Kumbakonam is a town in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. It is famous for its ancient and magnificent temples.
This place is also known as the temple town of South India, as it has more than 180 temples dedicated to various Hindu deities. This makes this town one of the top pilgrimage centers in India.
These temples showcase the rich cultural heritage and architectural brilliance of the Chola dynasty that ruled over this region from the 9th to 13th centuries.
In this article, you will get to know about the following temples to visit in Kumbakonam,
- Airavatesvara Temple
- Adi Kumbeshwara Temple
- Patteeswaram Temple
- Sarangapani Temple
- Kanjanur Sukram Temple
- Ramaswamy Temple
Let’s see each of these templates in detail.
1. Airavatesvara Temple
The Airavatesvara Temple is a Hindu temple situated in Darasuram (near Kumbakonam) built in the 12th century CE by Rajaraja Chola II. It showcases the Chola Period’s splendid art and architecture and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is called Airavateshvara because he was worshipped here by Airavata, the white elephant of lord Indra (his vehicle).
Legend has it that Airavata was cursed with a transformation of color by Sage Durvasa and regained its original color after bathing in the temple’s sacred waters. Another legend says that Yamraj, the god of death, was also cured of a curse of burning sensation after he took his bath in this tank named “Yama Teertham.”
This temple features intricate stone carvings and epigraphs. It was built with Nitya Vinoda in mind. The vimana (tower) rises to 24 meters (80 feet) high. The south side of the front mandapam resembles a massive chariot with large stone wheels, drawn by horses.
2. Adi Kumbeshwara Temple
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple in Kumbakonam is a sacred Hindu site dedicated to Lord Shiva. Here, he is worshipped as Adi Kumbeswarar. Most surprisingly the name “Kumbakonam” comes from the slightly bent shape of the lingam, which resembles a pot (“Kumba”) with a bend (“Konam”).
His consort Parvati is worshipped here as Mangalambigai Amman. The temple is one of the revered shrines in the Tevaram, a Tamil Saiva canonical work written by Tamil saint poets.
The temple complex covers 30,181 square feet (2,803.9 square meters) and has four gopurams or gateway towers. The eastern gopuram is the tallest with 11 stories and 128 feet (39 m) high. The temple has numerous shrines, but the most notable are those of Kumbeswarar and Mangalambigai Amman.
Grand celebrations take place during the Mahamagam Festival and pilgrims bathe in the sacred Pottramarai Tank.
3. Patteeswaram Temple
Patteeswaram is a small village situated near Kumbakonam. It was named after “Patti,” the divine cow Kamadhenu’s calf.
The village is famous for its Durga Temple known as Patteeswaram Temple, which was built with contributions from various kingdoms such as the Cholas, Pandyas, and Nayakars. The Cholas used to pray to Goddess Durga in this temple before going to war.
The main deities in this shrine are Dhenupureeswarar Swamy and his consort Gyanambika. The temple also has a unique thing: the Nandi statue is not in a straight line with the Shiv Lingam as in other Shiva Temples but is slightly off-center.
This temple has five massive Gopurams and is well-maintained. It is said that Godees Durga in this temple is Shanti Swarup (Calm and peaceful). She can be seen seated on her Vahan (Lion) and resting her feet on Asur. It is believed that she fulfills all the wishes of her devotees.
4. Sarangapani Temple
Sarangapani Temple in Kumbakonam is a sacred Vishnu Temple and one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples revered by the Alwars (the 12 poet saints). It is also one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams along the banks of the River Kaveri.
The temple is thought to be of significant antiquity, with wonderful architecture contributed by the Medieval Cholas, the Vijayanagar Empire, and the Madurai Nayaks at various times.
The temple is surrounded by a massive wall and the complex houses various waterbodies. The Raja Gopuram (main gateway) has eleven tiers. Etched Figures depicting various religious stories can be seen on it. The temple also has five smaller gopurams. The Potramarai tank is located outside the west entrance and faces east.
Inside, there are numerous halls, the most notable of which is a sixteen-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period. It contains all 27 stars and 12 zodiacs curved in a single stone. The main shrine looks like a chariot drawn by horses and elephants. In the western part of the temple, there is a sculptural representation of the Sage Hemarishi.
5. Kanjanur Sukram Temple
The Kanjanur Sukram Temple is a temple dedicated to one of the Nabagrahas, Venus (or Shukra). It is also called Agneeswar Temple. The main deity here is Lord Shiva in the form of Agneeswar, and the celestial deity Shukra is said to reside in his stomach.
This temple also has stone images dedicated to Nataraja and Shivakami. There is also a large shrine for Goddess Parvati, as well as several other deities such as Maanakkanjaarar, Nayanmaar, and Kalikkaamar.
Kanjanur Sukram Temple depicts a fine architectural masterpiece with two precincts and a five-story gopuram. It was constructed during the period of Medieval Cholas and was completed during the Vijayanagar Period.
Many devotees visit the temple all year round to offer their prayers and seek blessings.
6. Ramaswamy Temple
Ramaswamy temple is a 16th-century CE temple dedicated to Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It was built by Rasgunatha Naicker.
The temple has beautiful stone carvings and 219 wall paintings that depict and explain a series of events from the great epic Ramayana. This is the only temple where you can see Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana with Bharatha, Shatrughna, and Lord Hanuman. The temple is also known as the “Ayodhya of the South,” due to its architectural brilliance and revered deities.
Rama Navami is a grand festival celebrated here. This temple is also one of the five Vishnu temples associated with the Mahamaham festival.
According to locals, people who want to find their soulmate pray and ask for blessings from Lord Rama and Maa Sita who are seated in the sanctum sanctorum in the wedding posture.
These are some famous temples you can visit in Kumbakonam. The beauty and greatness of Tamil Nadu can be seen in the marvelous architecture of the temples here.
Many of the religious sites are dedicated to the preserver Lord Vishnu and destroyer Lord Shiva. To those who are deeply rooted in mythology and spirituality, the journey to this place will be prominent in your memory lane forever.
Visiting these temples is a spiritual and aesthetic experience that one should not miss while traveling to Kumbakonam.
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