Thanjavur, the capital city of Cholas, is a flourishing city from the
7th century CE. At present there are two important forts namely Chinna Kottai (Little fort) and Periya Kottai (Big fort). Thanjavur Palace is situated within the Big Fort Complex. This fort was erected by the Vijayaraghava Nayakkar (1633-74 CE) who was the last king of Thanjai Nayak dynasty.
The State Department of Archaeology protects the important monuments in the palace complex, such as Arsenal Tower, Bell Tower, Darbar hall of the
Marathas and Sadar Madi ( Sarjah Madi).
Arsenal Tower is a structure, which attracts the visitors to Thanjavur even as the Tower of the Big Temple does. This
Arsenal Tower is 190 feet height with eight storeys and was constructed in 1855 CE during the period of
Marathas. It was used for storing weapons, armouries and
ammunition, and was also serving as a watchtower.
View of Darbar Hall
View of Thanjavur Palace
Several varieties of weapons were stored inside the building including those imported from European countries. When the English in 1855 CE captured the palace all items of arsenal stored in the building were transferred to
Tiruchirappalli, in 1863.
Bell tower is situated in the Northwestern side of the Arsenal Tower. This tower is also known as “the wide holed ear pavilion” to the public. It is also believed that the Vijayaraghava Nayakkar offered worship in the direction of Srirangam from the top terrace of this tower.
This tower, which is having seven
storeys, is stated to have initially held more number of
storeys, which were damaged by thunder and rain. A research note informs that there was a novel clock of sizable dimensions, forming part of the structure in which the figure of a monkey used to strike the gong every hour. The tower is fashioned in the style of Gingee
Portraits of several Maratha rulers including Sarfoji are painted in the Darbar hall. The octagonal columns, marvellous arches and wall of the hall are adorned with images of deities like Siva, Vishnu, Indra with their consort etc.
Thanjavur Palace with its architectural beauty reflects the ‘Marathas’ and ‘Nayaks’ patronage towards art and culture. Paintings in the Darbar hall depict the scenes from epic Ramayana and stucco figures of Gods and Goddesses are well projected on the walls and ceiling.
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