudhaaru), Vadavaaru and Vennaaru rivers flow through the city. Thanjavur is situated in the Cauvery delta, at a distance of 314 km (195 mi) south-west of Chennai and 56 km (35 mi) east of Tiruchirappalli.
While the plains immediately adjoining the Cauvery river have been under cultivation from time immemorial, most of Thanjavur city and the surrounding areas lie in the "New Delta" – a dry, barren upland tract which has been brought under irrigation during the early 19th century. To the south of Thanjavur city, is the Vallam tableland, a small plateau interspersed at regular intervals by ridges of sandstone.
The period from November to February in Thanjavur is pleasant, with a climate full of warm days and cool nights. The onset of summer is from March, with the mercury reaching its peak by the end of May and June. The average temperatures range from 81 °F (27 °C) in January to 97 °F (36 °C) in May and June. Summer rains are sparse and the first monsoon, the South-West monsoon, sets in June and continues till September. North-East monsoon sets in October and continues till January.
The rainfall during South-West monsoon period is much lower than that of North-East monsoon. North-East monsoon is beneficial to the district at large because of the heavy rainfall and the Western ghats feeding the river Cauvery. The average rainfall is 37 inches (940 mm), most of which is contributed by the North-East monsoon.
The economy of Thanjavur district is essentially from agriculture and allied sector. Above 75% of the workforce have been depending on agriculture. The district is a deltaic plain fed by rivers Cauvery and Vennar. Some portion is also fed by Grant Anaicut canal. The Gross Domestic Product of the District is USD 1858 Million in 2011-12. Tertiary sector contributes the maximum share of 70% followed by secondary sector (17%). The GDDP of the district has increased at a rate of 7% from 2006-07 to 2011-12. The shares of the sectors have been maintained with the growth.
This district lies at the Kaveri delta region, the most fertile region in the state. The district is the main rice producing region in the state and hence known as the Rice Bowl of Tamilnadu. Kaveri River and its tributaries irrigate the district. Apart from paddy, farmers here grow coconut and sugarcane and it is the largest producer of coconut in Tamilnadu. Being an agrarian economy, industrial growth in the district is mainly confined to agro-based industries. A large number of Rice mills, Oil mills are spread over the district.
The major occupation of the inhabitants of the city is tourism and service-oriented industry, while the traditional occupation is agriculture. Thanjavur is known as the "Rice bowl of Tamilnadu". Paddy is the crops and the other crops grown are black gram, banana, coconut, gingelly, ragi, red gram, green gram, sugarcane and maize. The total percentage of land fit for cultivation is 58%. There are three seasons for agriculture in Thanjavur – Kuruvai (June to September), Samba (August to January) and Thaladi (September, October to February, March).
The total rice production has been maintained at 10.615 L.M.T and 7.077 L.M.T. The city acts as a focal point for food grains transported from the adjoining areas of the Cauvery Delta. Organic farming is gradually being known to the farmers of Thanjavur. To maximize agricultural produce organic farming is being implemented. Though agriculture is the main economic activity, only 7% of the population is involved in it. There is a lot of agricultural related trading that forms the key economic activity in the city.
Thanjavur is an important center of silk weaving in Tamil Nadu. There were 200 silk weaving units in the city in 1991 with around 80,000 people working in them. The Sarees produced in the villages surrounding Thanjavur are sold in Thanjavur and neighbouring towns. Increasing production costs and competition from large-scale producers have reduced the number of people involved in the production. The city produces bell metal craft like Thanjavur metal plates, bronze images bowls, napkins and powder boxes made of copper and bronze.
The city is a major manufacturer of pith works consisting of models of Hindu idols, mosques, garlands and other bird figurines. Manufacture of musical instruments like veena, tambura, violin, mrithamgam, thavil and kanjira is another economic activity in the city.
All major nationalized banks such as State Bank of India, Indian Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and private banks like ICICI Bank, City Union Bank have their branches in Thanjavur. All these banks have their automated teller machines located in various parts of the city.
According to 2011 census, Thanjavur district had a population of 2,405,890 with a sex-ratio of 1,035 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 238,598 were under the age of six, constituting 121,949 males and 116,649 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 18.91% and .15% of the population respectively. Thanjavur District population constituted 3.33 percent of total Maharashtra population. In 2001 census, this figure for Thanjavur District was at 3.55 percent of Maharashtra population. There was change of 8.56 percent in the population compared to population as per 2001. In the previous census of India 2001, Thanjavur District recorded increase of 7.91 percent to its population compared to 1991.
The average literacy of the district was 74.44%, compared to the national average of 72.99%. The district had a total of 605,363 households. There were a total of 974,079 workers, comprising 117,321 cultivators, 327,673 main agricultural labourers, 26,430 in house hold industries, 363,060 other workers, 139,595 marginal workers, 12,592 marginal cultivators, 87,688 marginal agricultural labourers, 4,770 marginal workers in household industries and 34,545 other marginal workers.
Thanjavur has a total of four Universities, namely the Tamil University, SASTRA University, PRIST University and Periyar Maniammai University. The Tamil University is a state run institute, started during 1981 and obtained its statutory recognition from the University Grants Commission in 1983. It is the only one of its kind for the Tamil language doing higher research in Tamilology and advanced study in various allied branches like linguistics, translation, lexicography, music, drama and manuscriptology.
Thanjavur has a total of 15 arts, science & management colleges and nine engineering colleges. The Thanjavur Medical College was established in 1961 and is one of the oldest medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The Paddy Processing Research Centre (PPRC), which later became the Indian Institute of Crop Processing Technology (IICPT) in 2008, is a hub for food processing research. The Saraswati Mahal Library which dates back to the end of the 16th century and the Central Library, managed by the district administration are the two most prominent libraries in the city.
There are 20 registered schools in Thanjavur, catering to the primary, secondary and higher secondary educational needs of the city. St.Peter's Higher Secondary School at Thanjavur was established by Rev. C F Schwartz during 1784. Originally established as a college, it was the first school in South India which taught English to the local populace. St.Antony's Higher Secondary School, established in 1885 by the Diocese of Thanjavur, is one of the oldest schools in Thanjavur district. Christian Missionaries played a prominent role in promoting English education in Thanjavur. Kalyanasundaram Higher Secondary School, established in 1891, is one of the oldest schools in the city.
Electricity supply to Thanjavur is regulated and distributed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). The city along with its suburbs is a part of Trichy Electricity Distribution Circle. Water supply is provided by the Thanjavur Corporation from the Vadavar Canal, supplied through overhead tanks located in various parts of the city. During the 2000–01 periods, a total of 31 million litres of water was supplied every day for households in the city.
About 110 metric tonnes of solid waste are collected from Thanjavur every day by door-to-door collection and subsequently the source segregation and dumping is carried out by the sanitary department of the Thanjavur Corporation. The coverage of solid waste management had an efficiency of 100% as of 2001. The underground drainage system covers 70% of the city and the remaining sewerage system for disposal of sullage is through septic tanks, open drains and public conveniences. The Corporation maintains a total of 155 km (96 mi) of storm water drains: 53.27 km (33.10 mi) surfaced drains and 101.73 km (63.21 mi) unlined drains.
There are 37 hospitals and seven clinical labs in Thanjavur that take care of the health care needs of the citizens. There are a total of 9,745 street lamps: 492 sodium lamps, 2,061 mercury vapour lamps, 7,180 tube lights and twelve high mast beam lamps. The Corporation operates three markets, namely the Serfoji Market, Amarar Swaminathan Market and Kamaraj Market and another market, the Subramaniya Swami Koil Market, is maintained by the Subramania Swami Temple authority.
Thanjavur comes under the Thanjavur Telecom circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India's state-owned telecom and internet services provider. Apart from telecom, BSNL also provides broadband internet service. The Regional Passport office Trichy operates a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Thanjavur. Thanjavur PSK covers the Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, and Ariyalur revenue districts.
Tourism & Culture
Peruvudaiyar Temple, built by the Cholas and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is located at Thanjavur. The green paddy fields and the Kaveri river provide for picturesque spots in the district. Airavateshwarar temple near Kumbakonam is also a UNESCO declared World Heritage site and another major tourist attraction in the district.
Thanjavur is an important pilgrim centre and a major tourist destination of Tamil Nadu. South Zone Culture Centre in Thanjavur is one of the regional cultural centres established by the Government of India to preserve and promote cultural heritage of India. There were 2,002,225 Indian and 81,435 foreign tourist arrivals in 2009 to Thanjavur.Brihadeeswarar Temple, whose construction, the historian Percy Brown described as "a landmark in the evolution of building art in South India". Built in the 11th century by the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985–1014), the temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The walls of the sanctum are covered with wall paintings from the Chola and Nayak periods. The temple was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is replicated in the Gangaikonda Cholisvaram Temple constructed by Raja Raja's son Rajendra Chola I (1012–44).
The Thanjavur Maratha palace was the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Thanjavur region from 1674 to 1855. It was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom and after their fall, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Marathas. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed by the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. The southern side of the third quadrangle of the palace has 190 ft. (58 m) tower like building, called the Goodagopuram.
The Saraswathi Mahal Library, established around 1700 and located in the premises of the palace, contains over 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts written on palm leaf and paper. Over eighty per cent of its manuscripts are in Sanskrit and many of them are on palm leaves. The Tamil works include treatise on medicine, and commentaries on Sangam literature.
The Rajaraja Chola art gallery is located inside the palace – it has a large collection of stone and bronze images from the ninth to 12th centuries. Most of the idols present in the gallery were collected from various temples in the Thanjavur district. The Sivaganga Park is situated to the east of the Brihadeeswarar Temple and encompasses the Sivaganga Tank believed to have been built by the king Raja Raja Chola. It was created as a people's park by the Tanjore municipality in 1871–72. It has a collection of plants, animals and birds and serves as a zoo for children within the city.
Schwartz Church, a historic monument located in the palace garden, was built in 1779 by Serfoji II as a token of affection for Rev. C.V. Schwartz of the Danish Mission. There are five museums in the city namely Archeological Museum, Tamil University Museum located with the Tamil University premises, the Saraswathi Mahal Library Museum located inside the Saraswathi Mahal, Nayak Durbar Hall Art Museum and Rajaraja Chola Museum.
Raja Rajan Manimandapam is one of the tourist attractions in Thanjavur, built during the Thanjavur Tamil Conference in 1991. "Sangeetha Mahal" has a permanent handicrafts exhibition centre. Thanjavur is the cradle for many of the arts and crafts in South India. Carnatic music was codified in Thanjavur and the art flourished during the Nayak rule in the 16th century. Barathanattiyam, a classical dance form of South India, had its major styles developed in Thanjavur.
Sathaya Thiruvizha is the annual birthday festival of Raja Raja Chola held during October every year. Thanjavur is the base for the Thyagaraja Aradhana, a music festival held annually during January – February at Thiruvaiyaru, located 13 km (8.1 mi) away from the city.
Thanjavur painting is one of the major forms of classical Indian paintings. It dates back to about 1600s, the period of Nayakas of Thanjavur, who encouraged art, classical dance, music literature, both in Telugu and Tamil. The art is usually a combination of raised and painted surfaces, with the Hindu god Krishna being the most popular image depicted. In modern times, these paintings have become souvenirs of festive occasions in South India, wall decors, and collectors' items for art lovers. Thanjavur District is home to the most famous Hindu Temples like Thiruvidaimarudur Mahalinga Swamy Temple, Kumbakonam Group of Temples, Navagraha Temples and many other temples.
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