Heritage Walk



Saint karuvoorar (karuvoorsithar) who lived during chola era has sung as ‘Injisoolthanjai’. From this we came to that fort were there in Thanjavur. Thanjavur has two historically famous forts i.e., Small fort and Big fort.

Small fort was constructed by sevvappanayakar during the year 1541—1580 B.C It encompasses sivagangapond, sivaganga park,big temple and Swartz (Christian) church within it.

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Big fort was constructed by the last king of Sevappanayaka Dynasty, Vigayaraghavanayakkar during 1630-1674 B.C. Its area measuring to 530 acres including the palace, workship place and habitat of people.



The famous Thanjavur veena was designed by Raghunathanayakkar. Till his era the veena in Tamilnadu had pandal alias kudam (pot shaped part in veena) in oblong shape and koodu the tail part (portion of strings) in short form. There were 16+1 (metukkal) strings in koodu part. It was made up of metal strings fastened with the stem with wax. This was termed as melam. Musicians, to switch other raga while performance, they have to change the mettukkal. This made them during to use veena with fret arrangement like that of saarangi.

To overcome this Raghunathannayakar with his intricate skill extended the tail part with a piece of wooden plank.With this he added another 8 mettukkal with existed 18+1 metukkal adding to 24.It resulted in increase of 2 sthaiyikal (pitch). He renamed the upgraded veena as Raghunathamelam. This is widely now called as the famous Thanjavur Veena. Hence we should rightly call raghunathanayakar as the pioneer and traditional father of Thanjavur Veena.

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In Thanjavur city moats were constructed adjoining the fort wall around the city as defense barrier. Its area, 150 feet wide and 4 miles in length. Adjoining this fort were constructed around big temple in four sides with moats. The moat in the western part of the big temple were constructed in the year 1935 as mettur dam development activity as kallanai water channel. In other words puthuaaru (new river) with western moat formed as river water outlet. Presently, southern part of the moat has vanished while east, west and southern moats are still in existence.

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It is also called as thermutti. Every temple used to have one such to lodge the car. It is used to safe guard the car and as starting procession site during festivals and ceremonies. It is also used to decorate the car and also as decorative stage. The car boarding place in Thanjavur is located in west main street constructed using bricks and lime mortar. The style of construction belongs to Nayakkas period and one can conclude that it belongs to the same.

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During 17th century Thevaram singing poet called as oothuvaar (chanting Holy verses of Tamil shaivism) lived in Thanjavur. His sons Gangaimuthu and Muthuramalingam were in Thanjavur maratta king Thulaja palace as musicians. Their sons Subburayan and Chidambaram were the dancers in the court hall of Thulaja king. Subburayan has four sons the eldest Chinayya born in 1802 B.C followed by Ponnaiyah born in 1804 B.C, third son in 1808 and the youngest in 1810 B.C.

Subburayan (othuvaar) and his four sons worked in Thiruvidaimaruthoor as Thevaram hymn singing poets and were making garlands for Lord Siva temple. During the visit of Thulaja king to Thiruvidaimaruthur, he was impressed with the singing abilities of these people. He brought them to Thanjavur big temple as instructors of dance and music. To improve their knowledge of music, king Thulaja send them to Muthusamytheechidar, one among the sangeetha mummoorthikal (music triumvirates) for honing their music skills.

Ponnaiyah aspired to upgrade Bharathanatyam to perform in stages at any where and at any time. In connection with it, he did a detailed research and framed beautiful methods. Similar to initial lesson for music concert like sarali, jathi and alangaram Ponnaiyah devised 10 adavukkal as initial lessons. They are thattuadaivu, nattuadaivu, guthithuadaivu, gathiadaivu, thattuvettuadaivu, meiadaivu, aruthiadaivu, vettuadaivu, nadaiadaivu and mudiadaivu.

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One of the oldest famous school, started in 16th April 1891, commonly called as K.H.S. founded by great personalities Gopalasamy Iyengar, K.Dharmarasa Iyengar and T.R.Arangasamy Iyengar. With the help and support of famous advocate and member of legislative assembly Mr. Kalyanasundarm Iyer the school become government aided. After that it was elevated as higher secondary school. In the year 1927, the management of the school was handed over to kalyanasundaram educational committee.

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Primitive man was earlier nomads. After lodging in a place for practicing agriculture for food production, they started storing food grains in pot and trenches. Archeological evidence reveals that food grains storing dated back to greater stone age itself. In later years, the container of food grains were called as kottaram. In places adjoining Cauvery river, in many temples establishment for storing paddy containers were made.

In Srirangam Lord Renganathar temple, three repository for paddy is found. In Thirupalathuraipalaivananathar temple. Achuthappa nayakkar, his son Raghunatha nayakkar and his guru Govindappa theetchidar erected paddy repository with storage capacity of 3000 kaalam of paddy.



Young women dancers were found in Thanjavur as per the citation by Karurthevar in his Thiruvisaipaa. This tradition has been followed for years together, sangeetha mahal is a living evidence for this. The only remaining palace in Tamilnadu capable of staging dance and music is still in good condition. It is the living testimony for the adage “Thanjavur the seat of music”.

Sangeetha mahal is located 4 feet deeper than the ground floor of palace. Rectangularly shaped it is a two storied building. Ground floor is meant for king, kingdom officials, musicians and civilians.First floor designed in such a way to witness the show by queens. The very large stage is meant for the artists to perform and its front part for the audience.
During Nayakkaperiod it was called as “navarethana myna naadagasaalai”-means the hall shining with studded with gemstones. It was called as sangeetha mahal during the reign of Maratta. The hall has been exclusively erected with architectural excellence for staging dance and music.

The acoustics effect of the hall is unique. Before the stage, a vat is erected and filled with water, it helps in even distribution of music throughout the hall. To avoid echoing effect small holes were found in the various places of the hall. Apart from this thick panga (thick cloth drapery) will also absorb the sound. The close arrangement of rods in window helps in hearing smooth music. The hall is illuminated and decorated with colorful anther(lamp) and hanging lights. In the absence of modern sound gadgets and technology, the hall was technically designed in such a way that 1000 people can enjoy the show with smooth music by means of sitting anywhere. The hall was redesigned for the commencement of sarafoji college in this place. The hall under the governance of the District Collector, even now rendering service for staging dance, music etc.,

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For more than 1000 years Thanjavur is noted for its rich arts, architecture, culture and literature. For the enrichment of the culture the Chola, Nayakka and Maratta kingdom played pivotal role. The statues, paintings, temples of Chola dynasty are known for its uniqueness.The descendants of Nayakkas also nurtured literature, music and drama. Maratta and their successors also safe guarded and contributed to the preservation of the library. Many of the Maratta kings were great poets and erudite scholars, patrons enabling the treasure trove of knowledge and surviving for years with its legacy.

Saraswathi mahal library during the era of Ragunathanayakkar 1600-1634 existed as a library named ‘Vijayavilasam’ and developed by Marattas. Serafoji the second (1798-1832) played a pivotal role in the development of the library by means of collecting rare manuscripts and books.

In the year 1918 five members committee was constituted to administrate the library with a corpus fund of One lakh rupees vide G.O.No. 1306 Home (education) dt. 5.10.1918. The fund received from the fixed deposit interest, state and Central Government so as to meet out the expenses for safeguarding manuscripts and publishing the same. Till date this process is continuing with full vigor.

As per the erstwhile Chief Minister advise Saraswathimahal library was registered as the first society in the year 1975, as per the new Tamil Nadu Registration Activity act(Act27-1975).

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