Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Thanjavur Maratha Palace

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.The Thanjavur Maratha palace was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom. After the fall of the Thanjavur Nayak kingdom, it served as the official residence of the Thanjavur Maratha. When most of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom was annexed to the British Empire in 1799, the Thanjavur Marathas continued to hold sway over the palace and the surrounding fort. The Bhonsle family continued to hold on to the palace even after the last king Shivaji II was deposed as per the Doctrine of Lapse.

The palace complex consists of the Sadar Mahal Palace, the queen's courtyard and the Durbar Hall. The Raja Serfoji Memorial Hall and the Royal Palace Museum are situated in the Sadar Mahal Palace. There is also a small bell tower. The Saraswathi Mahal Library is situated with the Thanjavur palace complex.


Thanjavur’s royal palace is a mixed bag of ruin and renovation, superb art and random royal paraphernalia. The maze-like complex was constructed partly by the Nayaks who took over Thanjavur in 1535, and partly by a local Maratha dynasty that ruled from 1676 to 1855. The two don't-miss sections are the Saraswati Mahal Library Museum and the Art Gallery.



Seven different sections of the palace can be visited – and you'll need three different tickets to see them all! The Art Gallery and Saraswati Mahal Library Museum are included in the ‘full’ ticket, along with the Mahratta Dharbar Hall, the bell tower, and the Saarjah Madi. The main entrance is from the north, via a lane off East Main Street. On the way in you’ll come to the main ticket office, followed by the Maratha Palace complex.

Past the ticket office, a passage to the left leads to, first, the Royal Palace Museum , a small miscellany of sculptures, weaponry, elephant bells and rajas’ headgears; second, the Maharaja Serfoji Memorial Hall , commemorating the enlightened Maratha scholar-king Serfoji II (1798–1832), with a better collection overlooking a once-splendid, now crumbling courtyard; and third, the Mahratta Dharbar Hall , where Maratha rulers gave audience in a grand but faded pavilion adorned with colourful murals, including their own portraits behind the dais.





Leaving the library, turn left for the Art Gallery , set around the Nayak Palace courtyard. This contains a collection of superb, mainly Chola, bronzes and stone carvings, and one of its rooms, the 1600 Nayak Durbar Hall, has a statue of Serfoji II. From the courtyard, steps lead part of the way up a large gopuram -like tower to a whale skeleton said to have been washed up in Tranquebar.

Ticket Price:Indian/foreigner ₹30/150, camera ₹50/100
Opening hours:9am-6pm


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