Maratha Palace Thanjavur

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2016

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Entrance to the "Thanjavur Maratha Palace Complex, known locally as Aranmanai, is the official residence of the Bhonsle family who ruled over the Tanjore region from 1674 to 1855." This album has pics of the palace, art gallery inside the palace and entrance of Saraswati Mahal Library.

This is the Maratha Durbar Hall. The exterior deceives you, the interior even today is awesome. "After the fall of Cholas in 1279 A.D, and a few centuries of Pandyan occupation, Sevappa Nayak captured Thanjavur and became the King in 1532. The palace was held by the Nayak family until April 1674, when the Maratha ruler Venkoji captured it. The Marathas enhanced the original structure and expanded the palace complex."

Durbar Hall was remodelled and rebuilt by Sahaji in 1684. Front mandapa has wooden support, roof covered with country tiles supported by granite pillars plastered with lime and brick. The stucco figures of the 10 avatars of Vishnu are painted with elegance. Portrait paintings on eastern wall are masterpieces of Maratha period. Throne made out of wood, decorated with thanjavur glass work supported by wooden pillars. It was meant for giving darshan to public.

As you enter, u see wooden support, centre is throne, behind that are portrait paintings - steps take up. Restoration work was going on. "The first Maratha to set foot in Thanjavur was Venkoji Rajah Bhosale, the stepbrother of the legendary Maratha King Shivaji." To read about Maratha history of Thanjavur Click here

Stucco work - looks like a marriage ceremony. In both stuccos there is a 3 headed person sitting. Top left out of panel look like celestial beings. Top centre is Kirtimukhi - to ward away evil spirits.

One of the ceilings. A close up of centre part is pic no 38 in the album on Rameshwaram Temple. "The original name of Thanjavur Palace is Sivaganga Fort".

Ceiling above the throne. The palace has 7 sections for which you need buy tickets.

Side view of marvellous arches. " Another secret tunnel which is a mile long, connects the Brihadeswara temple and the palace. It is wide enough to ride 2 horses in parallel, and was designed as a getaway route by Kings during war times."

Close up of throne. Throne made out of wood, decorated with thanjavur glass work and supported by wooden pillars.

Paintings on eastern wall. Looks like 10 avatars of Vishnu as described earlier. Left top of pillar is Varaha, right is Narasimha avatar of Vishnu.

Another portrait painting. Left is Narasimha Avatar, right of pic do not know.

There are 5 sections of octagonal columns, this is one of them.

Close up of the columns and arches - note paintings and images.

Centre is Vishnu. On the periphery must be celestial beings. Left lower part of pic men have monkey faces.

Not sure which God is in centre of pic. Right of pic has 4 men with monkey heads. One of them has kept his palm below the foot of God.

Wall joining two columns had images like what you see. "Thanjavur Palace is situated within the Big Fort Complex. This fort was erected by the Vijayaraghava Nayakkar (1633-74 CE) who was the last king of Thanjai Nayak dynasty."

Different designs for different columns. "Thanjavur Palace with its architectural beauty reflects the ‘Marathas’ and ‘Nayaks’ patronage towards art and culture. Paintings in the Darbar hall depict the scenes from epic Ramayana and stucco figures of Gods and Goddesses are well projected on the walls and ceiling."

Courtyard view outside the Durbar Hall. Tall bldg that u see is Arsenal Tower. "This Tower is 190 feet height with 8 storeys and was constructed in 1855 CE during the period of Marathas. It was used for storing weapons, armouries and ammunition, and was also serving as a watchtower." "Per this link Nayaks made with only 2 floors, expanded by Marathas in 1855. The second floor was exclusively used for the King''s martial arts training." To read in detail about Palace Click here

Left of pic is BELL TOWER and then entrance to Art Gallery. "This tower is also known as “the wide holed ear pavilion” to the public. It is also believed that the Vijayaraghava Nayakkar offered worship in the direction of Srirangam from the top terrace of this tower. " Tower had more than 7 storeys which were damaged. "A research note informs that there was a novel clock of sizable dimensions, forming part of the structure in which the figure of a monkey used to strike the gong every hour. The tower is fashioned in the style of Gingee Nayaks. "

Walk a few steps to enter the Maharaja Serfoji''s Memorial Hall. It is a large hall, has various artifacts from earlier times.

Bust of Shivaji Maharaj. This is part of Sadar Mahal Palace.

This photo in hall. Old pieces of furniture in the hall.

Side view of hall. Has coins etc in collection.

Maratha style pagdis.

Entrance to Saraswati Mahal Library.

Library was nourished during rule of Nayaks of Thanjavur and then patronised by the Marathas till 1855. King Serfozi II 1798-1832 took many steps to enrich the library. The library has the largest collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tamil, Marathi, Telegu that reflect the culture and history of South India. Book collections exceeds 60,000. The first catalogue for Sanskrit palm-leaf manuscripts was prepared in 1801 A.D. Info from Tamil Nadu Archaeology site.

Only research scholars allowed to enter library. Outside a room of super paintings is this painting. I tried hard to convince the local head of dept to let me click pics inside room but need permission of District Collector.

Minutes away from the Durbar Hall is a Art Gallery. STONE BALL Thanjavur 18th century a.d. This could be placed at entrance of huge wooden doors as we saw elsewhere, to keep door open.

SAPTAMATRIKA - Koiladi. 8th to 9th century a.d.

Lion Pillar. "Thanjavur Maratha rulers before Serfoji built charams (rest houses) for pilgrims going to Rameshwaram. People of all castes received free boarding and lodging but also education and medical care. Serfoji kept tradition and added 3 more, the most remarkable among them being the one in nearby Orathanadu".

Murugan (Subrahmanyar) 10th century a.d. "Serfoji was greatly interested in science and technology. He had an air pump, an electrifying machine, astronomical instruments for a close study of the starts. He made them accessible to students of educational institutions that he established".

Buddha. "Serfoji founded a school called Navavidhya Kalanidhi Sala. It taught languages, literature, arts, crafts besides the Vedas and Sastras. He also opened up education to girls and appointed female teachers". Quote from Raja Serfoji II published by the Thanjavur Royal Charitable Trust.

Jyeshtha Devi. 9th century a.d. "Serfoji erected a fully equipped shipyard at Manora sea fort (about 50 kms away), built ships to carry out trade with Colombo, Andaman, Kerala etc. He took special care of eye ailments. It is said that the King himself was an expert in treating eye diseases".

ARDHANARISVARA - Kumkakonam 11th century a.d. Left side man right side woman.

Dancing VINAYAGA - Palace Thanjavur 11-12th century a.d.

Commonly found animal in most temples in Tamil Nadu. Serfoji established Dhanvanthri Mahal, a research institution that produced herbal medicine for human consumption and for animals".

Left to right first Vishnu Durga, third is DAKSINAMURTI, fourth is CHANDIKESVARA. All are from Kumbakonam 17-18th century a.d.

Missed jotting down details. Pic gives u a sense of the way in which sculptures are arranged.

Ghadas inside a separate section of the palace.

Outside Thanjavur saw this wow shop run by Kashmiris from Valley. What a collection. Saw similar shops in Madurai as well.

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