Thanjavur, formerly Tanjore, is a municipality and the headquarters of the Thanjavur District in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Scholars believe the name Thanjavur to have been derived from "Tanjan", a legendary asura in Hindu mythology. While the early history of Thanjavur remains unclear, the city first rose to prominence during the reign of the Medieval Cholas when it served as the capital of the Chola empire. After the fall of the Cholas, the city was ruled by various dynasties like Pandyas, Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks, Thanjavur Marathas and the British. It has been a part of independent India since 1947.
Thanjavur is an important center of South Indian art and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost among the Great Living Chola temples, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region. The city is an important agricultural center located at the heart of the region, known as the "Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu". South Zone Culture Centre in Thanjavur is one of many regional cultural centres established by Indian Government to preserve and promote traditional cultural heritage of India. It had a population of a 2,90,732 in 2011.
Thanjavur is well-connected by roads and railways with other parts of India and with cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli International Airport located at a distance of 56 kilometres. The nearest seaport is Nagapattinam which is 84 kilometres (52 mi) from Thanjavur