A BRIEF HISTORY of TANJAVUR
and its MARATHA RULERS
was named after Thanjan, a rakshasa, who once lived and terrified the people
there. It took the combined strength of Lord Vishnu, Nilaperumal and Anandvalli
Amman to vanquish him. A boon was granted to the dying demon and Thanjavur or
the "city of refuge" (Thanjan means refuge) came into being. The British
referred to it as Tanjore.
With the death of Rajendra Chola, the Chola rule
came to an end and the state of Tanjavur saw an unsettling period of wars, annexations
from greedy neighbouring kings.
(History is replete with examples of an alien
force taking advantage of two warring factions. And Tanjavur was no exception
to this. The strengthening Sultanates of Bijapur, Golconda and Bahamani were eyeing
the throne of Tanjavur. )
The commander of the Bijapur Sultanate, Shahajirao
Bhosale, took parts of Mysore, Vellore and Gingee for his ruler. Shahajirao
Bhosale was the father of the great Chatrpati Shivaji Maharaj, the
founder of the Maratha kingdom on the west coast of India and the first
proponent of Hindavi Swaraj. His mother was the legendary Jijabai,
who instilled in him the courage to fight alien forces and establish Swaraj.
Venkoji (or Ekoji), the second son of Shahaji from his second wife Tukabai,
was the founder of the Maratha rule in Tanjavur. Ekoji was a great warrior and
at the same time attempted to win over the people of Tanjavur.
a patron, Ekoji was a scholar of repute.
The interim period of Tanjavur history
is a long line of the descendents of Venkoji, and a roller coaster ride from golden
to dark ages for the people of the state.
Perhaps the most famous and lasting
rule was that of Serfoji ll, who ascended the throne in A.D. 1798. By this time,
the British had veritably ruled most of India and Tanjavur had to be handed over
to the British throne. Serfoji was deprived of all power. The revenue and judicial
systems were taken over by the Company, leaving Serfoji a mere titular head.
Tulajaji adopted little Serfoji, born in the royal Bhosale family, with all the
relevant legal procedures before his death. Rev. Christian Fredrich Schwartz,
a Dutch missionary was appointed as the boy's teacher and guide. Serfoji was trained
and tutored in St. George School, Madras under the direct supervision of Rev.
Schwartz and in course of time became a scholar in his own right.
devoted his life to the pursuit of culture, and Tanjavur became renowned as a
center for learning. His Saraswati Mahal Library was endowed with manuscripts
collected from all over India, and books from all over the world. This library
boasted of treatises on Vedanta, grammar, music, training of elephants and horses
(His scientific bent of mind is demonstrated by his collection of various
instruments like the air pump, electric machine, an ivory human skeleton etc.
apart from his avid collection of books and manuscripts. )
Serfoji was more
than a bibliophile. He established the Dhanvantari Mahal where physicians of Allopathy,
Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha researched their systems of medicine. (He had the important
herbs studied and catalogued in the form of exquisite hand paintings.) Serfoji
patronized music, dance and the fine arts.
All in all, the Maratha rule in
Tanjavur encouraged a golden period before its eventual culmination at the hands
of the British. The two hundred years of Maratha rule left behind a rich legacy
of art, music and architecture, the aroma of which still lingers within the city's
II: The last maratha king of Tanjavur
Item No. : P71
Item No. : P72
Serfoji in Procession
Length : 2ft
Breadth : 2ft
Item No. : P44
Peshwa on Horse
Breadth : 18"
Item No. : P69
Sujana Devi in procession
Height : 26 "
Breadth : 24"
Item No. : P63
Length : 2ft
Breadth : 2 ft
Item No. :
Length : 22"
Breadth : 18"
No. : P54
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