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| Last Updated:: 04/01/2017

Kumbakonam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kumbakonam, one of the special grade Municipal Towns of Tamil Nadu, is the second biggest town in Thanjavur District. 

 

 

Kumbakonam is known for its temples and mathas (monasteries). There are around 188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits of Kumbakonam. Apart from these, there several thousand temples around the town thereby giving the town the sobriquets "Temple Town" and "City of temples".

 

 

Of the many temples in Kumbakonam, the oldest Shaiva temple is the Adikumbeshwara and Sri Sarangapani is the oldest Vaishnava temple.

 

 

 

Sri Adikumbeshwara Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the largest and the oldest Shiva temple located in the centre of the town. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Kumbeshwara and the presiding Goddess is Sri Mangalambigai. There is a shrine dedicated to Adi Vinayaka (Lord Ganesh).

 

 

 

Its main Gopuram is 128 feet high and has many intricately carved sculptures on it. On a single block of stone in the Navaratri Mandapam all the 27 stars and 12 'Rashis' (signs) have been carved out.  The image of Lord Subramanya, enshrined in this part of the temple, is a rare specimen. It has six heads but only six hands holding different kinds of weapons.

 

 

 

Legend

 

 

 

Tradition goes to say that during the "Mahapralaya" (Great Floods) after "Dwaparayuga", a 'Kumbam' (Pot) full of Amritham (also spelt as Amrit) and seeds for creation was set afloat by Lord Shiva. It was proclaimed by Shiva Himself that the place where the pot touched the ground and had its rest would be considered as the holiest places in the world.  Since the said Kumbam, as announced by the creator of the world, had its rest in this place, this ancient place is named as "Kumbakonam" after that Kumbam. Immediately after its rest Lord Shiva appeared in the guise of a hunter and broke the said Kumbam full of Amritham (nectar) with his arrow.

 

 

 

The nectar settled at two places one of which became the famous Mahamaham Tank. Out of the pieces of the broken pot Lord Shiva made out a ShivaLinga and entered into it. This is now enshrined in the temple, and hence the name Adi Kumbeswara, meaning - one who entered the Kumba or vessel.

 

 

 

It is to be noted that this MahaLinga unlike other Lingas found in other temples, is not made of granite stone and as such Abishekams (also spelt as Abhisheka) cannot be performed with watery substances lest it should dissolve the shape of the Linga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The idol of Kirathamoorti is a special feature in the temple and it is a standing monument to commemorate the incidence that, Lord Shiva Himself has created the present MahaLinga.

 

 

 

The Shaivaite Saints, Appar and Sambandhar who flourished prior to the 7th century AD have sung devotional songs ("Thevarams") in praise of the presiding deities of the temple.

 

 

 

 

Festivals

 

 

 

The Great Mahamaham festival celebrated in honour of Lord attracts lakhs of people from far and wide and it takes place once in 12 years. It is celebrated on the conjunction of the moon with the Mahanakshatra and Jupiter crosses one Rashi or sign in about one year. It comes to Simha Rashi or Leo every 13th year and it is considered especially sacred. It is believed that on this auspicious day the tank receives supplies of water from the Ganges and eight other holy rivers and all the deities are said to remain present here on that occasion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord has a number of festivals round the year. Every year in the month of Maasi (February-March) a festival is conducted and the image of Lord Kumbeshwara is taken out in a procession. It is celebrated for 10 days during that period.

 

 

 

Others include, Theppam festival during Panguni (March - April), Sapthathanam during Chitirai month (April - May). During this festival Lord's idol will be carried in a palanquin to the nearby villages. Marriage festival for Lord Adikumbeshwara and Goddess Mangalambigai is conducted in the month of Vaikasi (May - June). Daily pujas are conducted six times from morning to evening.

 

 

 

 

Sri Sarangapani Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vaishnavaite temple of Sri Sarangapani is some two thousand years old in its traditional origins. The temple is classified as a divyadesam, the 108 Vishnu temples that are revered in the Vaishnava canon.  This temple is along Kaveri and is one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams (group of five sacred Hindu temples, dedicated to Ranganatha, a form of the god Vishnu). Seven alvars (poet saints) have sung praises of the Lord.  It was in this temple that Nathamuni recited the Vaishnavaite Tamil hymns.

 

 

 

As per Hindu legend, the Vaishnava deity, Sarangapani, an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, appeared for a sage Hema Rishi, who performed penance in the bank of Potramarai tank. 

 

 

 

Sri Nageshwara Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple dedicated to Lord Nataraja is one of the finest early Chola temples, noted for the quality of its sculpture. The Nataraja shrine here is shaped in the form of a chariot, and the shrine dedicated to the Sun God is of great sculptural significance.

 

 

 

Sri Chakrapani Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sri Chakrapani temple enshrines a legend according to which the Sun God engaged in a competition with the Chakra, or the discus, which Lord Vishnu carries, as to who shone brighter. The discus triumphed. The Lord allowed the Sun God to regain his brightness by retracting some of his discus's splendour. The Lord is called "Chakrapani". The Goddess is "Vijayavalli Thayar".

 

 

 

 

Sri Ramaswamy Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raghunatha, the Nayak of Thanjavur, who ruled from 1600 to 1635, built the Sri Ramaswamy temple. It is said that the Nayak obtained the images of Sri Rama and Sita when a tank was being dug. To enshrine them he built this splendid temple about 1625. The Lord in the sanctum is in his coronation ensemble, not in the customary standing Kodandarama one. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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