There are a large number of decaying corridors, spacious halls, towers and courtyards in this royal palace of Thanjavur which are a part of the huge construction that was done by the Nayaks of Madurai and Marathas around the time 1550. The original structure was beautiful and showcased the brilliance in architecture. Today only the remains are there and that too are decaying. The palace remains open on all days during the day time 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM and you will have to get the entry tickets to make an admission. It will take 2 to 3 hours to visit this palace.
There are two huge halls where the king held the audiences. One of these halls in restored and is in a decent condition. You will find a 6km long secret passage running under the palace. Sadar Mahal Palace is the Raja Serfoji Memorial Hall and contains a small collection of the thrones, weapons and photographs from various part of the history. There is also a Royal Palace Museum that doesn’t charge much and you can find some interesting things there. The museum contains the memorabilia of various rulers and displays the embroidered shoes, hats from the early 19th century when Serfoji II ruled here. His sixth descendant still lives here.
There is also an art gallery for which separate tickets are available at the counter. The gallery is located between the Royal Palace Museum and the bell tower and portrays a wonderful collection of detailed Chola bronze statues which date back to as early as 9th century up to the 18th century. The bell tower is not very far from here and you will have a great time while climbing on it. The views from the top of the tower and magnificent and you will enjoy yourself being there. The spiral stone staircase is dark, narrow and slippery and you will have to take proper care of yourself while climbing up. If you are interested in religious books, the Saraswati Mahal Library which lies between the gallery and the palace museum will provide you the spiritual knowledge. It was established around 1700 and it contains a large collection of palm leaf and paper manuscripts which are written in various Indian and European languages. There are more than 30,000 manuscripts in the library. The library doesn’t allow you to see those books but you can enter the museum nearby where the entry is free. The museum remains open only on three days – Tue to Thu. Here you will find interesting scripts written on palm leaf which include a diverse range of collections from the mythology books like Ramayana to the various Chinese works.