Throughout history, powerful capitals have all boasted of having great libraries – almost symbolic of the great wisdom and power these cities stored. Go to Thanjavur and you will come across one of the oldest libraries that is still in use in Asia. The Sarasvati Mahal Library, which houses one of the finest collection of old manuscripts. This library is also considered the greatest legacy of Maharaja Serfoji II (1777-1832 CE) of Thanjavur or Tanjore. That is saying a lot, given that it was Serfoji under whose patronage the Tanjore painting and Bharatnatyam as a dance form flourished.
The city of Thanjavur which lies 279 kms away from Chennai, was once the capital of the Medieval Cholas and it is still famous for the grand temple of Raja Raja Chola, it houses. But a lot of the later fame for Thanjavur came thanks to the Maratha kings who ruled over this sliver of land between 1675 and 1855 CE.