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Temple town of


The great Kumbha festival also known as Mahamagham happens once in 12 years here at Kumbakonam. 100 temples in and around the city. Nerve centre of all the commercial activities like Silk, Bronze sculpture, Brass utensils in Tanjore district.

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Temple town of


Temples in Kumbakonam: Kumbeshwara 25 Mahamaham Tank Kasi Vishwanatha


Sarangapani and Someshwara Nageshwara

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Ramaswamy Airewateshwara

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Travelling Helpline How to reach Going around Where to stay What to eat Important Numbers Tamil Phrase

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Kudanthai Makkal A photoessay of the pulse of Kumbakonam






Travelling Helpline

Airavateshwara Temple

Ramaswamy Temple

Nageshwara Temple

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Sarangapani Temple

Overview Mythology History Temples Bronze Silk

Mahamaham Tank

A photoessay.

Kumbeshwara Temple

Temple Town of Kumbakonam Glimpses of Kumbakonam



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Temple town of


Mahamaham Festival: This Festival occurs when the sun is in the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius(Kumbha), Jupiter transists Leo(Simha) and the Moon is in conjunction with the constellation Maham. Generally all the these astronomical combination takes place on a full moon day of the Tamil Month of Masi(Solar Kumbha Month) i.e. either in the latter half of February or in the first week of March. The festival comes off once in 12 years. The festival was celebrated in 2004 and next will happen in 2016.

2016 is the next when you should come to see this‌

Its all about Temples in Kumbakonam‌

Kumbakonam has more than 100 temples in and around the city. They range from 5th century to 15th century B.C. The most prominent temples are built by the Cholas and Nayakas.

Life like Bronze Sculptures to see‌

Swamimalai, a small village near Kumbakonam is famous for its Bronze Sculptures. It is still made by the traditional Lost Wax Method. The Sculptures are world famous. These are pieces of excellent craftsmanship and skill.

Spend on exclusive Silk Sarees from Thanjavur‌

Silk sarees from Kumbakonam is another important trade for them. They have a huge market for Silk Sarees everywhere. Main base of Silk Saree production is in the town near Kumbakonam called Thanjavur.

Entire Tamil Nadu uses Brass utensils made in Kumbakonam‌

All the South Indian, Brass pooja articles and utensils are manufactured in Kumbakonam. These articles are manufactured nowhere in South India other than Kumbakonam. KuthuVilakku and Statues are famous articles. Stainless Steel utensils are also manufactured.

Take the Dieties for a ride‌ Number of festivals are celebrated here in the same old traditional method. Processions are the most interesting part of the festivals, where the Gods and Goddesses are taken for ride in the town.

Witness 1000 yr old culture and traditions‌ The town even today is a true example of age old tradition and culture of South Indians. People here follow the customs and traditions which were followed hundreds of years ago.


Quick facts:


State: District: Coordinates: Main Highway: Altitude: Pin code: STD code:

Tamil Nadu Thanjavur 10° 58’ N, 79°23’E NH 45 C 24m 612001 0435

Names for Kumbakonam: Tamil Nadu

Coombaconum Thirukundanthai Kudanmooku Kudanthai Baskarashetram

Location: Kumbakonam is a town in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. Kumbakonam is located 273 km south of Chennai, 90 km east of Tiruchirappalli, and about 40 km north-east of Thanjavur. The town is bounded by two rivers, the Kaveri River on the north and Arasalar river on the south. There is a gentle slope from north of the town to south. Located in the southern region of India in Tamil Nadu, at 10.97 N, 79.38E. 273 km 96 km 40 km 313 km 385 km 18 km 25 km


South of Chennai East of Tiruchirappalli. North east of Thanjavur. East of Coimbatore South west of Bangalore Navagraha Sthalas Thirumanancheri

Bangalore Chennai


Kumbakonam Trichy Thanjavur


Temple Town of

Highlights: The great Kumbha festival known as Mahamagham happens once in 12 years here at Kumbakonam.



100 temples in and around the city. Nerve centre of all the commercial activities like Silk, Bronze sculpture, Brass utensils in Tanjore district.

Kumbakonam, known as the Kashi on Cauvery, is a picturesque temple town located in the Cauvery river basin. It occupies a unique position in Hindu Myth and legend, because of the invaluable inscription, iconography and religious architecture. The city of kumbakonam is a traditionally rich city, where the modern globalization has not yet affected the culture of the people. People here are still in touch to the traditions their ancestors followed many thousands of years ago. Located in the Southern region of Tamil Nadu, one can reach Kumbakonam easily from Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli or Chennai. 4


Kumbakonam is known for its temple architecture and epigraphy. The city originated as a religious cit y, with areas like Kumbeshwara Temple and Mahamaham Tank in the core of the city. Kumbakonam was also the capital of the historically important Chola dynasty who ruled the region during the medieval period. They built many important temples in and around the city. Kumbakonam is known for its temple architecture and epig raphy. The cit y orig inated as a relig ious cit y, w it h areas like Kumbeshwara and Mahamaham Tank in the core of the city.

Lord Shiva aiming at the pot of creation preserved by Brahma

Kumbeshwara Gopuram and Nageshwara Chariot, two examples of temple architecture in Kumbakonam

The town occupies a unique position in the Hindu Myth and legend, because of the invaluable inscription, iconography and religious architecture. This is the place where Lord Shiva broke the pot of creation preserved by Brahma. Thus it has a very important place in Hindu mythology. Also it is the centre for the Navgraha temples pilgrim.

The city celebrates the great Mahamaham festival, once in 12 years which is an equivalent to the Kumbha festival of north. It attracts large number of crowd and is a very important festival for people in South India. During the time of british rule, it became the prominent centre of European education and Hindu culture; and thus was commonly referred to as the Cambridge of South India.



It has been an established economic centre for trade and commerce and arts and crafts. Bronze tradition is one of the oldest living tradition here. Lost wax technique is still used to create master pieces which is a unique piece of beautiful art and heritage. Silk is another important trade of the people in Kumbakonam. They are very famous in whole of South India and are called Thanjavur silk sarees. Brassware, specially puja utensils, lamps etc. are all produced here, and Kumbakonam supplies it to the entire South Indian region.

Kumbakonam is also the birthplace of the great mathematician Srinivas Ramanuja. His house is now converted into a museum. Raja Veda Pathshala in Kumbakonam is 400 yrs old in which 1000s of scholar get Srinivas Ramanuja the great Mathematician. their knowledge based on Sanskrit. Today Kumbakonam is a special grade municipality of the Thanjavur district. The temples in the town are all living except for few. Many are under the heritage foundation and are being conserved, whereas many are maintained by the locals. These temples are the soul of the city and because there are so many the city is called the temple town. 6



(Making of the city) Kumbakonam is associated with the cosmogonic myth of Shiva as “ Adikumbeshwara” or “Lord of the Pot”. As per the myth, “ the creator (Brahma) seeks to preserve the most precious things from destruction, which completes a cosmic cycle. So, he places the Hindu scriptures and the seed of creation in a golden pot, which floats south on the cosmic flood, till it is shattered by Shiva’s arrow who is disguised as a hunter. There by, releasing the embryonic amrita (nectar), which flows and congests to form Kumbakonam’s tanks and temples, marking the start of a new creation.


The Sthala Puranam:

The Banapurishvara temple, for example, marks the spot where Shiva launched his arrow, while the place where the pot was ruptured is celebrated today as Adikumbeshwara Temple. The two holy tanks of Kumbakonam, Mahamaham tank and Pottamarai tank, are considered the most sacred and beautiful, as the tie up with the legend – “ they are the pools of nectar that fell from Shiva’s pot of creation.”

Brahma, anticipating the deluge prays to Lord Shiva to save the creation from destruction, and then as instructed by Lord Shiva worshipped the Kumba containing Amuda and seeds of creation.



History: Kumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and was ruled by the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas From 7th century to 13th century, Chola kings developed a characteristically Tamil aggregative urbanism and were the first to recognize the Cauvery river delta as an ideal place to settle, as it was rich in alluvial soil, which was best suited for agriculture. They set up their capital at Uraiyur in Tiruchirapalli. Kumbakonam was the second capital of Cholas, who ruled since 3rd century. Sangam Period: 300 B.C - 300 A.D The Sangam period is the earliest historical period in the history of Tamil Nadu, spanning about the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. It is named for the Tamil Sangams or “assemblies”. Approximately during this period Tamilakam was ruled by the three Tamil dynasties of Chola, Pandya and Chera, and a few independent chieftains, the Velir. In Old Tamil, the term Tamilakam referred to the whole of the “Ancient Tamil country,” as distinct from the many kingdoms that existed within its boundaries, corresponding roughly to the area known as South India today, including the territories of the present-day Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Laccadives, parts of Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Karnataka, as well as the Maldives. South India was known as Damirica, Dramira or Lymirikē to GrecoRoman geographers.



Kumbakonam was the religious centre organised around its several temples, while Palaiyari, a few kilometers to the south west, was the imperial centre, with its palaces, royal and sepulchral temples, as well as administrative and military establishments. It was developed as a religious centre organized around several temples. Most of the old Shiva temples, mandapa and padithore belong to this period. Pallava and Pandya Period: 300 A.D - 500 A.D

The Pallava dynasty was a Tamil dynasty of South India which ruled the northern Tamil Nadu region and the southern Andhra Pradesh region with their capital at Kanchipuram. Pallavas are most noted for their patronage of architecture, still seen today in Mahabalipuram. The Pallavas, who left behind magnificent sculptures and temples, established the foundations of medieval south Indian architecture. Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram, built by the Pallavas.



It can be easily discerned that Kumbakonam’s primary underpinnings as “city” refer back to its Chola foundations more than a thousand years ago. The fifteenth to seventeenth century Vijaynagara-Nayaka reappropriation, together with the eighteenth century Maratha intervention, was a spatial embodiment of subtle negotiation between historical and cosmic time, as well as the sacred, the royal, and the laity. Over and above this, the nature of Kumbakonam’s fluvial myths and their primacy as transferred down to present day elevate the city to pan-Hindu tirtha, pilgrimage site, ne which is as primordial as the Cauvery itself. Chola Period: 900 A.D - 1200 A.D

The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The heartland of the Cholas was the fertile valley of the Kaveri River, but they ruled a significantly larger area at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th century. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in building temples have resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture. The Chola kings were avid builders and envisioned the temples in their kingdoms not only as places of worship but also as centres of economic activity. 3 big temples made by Cholas Gangaikonda, Brihadeshwara and Airaveteshwara Thanjavur and World Heritage Sites.

Gangaikonda Cholapuram built by the Cholas.


Introduction Temples in Hampi built by Vijayanagara rulers

Vijaynagar and Nayak Period: 1400 A.D- 1800 A.D

The Vijayanagara Empire was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan Plateau. Established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I. The empire’s legacy includes many monuments spread over South India, the best known being the group at Hampi. The empire’s patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in the languages of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form.



The Pandyas of Madurai came into power in 13th century. Hoysalas ruled from 14th century onwards, who were overpowered by the Vijayanagara kings, who appointed Nayaka to rule the region. The Nayakas made addition to the existing Shiva temples and made new Vaishnava temples. Art, architecture, craft, literature, music and dance were patronized by Chola, Nayaka and Maratha rulers in the region. Through its complex evolution, Kumbakonam has earned itself the exalted reputation of a panch krosha, or five -fold ritual landscape. Pandya revival and Muslim rule: 1200 A.D -1400 a.d

The dynasty revived under Kadungon in the early 6th century, pushed the Kalabhras out of the Tamil country and ruled from Madurai. They again went into decline with the rise of the Cholas in the 9th century and were in constant conflict with them. The Pandyas allied themselves with the Sinhalese and the Cheras in harassing the Chola empire until they found an opportunity for reviving their fortunes during the late 13th century. Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, was build by Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya.


Kumbakonam was eventually ceded to the British East India Company in 1799 by the Thanjavur Maratha ruler Serfoji II and reached the zenith of its prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th century when it emerged as an important centre of Brahminism, Hindu religion and European education in the Madras Presidency. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 fostered trade contacts with the United Kingdom. In 1877, railway lines were completed linking Kumbakonam with the ports of Madras, Tuticorin and Nagapattinam. The Tanjore district court was established in Kumbakonam in 1806 and functioned from 1806 to 1863.


British Rule Independence and Democracy: 1800 A.D - Present

Town of Kumbakonam continued to grow even af ter India’s independence though it fell behind the nearby town of Thanjavur in terms of population and administrative importance. The population growth rate began to fall sharply after 1981. This decline has been attributed to limited land area and lack of industrial potential. The Kumbakonam municipality was officially constituted in the year 1866. Initially, the municipality exercised its jurisdiction over an area of 7.68 km and its affairs were administered by a town-level committee or municipal committee. Later it was constituted special-grade municipality and currently, exercises its authority over an area of 12.58 km out of the town's total area of 64.02 km. It comprises 45 wards and is the second biggest municipality in Thanjavur district.




Saivite Temple Kumbeswara Temple Nageswara Temple Someswara Temple Kalika Parameswari Temple

Vaishanavite Temple Sarangapani Temple Chakrapani Temple Ramaswamy Temple

Holy Tanks

Temples in Kumbakonam: The town is known for its architecture and epig raphy. Temple dot ted tow ns evolved due to the rise of Brahmadeyas which led to mobilization of resources. Kumbakonam is a temple – oriented city with many temples, mostly very ancient.


Temples in Kumbakonam:

Kumbakonam is a city where temples are sprinkled all over the cit y. The city originated as a religious city, with areas like Kumbeshwara Temple and Mahamakam tank in the core of the city.

Mahamaham Tank Potramarai Tank

Kumbakonam has temples dedicated to all three deities – Shiva (twelve shrines), Other minor Vishnu ( four shrines), Brahma (one Temples Adikampatta Vinayagar shrine). The Shiva temples belonging to the Chola period, are more ancient than the Uchchipilliar Koil Karumbayiran Vaishnavite temples, which belong to the Vinayagar Temple Nayaka period. The main Shaiva temples Banapuriswarar Varaha perumal Koil Kalathisvarar Koil Peria Madam Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt

Temples on the outskirts Darasuram Pattisvaram Pazhayarai Thiru Nagesvaram Oppiliappan Thirubuvanam Thiruvidaimarudur Swamimalai Thiruvalanchuli Thirupurambiam

are Kashivishvanatha on the northern bank of Mahamaham tank, the Somanathadeva temple in the middle of Kumbakonam, and the Somalingeshvara temple in the north east quarter of Kumbakonam. The core of Chola Vaishnava establishment was the Sarangapani temple which enshrined the reclining form of Vishnu as Narayana. Airavateshvara or Darasuram, located in the northern quater of Palaiyarai, about 5km southwest of Kumbakonam, is one of the finest examples of the Chola religious architecture in the region.



In 16th and 17th century, the Kumbakonam religious topography changed due to the shift in royal patronage from Shaiva to Vaishnava. So the Chola temples declined, the Adikumbeshvara gained preference over Nageshvara temple. The Ramaswamy and Chakrapani along with the old Sarangapani gained popularity. Standing near the northern terminus of the bazaar street, the Chakrapani temple is the sole religious monument at Kumbakonam to be elevated on a series of terraces. The temple is dedicated to Vishnu as a bearer of the chakra, hence the name. By far the most artistic monument of the era is the Sarangapani temple backing onto the Pottremarai tank. The grandiose monument is entered through a twelvestoreyed Vijay nagara-per iod gopura, the highest in Kumbakonam. As in the Adikumbeshvara, sculptural imagery and temple architecture invest the surrounding urban space with mythologcal significance; in this case, incorporating Kumbakonam in a much wider ritual network of Vaishnava pilgrimage centres, alongside Srirangam and Tirupati.

The city has one of the finest temples from the history and tells the story of our history in the most picturesque manner. Temples in the city are mostly living temples, with great cultural and traditional values. 17






The Bharata-Natyasastra mentions 108 different kinds of dance poses. Siva, the Mahayogi, is also Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers. Dancing is an act of creation. Siva as the cosmic dancer is the embodiment and manifestation of eternal energy is its five activities: Creation, Maintenance, Destruction, Concealment, and Favour.

Kumbakonam is also famous for its sculpt ures and bronzes. The g reat tradition of South Indian sculptures that had been flourished during Andhra and Pallava art reached its zenith through Chola bronze. Ten and twelfth centuries saw the tradition in its best form. Sculptures from this phase are distinguished by their vitality and plastic sensibility from the over ornateness and rigidity of the cult images.


Bronze Casting Culture:

Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva was favourite with the sculptors. One can see her alone or the Lord.

Lost Wax Method: The technique used to create south Indian bronze sculpture is called lost wa x process As described in Shilpasastras this process is called madhuchchhishtavidhana. A narration of it is described in a chapter of Manasara and also in Vishnusamhita. But a clearer picture can be seen in Manaollasa. A model of the image is first made in wax and then coated with layers of clay to create a mould, which is heated to allow the melting wax to flow out through a hole at the base. A molten alloy of five metals (Pancha Loha) is poured into the hollow. When it cools the mould is broken and image is finished and polished. Finally the image’s eyes are sealed with a mixture of Honey and Ghee, and then ritually “opened” by a priest, using a golden needle. Hence each bronze icon is unique and the mould cannot be used to create copies.





Amongst the notable examples of Chola bronze are Shiva as Nataraja,Ardhanariswara, Kalyansundara murti,figures of Kodanda Rama, of Parvati or Gowri,of the dancing Krishna and Ganesha and the portrail series of the mystics and saints of South India. The system of measurement used is the Talamana system which is based on the dimensions of the face from forehead to chin. The metal sculptures are called chalabera or the moving images in contrast to the sthirabera or the fixed deities. They are meant to be carried out in procession around the ambulatory of the temple as well as they are taken into the village, into every street by turn, stopped at every door to bless every individual devotee. Even today, traditional artisans, known as Sthapathis, create these images according to a fixed set of rules and guidelines laid down in the Shilpa Shastra, an ancient treatise on art. The main centre for bronze casting in Tamil Nadu is Swamimalai. In south India five metals were used, panchaloha as the admixture was called, composed of brass, copper, silver, gold and tin. For contemporary bronzes; copper, brass and lead are the three main ingredients. Copper contains small amounts of gold and silver so technically today’s bronzes are four metal bronzes. Copper is a necessary element in bronze because copper offers more malleability than other metals. According to early Chola inscriptions there are two types of images: solid and hollow cast.




Tribhuvanam, situated in the Tanjavur district was founded by the last Cholas, King Kulothunga III. It has been a silk weaving town for several centuries and many of the weavers originally hailed from Saurashtra in Gujarat. What sets Tribhuvanam sarees apart is the fact that they are made from “ lature silk. Their quality and sheen are legendary. Decorated with extensive Zari work, the sarees come with single sided borders. Zari is gold coated pure silver thread and Zari buttas which decorate the body. Skilled weavers meld the border and body of the saree into seamless flow. Kumbakonam. The Tribhuvanam silk saree are made by the highly skilled weavers having floral, geometric and animal motifs on them. The designs on the complete body of the saree are woven with gold thread and the saree have dissimilar motifs on its arraying from “ gures to temples along the border. Not only in Tamil Nadu and India, the rich silk fabric, the detailed weaving and the contrasting border made the sarees renowned across the earth.


Silk Sarees in Kumbakonam:


Temples in Kumbakonam

Chakrapani Temple

Kumbeshwara Temple Airawateshwara Temple

Ramaswamy Temple


Banapureeswarar Temple

Sarangapani Temple

Nageshwara Temple

Mahamaham Tank

Railway Station

It is the most prominent feature of the temple which is 9 storied and 128’ high. It has number of mythology stories sculpted on it. Every layer has number of stories, related to Creation of the town, stories of Shiva, and Vishnu Avtaar

Adi Kumbeshwara Temple

Kumbeshwara Temple

Quick facts: Location: In the Centre of the town, in Big Bazaar. Deity: Shri Adhi Kumbeswara and the lord’s Consort Manthrapeeteswari Mangalambika Holy Water: Mangala Theertham Holy Tree: Vanni Maram Kumbeshwara Temple

What Clan: Biggest Saivite temple in town. Who Build: Built by the Cholas. It is assumed that present temple is a renovated one during 16th century by the Chieftain of Achutha Nayakar of Thanjavur Govinda Theeksithan


Highlights: This temple is the namesake of the town. Distinct with its Gopuram (45 m high) Spread in an area of 4 acres, the real spread cannot be felt because of the covered market all around.

Kumbeshwara Temple


In the temple town of Kumbakonam the most important temple to visit is the Adi Kumbeshwara. It is the biggest Saivite temple in the town. This temple was built in the Chola period of the Tamil history. It is assumed that present temple is a renovated one during 16th century by the Chieftain of Achutha Nayakar of Thanjavur Govinda Theeksithan. This is a huge temple complex. T he temple is sit uated in the centre of the city, in Big Bazaar. The most prominent feature of the temple is its large Gopuram which is 128’ high. The main diety in the temple is Lord AdiKumbeshwara, and Goddess Mangalambika. The temple covers an area of 30181 sq. ft. with a lenght and breadth of 750 ft. and 252 ft. respectively. Number of festivals are celebrated in this temple all the year around and some annual festivals are grand processions. A very interesting section of the temple is the market in the temple, which is a must visit for all.


Kumbeshwara Temple

History: The place where the pot was ruptured is celebrated today as Adikumbeshwara Temple. When Shiva sent an arrow at the pot, the pot’s mouth fell in a place and this came to be called as ‘Kudavayil’. The part of the remaining pot, other than its mouth is called ‘Konam’. It stayed at one place, Siva made a lingam with the nectar from the pot and the earth. The place where a Lingam was made from the contents came to be called Kumbesar. The place where the Konam remained, Shiva made a lingam with the nectar of the pot. This place came to be called Kumbesar.

rakara rakara andapa M aha M

Swami Mandapa

Main Sanc tum

Western gopuram

Inner P

Administra Of fice


Outer P


Kumbeshwara Temple




Vanni Maram

Mangala Theertham Rajagopuram


Bazaar Street

The temple covers an area of 30181 sq.ft. with a lenght and breadth of 750 ft. and 252 ft. respectively. There are three circumambulatory paths in this temple. Adjacent to the outer wall is the Car Street along which the divine procession has its usual route during festivities. The distance from rajagopuram to Mulavar Shrine is about is about 650’. The temple is laid on east west axis. Thus the axis has the main Gopuram, entry with another smaller gopuram after the long corridor, Flagstaff, Navratri Mandapa with the Nandi .Then comes Mahamandapa and Sabha Mandapa followed by Swami Mandapa. Finally one enters the Garbagriha which has Sri Adi Kumbeshwarar seated.

Kumbeshwara Temple

Layout of the Temple:



This temple is famous in all the three aspects of Murti, Stala and Tirtha [Deity-place-holy water]: The Murti is svayambhulinga. The Stala is place where the pot was aimed by The Lord. And the Tirtha,water body is made from nectar of the pot. Thus this temple becomes very important pilgrimage for everybody.


Kumbeshwara Temple

Rajagopuram: The Raja Gopuram at the east rises to the lofty height of 128’ with nine terraces, Every layer has number of stories, related to Creation of the town, stories of Shiva, and Vishnu Avtaar .


It has four big towers, Rajagopuram, Kailasa Gopuram, katta Gopuram and Mulavar Gopuram. In the northern and western sides there are small Gopurams and the Mottai Gopuram at the South. The Eastern Gopuram has a long stretch of market complex which ends in the Big Bazaar. The entire corridor from Rajagopuram to the temple is colourfully painted with different floral motifs.

Kumbeshwara Temple


Mottai Gopuram: The Southern Entrance to the complex is called the Mottai Gopuram. This one doesn’t have any tower, and is more oftenly used being on the main highway.


Kumbeshwara Temple

The Santum of the Mulavar:


Inside the first circumambulatory path are the three mandapas, Sabha Mandapa, Swami Mandapa and finally the Artha Mandapa. The centre of attraction at the inner circumambulatory path is the shrine of the Mulavar The Mulavar Sri Parameswara in the self - originated linga form abides in all splendour and grace facing east. He is in the form of a Conical Lingam. Ablutions are performed to him after covering with a golden sheath. Near the Sanctum is the shrine of the Goddess Sri Mangala Nayaki. From the Arthamandapa one reaches the Swami Mandapa. At the centre of the mandapa there abides the Nandi followed by the sacrificial altar and behind this is Nandi made of brass, all facing Sanctum sanctorum. Then comes the Sabha Mandapa. Finally you reach the Mahamandapa.

Names of Parameshwara:

Names of Goddess:

Sri Adi Kumbheswara: The most ancient, supremely original, materialized from the Kumbha and the instrumental cause of the universe, the deity is known as Adi Kumbeshwara. Sri Amudesar: As he originated from the sweet nectar. Sri Kirathamurty: As He feigned as a hunter, hit the pot of nectar with an arrow.

Sri Mangala Nayaki: Conferring all auspiousness to these who worship her with all their hearts, the deity of this kshetra is called Sri Mangala Nayaki. Sri Manatrapeesteswari: as the deity shines lustrously at the mantra peeta ,one of the distinguished Sakthi peetas.

Mandapa is situated inside the second circumambulatory path. Nandi abides facing the Mulavar and behind it there is the sacrificial alter. Southwest to Nandi there abides Vallabha Vinayaka and at the northwest there is Shanmukha with six faces and twelve hands. Northern to Nandi abides Navagraha shrine. Southeast to second circumambulatory path is situated the temple kitchen and at the Northeast the Yagasala. Southern to the Yagasala there abides Lakshmi Narayana Perumal and eastern to this there is the flag mast of the temple.

Kumbeshwara Temple

Navaratri Mandapa:

Rathas: Rathas were built to take the Gods and Goddesses for processions during festivals. These kind of maps of the rathas are drawn on the temple wall to explain the architecture of these Rathas.


Kumbeshwara Temple

Outer Circumambulatory Path: At the outer circumambulatory path in the southwest, Kumbha muni siddha abides in meditation,upon the Gopura in bas - relief. Vinayaka of this shrine is called Adi Vinayaka,in the northwestern end there is AdiLinga shrine facing east.

The flag staff in the Maha Mandapa, which leads you to the Sabha Mandapa



Kumbeshwara Temple

Kumbeshwara Temple

To the east of this circumambulatory path at the gateway of Kailasagopura are Mutra Vinayaka to the left and Balan Dandayuthapani to the right.


Govinda Dikshita was the minister of three successive Nayaks of Thanjavur, who ruled the region of Thanjavur inSouth India between the 16th and 17th centuries CE. Govinda Dikshita was a scholar, philosopher, statesman and musicologist.

Kumbeshwara Temple

Govinda Dikshita:

Even the construction of the gigantic Rajagopuram of Sri Adi Kumbeshwara temple and the elaborate renovation of the entire precincts of the temple were attended to by him. He was also responsible for the erection of a series of stone stepping at the numerous bathing ghats on all sides of the Maha Magham Tank and the construction of sixteen Siva Shrines on all four sides of the tank and the purificator y ceremonies there on. He also constructed the Sri Ramaswami temple in Ku mba kona m a nd i s r espon sible for t he beautiful pictorial representation of the story of Sri Rama around the inner walls of the temple. The shrine of Sri Mangalambika in Kumbakonam, the construction of temples at Patteeswaram and Tiruppalathurai were also his contributions.


Kumbeshwara Temple

Around the Corridor: Southern to the Rajagopuram is the f lower garden west wards to the flower - bower abides the Vannimara Vinayaka shrine facing east. Northwest to the Rajagopuram there is Mangalakupa a well and adjacent to it is the elephant shed and the Tirukkalyanamandapam.

Lord Shiva: A small shrine can be seen in the center of the holy water tank, Mangala Theertham.


Kumbeshwara Temple

Elephant Shed: Many temples have elephants in the temple, which are used during the time of procession. Kumbeshwara has one for whom a shed is built.

Managala Theertham: Most of the temples have some source of water. It can be a tank or a well. Kumbeshwara has a tank called Mangala Theertham.


Kumbeshwara Temple

The Holy Tree: All the temples have a holy tree and here Kumbeshwara has Vanni Maram as the holy tree. One can see it when you come from the Motai Gopuram on the right hand side. Beside the tree is a small Mandapa. Also one can find a small place meant to wash oneself before entering the temple behind this Mandapa.


While going around in the first outer pra kitchen of the temp


Kumbeshwara Temple

Shiva with Nandi: One can see few iconography in and around the temple walls. This can be found on the wall of the temple,while going around the first outer prakara of the temple.

d the temple, akara, one can see ple in the corner.


Kumbeshwara Temple

Market: Beside the Raja Gopuram to the east on either side there are bazaars and the adjourning area is the chariot shed. There are only shops now. From the entrance at the bazar to the Mulavar Shrine is about 980`.

Wooden Doll: These are very popular in Kumbakonam. These are wooden dolls which are made with some technique where the body parts dance without use of any external energy. One can buy this dancing doll as soveniers.



Kumbeshwara Temple

Kumbeshwara Temple

Festivals: Some of the festivals like Pradhosam, Krittigai, Fridays and Thiruvathiral are performed followed by ceremonies. Annual flot festival during the month of Pangunni at the Maha Magham Tank. During the month of Chitirai the Saptastana is carried out when Sri Adi Kumbeshwara along with Sri Mangala Nayaki go about on a majestic ceremonial procession. During the month of Valkasi Thirukkalyan Utasavaa of Sri Mangalambhigai with Sri Adi Kumbeshwara is celebrated Every year during the month of Masi the Festival of Masi Magham is celebrated for ten days. Ever y t welth year Maha Magham festival is celebrated.


Kumbeshwara Temple

The temple has some very old silver vehicles of God which are used during processions.


Kumbeshwara Temple

This is one of the most important attraction of the city. This tank has 16 shrines and 20 wells. The great Mahamaham Festival is celebrated in this tank.

Mahamaham Tank

Mahamaham Tank

Quick Facts: Location: Centre of the city, with four streets on the bank of the Tank. There are 16 gopurams around the sides and corners of the tank God and Goddess: Every gopuram towers are believed to be the various forms of Lord Shiva. What clan: Saivite Temple Who build: The temple is established during the Chola period. The sixteen temples that adorn the banks of this tank was built by Govinda Dikshitar. Mahamaham Tank

Mahamaham Tank


Highlights: Mahamaham Tank is the integral part of the grandeur religious festival Kumbha Mela festival celebrated once in every 12 years in the temple town of Kumbakonam

Mahamaham Tank


There are 16 gopurams around the sides and corners of the tank Mahamaham tank has 20 holy wells (theerthams), which are named after 20 holy rivers in Indian continent.

Kasi Vishwanatha Temple

If there is a tank held to be more sacred that Ganges, it is only the Mahamagam Tank at Kumbakonam. As Kumbamelas are celebrated in rivers, Mahamagam is celebrated in this tank. The Mahamagam occurs once in 12 years. Aham means sin. Ma means will not approach. So the term Mahamaham means a place where no sin will approach. It will also mean that (Maha) big sins will be removed. Mahamaham Tank is believed to be t he place where all holy r ivers in India Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati River, Sarayu, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Pavoshnl and Kaveri meet together.


Mahamaham Tank

Mythology According to the purana, when the deluge subsided, the place where the mango leaves kept on the nectar pot fell it became a Vanni tree, the Kusa grass became a Lingam under the tree. The swing in which the pot was held became a Lingam. The coconut went towards the south – east and became a coconut tree. The Bel leaves became a vilva tree. A Lingam sprouted under the Vilva tree too. In the vilva grove a Patala Linga appeared and sacred thread twinted round the pot became a Lingam.

Theertham : 1. Vayu Theertham 2. Ganga Theertham 3. Bramma Theertham 4. Yamuna Theertham 5. Kubera Theertham 6. Godavari Theertham 7. Eshana Theertham 8. Narmada Theertham 9. Saraswathi Theertham 10. Indira Theertham

11. Agni Theertham 12. Cauvery Theertham 13. Yama Theertham 14. Kumari Theertham 15. Niruthi Theertham 16. Bayoshni Theertham 17. Deva Theertham 18. Varunai Theertham 19. Sarayu Theertham 20. Kanya Theertham

Here, all the nine river goddesses who accumulated the sins of all who bathed in them have to get rid of them and they have been advised to go and bathe in Mahamaham tank and be released of all the sins. That is why we find their temples on the bank. Mahamaham tank has 20 holy wells (theerthams), which are named after 20 holy rivers in Indian continent. 47

The tank is spread over 20 acres and is not a proper rectangle. The north and south banks are a little curved in the centre and from an aerial view looks like a pot. There are 16 temples all round it, four in the north, three in the south, three in the west, two in the east and one in the corners. All are Lingams. Hence they are called Shodasa (16) Mahalingas.

Mahamaham Tank


Gopuram Tower:

Kasi Vishwanatha Temple

Mahamaham Tank

1. Brammatheertheshwarar 2. Mukundeshwarar 3. Dhaneshwarar 4. Virushabeshwarar 5. Baaneshwarar 6. Koneshwarar 7. Bhakthikeshwarar 8. Bhairaveshwarar 9. Agasthyeshwarar 10. Vwyaneshwarar 11. Umaibakeshwarar 12. Nairutheeshwarar 13. Brammeshwarar 14. Gangatheshwarar 15. Mukthatheertheshwarar 16. Shethrabaleshwarar When a sin committed at some ordinary place it is washed off by a visit to a holy place, sin done in a sacred spot is washed off by going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi(Kasi). If one dares to commit a sin in that sacred city too, that sin is wiped off at Kumbakonam and any sinful act done at Kumbakonam is atoned for there itself.


Mahamaham Tank

Shrines on its bank: Abimukesar : The place where the coconut fell and became a coconut tree is Abimukesam. It stands on the east bank and faces west. It is a highly revered shrine with the prime deity as Lord Abimukeshwar (an aesthetic form of Lord Shiva). The temple also houses Goddess Amudhavally, the consort of Lord Abhimukeswara. The temple structure shows the brilliance of ancient South Indian architectural styles. The idol is attractive with divine features. It is believed that the deity in this temple faces west to allow darshan (view) to the nine river maidens during Mahamagam Festival. Navaratri and Masi Maga are some of the important festivals held here.

View Of the Mahamaham Tank 49

Standing in the south west corner of the bank. Upavidesar is the deity. Sowndara Nayaki is the goddess. It got this name as the sacred thread of the Kalasa fell here. Upavida means sacred thread. Since the god blesses the sage Goutama, he got the name Gowtamesvarar. The temple architecture is in tune with the construction styles of other age old temples in Kumbakonam. The gopurams and the inner sanctums are adorned with beautiful structures and statues.

Mahamaham Tank



Mahamaham Tank

Mahamaham festival of 2004. 51

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Once in 12 years, with Sun in Simha Rasi, and Jupiter (Guru) dominant the effect of Sun, Jupiter and Moon, changes occur in the body and earth. To prevent any calamity, bathing in holy waters have been prescribed. The festival lasts for nine days. During this festival, thousands of Hindu devotees come to Kumbakonam, and take bath in a tank named Mahamaham tank. Some of them instead of taking bath in the tank, sprinkle water from the tank on their bodies. It is believed that taking bath or sprinkling water of the tank on the bodies cleanses all the sins. On the occasion of the festival, a metal image of the deities of the main temple of Kumbakonam is carried on palanquis or chariots and taken around the different streets of the town. The next Mahamaham will be celebrated in the year 2016. During the Mahamagam festival, the tank will be emptied and only knee deep water will be kept for safety. The nine springs in the tank provide water to the tank.

Mahamaham Tank

Mahamaham festival:


Mahamaham Tank

Kasi Visvanatha temple: A Vinayaka welcomes us at the entrance. In the north – east part of the circuit, under a Neem tree are some Nagas. Muruga also is here but without his spouses. Kshetra Mahalingam is also present. In the south west corner is a picture of Adisankara. The next cell belongs to Nataraja. Big in size, his flowing locks attract us. Chadikesa too is present. To fit the name River goddess, a channel has been cut around the sanctum. A peculiar feature in this temple is that the Dakshinamurthi is bereft of the sages (students) usually seen. Further the Muyalakan under his feet is pressing the throat of the cobra. In the inner corridor are Ganapathi, Somaskanda etc. Visalakshi the goddess is in the south of the sanctum. The Dvarapalakas are fierce looking and a product of the Cholas. The goddess is small in size. The Lingam has a tall Bana. The Temple is in Naick style. On entering the temple we find bangles and cradles hanging from the roof. They were all presented to the temple in exchange for fulfilment of some desire. In this temple cer t ain fest iv it ies like, present ing sarees, bangle presentation, bridegroom reception etc. take place.


Mahamaham Tank

Gopuram of Adi Vishwanatha as seen from the tank. 54

Mahamaham Tank

Quick Facts Location: This shrine stands on the north bank of the Tank and faces west. The temple is a small one and there is a tin shed in the front. God and Goddess: Shiva in form of Visvanatha is the main God. What clan: Saivite Temple. Who build: The temple is established during the Chola period. Some part seems to be made in the Naick period.

Gopuram with nine river goddesses of the Adi Vishwanatha. 55

Here Siva entered into the mixture of nectar and earth and became a Linga. The legend for this temple is that, Rama in exile wandered from place to place in search of Sita and finally learnt that she has been abducted by Ravana of Lanka. Now Rama decides to fight Ravana and rescue Sita. A doubt crosses his mind. Suppose he becomes merciful on facing Ravana, how can he kill him. A certain amount of fierce valour is required to fight Ravana and this he beseeches from Siva. Siva was in a dilemma. How to give fierceness to Rama. He embraced Rama and imparted all his prowess to Rama. It was this Visvanada who imparted the valour to Rama.

Mahamaham Tank


We see the nine river goddesses all clothed in nine different coloured dress.


MahamahamTank Tank Mahamaham


All the temples have festivals related to Mahamaham Tank. During the Masi Maham festival all the Gods in various temples are taken out in processions and taken to the Mahamaham tank.

Sarangapani Temple

Sarangapani has the tallest Gopuram which is 150 ft. with 9 tiers. 12 storied pyramidal gopuram, more than 40m high. One of the largest gopurams in South India.

Sarangapani Temple Mahamaham Tank

Somesvara Temple

Sarangapani Temple

Golden Lotus Tank


Highlights: It is the biggest temple in the city which rises upto 150 ft. with 9 tiers. 12 storied pyramidal gopuram, more than 40m high, one of the largest gopurams in South India.

Sarangapani Temple


Conceived of, as a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants. One of the 108 Divya Desams and Pancharanga Kshetrams. Another peculiarity is that it has been sung by seven Alwars. It is also one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams. The biggest temple in this city is that of Sarangapani The bows held by Vishnu in different aspects carry different names. Rama’s bow is called Kodandam and hence is called Kothandaraman. There is a bow called Sarangam and the Lord who wields it is called Sarangapani, who is housed here. The temple is a very beautiful one with four circuits. It is in the form of a chariot. A beautiful tank called Hema Pushkarni separates this shrine and the Adi Kumbeshwara.

Quick facts: Location: Located in the centre of the town, on the Sarangapani Sannathi street. It has the Potramarai tank behind. Someshwara is located next to the temple. God and Goddess: The Moolavar here is Pallikondaur, while the processional deity is Sarangapani with his consort Kamalavalli. What clan: Vaishnavite Temple Who build: While the temple structure dates back to the Pallava times and even earlier, the Lords’ shrine which is in the form of a chariot, was built under the later Cholas in the 12th century. This temple too was renovated by Govinda Dikshita. Temple timing: Open 6 am - 12 noon and 4pm - 8.30 pm 58

Sarangapani Temple

Mythology: Sage Brigu once went to Vaikunda to see Vishnu, but Vishnu was indifferent and did not even look at the sage. The sage got angry and kicked the Lord. The action of devout Bakthas are accepted by the Lord as a worship, but the Devi did not take in that spirit. The sage was born as Hema Rishi in Kumbakonam and performed penance in the banks of this tank for the blessings of the Devi. Devi appeared in the form of a baby in a lotus bloom and the sage took her home and reared her till she was wedded to the Lord.

Inner P


M ah M and

Main S

Pottramarai Tank


anc tum

ara Somesv s Temple

The temple is a very beautiful one with four circuits. It has a 12 storied pyramidal gopurams, more than 40m high. It has a hundred pillared hallway from the seventeenth century (Nayak Period) as entrance. Passing through smaller gopuram – leads into a second courtyard that contains another columned mandapa. The Vimanam has two gateways, the northern gate, or the Uttarayana vaasal, open on Makara Sankranti. Dakshinayana Vaayil open on Adi Perukka.

Sarangapani Temple


Ratha Vasanth pa M anda kul Nootra a p M anda

Raja Go M anda

ha dapa

p uram


Manja m Gopura

Raja Gopuram Gopuram

Pancharanga Kshetram: Pancharanga Kshetrams literally means 5 Ranganatha temples (pancha: five; Kshetrams: holy places). These 5 temples are situated on the banks of Kaveri. The following constitute Pancharanga Kshetrams: Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangapatna) Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Srirangam) Sarangapani Temple (Kumbakonam) Sri Appakkudathaan Perumal Temple(Thirupper Nagar) Parimala Ranganathar Temple (Thiruindaloor) 62

Sarangapani Temple

Central Shrine: Central shrine dates from the late Chola period with many later alterations. (Since the lord came down from his celestial abode to marry Komalavalli, the sanctum is in the form of a chariot with wheels drawn by horses, and the canopy is called Vaidika vimana. The force of the chariot must have been great and elephants are seen arresting the speed.

Its entrance, within the innermost circuit, is guarded by huge dvarpalas, identical to Vishnu. Between the dwarpala are carved perforated stone screens in different designs. In front of them stands a sacred, square fireplace. Within the sanctum Araamudan is seen in a lying posture with his head slightly raised (to talk to Thirumazisai Alvar), with Bhu and Sri Devi nearby, Brahma rising from his navel, Hema sage, Sapta Rishis, River goddesses and Devas paying homage. One can see him in a standing posture also wielding the Bow Sarangam in his right hand.

This temple is supposed to have 108 Karanas, forms of dance of Indian classical, Bharathnatyam .


Sarangapani Temple

The sanctum of Komalavalli is near the Uttarayana steps. Andal, Perialwas, Rajagopalan with Rukmani and Satyabhama and Kannan are all enshrined here. In a separate sanctum is housed Rama, Sita and Laxmana. Of Srinivasa there are two types. Mettu and Patala Srinivasas. The latter is reached by steps below. During the day, pinpoints of light from ceiling windows penetrate the darkness around the sanctum, designed to resemble a chariot with reliefs of horses, elephants and wheels. 64

Sarangapani Temple

Inner Prakara of the temple. The elephant is pulling the main shrine in form of a chariot. One can also see the holy theertham. 65

Alvar means one who is "immersed" in the experience of God, the omnipresent mysterious One. Tradition reckons 12 Alvars. They come from all walks of life and all strata of society and include in their ranks one woman. Between the fifth and ninth century, in the Tamil-speaking region of South India, these saints revitalized the Indian religious milieu, sparking a renewal of devotional worship throughout the subcontinent. Travelling from place to place, from temple to temple, from holy site to holy site, they composed exceedingly beautiful poetry to their Divine Beloved, Vishnu, as an expression of their love for Him. The Alvars composed approximately 4000 Tamil verses.

Sarangapani Temple


Thirumangai Alvar who saw this sanctum was inspired to compose a Ratha banth (chariot – like verse) called Thiru Ezhu Kurririkai. It is exhibited in a painting near the flag staff.


Sarangapani Temple


The Floating festival takes place in Masi in the Golden Lily tank. The deity stays for some time in the four corner mandapas, in the central pavilion and the ashram of sage Hemarishi during the festivals.

Located between Sarangapani and Kumbeswara temple at Kumbakonam on Thanjavur route, approximately 2 k.m from new bus-stand. When Shiva in the form of Kirathamurthy (Shiva as hunter) aimed the Puranakumbam with the bow and arrow (Banam in Sanskrit language) and broke it, the bowl split and the Amirtham got stagnated in two places at Portramaraikulam(golden Lotus pond) and Mahamaham tank A Shiva Lingam formed at the place where Kirathamurthy aimed the Amirthakudam. Since the lord used the arrow (Banam) the deity lingam is called Banapureeswarar

Sarangapani Temple

Potramarai Tank:

A small Mandapa can be seen in the centre of the Tank. This tank is also known as the Golden Lotus Tank. 68

Sarangapani Temple

Temple Cars or the Rathas:


In Tamil Nadu temple cars are famous. Out of them the most famous are those of Tiruvarur, Tiruvidaimarudar and this temple. The car of this temple is very big and cannot easily be drawn. After 1933, the car festival has not taken place. Only a small car is drawn in Chitrai.


Sarangapani Temple

Sarangapani Temple

Eastern entrance to the temple also has a Gopuram, which leads you to the shrine. 71

Somesvara is situated in the southern portion of the Sri Sarangapani temple that means near portmari kulam. The prime deity in this temple is Viyazha Someswara, one of the forms of Lord Shiva. And goddess is Soma Nayagi Amman. The temple is established during the Chola period.

Sarangapani Temple

Somesvara Temple:

This temple is also known as Pazhaiyarai Vadathali. Shrines for other Gods and Goddesses including Durga are also placed in the temple premise. The Muruga here should be seen without fail. Not only for the Thiruppugazh songs of Arunagiri is he famous but also his sporting a foot- wear in his legs. The northern side has a small tomb and the eastern side has an entrance gate. The temple complex has other deities Arumugam, and Thenar Mozhi Amman

Quick facts: Location: Somesvara is situated in the southern portion of the Sri Sarangapani temple that means near portmari kulam. God and Goddess: The prime deity in this temple is Viyazha Someswara, one of the forms of Lord Shiva. And goddess is Soma Nayagi Amman. What clan: Shaivite Temple Who build: The temple is established during the Chola period. Temple timing: Open 6 am - 12 noon and 4pm - 8.30 pm 72


Sarangapani SarangapaniTemple Temple

Sarangapani Temple

This God removed the curse of Brihaspati to Moon and hence got their name Someswara. The Moon also erected a tank here after his curse was removed. The tank is called Chandra pushkarani. This is the birthplace of saint Mangayarkarasiyar, one of the famous nayanmars. This also called as Karonam, indicates that Pasupatha cult was dominant here at one time.


Sarangapani Temple

The Nataraja Mandapa in the Temple is concieved like a chariot being pulled by elephants and horses.

Nageshwara Temple

Quick facts: Location: Near the main bus stand. Nageshwara Temple

God and Goddess: The deity belongs to a very ancient period. The Lord of Periyanayaki – Nageshvara is the presiding deity. Periya Nayagi is the goddess. Holy Tree : Vilva Holy well: Nagateerthamin the temple premises. Nageshwara Temple

What clan: Saivite Temple Who build: This temple is believed to have been completed during the reign of Parantaka I (907-c.940) Temple timing: Open 6.30 am 12 noon and 4 - 9 pm


Highlights: Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple is noted for the quality of its sculptural work, vimanas and mandapas. The Nataraja shrine here is shaped in the form of a chariot. The shrine dedicated to the Sun God is of great sculptural significance.

Nageshwara Temple

Nageshwara TEMPLE

Nageswara (also spelt as Nageshwara) temple, a Shivastalam is known for its sculptural work, Vimanams and Mandapams. Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple is one of the finest early Chola temples, noted for the quality of its sculpture. Though the temple is small but it is known for its marvellous architecture that exceeds many of the other Chola temples. Niches in the outer wall of the sanctum contain large, graceful figures in standing postures-both male and female.

Entrance to the temple. There are two Gopurams in the east and the south. This is second entrance in the eastern axis. 76

Nageshwara Temple

Mythology: It is believed that Surya is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva here to regain his lost splendour and hence the temple tank is named after Lord Surya. It is also known as “Vilvavanam�. It is believed that a Vilva leaf from the pot carrying the celestial nectar (associated with the Kumbheswara temple) had drif ted away and landed here. That spot became a Linga. It is also known as Vilvanesar. The Serpent God Adisesha had worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple. It is believed that Adisesha had undergone penance at this temple. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati then blessed Adusesha with enough strength.

Lions: Lions can be seen in temples built by Chola, Hoysala, Pallavas etc. As lion is considered as sign of strength, so many kingdoms chose this as their emblem. 77

The Temple Complex is a smaller one but one of the oldest in Kumbakonam. Main shrine for Lord of Periyanayaki Nagesvara, the presiding diety faces east to facilitate the rays of the sun to fall on the image. There is the flag staff in front of the main shrine. Next to it in form of a chariot is the Nataraja Mandapa. The Nritta Sabha, or the dance hall, has an elevated Mandapam with a flight of steps. One can see a channel like structure dug around the Nandi and in the sanctum to fill it with water.

Nageshwara Temple


Nandi: All Shiva temples have the Nandi. Here the Nandi doesn’t face the main diety shrine, but sits facing the goddesses shrine instead. 78

Nageshwara Temple

There are two main entrances to the temples, Eastern and southern. The main shrine faces east, nataraja mandapa in form of a chariot in north eastern part and the Nritta Sabha in the south eastern part. There is second entrance from south where the gopuram is small and part of the wall. There is a small shrine one can see when entering by the southern gopuram. There is bali pitam and a nandi in the same axis. One can see a small gopuram in the western end of the prahara as well which seems to be not in use anymore.

Eastern Gopuram, which has the main Sanctum in axis. Light directly falls on the diety from east.


The sun’s rays fall on the lingam in the central shrine through an opening in the eastern tower for 3 days in a year – 11th, 12th and 13th day in the month of Chithrai (April/May). The temple faces east to facilitate the rays of the sun to fall on the image. The principal shrine to Lord Shiva, standing in a country is connected to a Mandapam (also spelt as Mandapa). A beautiful Ganga Ganapathi guards the entrance.

Nageshwara Temple


The main niches on the sanctum wall contain sculptures; on the north, “Dakshinamurti” (“South-Facing” Shiva as teacher). The Dakshinamurthi bereft of the usual banyan tree is immersed in yoga. The sanctum is of special red stone called Chapooran and it imparts a special glow. On the west Ardhanarishvara (male Shiva and female Shakti in one figure) and Brahma on the south. Joining them are high-relief near-life-size sculptures of alawar saints. All around the shrine there are sculptures of various dance forms.


Nageshwara Temple

The Holy Vilva tree found inside the inner prakara.


One can see other shrines dedicated to Pralaya Kala Rudreswarar formed at the time of the deluge. He has an Udukka in his hands and a Trisula leans on his shoulder and Kaali (also spelt as Kali) in the temple complex. She stands with 8 arms. She wields a silver trishula. Her face reflects more of shyness than valour.

Nageshwara Temple

Padaivatti Mariamman is stucco gives darshan in red colour. Next is Mahisasuramardini. The cell is separate with a mandapa. It is a very beautiful image. The threshold is of brass and the image is sheathed in silver.


Nageshwara Temple

Nataraja Mandapa: The Nataraja Mandapa, also known as Koothandar coil. It is fashioned like a chariot of a temple. In the spokes of the wheel are the devatas of 12 Rasis. Two horses 12 ft. tall and 4 fat elephants appear to draw the chariot.

Yalli: Yalli seen in the columns of the Mandapa. 83

Nageshwara Temple

One has to climb the steps of the chariot to the shrine of Nataraja and Sivakami said to be one of the loveliest bronze images that exist. Lord Siva is seen dancing vigorously here, and Sivakami is shown keeping tala (the beat) for his cosmic dance. He performs his dance surrounded by Venugopalan and Garuda. The halo round his torso is elliptical. Nearby stands Sivakami.

Wheel of the Chariot: The wheel in the temple shows 24 spikes, 12 are depicted as Gada, famous weapon of Bhima, and other 12 are shown as DevGanas. You can see space between the middle circle and the axel, this shows that the wheel & axel are made in same stone, a true marvellous craftsmanship. 84

Nageshwara Temple

Nritta Sabha:


The Nritta Sabha, or the dance hall, has an elevated Mandapam with a flight of steps. The roof inside is made of timber. One can see the Oorthava Thandava Mandapa inside the Nritta Sabha.

There is Oorthava Thandava Mandapa. He has 10 arms. The upper right hand touches the top. The left leg touches the top. The lower arms bends down between the thigh and perform a Tala.

Nageshwara Temple

Oorthava Thandava Mandapa:


Nageshwara Temple

Vehicles for God:


There are number of vehicles made for God to ride on during the processions. There are vehicles in form of snake, bull, bird, ratha and many more.

Nageshwara Temple

Ramaswamy Temple

Kudandaramar Lord Rama:

Main Diety of the temple, is one of the most popular incarnations of Vishnu. Seen here in tribhanga pose with arrow in the right hand and bow in the left.

Nageshwara RamaswamyTemple Temple

Quick facts: Location: Almost in the centre of the town, at the southeastern part of ‘porthmarai kulam’ which is near the big street. Deity: Has a unique idol in the form of Lord Rama and his consort Sita in the Pattabhishekam Posture. What Clan: Vaishnavite Temple Who Build: King Raghunatha Naicka, who ruled Tanjore from 1614 – 1640 A.D. built this temple. Govinda Dikshita,a minister of this king was instrumental in erecting this edifice. Temple Timing: Open 6 am- 12 noon and 4-9 pm.


Highlights: It is listed with other two great Chola temples as world heritage monuments. 108 Sivacharyas with names for some are found. Representation of the 63 Nayanmars illustrating some event in their life.

Ramaswamy Temple


Of all the temples in Kumbakonam that of Ramaswamy at the south end of the bazaar street is the most important. It shines as an art gallery exhibiting exquisite works of the Naick kings of Tanjore. The Muka mandapa is filled with more than 62 massive sculptures,all illustrating Dasavathara episodes. The prakaras in the inside are adorned with paintings of Ramayana. The coronation scene in this temple is the prime attraction of the pilgrims.

Entire deity is said to be made from Saligrama monolith. The Salagrama Shila or Saligrama Stones are the embodiment of Lord Vishnu. It is usually black in color with the symbol of sudarshana chakra. The chakras can be seen both outside and inside. It is found only at Gandaki River situated high in the Himalayas in Nepal. It is believed that the chakra symbols are formed by river worms called Vajra Keeta. It is believed that these wormsdrill the stones, get inside and use the stones a dwelling place. 88

Ramaswamy Temple

History: The stor y of the erection of this Rama temple is an interesting one. Raghunath, who ruled Tanjore from 1614 – 1640 A.D. was a devotee of Rama. Once he dug a tank in Darasuram, which is west of Kudandai, and while digging he found the idols of Rama and Sita. That tank can still be seen on the border of Darasuram and is called Rama’s tank. Inspired by the discovery of these idols, the king with the help of Govinda Dikshatar caused temples of Rama to be built in three places Kudandai, Srirangam and Rama Sethu, of which that at Kudandai achieved fame by its sculpture.

Nayak Kings of Thanjavur Sevappa Nayak (1532-1580) Achuthappa Nayak (1560-1614) Ragunatha Nayak (1600–1634) (He is regarded as the greatest in the Thanjavur Nayak dynasty. He is famous for his patronage of literature other scholarly research.) Vijaya Raghava Nayak (1633–1673)

Raja Gopuram

Ardha Mandapa

Sanctum Inner Prakara


Outer Prakara

Maha Mandapa

Ramaswamy temple is almost in the centre of the town and faces north. A grand Rajagopura admits us and on entering we face a big mandapa with huge columns all supporting artistic images. There is a small Vimana over the Sanctum. The temple has one pillared Mandapa with columns telling stories of Ramayana and Dashavtara. The pillars have been numbered and labelled to facilitate the pilgrim to understand the episodes. These columns are beautiful pieces of art and the temple is popular for them.

Ramaswamy Temple


The temple has two prakaras. The inner prakara has the whole Ramayana painted on the walls and the outer prakara is around the temple. The Main Sanctum has Lord Rama in his Coronation scene with Sita, Lakhshman, Bharata, and Shatrughan . Hanuman is also there reciting the hymns of Ramayana.


Scene of coronation of Lord Rama where He is seated with his consort Sita on equal pedestal. One can also see His three brothers Lakhshman, Bharat and Shatrughan standing beside him and Hanuman with a veena in hand singing in praise of the Lord.


Ramaswamy Temple

Gopuram of the temple. 93

The entrance of the sanctum has Raghunatha and his two queens. Opposite to them are their two daughters. Inside the sanctum one can see Rama and Sita installed in a single pedestal only in this sthala. One is facing the scene of Coronation. Bharata is holding the parasol, Satrukana is waving the Chamara (Fan) while Lakshmana is awaiting the orders of Rama in Anjali – hasta pose. Hanuman with a veena in his hand is reciting the hymns of Ramayana. The majesty of Rama, the merciful looks of Sita, the obedience of brothers and the devotion of Hanuman are faithfully recorded. The walls of the sanctum too carry sculptures like Indra on his elephant Iravadam, Narasimha, Ragunatha Naicker, Chakrapani, Sugriva, Vibhisana, Visvaksena, Vishnu on Hanumar etc. Even the kitchen has not been spared. The walls contain Gajalaxmi, Brahma, Araamudan, Madapalli.

Ramaswamy Temple

The Sanctum:


Ramaswamy Temple

Mandapa: This is not a Mandapa where one can rush through in haste. It should be studied at leisure and the sculptures enjoyed. Varadaraja, Kothandarama, Vishnu, Chakrapani, Radhakrishnan, Narasimha, Parasurama, Krishna, Gajendra Moksha, Krishna Lila, K rishna Kalinga vadha, Asvamedtham, Vamana avatar, Krishna, Garuda sevai, wedding of Sita and Rama, coronation of Vibhisana, coronation of Sugriva, Ravana vadha, Mohini, Chakrapani, a scene from Ramayana, Laxmi Narayana, Rama, Laxmana and Guha in boat, Trivikrama, Hanuman are some of the sculpture that have no parallel in any other temple.

Mandapa of the temple with columns depicting stories form Dashavtara and Ramayana. 95


Ramaswamy Temple

Ramaswamy Temple

Iconography in the columns of Mandapa:

Coronation of Bali:

Coronation of Vibhisha:

Scene from Ramayana. Lord Rama is seen coronating Sugriva after killing his brother Bali. Sugriva, with his army of monkeys helped Rama in the war against Ravan.

Next Lord Rama is coronating Vibhishan, brother of Ravana. When Ravana had not listened to his advice to return Sita, he joined Rama’s army.

Wedding of Sita and Rama:

Both in tribhanga pose, Lord Rama holding Sita’s hand. They are wearing lots of ornaments. Sita has a lotus in her left hand.

Dashavtar: Lord Vishnu is said to have manifested himself in various incarnations, called Avatars, for the destruction of evil or restoration of faith and justice in the world. These incarnations are said to have been in the human form, in the animal form and even in the combined human-animal form. Satya Yuga




Treta Yuga




Ramaswamy Temple Mohini:

The beautiful female form assumed by Vishnu to deprive the Asuras of their legitimate share of the ambrosia obtained by the churning of the ocean. She can be seen decorated with ornaments carrying a vase of nectar in hand.

Krishna Avatar (Venu-Gopala):


Extremely popular incarnation of Vishnu. He is the supreme statesman, warrior and hero, a great philosopher and teacher. Here playing on the flute, he stands erect on left leg, with right leg thrown across.

The origin of Vishnu’s Vamana incarnation can be traced to the special characteristics of Vishnu, his ability to conquer Earth, Heaven, etc., by his immense strides. Here he is gigantic with left leg lifted to take stride.

(Vamana Avatara):

It is believed that out of the ten incarnations (called Dashavatar) that are popularly believed in, nine have already been manifested while the tenth is yet to appear. Dwapar yuga




kali yuga




Characters of Ramayana:

Ramaswamy Temple

Ramayana: Ramayana is one of the great epics of India. This story of Sri Rama by the great sage Valmiki is referred to as the Adi Kavya. Rama, the ancient idol of the heroic ages, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all,the ideal king. The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books and 500 cantos, and tells the story of Rama, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana.

Bala kanda: describes the birth of Rama, his childhood and marriage to Sita

Lord Rama: He is the hero of the tale. Portrayed as the seventh incarnation of the God Vishnu, he is the eldest son of the King of Ayodhya, Dasharatha Sita: is the beloved wife of Rama and the daughter of king Janaka. Hanuman: is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkindha and an ideal bhakta of Rama. Lakshmana: is the Younger brother of Lord Rama. Ravana: a rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him

Aranya kanda: describes the forest life of Rama and the kidnapping of Sita by the demon king Ravana.

Ayodhya kanda: describes the preparations for Rama’s coronation and his exile into the forest


If the outer mandapa excels in sculpture, the inner prakara will show us the entire Rama-story in brilliant colours. The paintings in the inner prakara are in Tanjore style. And the last painting is embedded with coloured stones, which sparkle. To read the whole Ramayana one has to go along the prakara three times. The outer Prahara consists of all 219 all paintings. Alwar Sannathi, Sreenivas Sannathi, and Gopalan Sannathi are the other Temple located within the Temple complex

Ramaswamy Temple

Inner Prakara:

Uttara kand: describes the birth of Lava and Kusha to Sita, their coronation to the throne of Ayodhya, and Rama’s final departure from the world

Sundara kanda: which narrates the heroism of Hanuman, his flight to Lanka and meeting with Sita. Kishkinda kanda: the destruction of the vanara king Vali and the coronation of his younger brother Sugriva

Yuddha Kanda: describes the battle between Rama’s and Ravana’s armies.


This is one of the World Heritage site in India, which is comes under The Great Living Chola Temples category.

Airavateshvara Temple

Quick facts:

Airavateshwara Temple

Location: Airavateswarar Temple is located at Darasuram to the west of Kumbakonam. God and Goddess: Iravadesvarar is the Deity of the temple. The main deity’s consort is Periyanayagi Amman. Holy Water: Yama Theertham Holy Tree: Vilva Tress (Bell Tree) What clan: Saivite temple Airawateshwara Temple

Who build: Raja Raja II (1146 – 1162). Renovated by Kulottunga III Temple timing: Open 6 am - 12.30 pm and 4 - 8.30 pm


Highlights: It is listed with other two great Chola temples as world heritage monuments. 108 Sivacharyas with names for some are found. Representation of the 63 Nayanmars illustrating some event in their life.

Airavateshwara Temple Airavateshwara

Airavateshvara TEMPLE

Airavateswara temple is a very fine example of Chola architecture. Though it is not as huge as other two, it is considered to be a sculptors dream in stone. The temple has some exquisite stone carving. This is a temple made for Lord Shiva, with a piece of marvel to be seen on every stone laid. This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings.


Darasuram is a panchayat town located 3 kilometres from Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, India. Number of buses ply from Kumbakonam. Darasuram railways station comes after Kumbakonam railway station in t he sout h, but it is preferable to go by bus as it stops near the temple. One can also very easily reach Kumbakonam by taking auto which takes only 15mins to reach the temple directly.


Airavateshwara Temple

Mythology: The Airatesvara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shiva is here known as Airavateshvara, because he was worshipped at this temple by Airavata, the white elephant of the king of the gods, Indra. Legend has it that Airavata, while suffering from a change of colour curse from Sage Durvasa, had its colours restored by bathing in the sacred waters of this temple. This legend is commemorated by an image of Airavata with Indra seated in an inner shrine. The temple and the presiding deity derive its name from this incident. It is said that the King of Death, Yama also worshipped Shiva here. Tradition has it Yama, who was suffering under a Rishi’s curse from a burning sensation all over the body, was cured by the presiding deity Airavatesvarar. Yama took bath in the sacred tank and got rid of the burning sensation. Since then the tank has been known as Yamateertham.

King Raja Kambeera Mamannan, Raja Raja Chola II (1146 A.D. to 1172 A.D):

He changed his capital from Gangaikonda Cholapuram to Palaiyarai and renamed it as Raja Raja Puram (at present it is Darasuram). He was a patron of art and culture. Raja Raja II made numerous grants to the temples at Chidambaram, Tanjore, Srirangam, Kanchi, Tiruchy and Madurai. King Raja Raja II constructed in his name a beautiful temple called Raja Rajechuram (at present Airavatheeswara) in 1160 A.D. to 1162 A.D. This Raja Rajechuram (Raja Rajeschuram – Tharechuram – Darachuram -Darasurm) became Darasuram at present. 103


The Sanctum

Ou Mandapa

Although this temple is much smaller than the Brihadeeswara Temple or the Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple, it is more exquisite in detail. This is because this temple is said to have been built with nitya-vinoda, “perpetual entertainment�, in mind. No tall gopura greets one at the entrance but the Vimana over the sanctum is an excellent substitute.

Airavateshwara Temple

Temple Layout:

This is one of the World Heritage site in India, which is comes under The Great Living Chola Temples category. This temple was added to the list of Great Living Chola Temples in the year 2004. The Great Living Chola Temples includes the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram at Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. All of these temples were built by the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and have a lot of similarities.


Natya Mandapa Vilva tree well


Nandi Maha mandapa


uter Prakara

100 pillared hall

Entrance Gopuram

Muha Mandapa



Airavateshwara Temple


The Temple has the main shrine with a Vimana as which rises to a height of 23 metres. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is nirandhra i.e. without the circumambulatory passage. Then there is an Ardha Mandapam, and a 100-pillared Maha Mandapam in the temple. There is a extension in the south of the 100-pillared Manadapa, which is called Muka Mandapa. This temple differs from other temples in one aspect. One can go to the sanctum only through the Muka Mandapa. The prakara is surrounded by corridor which has the kitchen in the South Eastern corner, Natya Mandapa in the north eastern corner, Alangara Mandapa in the South western corner and one more Mandapa in the other corner.

Airavateshwara Temple

There is one more Shrine for Chandigeshwarar north to the main shrine. Next to it one can see the well and the holy vilva tree. The main deity’s consort is Periyanayagi Amman has a separate shrine parallel to the main shrine.


Airavateshwara Temple

Karpagraham: One can go to the Karpagraham or the Sanctum Sanctorum by either of the two entrances in the north and south of the Vimana. This sanctum does not have a circumambulatory path thus is also called nirandhara. The Sanctum has a 23 mts high Vimana which becomes the most prominent feature of the temple. There are Dwarapalas on both sides of the Deity. Subramanya with six faces resides on the left side of the deity. T he consor t of T he Lord, Goddess Periyanayagi Amman has a separate shrine which is built parallel to this, outside the complex. Subrahmanya:

The Puranic legend associates him with the Sun-god. Musical Steps:

The steps, made of stones, give different musical sounds when tapped. All the seven swaras can be had at different points. This is a technology where they chose granite with right iron content and cut in desired lengths to get sounds.


Nandi sits facing the shrine. Nandi, the Bull, is Shiva’s primary vehicle and is the principal gana (follower). 107

The Temple has well maintained lawn on all sides . It has its entrance from the inner court, which gives an idea that the temple complex is in a depression. To the east of the inner court lies the a group of well-carved buildings,small shrine for Nandi, Balipita (‘seat for sacrifice’), small shrine which contains an image of Ganesha. The pedestal has a set of 3 finely-carved set of steps on the south side. In front stands the Inner Gopuram which leads one to the main court.(One needs to open shoes in the gopuram) As one enters he sees the 100 pillar mandapa with a flag post in front. .

Airavateshwara Temple




Airavateshwara Temple

The Vimana over the Sanctum is the most prominent part of the complex. It is 23 mts high and has many important sculptures all around which are also important shrines. There is Sarabeswara and Dakshinamoorthy in the southern , L i ngodbhav a a nd Ma hisha sur ma rdini in t he wes t er n a nd Vishnu Durgai and Brahma in the northern walls of the Vimana.

Airavateshwara Temple


North western view of the shrine. One can understand the huge scale of the structure by seeing human standing near it. Apart from these many more sculpture in stucco can be seen in the first tier of the Vimana. Southern elevation of the Vimana. The shrines of Dakshinamurthy can be seen.


Airavateshwara Temple


Vishnu Durgai:



Is also known as Narayani, is one among the numerous forms of Goddess Durga.

Brahma is one of the important gods of the Hindu pantheon. Brahma is the creator. He is called Svayambhu-self -born.

The Amarakosa regards her as a form of Parvati. She was assigned the function of destroying demons like Mahisa, Chanda, Munda, Sumbha, Nisumbha, etc.




Siva took the form of Sarabha, a mixture of animals and bird, to kill Narasimha whose anger and ferociousness did not abate after killing Hiranya. (South side of the Vimana)

Siva is carved on the front of the Linga. Brahma appears on Siva’s right, near the top, in the form of a swam (hamsa). Vishnu as a boar is sculptured on the left, at the foot of the Linga.

Siva is the great master of Yoga, music, dancing and of other sciences. Dakshina means south, and since Siva was seated facing the south when he taught the sages, he came to be known by this name.

It is the great purana or epic, sometimes also called Tiruttontarpuranam (the purana of the holy devotees) is a Tamil poetic account depicting the legendary lives of the sixty-three Nayanars, the canonical poets of Tamil Shaivism. It was compiled during the 12th century by Sekkizhar. It provides evidence of trade with West Asia. The Periya Puranam is part of the corpus of Shaiva canonical works. Sekkizhar compiled and wrote the Periya Puranam or the Great Purana, (the life stories of the sixty-three Shaiva Nayanars, poets of the God Shiva) who composed the liturgical poems of the Tirumurai, and was later himself canonised and the work became part of the sacred canon. Among all the hagiographic Puranas in Tamil, Sekkizhar's Tiruttondar Puranam or Periyapuranam, composed during the rule of Kullottonga Chola II (1133-1150) stands first. All the saints mentioned in this epic poem are historical persons and not mythical. Therefore, this is a recorded history of the 63 Saiva saints called as Nayanmars (devotees of Lord Siva), who attain salvation by their unf linching devotion to Siva. The Nayanmars that he talks about belonged to different castes, different occupations and lived in different times.

Airavateshwara Temple

Periya Puranam:


Airavateshwara Temple

Koshtam Sculptures:


Koshtam is the entrance to the Maha Mandapa which leads to the Sanctum Sanctorum. There are masterpiece sculptures to be seen in here. Annapurna Devi, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Sarasvati, Lord Athikara Nandhi, Kannappa Nayannar.

Athikara Nandhi:



Kannappa Nayanaar:

She is Goddess of nourishment. Anna means food and grains. Purna means full, complete and perfect. She is form of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. Physically, Annapurna is described as holding a golden ladle adorned with various kinds of jewels in her right hand and a vessel her left.

She is the Goddess of learning and culture. She is sometimes consorted with Brahma and sometimes with Vishnu or Ganesha. In Rigvedic Sarasvati is the manifestation of a river of that name. Here we can see her seated without the Veena.

Kannappa Nayannar was a hunter who readily donated eyes to Shiva Linga he worshipped. This is a story from the famous Periya Puranam tales about the 65 Nayanaar. (Kannappa Nayannar can been seen wearing footwear with laces)

It is an amalgamation of Shiva (on left) and Vishnu (on right)

This Mandapa is a storehouse of beautiful sculptures. Inside the mandapa, the pillars are worked up into several panels each containing a masterpiece. This Mandapa is also called Nuru Kaal Mandapa. The sculptures around the manadapa are Ardhanarishwara, Nagaraja, Marthanda Bhairava Shiva Nagaraja and Ganpati. In the North of the Mandapa there is the shrine of Periya Nayagi, with Dwara pali at the either side of the entrance.

Airavateshwara Temple

100 Pillar Main Mandapa:

The panels on the columns have stories of Shiva and Parvati, Durga, and Ramayana. One can also see miniature sculptures here.

Martanda Bhairava:



This is the form of Shiva he took to kill Brahma when he said that he was the creator of the universe. This is one of his inauspicious and destructive aspects. There are sixty eight forms of Bhairava. Martunda is one of this form which has four hands.

This is the form of Shiva He took to kill Brahma when he said that he was the creator of the universe. This is one of his inauspicious and destructive aspects. There are sixty eight forms of Bhairava. Martunda is one of this form which has four hands.

To explain Brahma that Prajapatis alone cannot begin the task of creation Shiva appeared before him in the form of Ardhanarishwara (half-male, halffemale). Here we can see ardhanarishwara having 8 hands and 3 heads which is uncommon to see 114

Airavateshwara Temple

The Kanda Purānam: It was w rit ten by K achiappa Sivāchār yar of Kumara Kot t am at Kanchipuram. The Kanda Purānam is considered to be the absolutely authoritative account of Lord Murugan's career bearing the seal of approval of none other than the Lord Himself. The original Kanda Purānam was intended to be recited aloud in Tamil to audiences who were already well acquainted with the marvellous career of Lord Murugan.


There are five stages in the pillars and four sides - each side has panel depicting the mythological scene from Kandhapuranam and marriage of Siva with Parvathi and Subramanian with Valli. There are numerous miniature sculptures like ganesha on these columns with immense clarity and sharpness of the size 1 inch. The Nagabandha (t wo snakes), garland decorate the pillars.

Airavateshwara Temple

100 Pillars in the Mandapa:


Airavateshwara Temple

Muha Mandapa: Coming to the southern part of the complex, one can see a projected hall which is called Raja Gambiran Tiru Mandapa or the Muha Mandapa. The projected hall is a veritable gallery of art and each pillar carries a masterpiece of carving though small. South side of Mukamandapa has five niches (Agni, Indra, Brahma, Vishnu and Vayu). Each pillar in the Mandapa Has Yalli at the bottom. This Mandapa is conceived as a stone chariot drawn by caparisoned horses with Brahma as its driver. Unlike other temples this is entry to the Sanctum also. A flight of steps lead to the mandapa. The balustrade that forms the side of the flight of steps is formed into a trunk of an elephant. There are horses and wheels on both the sides. The front pillars rest on the head of Yalis resembling Rajasimha pallava pillars and end in a bulbous form, from which lotus petals radiate.


Airavateshwara Temple

The car vings in the lower par t though small are equally exquisite. The carvings in the lower part though small are equally exquisite. The Kama Dahanam and the penance of Parvati with Siva in the right and opening the third eye describes a legend.

Yalli: Here you will see Yaali, a mythological animal. Trunk of elephant, mouth of a lion, horns of goat, body of horse & tail of serpent. This is a super power animal having attributes of different other animals. They are also known as Vyalam or Sarabham in Sanskrit. The front pillars rest on the head of Yallis. 118

Airavateshwara Temple

Corridor around the Prakara: There is covered corridor all around the temple. There are four mandapas in the corners of the corridor. There is Kitchen in the south east corner. In the south west corner in the Mandapa one can see Murugan with Valli and Deivanai. Natya Mandapa in the north east. In the next corner which is called Alangara Mandapa one can see the Conical Shivling made of Saligram. In the corridor in between there are 11 lingas. Coming towards the north east corner one can see the Natya Mandapa. There are 4 shrines one of which has an image of Yama. Adjoining the Natya Mandapa are large stone slabs sculptured with images of the sapthamathas (seven celestial nymphs).

Murugan, Valli and Deivanai: Subrahmanya is also known as Murugan. Valli has a nose bore and a ear bore, which must have been used by an ornament. (This is found in the North East corner Mandapa.)


Airavateshwara Temple

Elephant and bull seen together where their heads are merged. One needs to hide one to see the other.

Stone slabs sculptured with images of the sapthamath. (Found in the northern corridor) 120

Airavateshwara Temple

Panels of the corridor and the columns in mandapas: They are mainly telling stories of common people and their social life. Scenes of everyday life like fight scenes, pregnant woman, dancing ladies etc can be seen. The columns here also have miniature sculptures of Dieties.

A man juggling balls.


Woman dancing with women men playing instruments.

Woman in centre has four dance poses merged in one.

Airavateshwara Temple Lion attackingan elephant. It is made by placing carved granite one above the other.

Hands and legs Scene where women interlocked, maybe are helping a pregnant some scene from circus. woman.

Water being used as fuel for lamp.


Airavateshwara Temple

Chandigeswarar shrine: A separate shrine for Lord Chandigeswarar is situated in the Northern prahara near the north entrance to Karpagraham. It has a separate sanctum with Vimana. As in case of Nandi, devotees usually visit him and pay their respects before going to see the Siva Linga in the sanctum sanctorum. There is a linga also in this shrine. It is believed that Chandikeswarar forever lives in a state of deep meditation, not realizing who comes to the temple. He is the one who keeps records of our visits to the temple, and hence, it is believed that we should clap our hands or snap our fingers outside his shrine so that he realizes our presence. Sri Chandikeswarar: He is an aspect of Chandi in human form later elevated to the status of divinity, to signify the connection between Siva and Chandi. His images are generally found in a corner in all temples of Shiva.



Airavateshwara Temple

Airavateshwara Temple

Periya Nayaki Amman Temple:


The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is a detached temple situated to the north of the Airavateshwarar temple. This might have been a part of the main temple when the outer courts were complete. At present, it stands alone as a detached temple with the shrine of the Goddess standing in a single large court


Airavateshwara Temple Airavateshwara

Travel Helpline

Travelling Helpline

By Air: Kumbakonam for itself doesn’t have an airport, but one can fly down to Chennai or Tiruchirappalli which are closest cities to Kumbakonam with airport facilities. These two places are well connected to Kumbakonam by road and rail route both. The nearest airport to Kumbakonam is Trichy at distance of 96 km away. Domestic flights operate from this aerodrome. Regular flights are available to Chennai International airport. Taxis are available from Trichy to Kumbakonam and it charges about Rs 1,000. The major international airport is at Chennai at distance of 273 km. Prepaid t a xi is available from Chennai to Kumbakonam charging about Rs 2,500. Tiruchirappalli Airport(TRZ) Madurai Airport (IXM) Chennai International Airport (MAA) Bengaluru International Airport (BLR)

Domestic Domestic International International

78 km 190 km 243 km 311 km

By Rail: Kumbakonam railhead is connected by trains from Chennai, Quilon, Tirupathi and Rameshwaram. Travellers can use trains to reach this place comfortably from Chennai and other places.


Bus: Tamil Nadu state transport corporation buses connect Kumabkonam with almost all cities in Tamil Nadu. Regular buses are available from Trichi, Chidambaram and Chennai to Kumbakonam.

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By Road:

Every 5 Mins. there is a Bus to Trichy, Tanjore, Mayiladuthurai, Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Mannargudi, Thiruvarur. Tamil Nadu State Transport Corp. and Private buses are running daily To/From Kumbakonam from Trichy,Thanja vur,Mayiladuthurai, Mannargudi, Nagapattinam, Neyveli, Villupuram, Coimbatore, Madurai, Erode, Chidambaram, Pondicherry, Cuddalore,Tirunelvelli Taxi: One can hire AC and non AC taxi also to come to Kumbakonam. It is a good option if there is a family or more number of people travelling together. Also if one wants to travel to many places its good to have a booked taxi. Personal Car: One can also hire a car if wants to explore the place on their own. The distances around are not much and is a good option for a group of people or family trip.


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How to go Around: Taxis: One can easily book a private taxi to go around the city. There are two taxi stands in the town, one near the bus stand and other near the Town Hall. As with any tourist place, the prices are hiked up once they know you are from out of town. Auto Rickshaw: The cheapest mode of hired transport. Autos ply to small towns in and around Kumbakonam (less than 10 km). As with any other town in Tamil Nadu, negotiate the price before making the trip. You can negotiate an Auto for half-day or full day rates for the nearby places and temples within Kumbakonam. Charges range from 500/- to 750/- approximately for halfday, depending on the places you need to visit. For a 1.5 days Rs.900 is a decent amount to pay. Its a good idea to check with locals on the average fare for autos and taxis. Bus: State and private operated buses ply to all towns in the vicinity. The town also has a lot to see when you walk around the streets. There are number of temples all around, and one can experience a lot of local culture by going around in the streets.


Kumbakonam experiences both hot and pleasant climate in different seasons Summers (March to May) are dry and hot with temperature in the range of 32 째C to 38 째C, Tourists prefer to avoid hot days in April and May. Monsoons (June to September) are accompanied with medium rainfalls. The place is beautiful in rains and offers some relief from the hot atmosphere. Winters (December to February) are pleasant with moderate temperatures in a range of 20째C to 26째C.

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Weather in Kumbakonam:

Best Season to visit Kumbakonam is October to March. June to September is humid but pleasant with moderate temperature and suitable for temple visits. October to March is perfectly ideal for religious visits and all kinds of tourist activities. Tips: There is retrieving rain in Kumbakonam in December also. Thus make necessary arrangements for the weather. One should carry umbrellas and raincoats. Summers are quite harsh thus preparations must be done according to that. It is very important to book AC rooms during this weather.


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Where to Stay: Kumbakonam has number of hotels of all ranges. One can live in lodges or luxury hotels as their budgets. Prize of accommodation ranges from Rs 100 to Rs 3000. In the centre of the town is the Cauvery bank and a few hotels normally are populated around this region. You will find many hotels near the Railway Station and the Mahamaham Tank. All hotels are located in the vicinity of the famous Navagraha temples. Luxury Hotels: Mantra Veppathur

Paradise Resort (3 Star):

No.1 Bagavathapuram Main Road Extension, 536 / 537 A Sri Sailapathipuram Village, Veppathur - 612 103 Kumbakonam. Thanjavur District.

3/1216, Tanjore Main Road, Ammapet, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India. 612103 Telephone 0435 - 2416469, 3291354 Fax 0435 - 2416469 Mobile 91-9943311354 Fax - 2416469 Email: kumbakonam@ (Tariff: Rs 4500 onwards)

Mantra Veppathur Corporate Office 4, G S Colony, off Chamiers Road, Chennai 600 018. INDIA Mobile: +91 98412 88000 Email: (Tariff: Rs 6000 onwards)


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Kumbakonam also known as the "temple town" is frequently visited by thousands of people and the rooms tend to be completely filled especially during the Mahamaham festival that comes in every 12 years. Luxury hotels here promise a traditional look with in-house restaurants that offer both south-Indian and north-Indian cuisines. They also provide sightseeing packages to tourists.

PGP Hotel Riverside Resorts and Spa

32, 33 College Road, Kumbakonam 612002, Tamilnadu State,India. Tel : + 91-435-2443636 Fax : +91-435-2443638 Email : (Tariff: Rs3000 onwards) Hotel Le Garden

Naal Road, Kumbakonam - 612 001. Tamilnadu, South India. Phone: +91-435-2402526 Mobile: +91 994496370 0 Fax : 0435-2413390 Email: Email: (Tariff : Rs 1400- 7500) Hotel Habib Towers

122, Kamaraj Road, Opp to Railway Station, Kumbakonam 612001, Tamilnadu, India. Tel : 0435-2403181 to 85 (5 lines) Mobile : +91 94425 53400 Fax : 0435-2423500 Email : Website :, hotelhabibtowers/ (Tariff: Rs1200-3500)


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Medium Budget:

Low Budget:

Hotel Raya's

Kasi Towers

General Manager 18, Head Post Office Road Near Holy Mahamaham Tank Kumbakonam - 612001

140, TSR Periya Street, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India. Landline: +91-435-2422538, 2422638, 2422738, 2422835, 2422935 (Tariff: Rs 400 onwards)

Raya’s Annexe 1

General Manager 19, Head Post Office Road Near Holy Mahamaham Tank Kumbakonam - 612001 Landline: +91-435-2423170, 171, 172, 173 & 0435-2001712 +91-435-2422545 ( 8 Lines ) Mobile No: +91-98429-23170 Fax: +91-435- 2422479 Email: (Tariff: Rs 800-2000)

Hotel VPR:

Periya Street, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-421820 (Tariff: Rs 125-400) Hotel Tamilnadu 91:

Poompuhar Road, Near Govt College, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-30422 (Tariff: Rs 150-400) Femina Lodge:

Tanjore Main Road, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India 2421794 Tariff: (550-700)

8 Head Post Office Road, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-2420396, 2426337 (Tariff: Rs 200)

Hotel Greenpark:

Hotel Siva International:

Lakshmi Vilas Road, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India 2402852, 2402853, 2403912(3 Lines) Fax: 0435 - 2421956 E.Mail: greenparkhotel@rediffmail. com (Tariff: Rs 400-800)

Periya Street, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-421820 (Tariff: Rs 125-400)

Hotel Adithya:

A.R.K Hotel:

TSR Periya Street, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-2421234, 2421152 (Tariff: Rs 400-800) 135

Hotel Pandiyan 52:

Sarangapani East Sannathi, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu, India Landline: +91-435-2430397, 2432325 (Tariff: Rs 150-250)

Food in Kumbakonam is common to the State of Tamil Nadu. They eat typically what we call South Indian Food. The cuisine is counted among the popular cuisines in India. Dishes like Idli, Dosa, Sambhar and Rasam are the most exotic dishes among the south Indian cuisine. The platter or Thali is also very popular, comprising various vegetables, along with dominant coconut flavour. Kumbakonam is extremely popular for its Filter Coffee, which is best found here.

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What to Eat:

Meals A traditional meal constitutes of 2-3 courses of rice. It is accompanied with one or two types of dry curry, liquid porridge of vegetables and spices, a similar liquid of tamarind water boiled with spices and buttermilk or curds.

Snacks Typical diet also includes snacks between meals. Dishes such as Dosas, Idlis, Upma, Vadaa, Bajji or even crispies or fried items are a part of snacks.

Coconut water Another natural beverage rich with rehydrants to beat the heat is coconut water. Often served by chopping off the husk of the green coconut.

Drink buttermilk Buttermilk is the most traditional form of thirst quenching beverage in Taminadu. It is diluted curd mixed with salt and spices perfect to rejuvenation for dehydration. It is offered to travellers and guests as an act of hospitality. 136

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Important Numbers


Bus Enquiry - TTC Commissioner DSP - Office Electricity Emergency ESI Hospital Express Fire Service Station Govt.Hospital Health Officer Hindu Mission Hospital Municipal Engineer Police Station-West Police Station-East Police Control Room Police Station - Ladies Post Office Railway Out Police Railway Station Rathimeena Travels RTO Office Senthil Bus Travels Taluk Police Station Taluk Office TNSTC Busstand Women Polce Station

+91- 435 - 2431251 +91- 435 -2430412 +91- 435 - 2421450 +91- 435 - 2411102 100 +91- 435 - 2431467 +91- 435 - 2421313 +91- 435 - 2431201 +91- 435 - 2430002 +91- 435 - 2432129 +91- 435 - 2411516 +91- 435 - 2432123 +91- 435 - 2421450 +91- 435 - 2430702 +91- 435 - 2433100 +91- 435 - 2431321 +91- 435 - 2421390 +91- 435 - 2420251 +91- 435 - 2433131 +91- 435 - 2430589 +91- 435 - 2420051 +91- 435 - 2411909 +91- 435 - 2420250 +91- 435 - 2430227 +91- 435 - 2431251 +91- 435 - 220774

• One can plan your trip during two main festival. Masi Maham is the 10 day festival which happens every year in the month of February, March. All the dieties from each temples are taken out in a grand procession to the Mahamaham Tank.

• There are monsoons in Kumbakonam during as other places from June to September. But be prepared for the retrieving monsoons in the month of December. Don’t forget to carry umbrellas and raincoats if travelling at this time of the year.

• General timings for all temples is morning 6 am to 12noon. And evening 4 pm to 8 pm. Thus plan your trip accordingly. Try to utilize the morning time to see the temples.

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Useful Information:

• Everyone needs to remove their shoes before entering the temple premises. So wear footwear according to comfort.

• This is the central location to all Navgraha Temples. One can easily cover all nine temples in 2 days by keeping Kumbakonam as the center.

• Photography inside the temples are not allowed. Few temples allow photography in some parts on some payment. But no temple allow the main shrine and the Diety to be clicked.

• Do try traditional South Indian food. There are number of small restaurants all over which serve very home cooked food.

• Summers are extremely harsh, thus make proper arrangements if travelling in that time of the year.

• Do try traditional South Indian food. There are number of small restaurants all over which serve very home cooked food.

• Filter Coffee of Kumbakonam is very famous. It is served at all restaurants and hotels.

• Main language people talk in is Tamil. Other language that one can use is English and Hindi.


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Tamizh guide Is a brief guide to start a basic conversation in Tamizh. Read the easy to speak phonetics and start conversing.

Phonetic vowels

Phonetic consonants

uh/ u = hum, drum aa = dark, hard i = will, still ee = feel, heel oo = food E, ay = pay, stray ie, ai, ye = eye, dye, tie oh = sold, old ow = owl, bowl

kk = thick, stuck g = gum, girl pp = pepper, zipper ch = child, chill dh = that, they tt = matter, scatter th = pith, teeth tth = cut through

vuh-Nuh-kkum Welcome, hello. neen-guh sow-kee-yum-maa? Are you fine? Aamaam sow-kee-yum dhaan? Yes, (I am) fine. Oon-guh pay-yur Ennuh? What is your name? En pay-yur _______ My name is _______ 139

L = mild, cold N = end, send R, zh = robot, roll (American accent : roll the tongue) v = we, want The below consonants sound same as in English: b, s, t, r, n, m, p, d, k, l, y

En ooroo pay-yur ____ My place name/ I come from ______ muh-Nee Ennuh? What is the time?

Kudanthai Makkal A photoessay of the pulse of Kumbakonam Author Chitra Chandrashekhar

kootthoo-vi-Luh-kkoo Lamp Traditional brass lamps connote the start of an auspicious event, celebration or festivity. They are regarded to be fine works of art/ creation, that often they are compared to beauty (women).


Dots Kolam Traditional floor decoration made with dots of rice flour. It is a symbol of hospitality, harmony and prosperity.


Flower Flowers are strung together into garlands to decorate hairstyles among women and young girls. It is also a symbol of greeting, wellbeing and auspiciousness.


Mother/ Madam The first word a child is taught to say. There is immense honour associated to the role of a mother that often goddesses, important women and even ladies are respectfully reffred to as Amma!

koo-zhun-thai/ koo-Run-thai

Child There are many more ways of calling a child with endearment like paa-paa, pie-ya, chellum for a little girl, a little boy and darling respectively.

• thoh-zhil/ thoh-Ril Business/ Occupation Streetsides in Kumbakonam are mixed with both big and small shops but one sees equal pride and devotion in their respective businesses. This holds true even for small time vendors and rickshaw pullers.

vay-lie sai

Do work Work is worship to many people in this land. They even worship their tools and conduct ceremonies expressing grattitude for being able to work and earn a decent livelihood. And for this, they do not even deter from hard laborious, toiling work.


Vessels/ utensils shop Kumbakonam is famous for buying and selling of metal ware like stainless steel or aluminium vessels that form a major part of many households.


Sesame oil Literally meaning good oil, it is known to have many remedial effects and forms a significant part of the Tamil tradition. From lighting lamps, to body massaging, medicinal potions and even cooking, it finds its due place in the lives of the people.

dhaa-gum - thuh-Neer

Thirst - Water An expression that most travellers use owing to the heat that affects this land and its people.

mor koo-deen-guh

Drink buttermilk Buttermilk is the most traditional form of thirst quenching beverage in Taminadu. It is diluted curd mixed with salt and spices perfect to rejuvenation for dehydration. It is offered to travellers and guests as an act of hospitality.



Meals A traditional meal constitutes of 2-3 courses of rice. It is accompanied with one or two types of dry curry, liquid porridge of vegetables and spices, a similar liquid of tamarind water boiled with spices and buttermilk or curds.


Snacks Typical diet also includes snacks between meals. Dishes such as Dosas, Idlis, Upma, Vadaa, Bajji or even crispies or fried items are a part of snacks.

paa-ttoo vaa-dhyum

Song and Music Kumbakonam, being a temple town, has a long tradition of music being played for all, during auspicious events both social or religious. This culture remains intact as we continue to find musicians dedicatedly playing their tunes.


Procession During the month of Feb-March, every year people congregate to watch and partake in the god’s procession in a palanquin. There is great community spirit seen in such events.


College Once known as the Cambridge of South India this Government arts college now has promising talent yet they are pushed to flash their youth power challenging authorities and demanding better facilities.


Ladies Saree, flowers, nose ring, bangles they just do not complete the image of a woman in today’s Kumbakonam.

Acknowledgement Book by: Nimisha Drolia, IDC, IITB Guided by: Prof. Mandar Rane. Pictures credit: Anindya Sunder Biswas Chitra Chandrashekhar Chinmayee Samant Deepali Thokal Ganesh Gajjela Rangoli Sharan Prerak Mehta Lakshmi Deshpande Ruchin Shah Farwej Bhutia Soniya Jain Triveni Monika Nanaware Nimisha Drolia Kaviyam Studio, Kumbakonam Illustrations: Views of temples: Shah Fahim. Temple plans: Gauri Gawand City view: K. Abhilash Coloured Illustration: Sayali Bhagali Special thanks to: Prof. Kirti Trivedi

Temple town of

Kumbakonam Kumbakonam, known as Kashi on Cauvery, is a picturesque temple town located in the Cauvery river basin. It occupies a unique position in Hindu Myth and legend, because of the invaluable inscription, iconography and religious architecture. The city of kumbakonam is a traditionally rich city, where the modern globalization has not yet affected the culture of the people. People here are still in touch to the traditions their ancestors followed many thousands of years ago. Kumbakonam is known for its temple architecture and epigraphy. The city originated as a religious city, with areas like Kumbeshwara Temple and Mahamaham Tank in the core of the city. Kumbakonam was the capital of the historically important Chola dynasty who ruled the region during the medieval period.

by, Nimisha Drolia, VC 2009-11’, IDC, IIT Bombay