Tanjore has glorious past. Its extravagance in culture is the result of various patronages that ruled the city in past and left their unique impressions forever in the art, culture and living of Tanjore. Tanjore has seen rules of Cholas, Pandyas, Marathas, Mughals and Britishers during various stages of time. Every reign had its influence to the already existing culture of Tanjore. Despite being great influences from different dynasties Tanjore’s golden period in terms of its gain in art and culture was the reign of Cholas and Pandyas.
To understand today’s culture of Tanjore one must have to go back to pages of history to see how different rulings influenced the culture of Tanjore and how much the city gained from each of them.
Chola Influence in Tanjore:
The most visited monument in Tanjore The Brihadeeswarar Temple is the keep sake of Chola reign. It was built in 11th century by Chola king Raja Raja Chola. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva.
The period of Chola kings is considered to be the period of cultural renaissance. In the patronage of Chola kingdom Tanjore was the cradle of Tmailian Culture. Chola reign glorified Tanjore for one thousand years and during that period Tanjore was broached from north to south, from Himalaya to Kanya kumari. All these facts are imprinted in literature and rare Tamil manuscripts that are present in Tanjore library and can be realized in civilization. Their patronage helped in cultivation of art, music, temples, anaicuts, ports and cities. The inhabitants had concentrated their lives with art, literature, drama, dance, music and culture.
Other keep sakes of Chola reign are Saraswati mahal library, sangeetha mahal, classical music and dance known as Bharatnatyam and annual celebration of music at Thiruvaiyaru. Karika nad Koccengan were most prominent kings of Chola patronage who found place Sangam literature.
Pandyas and Nayaks Influence in Tanjore:
By the end of thirteenth century Chola reign came to halt giving a way to the Pandya supremacy. Though their run was short lived but it was influential.
Then came the Nayaks, Nayak Durbar Hall Art Museum is the gift of Nayaks. Carnetic music was codified and art flourished under the reign of Nakays in 16th century. The Tanjore Maratha palace which served as the official residence of the Bhonsle family was originally constructed by the Nayak kings and after their fall, it served as the official residence of the Tanjore Marathas and is now a prominent tourist attraction.
Another magnificence in terms of artistic development that is till date considered to be the souvenir of the visit to Tanjore, The brilliant Tanjore Paintings were given by Nayaks. They are famous for their vibrant colors, compact composition, surface richness and the shining gold foils used to give the paintings their rich look. Nayaks encouraged classical dance and music and literature both in Tamil and Telegu.
The Marathas exercised their sovereignty over Tanjore last quarter of the 17th and the 18th century. The Maratha rulers also patronized Carnatic music
British Influence in Tanjore:
The administrative powers of Tanjore were given to British under the treaty of 1799. It was in 1841 when Serfoji II took over the reins of Tanjore. It became part of the then madras and remained under British until 1947 when India was declared free. The Britishers did very little to protect art and culture of the city. The culture survived the dull phase because it was imbibed into the lives of its inhabitants. Tanjore was used as an important regional center but minimal was done to protect its heritage.