Tanjore is one of the ancient cities in India and the beating heart of Tamil culture along with Madurai further south. Tanjore rose to prominence during the rule of the Cholas when it served as the capital of the sea faring Chola empire. The Chola patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in building temples have resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments are located in and around Thanjavur. The foremost among the Great Living Chola temples, the Brihadeeswara Temple, is located in the center of the city. Thanjavur is also the home of the Tanjore painting, a painting style unique to the region.