Tanjore, also known as Thanjavur, was the ancient capital of the Cholas, Nayakas and later the Maratha rulers. It was during the Chola period when Thanjavur reached the zenith of glory and became a center of learning and culture. The Thanjavur palace is among many architectural marvels of the Tanjore city. The Thanjavur palace was partly built by the Nayaks and partly by the Marathas. The Tanjavur Palace is a massive structure with huge halls, wide corridors, observation towers and a shady courtyard. As you walk across, you can easily see many sections of the palace in ruins and also the restoration work that has been taken up to protect the monument. The palace is home to a library, an art gallery and a museum. The Royal museum has a display of items from the past rulers. The royal memorabilia is a real eye catcher and fascinates one and all. The royal clothing, headgears and hunting weapons are some of such items that draw the attention of visitors. The two Durbar halls, where the rulers held public meetings, are in good shape. The Art Gallery is housed in the Nayak hall of the Thanjavur palace. This gallery has a superb collection of artifacts of the 8th and 9th century, belonging to the Chola dynasty. The bronze and granite statues displayed inside the art gallery speak volumes about the craftsmanship during those days. The bell tower, which has been restored, stands very different from the rest of the structure after renovation. The Saraswathi Mahal Library stands next to the art gallery. This library has an amazing collection of manuscripts written on palm leaves and paper. There are over 44,000 palm leaf and paper manuscripts in Indian and European languages inside the Saraswathi Mahal library. Of all the manuscripts, over eighty percent are in Sanskrit. The Tamil work, at display in the library, includes treatises on medicine and commentaries on works belonging to the Sangam period.
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