I love travelling, what i love even more is when the journey or destination brings an exciting story or an experience. When i chose my destination this time, i knew i would be taking home a lot of interesting memories. I picked Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore when i was in Pondicherry and it was just a 4 hour drive. We had a very amusing start, our driver was a Rajnikant fan and he entertained us through out the way, while i enjoyed the blabbering my friend found him overwhelming as she just wanted to doze off. The landscape on our way was full of palm trees and paddy fields, i din’t snooze even for a bit, i never can, in flights, in cars, i love watching the landscapes change.
Maratha history, Tamil food, Indian Art and Architecture – Thanjavur is an exquisite southern city formerly known as Tanjore. It is world famous for hand crafted brass idols and Tanjore style of painting, a traditional style that is characterized by the use of gold foil and religious imagery. It’s best known today for being home to the great living Chola temples, a UNESCO world heritage. I was invited to experience the hospitality of Svatma Luxury Resort Hotel, a restored family mansion, that gave me an experience of a magical journey that included the luxury of leisure while dabbling with arts in a traditional home environment.
Much like Thanjavur’s temple architecture, which blends styles from multiple eras, the seven-room heritage wing at Svatma is over 100 years old and the erstwhile family home of the Carnatic musician Rama Kausalya, melds seamlessly into the new building built around it. Across the property, murals of dancers, architectural drawings of Chola-era structures, religious verses and black-and-white photographs adorn the walls.
Room: Svatma, recreates the ambiance of a classic Tamil residence in a century-old home flanked by old trees. Keeping you company is period furniture, local art and craft and traditional board games like pallankuzhi. I was staying at the ‘Swappanam Suite’ the best in property with unique design and abundance of intricately carved wooden furniture and pretty balcony. it has a living area, airy bedroom and washroom with closets.
Food – The hotel has three restaurants serving south Indian and continental vegetarian food. Aaharam, the indoor restaurant – meaning food or nutrition in Tamil, overlooks the pool, and the outdoor restaurant Amar Chitra Katha-themed Palaharam -meaning snacks offers an excellent local and European vegetarian fare. There’s a set menu for the day, but you can expect dishes such as fried banana flower cutlets, ammani kozhakattai (spiced rice flour balls), puliyotharai (tamarind rice), a variety of rasams, and desserts such as feni (crispy vermicelli) with almond milk and boondi. The terrace bar, Nila, is great for drinks under the stars.
Experience- Svatma offer a fully equipped gym, spa and pool that looks like a temple tank and you can spend your day around it. Apart from leisure and doing all things touristy planned by Svatma for us, the experience i will cherish forever was the live Veena performance, it was the very first time i experienced it and it blew my mind, i din’t move an inch throughout the performance by the three incredible artist in front of me, it was an experience that i will cherish forever.
Another incredible and yet another first was the sound therapy. I loved every bit of it, a unique sound therapy that was like nothing i have ever experienced, it was calming, and rush of something so new and so amazing left me in a state of zen for hours. Post spa i spent my time by the pool reading one full comic, another first (yes, i never read a comic before)
Another experience we took was of Bronze Sculpting, Thanjavur is the cradle of this ancient art form and the skill has simply transcended generations of sculptors. We watched cire purdue (was casting) live in action from casting to the sculpture taking its final form and it was just brilliant. Watching things being made from the scratch, especially when its handcrafted, makes you value the artisans and the products a lot more (well at least to me).
Check it out- Tanjore is most famous for its UNESCO-listed Brihadeeswarar Temple, an 11th century Shiva temple built in tawny granite. The edifice was built by King Rajaraja I to celebrate a military victory. Any way you look, it’s a lesson in architectural excellence: from the musical pillars, Chola-style murals and lime plaster frescoes to stucco sculptures of Lord Shiva’s various incarnations and ancient Tamil inscriptions. The central tower has 16 tiers rising to a height of 216 ft, making it one of the tallest of its kind in the world. Several shrines dot the sprawling lawns of the complex, including one of India’s largest statues of Nandi (Shiva’s sacred bull) carved out of a single rock.
Try – Tamil-Maratha fusion cuisine, Thanjavur is synonymous for the famous pulisadam (tamarind paste mixed with rice) and other types of dry rice mixes like ellu sadam, sambar sadam and thengai sadam, all of which are also served at temples as prasadams. Some locals claim that the south Indian sambar was first cooked in the Maratha royal kitchens of Thanjavur. When Sambhaji, the Marathi king and son of Shivaji, wanted something tangy for dinner, the ingenious cook substituted the tarty kokum with tamarind in a dal, threw in some sautéed veggies and the sambar was born! The Maratha influence on the region’s cuisine can be seen in dishes such as shakar biranji—sweetened pulao with almonds and coconut to ambat bhendya—okra tossed with Indian spices.
This blog is so informative, yet i feel there could have been so much more written, but i guess some things are left for experiences. I hope we get through these covid times soon and when we do, we will all travel safe, travel local and see experience the incredible India.
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