After all that’s said and done, what’s it that comes to my mind when I think of my little trip to Thanjavur? Such a noisy little town! 😐 Buses blare horns shamelessly at double the ‘hoarse power’ and other vehicles don’t feel intimidated to be left behind.
That said, people are helpful and at times more friendly than Google Maps 😛 Especially Sony and her mom. Sony, a skinny little kitty jumped into my sight out of nowhere and played with me while her owner-mom lovingly complained how she doesn’t eat anything and plays all day. As if to prove her right, Sony graced me with a blurry parting shot before bouncing off after a stray piece of paper.
Brihadeeswarar Temple was easy to reach from where I was staying. Well everything is pretty much around the old bus stand. When I spied the top of Raja gopuram from far, I mistook it for the main gopuram, Karpagam. As I closed upon it after tch-tching at the filthy, plastic-strewn moat (a defence strategy that went awry with an unexpected enemy – Plastic, the horrible), the appearance of a second gopuram, Rajarajan Gopuram, all that info that Lonely planet so dutifully supplied rushed back into memory. This here is the mammoth architectural marvel that the Chola king Rajaraja-I designed/ proposed/built to promote culture/massage his own ego/ worship God. Pick your version. After all history is only an interpretation of what really happened. Later when Thanjavur fell into the hands of Nayaks and then Marathas, the temple gained more shrines and embellishments. But Nayaks apparently covered up Chola murals in spite with their own and ended up protecting the original murals. Who is having the last laugh now! 😀
The new age mural artists are not doing a bad job either
Outside the temple is the regular string of shops selling curios and knick-knacks. I followed tradition and bought this dancer doll from an old man sitting away from the general hubbub. It is made of paper mache and looks adorable on top of my cupboard, nodding to everything I say.
30 minutes walk took me to the Thanjavur Maratha Palace complex consisting of Sadar Mahal Palace, the queen’s courtyard, the Durbar Hall, the Saraswathi Mahal library and a small bell tower. Part of the gallery is closed to visitors as royal family still occupies those quarters. But the limited variety of exhibits is still interesting in its early usage. Musical instruments, utensils, huge chests, manuscripts and swords used by Maratha women for self defense which is what should be taken off the shelf and dusted off, given the current state of affairs in India.
The gallery also sold Thanjavur paintings, one of which soon became mine. 🙂
Back through the din of streets into a very welcome smile of my very resourceful waiter at hotel. Two cups of strong tea and a plateful of onion bajjis later, I packed my stuff and walked out of the street on last time, letting the chillness of the night to slowly settle down on my skin.