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museums & Art Galleries: Thanjavur

The former palace of the Nayaks of Thanjavur, once viceroys of the Vijayanagara rulers and later hereditary rulers, is a wonderful and extravagant piece of architecture, built in 1600. The huge enclosed compound encompasses a complex which includes the Art Gallery, the Saraswati Library and the Sangeetha Sabha or Music Hall.

A gigantic tower, (the arsenal, decorated vith bands of arches forms the external acade. One enters into a hall which is the sculpture gallery where examples of iuth Indian stone sculpture dating from le Pallava to the Nayak period are exhibited. Some of the unique pieces are Gaja Samhara, the slayer of demons (Chola), a Tirupurantarar, Shiva who slayed three demons, an early Pallava Brahma and a huge Buddha from the Vijayanagara period.

Frescoes, painted a hundred years ago in the glass painting style of Tanjore adorn the walls of the Durbar Hall, while on a stage stands the marble statue of the Maratha King, Serfogi, From a magnificent bronze collection the earliest and smallest date to the Pallava period while the most important are Chola. Sixteen great Natarajas depict the various stages of the cosmic dance. An outstanding piece is a 12th century Nataraja from Tiruviddaimandin, in which an absence of ornamentation highlights its clean and perfect lines. Other remarkable pieces are Sundaramurthi Narayan (10th - llth century), Parvati (14th century), a Somaskundar from Pattiswaram, the static but calm Mahavishnu (llth century), a rusted but beautiful Venugopal, Krishna playing the flute and Rukmini (16th century), two fine statues of Vinadhara Dakshinamurthi, Shiva after the destruction playing the veena (7th-8th century), Kalyansundaram (llth century) Bhikshatanar or Shiva as a beggar, a snake coiled around his waist holding a begging bowl and damru with a Rajapaliyan hound at his heels, dating to the 13th regnal year ofRajaraja Chola (1040) and Parvati and Rishabhavahana, Shiva reclining on a "bull, from his 26th regnal year.

Thanjavur Art Gallery
Palace Buildings
Thanjavur 613 009

Timings: 9.00 am to 1.00 pm 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm
Closed on some festival days and government holidays.

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Tamilnadu Museums »» Government State Museum, Chennai . Fort St. George Museum, Chennai
Government museum, Madurai . Art Museum, Madurai . Thanjavur Art Gallery

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