A Cultural History
by Pradeep Chakravarthy
The temples, the palace, the bronzes, the paintings, the frescoes, cuisine, the weapons of war, ivory dolls, the kalamkaris, and literary genres like the abhyudayamu, prabandham and kuravanji are all brushstrokes that make up a colourful painting that tells the story of the city of Thanjavur.
In this fascinating study in words and images Pradeep Chakravarthy and Vikram Sathyanathan narrate the cultural history of Thanjavur starting from its early days of grandeur in the Chola empire when the Chola king Raja Raja I built the Rajarajeswaram Temple now known as Brihadeeswara temple which celebrates its 1000th year of consecration in 2010.They weave together known and unknown histories of various rulers of Thanjavur – the Cholas, the Nayaks, the Marathas and the British, into a rich tapestry of cultural heritage that is Thanjavur. They reveal to the reader the treasure house that is Sarasvathi Mahal Library, lead the reader into the narrow lanes or sandhus where the painters who created the now famous Thanjavur style lived along with bangle-sellers, the textile merchants, perfumers and the devadasis, They also take the reader along a trip on the fertile river banks of Kaveri where Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam as we know them today were created and flourished alongside drama forms like the bhagavata mela and yakshagana.