We had to go on a personal trip to Tanjore in Tamil Nadu in southern India. Since I started Geedesk I have not spent enough time with my husband and kid so this time we decided to do a road trip to Tanjore, which is 347 km (216 miles) from Chennai. To justify the expense trip I decided to meet few customers en-route. We then sat down to work out the route map and the itinerary.
The plan was to to take NH32 all the way upto Trichy and then Tanjore. My husband is a big history buff so we decided to spend two days in Tanjore and then drive back to Madurai through NH32. From Madurai the plan was to drive to Trichy and from Trichy to Chennai via Pondicherry. It was all together 1200 km (746 miles).
Locals would suggest a shorter route from Tanjore to Madurai but its not safe if you are travelling at night or with family. We took one such route and it was a nightmare, except nothing happened that day.
Lesson learnt: When in India always take the national highway.
We packed our luggage and left home on a Friday (28th July) and hit the national highway in 30 minutes, but we hit heavy traffic on the outskirts of Chennai and it took us two hours to get out of the traffic jam. Once we hit max speed and after a short halt at a motel near Pondicherry we ensured not to waste much time on the highway and planned to have dinner only after reaching Tanjore. However at 9pm we had 2 more hours of travel and decided to stop for dinner before continuing our journey. at 11pm we reached Tanjore and checked into our hotel.
Tanjore is a small town in Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tanjore has a glorified past and is a town with great significance to the Tamil history and culture. Tanjore and the surrounding areas have a huge chunk of the Great Living Chola Temples. The Big Temple in Tanjore was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in the 1980s. It has been ruled by the great tamil kingdom The Cholas and then the Marathas before falling into British hands in the year 1855. Tanjore is a small town and we decided to drive around with the help google maps.
Big temple is the colloquial name of Brihadeeswarar Temple. It is 1000 years old and was built by Raja Raja Chola I. The construction of the temple was completed in the year 1010 CE. The temple has an outer fort with a moat which was built by the later rulers like the Marathas and not by the Cholas. The entire temple was built with granite.
As we drove towards the temple we could see the pagoda from the flyover near the temple. Its a beautiful site and one could only imagine how beautiful the view might have been when there was no building and flyover.
I was amazed at the grandness of the lingam (shiv ling) in the temple. I have not seen a lingam that big in my entire life. We could not take any photo as cameras were strictly prohibited near the lingam. We paid Rs.100/- ($1.57) for a small pooja. The temple also has a huge nandi.
Something that surprised me was the fact that such a huge temple was constructed at a time when there was no machine to carry huge stones required to build a temple of this scale and grandness. It is said that thousands of workers worked day and night to complete the construction of the temple.
Before our visit to Tanjore if someone would have told me that a tamil town had a rich Maratha past I would have cried nonsense. But to my surprise it is true. Tanjore was ruled by the Marathas for a considerable time period. The Marathas built a huge temple for themselves. The Marathas had a cordial relationship with the British hence the British allowed them to rule Tanjore. In 1855 the last Maratha king of Tanjore (Raja Serfoji II) did not have a male heir and hence Tanjore was taken over by the British from the Marathas.
The prime attraction in the palace complex is Saraswati Mahal Library. It is the one of the oldest libraries in Asia. It was built by the Nayaks and passed on to the Marathas before passing on to the hands of the British.
The library started off as a private library for the Nayak rulers of Tanjore but was converted into a public library by the Maratha king. This library houses books and manuscripts from the Cholas kingdom all the way upto the last Maratha king, Raja Serfoji II. It is amazing to find manuscripts of various languages present under one roof. Old tamil and sanskrit manuscripts are placed besides old english medical journals and french and german dictionaries.
Legend says that before taking over the kingdom from the Marathas the Britishers asked him if he had any final parting wish. The king said “I want your assurance that you would maintain this library well”. The Britishers obliged. Even when they took huge wealth from the Indian sub-continent they never took anything from the Saraswati Mahal Library.
Photography is strictly prohibited inside the library and that was a deal breaker for me, nevertheless it did not prevent me from spending an hour inside the library. Visitors should not miss the audio and video library run by the government. History buffs would love the documentary.
I personally loved this trip as I was able to do some sales calls and at the same time spend some quality time with my husband and daughter. I wanted to cover the entire trip in one blog post but the article turned out to be long, so I will be covering the remaining part of the journey in blog post (part 2).
I hope you liked my experience and if you want to know more about Geedesk please send us an email at sales (at) geedesk.com.