On 187th death anniversary of my ancestor- King Serfoji II, i present a very interesting article on my blog, on his pilgrimage to temples in Tamilnadu.
In 1801, King Serfoji II went on a two-month pilgrimage, covering more than one hundred temples situated along the Cauvery river. The king performed the ritual consecration of 108 shiva lingas in a colonnade of the 11th century Brihadeshwara temple after the pilgrimage.
As a tribute to this pilgrimage, a court poet called Siva wrote a poem in Marathi titled “Sri Maharaj Sarabhendratirthavali” (sequence of king Sarabhendra’s sacred places).
In Sharabhendratirthavali, poet Siva traces King Serfoji’s journeys to the sacred places of Cholanadu (Tamilnadu) , travelling from Thanjavur along the banks of and criss-crossing Cauvery and other rivers up and down the coast. He weaves into this account narratives of the features of each pilgrimage and shrines, its local legends and glories, and detailed descriptions of the king’s activities there.
In addition to worship of deities, King Serfoji’s rites at each pilgrimage included bathing and other water-rituals, including ancestral offerings.
All the kings of Thanjavur, including the Marathas, who arrived in 1674, and the Telugu Nayaks before them, styled themselves as ‘monarch of the Chola realm’ and the association of the Chola region with the sacred river Cauvery is an old and persistent one. But no ruler of Thanjavur before King Serfoji had undertaken a pilgrimage covering the Cholanadu heartland in its entirety.
The set of 108 siva lingas installed by King Serfoji II from 1801 to 1803 situated in the colonnade of the temple were brought by him from different temples in cities surrounding Thanjavur. King Serfoji II’s decision to include such a vast number of lingas in conjunction with the main stone linga in the garbha grha shows the obsession with the Brihadisvara site as the premier religious center of Thanjavur.
Reference: Article on King Serfoji II’s biography by Indira Peterson.
Read about King Serfoji II ‘s travelogue to Kasi and Calcutta in my book Contributions of Thanjavur Maratha Kings-2nd Edition
Paying homage to my great great grandfather- King Serfoji II at Raja Dinkar Kelkar museum, Pune.The king who preserved Tamil culture, heritage and also was the patron of Tamil literature, scholars and art forms. The King who developed and built Sarasvati Mahal library with rare collections of antiques and manuscripts. His instructions and orders of documenting the past before his era, to his employed scholars,writers and Pandits had made his future and upcoming generations to use those as a reference and sources. The only king to whom i bow and keep my forehead on his feet after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.