The Art Gallery at
Thanjavur is housed
in the former palace of the Nayaks, who were once the viceroys of the
Vijayanagara rulers and later became rulers themselves. The gallery houses
a treasured collection of bronze icons, stone sculptures and other
artifacts, which today stand testimony to that golden age in Tamil
history, when devotion was at an all time high and skills of architecture
were patronized by the Cholas.
The examples of art that we see today at this gallery are the finest. Most of the pieces belong to Chola period between the 9th and the 13th centuries AD, to the post-Chola period and to the Nayak period, from the 17th to the 18th century AD. The gallery also houses a few sculptures from the Pallava period.
An Intriguing History
There is a very interesting story about how the art gallery came into existence. An archaeologist from Calcutta (now Kolkata), Dr. Sivaramamoorthi who noticed an icon in the image of Brahma, wanted to take it to Calcutta. The local people objected to the icon being taken out of their district.
With the intervention of the then Collector T K Palaniappan, the people agreed to preserve the icon in a suitable place in their district itself. The Collector then gave instructions to collect all artifacts, sculptures and icons, which were lying left unattended and neglected.
Many of the pieces were found buried, they had been forgotten, since the time they were buried, in order to be safeguarded from invaders. These pieces were put together for being displayed in a museum, which was started on the 9th of December in the year 1951.
Collection Of Sculptures, Paintings And Bronze Pieces In The Gallery
A gigantic tower, the arsenal, decorated with bands of arches form the external facade. One enters into a hall, which is the sculpture gallery where examples of south Indian stone sculptures dating from the Pallava to the Nayak period are exhibited.
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 of the Chola period. Sixteen great Natarajas depict the various stages of the cosmic dance. An outstanding piece is a 12th century Nataraja from Tiruviddaimandin.
Air: The nearest airport is at
Trichy, at a distance
of 60-km from Thanjavur.
Rail: Thanjavur is on the Chennai-Trichy meter gauge rail route.
Road: Thanjavur is well connected by road with the major towns and cities within and beyond the state.
Accommodation is available at the economy class hotels, cottages, and lodges in Thanjavur.