TEMPLES IN KUMBAKONAM
Kumbakonam is reckoned to be one of the holiest places in
Tamilnadu with its fair share of temples and 'theertham'.
There are many temples in this town of which four are more famous
than the rest. Three of these temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva
and one to Lord Vishnu. There is also a temple dedicated to
Brahma, which is very rare. Most of all, Kumbakonam is famous for
the 'Mahamaham theertham' where the Mahamaham festival
takes place on a grand scale once in 12 years at which devotees
from all over the world gather.
Kumbakonam is on the Madras - Thiruchi route of the Southern
Railway. It is also served by bus from major towns in Tamilnadu.
The nearest airport is in Trichi.
The town of Kumbakonam boasts of not just one famous temple
but a multitude of temples among which the most famous for
Saivites is the Adikumbeswarar temple and for the Vaishnavites,
Lord Sarangapani temple.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated in the
heart of town and occupies an area of about 190,000 square feet.
The main 'Gopuram' is 128 ft in height. There are four
corridors or 'praharam' to this temple on which there are
shops, houses and various shrines. The 'Devi' in this
temple is known as Mangalanayaki. The other two temples dedicated
to Lord Shiva are Someswarar temple and Kasi Visvanathar
LORD SARANGAPANI TEMPLE
The temple of Lord Sarangapani is the third most important
temple for Vaishnavites in Southern India; the first is Lord
Ranganathar in Sri Rangam and the second is Lord
Venkadachalapathy of Thirupathi. The main 'gopuram' of
Lord Sarangapani rises to a height of 146ft and is a very
In addition to the temples this town is famous for the various
'theertham' among which the Mahamaham tank is the most
famous. The tank covers an area of about 20 acres and is
surrounded by sixteen 'mandapam'. It also contains other
smaller 'theertham' in the form of springs. Every year in
the month of 'Masi' (February/March) the image of Lord
Kumbeswarar is taken out in procession. Once every 12 years a
grand festival is conducted. It is believed that water from the
Ganges and other holy rivers flows into the 'Mahamaham'
tank during this auspicious time. A dip in this
'theertham' during this time is considered to absolve one
of all sins.
Once Brahma, the creator, approached Lord Shiva and submitted
to him that he could foresee the deluge that was going to engulf
the whole world and requested his advice to save the seed of
creation. Lord Shiva advised him thus; "Obtain a pot and put
the seeds of creation in it. Cover it with the 'nectar'
of life. Arrange a circle of mango leaves on the rim of the pot.
Close the opening with a coconut. Put 'thetpai' grass on
top of the coconut, and cover the pot with holy thread (poonool).
Then put this 'kumbam' on top of Mount Meru". Brahma
did as he was advised.
During the deluge that followed even Mount Meru went under
water, but the 'kumbam' prepared by Lord Brahma floated
in the water and moved with the current and came down to the
South of India. The coconut, the grass and the mango leaves fell
from the 'kumbam' and settled at various places. A
Sivalingam appeared at each of these places to indicate the
sacredness of these places. Finally the 'kumbam' itself
settled down when the water of the deluge drained away.
Lord Shiva knowing that the 'kumbam' or pot had
settled down came down to this place in the disguise of a hunter
and shot the 'kumbam' with an arrow. The nectar contained
in the pot spread over an area of 5 'krosas' (a measure
of area used in the olden days) which formed into various
'theertham'. He then formed a Sivalingam by mixing the
nectar with the soil and became one with it. Thus this place
derived its name 'Pancha krosa sthalam'. Goddess Parvathy
having realised the situation arrived at this place and took her
place next to Lord Shiva and thus the God came to be known as Adi
Kumbeswarar and the Goddess as Mankalanayaki.
In addition to the temples, there are many
'theerthams' in this town. The 'Mahamaham
theertham' situated in the middle of the town occupies an
area of about 3 acres. Once every 12 years during the
'Mahamaham festival' thousands of devotees from all over
the world arrive here to have a dip in the waters of the
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