Best Places to Visit in Kumbakonam
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple
At a distance of 2.5 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in the center of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. This temple is considered to be the 26th Paadal Petra Sthalam in the Chola kingdom that spread south of the River Cauvery.
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, also known as Thirukudamooku, is dedicated to the Lord Shiva, and was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while the temple was renovated by Govinda Dikshitar, the Chieftain of Achutha Nayakar of Thanjavur in the 16th century AD. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
According to mythology, when the world was facing destruction due to the devastating tsunami, Lord Brahma approached Lord Shiva to know from where he had to restart creation. Lord Shiva suggested that Brahma make a magic pot with the sand collected from various sacred places and floats it in the flood water and also taught the procedure of leaving it on the water. Kumbakonam is the place where the pot stopped and then Lord Shiva shot an arrow on the pot. The nectar spilled out and thus life was revived on the earth. A few drops of the nectar fell into a natural cavity in this spot and it became the Mahamaham tank.
The Kumbeswarar Temple is an architectural marvel which reflects the typical Dravidian architecture and it covers an area of about 4 acres. This temple consist three Prakaras and three Gopurams. The East Gopuram comprises of 9 stories with a height of 128 ft. There are small Gopurams in the north and west and the Mottai (domed-bald) Gopuram in the south.
Adi Kumbeswarar is the presiding deity of the temple and the shrine is located in the center. The Linga is broad at the bottom and narrow at the top in the shape of a needle. Kumbeswarar Lingam believed to have been made by Shiva himself when he mixed nectar of immortality and sand. Goddess Manthrapeeteswari Mangalambika is his consort and her shrine is situated to the left of Kumbeswarar shrine. The unique feature of this temple is the 27 star sign and 12 sun shines that are sculptured in a large block of stone. Lord Ganapati, Lord Muruga and Kiratamurti are the other shrines present at this temple. The Mahamaham tank, Potramarai Tirtha, Varuna Tirtha, Kasyapa Tirtha, Chakra Tirtha, Matanga Tirtha and Bhagavad Tirtha are the seven outlying water bodies associated with the temple.
Among the various festivals Mahamaham that is celebrated once in twelve years is of very great importance. Sabthasthanam, Brahmotsavam, Thirukalyanam, Thirumanjanam, Aadi Pooram, Panguni Festival, Butter Pot Festival are grandly celebrated in this temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM and 4 PM - 9.30 PM
Darasuram Airavatheswar Temple
At a distance of 34 Kms from Thanjavur & 284 Kms from Chennai, Darasuram, a small town 8 Kms away from Kumbakonam is known for the Airavathesvara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century CE. This temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Great Living Chola Temples'.
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. The main deity's consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple.
The legend goes to show that Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, worshipped Lord Siva in this temple; so did also the King of Death, Yama. Inscriptions on the temple walls say that it was known in those days as Raja Rajeswaram and Raja Rajapuram.
Timings: 6 AM to 7 PM
At a distance of 2 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station and 500 m from Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, Sarangapani Temple is a Hindu temple situated in Kumbakonam.The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Sarangam means bow and pani means hand. The deity is having a bow in the hand. Also known as Tiru Kudanthai is the third of the 108 Divya Desams. The Sarangapani Temple is also one of the Pancha Ranga Khestras with the other four being Srirangapatnam, Srirangam, Appalarangam, Parimala Ranganatha Perumal Temple at Mayiladuthurai and Vatarangam at Sirkazhi.
The Sarangapani Temple existed during the Pallava period. However, the current structure is attributed to the period of Vikrama Chola (1121 AD onwards) and it was renovated in 16th century during the period of Nayaks. Sarangapani Temple is the biggest Vishnu temple in Kumbakonam. It is of great religious significance and considered to be second only to the Srirangam Temple in Trichy. The temple boasts of 5 prakaras and a holy tank which is known as Porthamarai Kulam. The rajagopuram has 11 tiers and has a height of 150 feet. This is the third tallest temple gopuram among the Divya Desams other two are Srirangam (236 feet) and Srivilliputhur (192 feet).
The central shrine of the temple is in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants, with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sarangapani from heaven in the chariot. The Presiding deity is Sri Sarangapani Swami and he is also known as Aara Amudhan, Abayaryaapthamiruthan and Utthanasayi. Sarangapani is shown in the Udhyoga Sayana posture as if he is getting up from a reclining position. The consort of the lord is Komalavalli Thayar.
Chariot festival is the most prominent festival of the temple, celebrated during the Tamil month of Chittirai (March-April). The twin temple chariots are the third largest in Tamil Nadu, each weighing 300 tons. Brahmotsavam, spring festival and Navaratri are the other important festivals of this temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 12 PM and 5 PM - 9 PM
At a distance of 5 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Uppiliappan Temple also known as Thiruvinnagar is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu situated near Thirunageswaram, a village in the outskirts of the Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. It is counted as the 60th among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
The temple is believed to be constructed by the Medieval Cholas of the late 8th century AD, while later contributions made by Thanjavur Nayaks. The temple has two inscriptions dating from the Chola period.
According to mythology, Lord Oppilliappan married Bhoomidevi here. The Lord came in the form of an old man and asked Markandeya to give his daughter Bhoomidevi in marriage to him. Markandeya said that his daughter was too young to cook food and that she did not even know how to use salt in cooking. To this the Lord said that he would accept the food even without salt. Hence the Lord gets the name Uppiliappan and salt is not added in the prasadam prepared in the temple.
The temple was constructed in Dravidian style of architecture. It has a five-tiered Rajagopuram. Lord Vishnu is worshiped as Uppiliappan and his consort Lakshmi as Bhoomidevi. The 8 feet tall idol of the Lord with Bhoomidevi on the right and Markandeya maharishi on the left was appeared in the main sanctum. The Utsava deity Oppiliappan is never taken out of the temple without his consort Bhoomidevi, since he had promised Markandeya maharishi that he would never leave his daughter Bhoomidevi alone while asking her hand in marriage.
The Temple has a holy tank inside the temple premises. Lord Rama, Lord Garuda, Lord Hanuman, Maniappan, and Muthappan are the other shrines present in this temple premises. There is a beautiful Temple elephant which is decorated during festival occasions. The lord is also known as lord Venkateshwara's brother and so those devotees who are unable to visit Tirupati to fulfill their promises can do so here.
Brahmotsavam is grandly celebrated at the temple in the months of Purattasi (September-October), Aipasi (October-November) and Panguni (March-April).
Timings: 6 AM - 1 PM and 4 PM - 9 PM
At a distance of 400 m from Thiruvidaimaruthur Bus Stop and 9 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Mahalingaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple located in Thiruvidaimaruthur in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple complex is one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Thanjavur Nayaks during the 16th century. There are 149 inscriptions associated with the temple indicating contributions from Pandyas, Cholas, Thanjavur Nayaks and Thanjavur Maratha kingdom.
The temple has a five-tiered Rajagopuram and three precincts, each enclosed inside huge walls and having gateway towers for each of them. The temple is rectangular in plan with East-West orientation and has four entrances in each of the four directions. The three precincts are called Aswametha Pradakshina, Kodumudi and Pranava. Pranava precinct has lot of sculptures dating back to the Nayak period of the 16th century.
The Shiva Lingam here is a swayambhu (self-manifested). Shiva is believed to have appeared as a flame to please Agastya and other sages who were performing penance; hence the presiding deity is referred as Jyothirmaya Mahalingam. His consort Parvati is depicted as Pirguchuntaragujambigai. This is referred to as Madhyarjuna Kshetram.
The Ambal Shrine is one of the Sakthi Peetams and is on the right side of the main shrine. There is a separate shrine for Mookambiga Amman. There are stone images of Pattinathar and Bhadragiriyar in the eastern and western gateways of the temple respectively. There are five temple tanks inside the temple, namely Karunyamirdha Theertham, Soma Theertham, Kanaga Theertham, Kalyana Theertham and Iravatha Theertham. There are 27 other water bodies that are associated with the temple.
The most prominent festival of the temple, Thaipoosam, is celebrated for ten days during the Tamil month of Thai. During the Tamil month of Vaikasi, Tirukalyanam (sacred marriage), Ambal Tapasu (penance of Ambal), Ambal Thannai Thaane festivals are celebrated.
Timings: 6 AM - 12 PM and 4 PM - 9 PM
At a distance of 2 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Ramaswamy Temple is an ancient Hindu temple located on the southeastern portion of the Porthamarai Kulam in Kumbakonam.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Achutha Nayaka of Thanjavur constructed the temple during the 16th century CE. The temple was built in Dravidian architectural style. This temple consists of one Gopuram, one Maha Mandapam and Sanctum Sanctorum. The columns of Maha Mandapam are enriched with some of the famous stone carvings of Vamana Avatharam, Meenakshi Kalyanam and Sugreeva Pattabishekam. The outer Prakaram consists of 219 wall paintings, which explains the series of incidents from the great Epic Ramayana.
This temple, known as the southern Ayodhya, is unique as Rama and Sita are in a Pattabishekam posture-Coronation scene. Lakshmana stands next to Rama, holding a bow and arrows; they are flanked by Bharatha holding an Umbrella and Shatrughna holding a fan. This is the only temple where we can see idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana along with Bharatha and Shatrughna. Hanuman is depicted as singing in praise of the Lord with the help of a veena. Alwar Sannathi, Sreenivasa Sannathi, and Gopalan Sannathi are the other temples located within the temple complex.
Sri Rama Navami is celebrated in a grand manner on the 9th day after New Moon in March/April. This is one of the five Vishnu temples that are connected with Mahamaham festival which happens once in 12 years in Kumbakonam, the other four temples are Sarangapani Temple, Chakrapani Temple, Rajagopalaswamy Temple and Varahaperumal Temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 12 PM and 5 PM - 8.30 PM
At a distance of 8 km from Kumbakonam, Patteeswaram is famous for the Sri Durga Shrine and a Shiva Temple called Sri Dhenupureeswarar or Thenupureeswarar Temple.
Dhenupureeswarar Temple is fairly a big temple and is dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. This temple has 5 tall gopurams and 3 prakarams. The sanctum sanctorum of the main deity Thenupureeswarar is located in the central mandapam of the first prakarams. There are shrines for Chandikeswarar, Natarajar and Sun god. To the north of the main sanctum sanctorum is the shrine for the female deity Sri Gnanambikai.
According to the legend, divine cow Kamadhenu's daughter Patti is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva here and hence this sthalam is called as Patteeswaram. Sage Viswamitra got the title of Brahma rishi at this Sthalam. Sri Rama is said to have worshipped Shiva at this sthalam to absolve himself of the Chaayadosham which he got by killing Vaali. Shiva is said to have blessed Sambandar by sending through his Shivaganas an umbrella made with pearls (Muthu Pandal), to protect him from the scorching summer sun when he was coming to Patteeswaram. It is said that God Shiva asked Nandi to move aside so that he can see Sambandar while he was coming to this temple to have darshan of Lord Shiva. Hence, the Nandi in this temple is not in a straight line facing the sanctum sanctorum.
Though this is a Shiva temple, the most famous deity in this temple is Goddess Durga. The Cholas brought the Durga idol to this place and built a separate shrine for the goddess. She is basically a guardian deity of this temple. Goddess Durga is in peaceful appearance, seated on a lion and with her foot on the demon, Mahishasura. She has eight hands with each one holding the conch, discus, bow, arrow, sword, shield and a parrot.
The well called Koti Theertham in Dhenupureeswarar Temple is said to have been created by Lord Rama. The well is considered to be equivalent to Dhanushkodi near Rameswaram. Dhenupureeswarar Temple attracts devotees who have the negative effects of the snake planets Rahu and Kethu.
The annual ten-day festival in Margazhi (December-January), Vaikasi festival (May-June), Navarathri and Muthu Pandal Festival (June-July) are the important festivals celebrated at this temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 1 PM and 4 PM - 9 PM
Suryanar Kovil / Suryanarayana Temple
At a distance of 1 km from Thirumangalakudi Bus Stop and 15 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Suryanar Kovil or Suryanarayana Temple is an ancient temple located in Suryanar Kovil. It is situated on Kumbakonam - Kadhiramangalam road.
The present masonry structure was built during the reign of Kulottunga Chola in the 11th century and was called Kulottunga Chola-Marttandalaya, while the later additions were done by the Vijayanagar Kings. The Suryanarayana Temple at Suryanar Kovil is one of the Navagraha temples and is dedicated to Suryan. The temple also has separate shrines for the other eight planetary deities.
According to the legend, once Sage Kalava was suffering from leprosy, he prayed to Navagrahas. The planets were pleased by his devotion and granted his wish. Brahma was furious because nobody had the right to change the destiny of a person. He cursed the nine planets to suffer from leprosy. On being cursed, all the nine planets performed severe penance to please Lord Shiva here. Lord Shiva was apparently pleased with their penance and appeared before them. He blessed the planets that they should do all good to those who pray them with full faith and devotion.
Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the west facing temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram and a gateway tower. The presiding deity is in a chariot like vimanam, representing the sun's chariot. The image of Suryanarayana is in a standing position with his two consorts, Usha & Prathyusha (Chaya). There are also shrines dedicated to Kasiviswanathar, Visalakshi and Guru Bhagavan in the sanctum.
Rath Saptami in the Tamil month of Thai and the first Sundays in the months of Aavani (Leo) and Kartikai (Scorpio) and Vijayadashami are celebrated with great devotion in this temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM and 4 PM - 8 PM
Agneeswarar / Kanjanur Sukran Temple
At a distance of 3 km from Suryanar Kovil and 18 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, The Agneeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple situated at Kanjanur in Tamil Nadu.
The presiding deities of temple are Lord Shiva as Agneeswarar and Goddess Parvathi as Karpagambal. Kanjanur is one of the nine Navagraha sthalas located in the Cauvery Delta region dedicated to planet Venus, called Sukran. Unlike other Navagraha temples, the main deity, Agneeswarar in the form of lingam depicts Lord Sukran.
The temple was built by the Medieval Cholas and renovated by the kings of the Vijayanagar Empire. Lord Brahma is said to have been blessed with a vision of Shiva's marriage with Parvathi here. Agni is said to have worshipped Shiva here, hence the name Agneeswarar. This shrine is also referred to as Palaasavanam, Brahmapuri, Agnistalam and Neelakudi. The important feature is that the oil Abishekam performed to the main Siva lingam is fully absorbed by the idol.
This temple has a five tiered Rajagopuram and two prakarams. Haradatta Sivacharyar is said to have composed many works in Sanskrit here. Stone images of Natarajar and Sivakami are seen in this temple. The Shiva Tandavam here is referred to as Mukti Tandavam. Legend has it that Shiva blessed Paraasara muni with a vision of the cosmic dance here. The temple also houses the deities of Maanakkanjaarar Nayanmaar and Kalikkaamar, in separate shrines.
Sukran is the second most beneficial planet after Guru. Friday is the day of Sukran and worship on Fridays is considered very special. Mahasivaratri, Arudra Darisanam, Navaratri and Aadi Pooram are celebrated grandly at this temple.
Timings: 7 AM - 12.30 PM and 4 PM - 9 PM
At a distance of 1 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Mahamaham Tank is a huge temple tank located in the heart of Kumbakonam town in Tamil Nadu. It is considered to be the foremost and one of the largest temple tanks in Tamil Nadu.
The tank covers an area of 6.2 acres and is trapezoidal in shape. The tank is surrounded by 16 small Mandapams (shrines) and has 21 wells inside the tank. Govinda Dikshitar, the chieftain of Ragunatha Nayak of Thanjavur, constructed the sixteen Mandapams and stone steps around this tank. Brahmatheerthesar, Mukunthar, Thalesar, Rishakesar, Umaipakesar, Nairuthesar, Brahmeesar, Gangatheerthesar and Seshtra Paleesar, are the names of deities located in these Mandapams.
There are 21 wells inside the tank in the shape of small spring wells. Beginning the eastern side of the tank, there are 8 wells in the name of celestial deities namely Indra, Yama, Agni, Niruthi, Vayuya, Kubera and Isanya respectively. In between the Vayu and Kubera wells, the ninth well is located called Brahma Theertham. Commencing from the north of Vayu Theertham, there are nine wells indicating the holy rivers of India, namely the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Narmada, Saraswathi, Kaveri, Tungabhadra, Krishna and Sarayu.
Masimaham is an annual event that occurs in the Tamil month of Masi (February-March) in the star of Magam. Once in twelve years, when the planet Guru (Jupiter) enters Simha (Leo) sign, the Kumbh mela festival is celebrated at Mahamaham tank. 12 Shiva temples and 5 Vishnu temples are connected with this festival. They are Kasi Viswanathar Temple, Kumbeswarar Temple, Nageswara Temple, Someswarar Temple, Koteeswarar Temple, Kalahasteeswarar Temple, Gowthameswarar Temple, Amirthakalasanathar Temple, Banapuriswarar Temple, Abimukeswarar Temple, Kambatta Visvanathar Temple and Ekambareswarar Temple. Of them 10 temples are in Kumbakonam. The Vishnu temples are Sarangapani Temple, Chakrapani Temple, Ramaswamy Temple, Rajagopalaswamy Temple, and Varahaperumal Temple. The processional deities of these temples come to this tank during festival days and at noon, all the deities bathe along with the devotees - it is called Theerthavari. The temple cars of major temples in Kumbakonam come around the city on the festival night
During the time of Mahamaham festival, it is also believed that taking bath in the holy stream of water from the famous rivers are mixed together in Mahamaham tank, would get rid of sins according to Hindu religion. During this festival, thousands of Hindu devotees come to Kumbakonam and take bath in Mahamaham tank.
Nachiyar Kovil / Thirunaraiyur Nambi Temple
At a distance of 9 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Nachiyar Kovil or Thirunarayur Nambi Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located at Thirunaraiyur village of Kumbakonam.
The temple is believed to have been built by Kochengat Cholan. He is believed to have built 70 temples dedicated to Shiva and only Vishnu temple at Thirunaraiyur. The later contributions to the temple were made by Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu. The temple is the place where god Vishnu is believed to have initiated Pancha Samskara (religious initiation) to Thirumangai Azhwar.
The temple was constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture. The temple has a 5-tiered rajagopuram on the eastern side, rising up to a height of 75 feet. The entrance through the eastern gateway leads to a hall of 16 pillars, called Neenila Mutram. Thirumangai Azhwar, Ramanuja, Koorathazhwar and idols of eleven azhwars are the other shrines here.
According to the legend, sage Medhavi wanted Goddess to be born as his daughter and undertook penance on the banks of the Manimuthar River. Pleased with his penance, Goddess was born under the Vanjula tree and the Rishi brought her up as Vanjulavalli. Lord Mahavishnu came to Thirunaraiyur in five forms as Sangarshanan, Pradyumnan, Anirudhan, Purushothaman and Vaasudevan. Perumal expressed his desire to the sage to marry his daughter. The sage accepted Lord's wish on one condition that his daughter would have all powers in all matters. Perumal agreed to the condition and had the hands of Mother. Named after Mother-Nachiar, the place came to be known as Nachiar Kovil.
The Presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vishnu known as Naraiyur Nambi and Goddess Lakshmi as Nachiyar Thayar (Vanjulavalli Thayar). The sanctum also houses the images of Brahma, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana and a set of gods, who are depicted attending the wedding. The festive idols of Srinivasa, Vanjulavalli (Lakshmi) and Bhudevi are housed in the same shrine.
Kal Garuda is the most prominent feature of the temple. As per local legend, the sculptor who sculpted the idol of Garuda got frustrated as the bird flew away each time, a new image was prepared. In frustration, he threw a stone at Garuda, who got injured and decided to stay in the temple as Kal Garuda. The image of Kal Garuda is made of saligrama and is housed in the shrine outside the main sanctum.
Brahmotsavam (December-January), Garuda Seva (March-April), Vasanthothsavam (May-June) and Thirukalyana Utsavam (September-October) are the prominent festivals here.
Timings: 6.30 AM - 12.30 PM and 4.30 PM 8.30 PM
Thirunageswaram Temple / Rahu Temple
At a distance of 5 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Sri Naganathaswamy Temple or Rahu Sthalam is an ancient Shiva temple situated at Thirunageswaram in Kumbakonam Town of Tamilnadu.
The presiding deity of the temple is Arulmigu Giri Gujambika Sametha Naganathaswamy. It is believed to have been built by Aditya Chola I in the 9th century AD. The inner mantapa was built by Seikkizhar, and the outer mantapa was built by Govinda Dikshitar (17th century AD) a minister to Acchuthappa nayak.
Sri Naganathaswamy Temple is one of the 9 Navagraha Temples around Kumbakonam and is dedicated to Rahu. The temple has a separate shrine for Rahu. Here Rahu Bhagawan can be seen with his two consorts Nagavalli and Nagakanni together. Sri Naganathaswamy Temple is one where Lord Shiva was worshipped by Rahu and got relieved of a curse. A unique feature of the temple is that Rahu Bhagawan is seen with human face. Usually in other places, Rahu is seen with a serpent face.
The Thirunageswaram Temple has vast prakarams, towering gopurams, and several mandapas. There are four entry towers with fort like walls which surround the outermost prakaram. The Vinayaka temple, Balipeetam, and Nandeeswarar Mandapam are seen on the eastern gateway. Lord Rahu's idol is placed in the south-west corner. The southern side of the temple has a water head with four mandapas, surrounded by a 100 pillar mandapam in a temple-car style. The mandapam is decorated by artistic pillars in all directions.
It is believed that by doing milk abhishekam here for Rahu during Rahu kalam the delay in getting married, childlessness, troublesome married life, ill-effects of Kalasarpa Dhosha and Sarpa Dhosha are all cured. An important aspect of Rahu Temple at Thirunageswaram is that during milk abhishekam, the milk when poured over the idol turns blue which is clearly visible.
The annual Brahmotsavam is observed in the month of Kartika while the Sekkizhaar festival is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi. Large number of pilgrims visits the temple during these occasions.
Timings: 6.30 AM - 12 PM and 5 PM - 9 PM
At a distance of 13 km from Kumbakonam, Sri Kalyanasundareswarar Temple, also known as Panchavarneswarar Temple is an ancient Shiva shrine located at Nallur in the outskirts of Kumbakonam. This is one of the top temples in Kumbakonam.
The original masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers. The main deity here is Panchavarneswarar and he is also known as Kalyanasundareswarar. The Shiva Lingam at Kalyanasundareswarar Temple, Thirunallur is a swayambhu lingam. The miracle of the temple here is the color of the deity changes 5 times a day as copper, light red, molten gold, Emerald and Multicolor for every 2 1/2 hours. This is one of the Mada Koil or temples built at an elevation by Kochengat Cholan. This is one of the 275 Padal Petra sthalams of Lord Shiva.
According to the legend, during the divine Shiva-Parvathi wedding in Mount Kailash, the place went down due to the heavy weight of the presence of all the gods. To balance the level of the earth, Lord Shiva sent Sage Agasthya to South. The sage had to sacrifice his wish of witnessing the wedding. Lord assured him that he would grant the wedding darshan to him in this holy place. The sage installed a lingam behind the main lingam in the temple to worship Shiva.
The temple has a five-tiered Rajagopuram. The main shrines of the temple are located in an artificial hillock. The image of the presiding deity, Kalyanasundareswarar, in the form of lingam in a pedestal, occupies the main sanctum. The second lingam, believed to be installed by sage Agasthya is behind the main lingam. The shrine of Girisundari Amman is located in the first precinct facing west. The temple also has a bronze image of Nataraja, Ganapathi, Kali, sage Agasthya and the three Saiva saints Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar. The temple has a large tank called Sapthasagaram, located outside the main entrance.
Maha Shivrathri in February-March and Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December-January are the popular festivals celebrated at this temple.
Timings: 7.30 AM - 12 PM and 5.30 PM - 8 PM
At a distance of 9 km from Kumbakonam and 37 km from Thanjavur, Swamimalai, situated on the banks of river Cauvery, is known for Sri Swaminatha Swami Temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. Swamimalai is famous for being one of the six Padai Veedugal (Battle Camps) of Lord Murugan, the others being Thiruparamkundram, Thiruchendur, Palani, Thiruthani and Pazhamudhircholai.
The temple of Swaminatha is very ancient one and believed to be existed before 2nd century BC. It is said that Parantaka Chola I upgraded this temple. The temple was greatly damaged during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740.
The presiding deity Lord Murugan is depicted here as expounding the meaning of Pranava mantra 'Aum' to his father Lord Shiva. According to legend, Brahma disrespected Murugan at the time of visiting Mount Kailash. The child Muruga got angry with Brahma and asked him how he was creating living beings. Brahma said that he was creating with the help of the Vedas. On hearing the reply, Muruga asked Brahma to recite the texts from Vedas. At that time Muruga stopped Brahma and asked him to explain the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Brahma could not reply and hence Muruga got him imprisoned and took up the role of the creator. Devas requested Shiva to negotiate with Muruga to release Brahma.
Shiva came to Muruga and asked him to release Brahma from imprisonment. Muruga refused to release him stating Brahma was unaware of the meaning of the Pranav Mantra. Shiva asked Muruga to explain the meaning and Muruga explained it. Thus Lord Muruga got the name Swaminatha, meaning the Teacher of Shiva. The temple is built on a hilltop with three gopuras and three enclosures. The first enclosure is at the base of the hill, the second halfway up the hill and the third at the top surrounding the sanctum.
There are sixty steps and each one is named after the sixty Tamil years. The central shrine houses the 6 feet tall granite image of Swaminathar. There is a shrine of Vinayagar outside the first enclosure which has the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and the festival image of Lord Swaminatha. Shiva Linga and Meenakshi are located downhill. The second enclosure houses a marriage hall and the chariot of the temple.
Ten day Tirukarthikai festival in November / December is the important festival of the temple drawing lakhs of devotees. Chithirai Brahmotsavams, Vaikasi Visagam, Aavani Pavithrotsavam, Navarathri, Aipasi Skanda Sashti, Tiruvadirai, Thai Poosam, Panguni Valli Parinayam are the other festivals celebrated in the temple.
Timings: 7 AM - 12 noon and 5.30 PM - 9 PM.
At a distance of 500 m from Thirubhuvanam Bus Station, 9 km from Kumbakonam and 50 km from Thanjavur, Thirubhuvanam is well known for Kampahareswarar Temple, also known as Sarabeswarar temple. It is an ancient temple situated in Thirubhuvanam on Mayiladuthurai - Kumbakonam road.
The Kampaheswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva; the temple enshrines Kampaheswarar as the presiding deity, worshipped in the form of a Shiva Linga. According to legend, Shiva is believed to have relieved Kampa (quaking) of a king haunted by evil spirits on account of the king killing a Brahmin by mistake. This led to the name of Kampaheswarar.
The temple was built by Kulottunga Chola III (1178-1216), to celebrate a military victory. However, Pandyan kings have completed the construction of this temple. The architecture of the temple resembles Brihadeshwarar Temple of Thanjavur, Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram and Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple. It is believed that the temple was the last holy place to have been built by the Chola Kings.
The temple follows the Dravidian style of architecture. Similar to Brihadeswarar Temple, the vimana of the temple is extremely high compared to the Rajagopura. The 130 ft high tower (gopuram) of the sanctum sanctorum boasts several exquisitely carved sculptures. There are two gopuras and two enclosures, inner sanctum, artha mandapa, maha mandapa and mukha mandapa. The inner sanctum is a square-shaped structure. The Vimana has six bases and sculptures of the scenes of puranas on its walls. The front part of the temple has been built to resemble a chariot that stands 120 ft high. The walls of the chariot as well as the temple depict scenes from the Ramayana.
The deity is believed to have relieved devas from the fury of Narasimha after he slayed Hiranyakasipu the demon. A sculpture of Sarabeshwarar is seen with three legs, with body and face of a lion and a tail and four arms. In this temple the Utsava murthy (procession idol) is the Sarabeswarar. There is a belief that Sarabeswarar destroy all evils and enemies.
Chitirai Brahmotsavams, Margazhi Thiruvathirai, Karthika Deepam and Pradhosam are the festivals celebrated in this temple with great pomp and fervor. Every year thousands of devotees and tourists visit this majestic temple. This place is also a famous silk weaving industry.
Timings: 6 AM to 12.30 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM
At a distance of 3 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Chakrapani Temple is a Hindu temple situated on the southern bank of Cauvery River in Kumbakonam of Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. The temple is one of the most prominent temples in Kumbakonam.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and appears in the form of a discus or Chakra. The images of Chakrapani with eight arms and Sudarshanavalli Thayar with a gracious visage are inspiring. Like Shiva, Lord Chakrapani has a third eye on his forehead. Brahma, Surya and Agni are depicted as worshipping the Lord.
According to legend, Sudarshana Chakra, the discus, is the most powerful weapon of god Vishnu. He once sent his weapon to Patala Loka to kill the demon Jalandasura. The weapon is believed to have come out of the Patala Loka through river Cauvery. God Brahma, who was taking bath in the river, got impressed and installed the image of Sudarshana here. The temple is noted for its exquisite pillars. There is a bronze image of king Serfoji II worshipping the lord as he is said to have been cured an illness by the grace of this God.
Chakrapani Temple attracts devotees who are mentally or physically weakened by illness or problems. The special fire ritual called Sudarshana Homam, Thirumanjanam and Sahasranamarchana are some special pujas held in this temple. Sun God surrendered to Lord at this holy place. Hence, those facing problems due to planetary movements in their life, undergoing the seven and half year Saturn period and the rule of planets Rahu and Ketu are advised to pray to Lord Chakra Raja.
The 10 day Brahmotsavam in Chitirai (April - May), Chariot Festival, Pavitrotsavam, the Float festival or Theppotsavam in Vaikasi are the important religious events celebrated at this temple.
Timings: 6 AM - 12 PM and 4 PM - 8 PM
At a distance of 2 km from Kumbakonam Railway Station, Nageswaran Temple is an ancient temple situated in Kumbakonam. This temple is one of the oldest and most prominent temples in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The Nageswaran Temple was built by Aditya Chola in the 9th century and is a great marvel of architecture, building technology and astronomy. The temple is built in such a way that it allows sunlight to fall on the sanctum only during the months of April or May for three days. Devotees from all over the world come to seek blessings of the deity on these days.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Nagaraja, the serpent king. The inner sanctum has a huge lingam. It is believed that the temple derived its name because a serpent was found worshipping the lingam. Nageswaran temple is world renowned for its architecture, including intricate works on its pillars and outer walls. The temple consists of three gopurams and a five tier Rajagopuram.
Mother Brugannayaki and Nataraja Sabha are on the right side of the central shrine. The Nataraja Sabha is aesthetically designed in the form of a rath drawn by two horses and 4 elephants as in the case of Airavatesvara temple at Darasuram and Sarangapani temple in Kumbakonam. The 12 cross wires of the wheel are said to represent the 12 zodiac signs. The other noteworthy feature is Mother Sivakami is playing the Tala to the dance of the Lord Nataraja and Lord Vishnu playing the flute feasting the eyes of the devotees.
The main and most important festival of the temple is the Theerthavari when Lord comes to Mahamaham tank. Other festivals of the temple are Purattasi Navarathri in August-September, Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December-January and Panguni Peru Vizha in March-April.
Timings: 6 AM - 12.30 PM and 4.30 PM - 9 PM
Sri Rajagopalaswamy Temple - Mannargud
At a distance of 36 km from Kumbakonam, 45 km from Thanjavur and 96 km from Trichy, Sri Rajagopalaswamy Temple is a Vaishnavite shrine located in the town of Mannargudi, Tamil Nadu.
Sri Rajagopalaswamy Temple is dedicated to Rajagopalaswamy, an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The temple was first constructed by Kulothunga Chola I. Successive kings of the Chola Empire, Rajaraja Chola III, Rajendra Chola III and kings of Thanjavur Nayaks, Achyuta Devaraya expanded the temple. The temple contains inscriptions of the Hoysala kings and some Vijayanagara grants and many records of the later Nayaks and Marathas. The Thanjavur Nayaks made the temple as their dynastic and primary shrine and made significant additions.
The temple is spread over an area of 23 acres and is one of the important Vaishnavite shrines in India. The temple is called Dakshina Dwarka along with Guruvayoor by Hindus. The sanctum of the temple enshrines a 7 feet high image of Vaasudeva with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoodevi. The Utsava murthi idol is of exquisite beauty and is adorned with precious jewellery and colourful flowers. Along with him are his consorts Rukmani and Satyabhama.
The temple also has 24 shrines, 7 mandapams, 9 theerthams, 16 gopurams and 7 prakarams that were constructed by Kulothunga Chola I. The temple complex has intricate carvings and depicts the architecture grandeur of Cholas and Thanjavur Nayaks. The present shrine along with a 1000-pillard hall and the big compound wall was constructed by Vijaya Raghava Nayak. Rajagopalaswamy Temple also has temple tank which is said to be one of the largest temple tanks in India.
Rajagopalaswamy Temple is known for annual Panguni Brahmotsavam (Mar 15-Apr 15) for a period of 18 days. A bronze idol of Lord Krishna which belonged to Chola period is taken out for the procession during the chariot festival.
Timings: 5.30 AM - 12 PM and 4 PM - 9.30 PM
At a distance of 56 km from Trichy, 112 km from Chidambaram, 86 km from Nagapattinam, 170 km from Madurai, 326 km from Chennai, Thanjavur, also known as Tanjore, is a city and district headquarters in the state of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur is famous for the Brihadeeswarar Temple built by Rajaraja Chola in the year 1010 AD. Also known as the Big Temple, it is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India and also one of the popular places to experince Tamilnadu.
Situated on the banks of River Cauvery, Thanjavur has a rich historical heritage and is a prism of ancient as well as the modern south Indian civilizations. The city was once the stronghold of the historic Cholas and at one time was also the capital of the Cholas, Mutharayars and Marathas when they were at the peak of their power. Since then, Thanjavur has been one of the chief political, cultural and religious centers of South India.
Thanjavur became the most important city in the Chola Empire and remained its capital till the emergence of Gangaikonda Cholapuram in about 1025. During the first decade of the eleventh century, the Chola king Raja Raja Chola I (985-1014) constructed the Brihadeeswarar Temple. The temple is considered to be one of the best specimens of South Indian temple architecture.
Thanjavur is one of the older cities in Tamil Nadu and has a lot of significance in Dravidian history. Thanjavur was eventually annexed along with the rest of the Chola kingdom by the Pandya king Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I in 1279. Later it went into the hands of Delhi Sultanate from whom Vijayanagara rulers have conquered. It was governed by Thanjavur Nayaks under Vijayanagara suzerainty. Thanjavur was successfully conquered by Ekoji I in 1674, the Maratha feudatory of the Nawab of Bijapur and half-brother of Shivaji. Ekoji founded the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom which ruled Thanjavur till 1855. The kingdom was eventually absorbed into British India in 1855 by the Doctrine of Lapse when Shivaji II (1832-55), the last Thanjavur Maratha ruler, died without a male heir.
Apart from Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur and the surrounding areas have several important tourist attractions like Thanjavur Palace, Kumbakonam, Darasuram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Thiruvaiyaru, Thirubuvanam, etc.
It usually takes a full day to visit the places within Thanjavur town. Thanjavur is also famous for metal sculptures moulded with great facial expressions and beautiful finish.
At a distance of 217 km from Chennai, 189 km from Kanchipuram, 43 km Cuddalore, 66 km from Pondicherry, 43 km Mayiladuthurai, 85 km from Nagapattinam, 303 km from Madurai and 173 km from Trichy, Chidambaram is a pilgrimage town in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. Well known for Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram is one of the most celebrated shrines in South India and also one of the famous Tamilnadu places to visit.
Chidambaram is also known as Thillai. The name Chidambaram comes from the Tamil word Chitrambalam which means the small hall or stage of wisdom. According to legend, it was once a forest of thillai, a mangrove species of trees. There was once a small shrine on the banks of a tank. The saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali are said to have worshipped at this shrine, now called Thirumoolanathar. It is believed that their penance attained perfection with the revelation of Shiva's cosmic dance by Lord Nataraja on the auspicious Thai Poosam day.
The town of Chidambaram has been ruled by many kingdoms over the centuries, most notably the Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, Vijaynagar Kingdom, the Marathas, and the British. The town is known for the Thillai Nataraja Temple and the annual chariot festival held in the month of April. Chidambaram Nataraja Temple was built during the 11th century and is one of the most celebrated Shaivite Temples in South India. Lord Nataraja is the family deity of Vikrama Chola (1128 CE) and his successors. The golden hall of dance was built and covered with gold plates by Jatavarman Sundra Pandya.
Chidambaram Temple has great religious as well as historic and cultural significance. This is one of the Panchabhoota Stalas signifying the five elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram).
Lord Vishnu as Lord Govindaraja Perumal is worshipped in the same temple complex. Thillai Kaali Amman Temple, Pichavaram, Sattanathar Temple, Bhuvanagiri, Parangipettai, Annamalai University, Kollidam (river) and Poompuhar are the other attractions in and around Chidambaram.
Brahmotsavam, Ani Thirumanjanam, Thai Poosam and Arudra Dharshan are some of the Chidambaram temple festivals that attract large crowds from far and nearby places. Natyanjali Dance Festival is a major festival held in the month of February. Many eminent dancers give their performances during this festival.
The nearest airport to Chidambaram is at Chennai, about 212 km away. Chidambaram is located on the Madras-Trichy main line of the Southern Railway. It is connected with Trichy, Chennai, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Bangalore, Villupuram, Mayiladuturai, Thanjavur and Tirupati. Chidambaram is well connected by bus with Chennai, Trichy, Rameshwaram, Pondicherry, Madurai, Bangalore and Villupuram.
Best time to visit Chidambaram is July & October to March while the peak season is July & December to February. Usually it takes two full days to visit Chidambaram.
Timings: 6 AM to 12.30 PM & 4.45 PM to 9 PM
At a distance of 334 km from Chennai, 133 km from Madurai, 57 km from Thanjavur and 212 km from Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, also called Tiruchi or Trichy is the 4th largest city and administrative headquarters of Tiruchirappalli District in Tamilnadu. Situated on the banks of the Cauvery River, Trichy is one of the famous Tourist places in Tamilnadu.
The history of Tiruchirappalli begins in the 3rd century BC, when it was under the rule of the Cholas. It was a stronghold of the early Cholas which later fell to the Pallavas. But the Pallavas never really managed to retain control of this strategic city and lost it to the Pandyas several times. Trichy continued to be in the possession of Cholas until the decline of the empire after which it became a Vijayanagara stronghold. Trichy came under the rule of Nayaks of Madurai after the collapse of Vijayanagara, later to the Marathas of Tanjore, the Nawabs of Carnatic, the French and finally the British. Trichy flourished under Madurai Nayaks and prospered to be the city that it is today. The city played a critical role in the Carnatic Wars (1746-1763) between the British and the French East India companies.
Tiruchirappalli is home to numerous historical monuments and temples that attract tourist and pilgrims from all parts of the country throughout the year. Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam, one of the most famous pilgrimage centers in South India is situated near Trichy. Rockfort Temple, a spectacular monument perched on a massive rock is another important monument in old city of Trichy. The Rockfort, Jambukeswarar temple at Thiruvanaikaval, Uraiyur, Maariamman Temple, Government Museum and the St John's Church are other attractions in Trichy.
Tiruchirappalli is internationally known for a brand of cheroot known as the Trichinopoly cigar. The city is very popular for its cigars, handloom saris and stone-studded jewelry, Pith models and cheroots. According to the National Urban Sanitation Policy (2010), Tiruchirappalli was one of the ten cleanest cities in India.
Trichy is well connected by flight, train and bus with major cities of India and Tamilnadu. Trichy has two major bus stations called Central Bus Station (750m from Trichy Jn Station) and Chathiram Bus Station (6 km from Trichy Jn Station & 2 km from Trichy Town Station). The Central Bus Station handles long distance and inter-state buses like Bangalore, Chennai, Tirupathi, Coimbatore, Mysore, Vellore, Madurai, Thanjavur, etc. While the Chathiram Bus Station handles buses to nearby destinations like Lalgudi, Samayapuram, Navalpattu, etc and local destinations like Srirangam, Railway Junction, Rockfort, etc.
The best time to visit Trichy is during the months of November to March. It usually takes two full days to explore all the important places in Trichy.
At a distance 130 km from Pondicherry, 285 km from Chennai, 66 km from Chidambaram, 283 km from Rameswaram, 274 km from Madurai, 96 km from Thanjavur & 154 km from Trichy, Karaikal is an important port town and district headquarters under the Union Territory of Pondicherry. Karaikal was a French colony until its merger with Indian Union in 1954.
French acquired Karaikal in 1674 and converted that into a major commercial port, primarily trading spices. French acquired trading rights in Karaikal by then Tanjore rulers. In 1739, the current town of Karaikal along with its adjacent villages were transferred to French East India Company by the king of Tanjore, Sahuji. This territory was surrendered to the British in 1761. The control changed between French and British few times until it was finally handed over to French in 1816 until the Treaty of Paris, 1814.
Karaikal has rich heritage and it still holds the old charm. Thirunallar, Karaikal Beach, Karaikal Ammaiyar Temple and Tantondreeswara Temple are few important places to visit around Karaikal. Nagore Dargah (14 km), Nagapattinam (20 km) and Velankanni Church (31 km) are other major attractions in the vicinity of the town.
Nearest Airport to Karaikal is Tiruchirapally at a distance of 158 km. Karaikal Railway Station is connected with Chennai, Trichy, Mumbai, Thanjavur, Ernakulam, & Bangalore. There are regular buses from Karaikal to Pondicherry, Chidambaram, Nagapattinam, Chennai, Rameswaram, Thanjavur & Trichy.
November to February is the best time to visit Karaikal. It usually takes a full day to visit Karaikal and surrounding places.