Saturday, 27 October 2018

Thanjavur Thiruvarur & Thiruvaiyaru 2018


This historic city with national treasures like the Brihadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur Palace and the Saraswati Mahal Library looks less cared for than what I remember from my visits earlier. A feeling of pride, awe and amazement would overcome me as I stepped inside.

Visitors pay a small sum of Rs. fifty to enter the premises. The staff sitting at the entrance have neither interest nor knowledge about the importance of the artefacts. These centuries-old structures need maintenance and regular repair. A person was whizzing around the corridor inside on his motor-bike, the vibrations of which may cause cracks on the walls of the palace.

Two magnificent life-sized Tanjore Dancing Dolls, and the statues of Manu needhi Chozhan (cow, calf, prince, king and chariot) are broken and dust covered.


Dwarapalaka idol
This beautiful idol of a Nandi and Dwarapalaka is placed in the ‘lawns’ of the Durbar Hall. Crows use them as their perch. They must be cleaned periodically.
The Darbar Hall in all its dilapidated glory is impressive despite the vanishing and discoloured murals. It is painful to see the graffiti scrawled on the ancient pillars. There is no security staff guarding the statues and bronzes displayed near the Durbar Hall.

                                          In front of the Durbar Hall

                                                 The Nandi    
Many Indian and foreign tourists visit the palace every day. The restrooms which charge two rupees have poor drainage, are wet and dirty.

                                       The temple in the centre of the Kamala layam temple tank


Thiruvarur’s magnificent temple and the perennial waters of the Kamalayam tank are a breath-taking sight. Commercial development has transformed this small town into one bustling with activity.

There are several references about this temple in my book Bhagavata Mela My Tryst with Tradition. The Trinity of Carnatic music, Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri were born in this town. The temple and the deity Tyagesa inspired many composers to sing of its beauty and divinity.

                                           The Eastern Gate of the Tyagesa temple


This city is famous for the Panchanadiswara temple and the samadhi of the saint poet Tyagaraja. The Kaveri flows in regal splendour and was in full force when we visited.

                                                     Some paintings of the composer on the walls. 

This place has a special nostalgic note for me. In January 1997, our family sponsored two Bhagavata Mela natakams by the Natya Vidya Sangam to be performed here inside the holy precincts of the Panchanadiswara temple. This was the first time such permission was given. Five thousand devotees gathered each day. The occasion was the 150th Aradhana of Tyagaraja, whose family belonged to the tradition. Tyagaraja himself wrote two Bhagavata Mela natakams.

                                                                     At the Samadhi

The shrine at the samadhi is now glitters with gold leaf covering in contrast to the bare one in 1989 when I first visited this place. I had visited both the temple cities and Tirupati to pay homage to the great composer before my debut of “Sumathi Tyagaraja”, an Ekaharya presentation based on his kritis.

                                                            Detail from the Gopuram

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