There are numerous enormous Chola temples in Thanjavur. Brihadeshwara Temple and Fort : It is the crowning glory of Chola temple architecture. This superb and fascinating monument is one and only a handful in India with World Heritage listing and is worth a couple of visits. On top of the apex of the 63 mtr. high temple, a dome encloses an enormous Siva lingam. The dome is constructed from a single piece of granite weighing an estimated 81 tonnes. The gateway to the inner courtyard is guarded by one of the largest Nandis in India, also fashioned from a single piece of rock. The carved stonework of the temple, gopurams and adjoining structures is riched in detail. Inside the inner courtyard, off to the left, the well-arranged Archaeological Museum has some interesting exhibits and photographs as well as charts and maps detailing the history of the Chola Empire. The museum is open daily from 9 am. to noon and 4 to 8 pm. The temple is open everyday from 6 am to noon and 4 to 8.30 pm. Palace, Art Gallery and Saraswati Mahal Library : This is a vast labyrinthine building in the centre of the old town with huge corridors, spacious halls, observation towers and shady courtyards. The Art Gallery has a superb collection of bronze statues. The view from the tower on the far side of the courtyards is worth the climb. The Saraswati Mahal Library is next door to the gallery. It contains a collection of over 30,000 palm-leaf and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages. It is open from 10 am. to 1 pm. and 2 to 5 pm. daily, except Wednesday.



GETTING THERE AND AWAY AIR Although there is an airport at Thanjavur, Vayudoot, which used to service the city, no longer flies here. The nearest domestic airport is at Tiruchirappalli. BUS Buses, which can be booked in advance, depart for Madras, Pondicherry and Tirupathi. There are also numerous buses passing through on their way to Tiruchirappalli and Madurai. TRAIN It is nine hours and 351 km between Thanjavur and Egmore Station in Madras on the Cholan Express. The 50-km trip to Trichy takes two hours. The trip to Kumbakonam takes one hour, and it is 2.5 hours to Chidambaram.

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