1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tanjore

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TANJORE, a city and district of British India in the Madras presidency. The city is situated on the right bank of the river Cauvery, and is an important junction on the South Indian railway, 218 m. S. of Madras. Pop. (1901) 57,870. As the last capital of the ancient Hindu dynasty of the Cholas, and in all ages one of the chief political, literary and religious centres of the south, the city is full of interesting associations. It was the scene of the earliest labours of Protestant missionaries in India. The modern history of Tanjore begins with its conquest by the Mahrattas in 1674 under Venkaji, the brother of Sivaji the Great. The British first came into contact with Tanjore by their expedition in 1749 with a view to the restoration of a deposed raja. In this they failed, and a subsequent expedition was bought off. The Mahrattas practically held Tanjore until 1799. In October of that year the district was ceded to the East India Company in absolute sovereignty by Raja Sharabhoji, pupil of the missionary Schwarz. The raja retained only the capital and a small tract of country round. He died in 1833 and was succeeded by his son Sivaji, on whose death in 1855 without an heir the house became extinct. The mission at Tanjore was founded in 1778 by the Rev. Christian F. Schwarz or Schwartz (1726-1798). The mission establishments were taken over in 1826 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which subsequently founded new stations in several parts of the district. Roman Catholic missions date from the first half of the 17th century. St Peter's College, founded by Schwarz as a school, is now a first-grade college affiliated to the university of Madras. His church dates from 1779. Among interesting ancient buildings may be mentioned the palace within the fort, containing an armoury and fine library; and the Brihadiswaraswami temple, of the nth century, enclosed in two courts, surmounted by a lofty tower and including the exquisitely decorated shrine of Subrahmanya. Though the city has specialities of jewelry, carpets, modelling in pith, &c, there are no large industries.

The District of Tanjore has an area of 3710 sq. m. On account of its fertility it has been called the " Gaiden of Southern India." It is irrigated by an elaborate system of dams, cuts and canals in connexion with the rivers Cauvery and Coleroon, and the soil is exceedingly productive. The delta of the Cauvery occupies the flat northern part, which is highly cultivated, dotted over with groves of coco-nut trees, and is one of the most densely populated tracts in India. The staple crop is rice, which is grown on 77 per cent, of the cultivated area. Tanjore is a land of temples, many of them being of very early date. The district is traversed by the main line and several branches of the South Indian railway, some of which have been constructed by the district board. The chief seaport is Negapatam, and the principal export is rice to Ceylon. The population in 1901 was 2,245,029.

See Tanjore District Gazetteer (Madras, 1906).