After visiting the ancient Big Temple in Tanjore (Thanjavur) the night before and again in the morning, I was ready for see my first Indian palace or maharaja’s home. The Tanjore Palace was built about 1550 by the Nayaks, and added to later by the Marathas. The Palace became the official residence of the Bhonsle family (the Raja princes) who held control and ruled over the Tanjore region from 1674 to 1855. It features a library, a gallery filled with ancient statuary, a tower and intricate carving on the ceiling and archways.
You purchase an entrance ticket and need to pay extra if you are taking photographs. My group first entered a music room that lead to a large quadrangular courtyard, known as the queen’s courtyard. I could easily imagine an extravagant garden party there. The queens courtyard lead to a pillared hall and another smaller courtyard. All around me multi-level archways danced with carved creatures painted in the most wonderful color combinations. Green dragons, blue gods, praying deities and all sorts of fascinating faces stared down.
At the entrance to museum hall, I found an elephant statue just begging for a photo op. So, I hopped on!
There are two main halls, the Royal Palace Museum filled with valuable statuary, most behind glass, and a statue of Raja Serfoji who lived from 1797-1832. There is also a famous library filled with rare sanskrit manuscripts. Since time was of the essence, we skipped the library. Unfortunately, tourists are not allowed to climb the six-story Madamaligai belltower as it was damaged in a lightning strike.
We headed on see a Tanjore artist, and then to the Chettiand region, known for fabulously wealthy houses filled with excentric carved details. I couldn’t wait!