Kumbakonam Tourist Places Or Places to Visit in Kumbakonam Tamil Nadu India
Kumbakonam is 36km from Thanjavur linked by road and rail. It is the biggest town in Thanjavur district and commercial centre for silk, utensils and trade. It is the treasure-house of art and architecture because almost all the important temples are in and around Kumbakonam. It is a focal point from where all the Chola temples could easily be visited.
Mahamagam, the Kumba Mela of the south which occurs once in 12 years when the planet Jupiter enters the constellation Leo and the Sun in Aquarius is famous here, and lakhs of people from all over India throng here to have a holy dip in the Mahamagam tank which is located in the middle of the town. It is believed that the holy Ganges flows into this tank on that day. Bordered by exquisite mandapams, the tank bears an imposing look with stone-cut steps leading to water level. There are umpteen spring wells in the bed of the tank, called 'Theerthams' or holy waters.
Kumbakonam Tamil Nadu
Like Kanchipuram and Madurai, Kumbakonam is a city of temples. From about the 6th century, it seems to be under the rule of the Pallavas. it is interesting to note that this town is mentioned in the inscriptions as Tirukkudamukku. Probably the Sanskrit meaning to this name was later given as Kumbakonam. This ancient city is on the banks of river Cauvery. Some are of the opinion that the present name was derived due to the presiding deity Kumbheshwarar. it remained the stronghold of Brahmins and their culture for many years and later became the capital of the Chola kings in the 7th century.
The temple of Kumbheshwara is in the centre of the city and the tower rises to a height of 43m. The central Linga of Shiva is said to be composed of fragments of a pot or kumbha. Another Shiva temple is that of Nageshwara where a separate shrine is constructed for the Sun God, who is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva. Even to this day, the rays of the Sun are seen to fall on the Linga three times a year. There are two Vaishnavite temples very near the Shiva temples. One is the chariot shaped temple where god Sarangapani is supposed to have descended. This is a temple noted for its excellent architecture and sculpture. The tower at the main entrance is 50m high having twelve storeys. The ceiling of the main temple and the other halls are painted with numerous paintings. It is said that this temple was built during the reign of the Nayak rulers. Another Vaishnava temple is dedicated to Ramaswamy, which is believed to have been constructed in the 16th century by Raghunatha Naik. This temple is a treasure Raghunatha Naik. This temple is a treasure house of sculptural art.
Kumbakonam has become famous on account of the sacred Mahamagham Tank. This fine reservoir of water surrounded by a picturesque Mandapam. It is known as Kanya Tirtha as nine virgins bathed at this tank. The great Mahamagham festival takes place every thirteenth year when laks of pilgrims assemble here to have a holy dip in the sacred tank. Kumbakonam was also the seat of Sri Shankaracharya Mutt which has now been shifted to Kanchipuram. This town is famous for the textile industry, particularly the handloom sarees and various types of brassware.
Kumbakonam is about 40km northeast of Thanjavur, Kumbakonam is a commercial hub in Thanjavur district known for its silk. Known as the Temple City for its many temples, Kumbakonam is also a convenient base to visit almost all the Chola temples, the prime among all the Chola temples, the prime among these are the four temples - Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar, Nageswara and Ramaswamy. The Mhamaham Festival, celebrated here once in 12 years, celebrated here once in 12 years, make it an important pilgrimage centre.
The Kumbeswarar Temple, located in the heart of the town is spread over 9000 sq m with the 9 storied eastern gopuram, about 40m high. Navaratri the long colonnaded mandapa with 27 stars and 27 rasis (constellations) carved in a single block, Mangala Theertham a holy water tank and the small temple of Muruga, Ganapati, and Mangalambigai are the main constituents of this temple. It also has a magnificent collection of silver vahanas (vehicles) used for carrying the deities during temple festivals.
Adikumbeswara Temple is an ancient temple, Very huge spreading over 4 acres with a gopuram 125ft. high. The Mahamagam tank itself is its Theertham (holy water). The Navarathri Mandapam with 27 'stars' and '12 Rasis' (constellations) carved in a single block, the idol of Shanmuga with only six hands instead of usual 12, two stone Nadaswarams and Kirtamurti are the main attractions in this temple. They speak volumes f the artistic attainment of Chola sculptures.
Sarangapani Temple is the Vaishnavaite shrine equally famous as the Adikumbeswara temple. The temple has Hema Pushkarani as its holy tank. The inner shrine has a unique feature is being fashioned like a chariot with galloping horses; besides, it has two entrances Uttara Vasal in the north and Dakshina Vasal in the south. The northern gate is opened for entering the sanctum when Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn and the other one closed, until the Sun reaches the Tropic of Cancer. Afterwards, it is epeated vice versa. The gopuram with 12 tiers (150ft. high) has the dancing poses of Siva a strange feature in a Vaishnavaite shrine.
The deity Aravamudhan in the sanctum inside the temple is in the act of rising from His Snake-couch to give darshan to His ardent devotee Thirumazhsai Alwar. The Komalavalli Thayar image is very charming, true to the name of 'Komalam'. Te Vaishnavaite literary work Divya Prabhandham 4000 in number was brought to light in this temple just like the Thevaram of Saivism brought to light at Chidambaram temple.
Sarangapani Temple, the largest of the 18 temples in Kumbakonam was renovated in the 16-century by the Nayaka kings and revered as one among the three major sites dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The main central part is fashioned on the lines of as in Chidambaram, a chariot with galloping horses and elephants carved in relief. The largest 11-storey gopuram is 44m tall and has the dancing poses of Shiva, a rather unusual feature in a Vaishavaite temple. The temple has a Porthamarai Kulam a holy tank located behind it and five Praharas. There are two entrances, Uttara Vasal (opens when the sun reaches the tropic of Capricorn) in the north and Dakshina Vasal (opens whe the sun reaches the tropic of Cancer) in the south. The deity in the sanctum, Aravamudhan, is in the act of rising from his snake-couch to give darshan to Thirumazhisai Alwar, the ardent devotee. There is also a small temple dedicated to Lakshmi.
Ramaswami Temple is near the Adikumbeswara temple. The Mahamandapam has exquisite sculptures, each a class in itself, the Coronation, Trivikrama, a dancer with Veena and Manmatha. The idol in the sanctum installed by Ragunatha Naik of Thanjavur had been found from a tank. Lord Hanuman image in this temple can be seen playing a Veena. The corridor walls are painted with sequences of Ramayana. The Ramaswamy Temple is another Nayaka period temple constructed by Achutha Nayak of Thanjavur during 16-century. The Mahamandapam of the temple has beautiful carved pillars, notable among these being the coronation of Vibhishana (the king Ravana's brother) and a dancer with Veena. The frescoes on the walls depict incidents from the Ramayana.
The temple is noted for its exquisite pillars. The presiding deity Chakrapani has eight arms. There is a bronze image of Raja Serfoji worshipping the Lord as he is said to have been cured of an illness by the grace of this God. A panchamukha (five-faced) Hanuman is erected in the prakaram.
The Brahma temple is very rare in India and the Brahma temple here is in the place where He performed a penance.
The temple is so aligned that the rays of the sun falls for 3 days on the Lingam in the sanctum in the first Tamil month (April-May). The Nrithya Sabha (dance hall) is a typical example of the Chola art. The Nageswara Temple also known as Koothandavar Kovil is dedicated to Shiva as Nagaraja (Serpent King). The construction of the temple begun in 886AD and during 12-century Adithya Chola renovated it. The temple is so oriented that it allows the sunrays inside it only during the nonth of Chithrai (April-May). There is a dance hall opposite to the small Nagaraja Temple on the right before you reach the main sanctum, designed like a chariot pulled by horses and elephants. It has gopurams in the east and west directions and there are some superb statues on the outside walls of the main temple, described as a great marvel of the Chola period.
Hardly a km from Thirunageswaram is the Vishnu shrine, Oppiliappan temple. It ranks equal to Thirumalai in Thirupathi and many perform their vows here, which they made to perform at Thirumalai. The idol is just like the one at Thirumalai. Salt is not added in the daily food offered to this deity in deference to is consort's ignorance of cooking. an image of Vedanta Desika is found in this temple. There is also a tank inside. Tasting the Prasadam (food offered to the deity) inside the temple one never gets the feeling that it has been prepared without salt but on coming out one finds out the difference. Oppiliyappan is also called Srinivasan, the deity installed in the sanctum has Bhoodevi on her knees praying to the Lord on the right side. There are two theerthams (sacred temple ponds) inside the temple.
Oppilliappan Kovil is bout 6km from Kumbakonam. Thiru Oppiliappan temple is situated in the village bearing the same name. In the temple records, the deity is Sri Venkatachalapathi believed to be the elder brother of Lord Venkateshwara of Thrumala. The Alwars called the Lord of this place as Than Oppar Illappan, meaning God without a peer. Hence, he came to be popularly called as Oppilliappan. This is a Prarthana Shrine. Tradition has it that devotees get fulfilled here of their vows and pilgrims throng to discharge their debt to gratitude to the deity. The kalyana Mandapam of the temple is very popular for celebrating marriages. It is noteworthy that only salt free dishes are offered to the deity as Markandeya maharishi practiced it during his time. This tradition is kept up even to this day.
This temple is another masterpiece of Chola art. It was built by Aditya Chola in 10th century AD. Later rulers have also improved the temple with additions. It is called Bhaskara (Sun) Kshetram. The niches contain Vinayaka, Ardhanariswara and a maiden all a splendor in stone. This is also one of th eNavagaha sthalams for Raghu (dragon's head) and a beautifulsanctum for Him with His consorts attracts thousands of pilgrims each day during the Rahu Kalam (inauspicious time) when holy Abishekam (ablutions) is performed to the deity.
Thiruvidaimarudur is 10km north of Kumbakonam with an imposing gopuram. A huge Mahalingam is the presiding deity here. He is supposed to be the main deity (Moolavar) of Tamil Nadu as the other temples around it houses only the Parivara Devathas as main deity. Marudu is derived from the holy tree of the place called Marudha maram. From time immemorial, those afflicted with evil spirts circumambulate the Aswamedha Prakaram and get cured. On the eastern tower is the sculpture of Brahmahatthi, a Brahmin murdered by a king waiting to take revenge. The king who entered the temple to escape from the sin of killing a Brahmin was asked to go out through another gate as he was a devout Siva Baktha. The shrine of Mookambika here is in the northern style of architecture. A library is attached to this temple possessing Saiva Siddhanta and Agama palm leaf manuscripts. There is a Theertham called Singha Thirtham inside the temple. Pattinathar stone image and Bhadragiriyar stone image are in the eastern and western gateways of the temple. Thai Poosam festival (January-February) is very famous attracting huge crowds.
Thirubhuvanam is 8km from Kumbakonam. It has the 13th century AD. Chola temple of Kambahareswara built by Kulottunga III. It is a colossal stone edifice raised as a memorial of the victory of his North Indian campaign. The whole temple including the gopuram has stone relief, of the legends of Siva. The Sarabha Murthi bronze idol is the unique feature here. It is a fusion of human, bird and beast supposed to have been incarnated by Lord Siva to release the Devas from the unabated fury of Narasimha the avatar of a human lion of Vishnu - after he slayed the demon Hiranya. Near the Sarabha sanctum can be seen two exquisite sculptures of Sridevi and Bhudevi the consorts of Vishnu. The place is famous for silk weaving. Modelled after the Chola shrines at Thanjavur, it is believed to have been constructed to commemorate a victory in war. The Shiva Linga in the sanctum is carved out of a big rock. The goddess is known as Dharmasamvardhini. The tower over the main entrance is a massive structure noted for its wealth of sculptures depicting episodes from the epics. The temple walls are ornamented with numerous sculptures portraying dance poses delicately carved in Pallava style.
Suriyanar Koil (Sun Temple)
This temple is 22km from Kumbakonam and even before the great temple for Sun god at Konark was dreamed of a temple for Sun and the Planets that move around Him was built here. It was built by Kulottungan I. A fifty feet gopuram stands here and passing through it the image of a horse and the chariot of Surya appears into view. The planets have different shrines around the Sun's sanctum, which is in the centre. This is one of the Navagraha sthalams and people pour here daily to propitiate Sun God, the chief of the plants according to Indian Astrology. Ratha Sapthami (January-February) is the day of the change of Sun's course (Starting His Northern course from Capricorn) and that day is celebrated as a festival day.
This is farther off to Surianar Koil on the northeast. The famous Ashta Bhuja Durga temple is in this place. It is the birthplace of Krishnan Raman, Chief Minister to the Chola Emperor Rajaraja I. The idol is a splendid specimen of Chola art and Goddess Durga is seen slaying the demon from Her lion mount.
Thiruppurambiam is about 13km to the north of Kumbakonam is the place which was a fierce battlefield in the 9th century deciding the bright future of the Cholas. Chola king Aditya built a temple in sweet remembrance of the turn of tide in his favour and named it Aditeswaram. The present name of the presiding deity is Sakshinatheswarar and the consort bears the beautiful name Kuraivila Azhagi (Beauty Unsurpassed). The sanctum for the Devi was built by Rajaraja I. The sanctum wall contains beautiful sculptures of Parvara Devatas. Lord. Ganesa here is performed honey ablutions on the Vinayaka Chathurthi day and all the honey passed on Him in absorbed by him.
It stands 6km west of Kumbakonam on the banks of the river Cauvery. It is one of the six abodes (arupadaiveedu) of Lord Muruga. 'Malai' means hill but there is no hill here but an artificial hillis built and the deity enshrined on the top. There are 60 steps, each step for a year of the Tamil Year series which has a cycle of 60 years. Here, before the idol stands an elephant instead of the usual peacock, the mount of Lord Muruga. The deity is called Swaminatha as He explained the meaning of Pranava Mantra to His father Lord Siva and also got the nick name 'Thagappanaswami' god to father. This is the only shrine where Lord Muruga is seen with his consort Devayani.
Situated to the west of Kumbakonam is a shrine on a hillock dedicated to Subramanya, locally called as Swaaminatha. He is said to have initiated his father into Pranava Manthra. It many be noted that importance is given here to Subramanya as his temple is on the top while that of Shiva is at the bottom. This place is famous from the ancient times for casting bronze idols of gods and goddess as well as for other useful castings.
Darasuram is about 4km on the south west of Kumbakonam is this famous temple dedicated to Iravatheeswara noted for its sculptural wonder. It was built by Rajaraja II (1146-72 AD). The original name was Rajarajeswaram which was later corrupted as Darasuram. The shrine is a square panchandhala vimanam, and the mandapam is raised with its basement walls carved with exquisite sculptures. The reliefs depict the 63 Saivaite saints and the episodes in their lives. The Badra Koshtas have Dakshinamurthi, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Vishnu carved beautifully. Different forms of Siva adorn the Karna Devakoshtas. In the north wall, Mahishasura the buffalo demon is shown in full human form, not to be seen anywhere else. Even narrow spaces are filled with Kiritarjuna and Ravana lifting Kailas. The cell in the second floor contains Umamaheswara with king Rajendra II. The king wanted to make this temple unique in every respect, so he has lavished it with intricate artwork, even paid attention in the choice of stones for carving the images. In architectural greatness, it ranks only behind the Chola temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram. Renamed after Airavata, the elephant mount of Lord Indra, most of the temple is made of granite. The frontal columns of the temple have unique miniature sculptures.
The balustrades of steps reaching the mandapam too are wrought with elobrate sculptures. The middle Ghoshta in the south wall has an awe-inspiring image of Sarabha pacifying Narasimha. In the north east mandapam, the pillars contain Natya poses and the ceiling with dancers. Even the Balipeetam facing the temple is an ornate structure with a flight of steps (9 nos.) each producing a susical note when struck. The Dwarapalakas that adorn the temple were brought from the western Chalukya capital Kalyanapuri as trophy of victory.
The temple is a square panchadhala vimana. Exquisite sculptures decorate the basement walls of the mandapam. The pillars show some flower emblems, a developing style of the late Chola period. Sculpted guardians flank the entrance. The doorkeepers have massive clubs. A Nandi stands at the entrance to the main shrine. The niches of the main temple have some outstanding sculptures. Some of the niches inside contain early Chola sculptures depicting forms of Shiva, as Ardhanareeswarar and Nagaraja. The outer walls of the temple are also ornate with sculpted figures. In the sanctum, a huge decorated lingam stands. The remarkable sculptures of the temple depicting Shiva and stories from the epics make it unique. Darasuram is also a silk weaving centre.
Originally known as Raja Rajapuram, this tiny cillage has a marvelous Shiva temple dedicated to Airavatheswara. It is said that Raja Raja Chola built this temple to commemorate his victory over the Chalukyan monarch at kalyanapura. He brought from there a beautiful idol of a Dwarapalaka as a trophy which has been installed in the front of temple on the eastern side. Like other Chola temples, Darasuram temple too is full of sculptural work. The front portion of the temple appears like a stone chariot with wheels. The Bali Peetha outside the shrine has steps of dressed stones, which exit different tones of sound like the keys struck on a piano. All the seven notes of Indian music have been incorporated in these steps. The village has developed as a silk weaving centre.
Pazhayarai is about 7km from Kumbakonam is a old Chola capital Rajarajan II has built a temple here for Somanadiswarar. Formerly it had a palace where the Chola kings resided. It was called Cholan Maligai but now no trace of it is left. Life-size image of durga, chariot-like mandapam drawn by galloping horses, Ardhanariswara (half Parvathi, half Siva form), and Narasimha (human lion avatar of Vishnu) are most exquisitely carved here.
On the eastern side of Pazhayarai was a Kailasanathar sculpture. Ravana is seen lifting Mount Kailas, the abode of Siva only to be trapped under its weight when Lord Siva presses it down with the thumb of His right foot - a remarkable sculpture. Saint Appar one of the 63 Nayanmars of the Siva cult is said to have observed a hunger strike here to establish it as a Siva temple.
This temple is 8km from Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is Dhenupuriswarar. The right of this temple is imposing with five gopurams piercing the sky. A life-like statue of the great scholar and minister Govinda Dikshithar of the Thanjavur Naick kings is in this temple. The important idol here is the Kattaivasal Durga at the entrance of the northern gopuram. It was the guaridian deity of the palace of the Cholas and after the disintegration was brought with Bhairavar and installed here. Vishnu Durgai is very famous here and pilgrims throng here every day. A little to the west is Ramanathar temple dedicated to Vishnu, which contains niches on the walls housing images of fine artistic skill.
Gangaikondacholapuram is about 32km from Kumbakonam. The grat monument at this place is known as the second Brihadishwara temple. It was established by Rajendra son of Raja Raja Chola, the commemorate his victorious march to east India upto the Ganga river. This huge temple is a treasure house of Chola art and sculptural. The most notable among these are the sculptures of Ganana Saraswati sitting over a sotus, and Chandeshwara Anugraha Murthy. The temple is said to be the most outstanding monument of Chola sculpture of those dayus. There is a huge Nandi figure in front of the temple. A Subsidairy shrine dedicated to Mahishasuramardini has a beautiful figure of the goddess. The Simha Tirtha within the temple enclosure is an added attraction. Recent excavations have revealed the locations of the royal palaces and other chambers.
Tiruvalanjuli is about 6km from Kumbakonal. A tiny village on the outskirts of the town is a shiva temple dedicated to Kapardishwara which is a vast museum of Chola art and inconography. It is considered as a Paradise of Sculpture and Art. The presence of Buddhist and Jaina figures in this place suggest that these sects existed side by side. There is a small shrine for Ganesha called Vellai Pillaiyar (White Ganesha). It is believed that Raja Raja Chola built this temple.
Pazhayaru is about 8km from Kumbakonam. This little hamlet was the capital of the ancient Chola dynasty. Several hundred years before the Taj Mahal was built, a Tamil King had thought of such a similar structure in memory of his step-mother. This temple is known as Pallipadai temple which means burying the dead and erecting a temple at the site. This Shiva temple dedicated to Panchavan Maha Devi Ishwaran is one such temple at this place. It is a unique work of art and a monument of historical importance. The Chola King Rajendra built this temple in memory of his step-mother. Though a Shiva temple, it is called traditionally as Ramanatha Swamy temple.
Konerirajapuram is about 18km from kumbakonam. This small Shiva temple is dedicated to Uma Maheshwara and his consort Mangala nayaki. Known in the ancient days as Tiru nallam, it has become famous for the colossal Nataraja icon made out of bronze, which is stated to be the biggest in the world. It stands to a height of three metres. Built by the senior Queen Chambian Mahadevi during the reign of Uttama Chola, there are many life-size statues of the Chola kings of that time.
Tirucherai is about 12km from Kumbakonam. A small village of mythological and historical importance, it is a sacred Vaishnava temple. The chief deity is known as Saranathan. The prefix SARA is attributed to the fact that the Veda Agama Sara was revived here by using the sacred soil from a local pond. Thus the pond is called as Sara Pushkarini and the goddess is called as Sara Nayaki. The main tower of the temple is a gigantic structure 40m high with seven tiers, elaborately decorated with thousands of sculptural designs.
What to buy?
Thanjavur is famous for repousse (metal work with raised relief) and copper work inlaid with brass and silver. The Thanjavur plates are noted worthy. Bronze images are made by traditional craftsmen at Swamimalai.
The Poompuhar Emporium on the Gandhi Road is ideal for buying them. Besides repousse, wood carvings like temple cars and pith models of Thanjavur temple etc. are stocked here. Ancient brass betal boxes, cutters and Chola bronze pots are also available.
Distance from Kumbakonam To Other important places Or