Sri Brihadeeswarar Temple: Built by the Chola King, Rajaraja, the Big Temple is an outstanding example of Chola architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, its architecture is unique because of the main tower soaring high and the gopurams are all small in size. Facing the main shrine is a huge monolithic Nandi Bull. Inside the temple, there is a shrine dedicated to Lord Subramanyam which is said to have some of the best carvings in the whole of South India. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The walls of the sanctum are covered, with the wall paintings of Chola and Nayak periods, comparable to the famous Ajanta cave frescoes. The sanctum of Goddess Brihan Nayaki is especially beautiful because of the exquisite stone frescoes on the walls. The Murugan shrine was built like a chariot, and depicts intricate stone carving. The Navagrahas inside are depicted as lingams. The total lingams housed within is said to be close to 252. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Sight, there is a small museum, which houses pieces of sculptures. Every month, two Pradosham pujas are held and the Nandi and lingam are bathed in milk. The temple is especially active during the Maha Shiva¬ratri, Navaratri and Rajarajan.
Open from: 3.00 am-noon, 4.00 pm-8.00 pm
Note - Non-Hindus are not allowed within the sanctum
Mariamman Temple: Dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, a manifestation of Shakti, the temple has a seven-tiered gopuram. Believed to have curative and healing powers, devotees visit it to be cured of measles, chicken pox and skin sores. The idol is coated only with punugu, an oily, perfumed, secretion of the civet cat.
Open from: 6.00 am-9.00 pm
The Palace:Located close to the Brihadeeswarar Temple, the Palace that stands now was once extremely magnificent. The palace houses many museums that by themselves are a great tourist attraction. It has an Art Gallery, showcasing costumes, weapons and musical instruments apart from the Rajaraja Chola Museum, which contains a magnificent collection of Chola bronzes and sculptures. Also visit the Saraswati Mahal Library, which houses around 44,000 ancient palm leaf manuscripts, different volumes of various languages, paintings and writing materials.
Open from: Art Gallery - 9.00 am-1.00 pm; Rajaraja Museum - 10.00 am-5.00 pm; Library - 10.00 am-1.00 pm, 1.30 pm-5.30 pm
Schwartz Church: Located within the palace garden, the Schwartz Church was built in 1779 A.D by Rajah Serfoji as a token of affection for the Rev. C.V. Schwartz of the Danish Mission.
Sivagangai Garden: Head out here for an evening walk or relax in many of the garden benches. The park is home to a wide variety of species of birds and rare flowering plants.
Tamil University Museum: Established in 1981, the university is engaged in research and advanced study in Tamil. The Museum within has a rare collection of coins and musical instruments.
Darasuram: Located 34 kms from Tanjore, it is home to the Airateswara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Exquisitely built, the temple's vimana is 25 m high and the main mandapam resembles a huge chariot drawn by horses. Adjacent to the main shrine is the temple dedicated to Shiva's consort, Periya Nayaki Amman.
Swamimalai: Literally meaning God's Mountain, this town is located 32 kms from Tanjore. It is one of the six abodes of to Lord Murugan, where he rested during his battle with the demon Soorapadam. The 60 steps leading to the temple indicate the 60 years of the Tamil calendar. Every Thursday, Lord Swaminathan is decorated with a Diamond Vel.