We were incredibly blessed in Tanjore because our host was a South Indian tour guide and extremely passionate and knowledgeable. She took us to the Tanjore Palace. The main courtyard of the palace is now turned into an art museum featuring lots of statues collected from all over this part of India. There was also Saravasti’s Library with palm leaf books and ancient manuscripts, but no cameras allowed inside.
Inside the museum…
We were able to climb to the top of the Goodagopurum via a narrow staircase and enjoy the view of the city!
The man represented below was important and I forget why! But he got a statue for it. Anyone?
We also went to see the Brihadeeswarar Temple. It was not long after Mumbai had suffered a bombing that got international attention. They wouldn’t let us bring our video camera in fear for the monument. Looking up at the glorious structure, I could see why they would want to protect it- not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s over a thousand years old. Tamil is one of the oldest cultures in continuity. Our host could read the inscriptions on the side of the temple!
In the main ritual room in the center of the temple stood Shiva’s symbol, a giant black linga, similar to the one we’d seen in Rishikesh. The goddess statues, although originally sculpted topless, all had a colorful piece of cloth wrapped over their breasts to protect their “modesty.” Around the temple a few men determinedly washed a smaller version of Shiva’s lingam and bull with a yellow white milk bath. Our hosts also gave us a crash course on all the various gods and their wives. I’m glad there won’t ever be a quiz, because I’m not sure I could ever keep all those details straight!