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Thanjavur : A Cultural History

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: Pradeep Chakravarthy was born in Tirunelveli in 1975. He completed his education in Madras, New Delhi and London and works in leadership training in a premier information technology company. He has published more than a hundred articles in leading dailies. A series of articles on the Sarasvati Mahal Library was the beginning of his tryst with Thanjavur. His other books in press include one on temple vahanas and another on the lesser known temples in Tamil Nadu. Pradeep's other interests include aquariums, Carnatic music and gardening. Pradeep and his wife Anusha live in Madras with their son Raghavan. ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER Vikram Sathyanathan was born in Coimbatore in 1976. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Richmond College, UK. Vikram is an entrepreneur who manages a family business and runs a company with interests in the chemical industry. Besides photography Vikram is involved in several related pursuits. Nature and wildlife conservation are two of his important hobbies. Vikram and his wife Sandhyaa live in Coimbatore with their son Prahalad.

: 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 during the Chola Empire when the Chola ruler Raja Raja I built the Rajarajeswaram temple, now known as the Brihadeeswara temple, which celebrates its 1000th year of consecration in 2010. They weave together known and unknown histories of the various rulers—the Cholas, the Nayaks, the Marathas and the British— and of the Big Temple into a rich tapestry of cultural heritage that is Thanjavur. They reveal to the readers the treasure house of the Sarasvati Mahal Library and lead them into the narrow lanes, or sandhus, where the painters who created the now famous Thanjavur style lived beside bangle-sellers, textile merchants, perfumers and the devadasis. They invite the reader on a long trip on the fertile river bank of Kaveri where Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam as we know them today were created and flourished alongside drama forms like the bhagavatha mela and yakshagana. The temples, the palace, the bronzes, the paintings, the frescoes, the cuisine, the weapons of war and ivory dolls, the kalamkaris, and literary genres like the abhyudayamus, the prabandhams and the kuravanjis—they are all brushstrokes that make up a colourful painting, which tells the story of the city of Thanjavur.

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