The city is among the very old cities in the country. Earlier it was known as Tanjore, was founded by Swaran Maran, one of the Mutharayar Kings. It is an important center of South Indian religion, 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 these, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is situated in the center of the city, Thanjavur is also home to Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region.
Town has undergone drastic changes but the past is still very much present. Every day thousands of people worship at the Cholas grand Brihadishwara Temple and Thanjavur's labyrinthine royal palace preserves memories of other powerful dynasties from later centuries.