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Things To Do In Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is a pilgrim’s town, so if you are a history buff who loves architecture and would like a spiritual tour, then Kumbakonam is the in-thing for a peaceable trip.
The town does not promise a journey of adventure, but there are so many other things you can do, like visiting the neighbouring cities and towns, strolling along the quaint lanes of the township, with temples on the one side and bustling market places on the other. Kumbakonam has a rich heritage of arts and craft and you would be surprised at the number of arty things you can try your hand at, be it pith crafting or Kalamkari.
We will give you a list of things you can do in Kumbakonam, of the delectable cuisine of the city and the festivals that are so spiritually charged and invigorating.
Navagraha Temple Tour
The nine planetary or Navagraha temples are all within a short distance from Kumbakonam. Most of the temples, dedicated to Shiva and with a shrine for the particular planetary god were built during the Medieval Chola period, with later additions by the Vijayanagara Empire. You can opt for a tourist bus or hire a cab for a great pilgrimage and sightseeing tour.
Sculpture Workshop visit
Swamimalai, where Subrahmanya taught the Pranava Mantra to his father Shiva, promises not merely a spiritual tour but also one that’s a feast for the eyes. The bronze idols of Swamimalai are admired and in great demand within the country and beyond. The Stapathis or bronze casters, who would only be too glad to let you watch them at work, are said to be the direct descendents of the stapathis who worked for the Chola King Raja Raja 1.
Kumbakonam’s silk weaving centres are a predominant part of the town’s landscape as much as the bronze and metal workshops. Hop onto a cab and visit the weaving looms of Thirubhuvanam, a town about 9 km from Kumbakonam, which produces the most artistic pure zari silk saris. Stroll along the streets, listening to the rattle of the wooden logs of the loom as the patterns fall into place.
Pith, the core of a marshy plant turns into an enchanting masterpiece in the hands of a skilled artisan. Check out the Government aided Handicraft Institute in Kumbakonam, to learn the art of pith crafting and buy them, too. Some of the most sought after handicrafts made of pith are temple gopurams, chariots, flowers and mandaps.
Sri Vittal Rukmini Samsthan
Spend a day of pristine solitude in Sri Vittal Rukmini temple at Govindapuram. The temple, headed by Brahmashri Vittaldas Jeyakrishna Dikshitar, is located close to the Brindavan of the 59th seer of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, Sri Nama Bhodendra Saraswathi Swamigal. Immerse yourself in the spirit of bhakthi in the charming temple for Krishna and Rukmini, participate in Bhajans and Namasankirtans in the Vasantha Mandapam. Spend a quiet hour sitting in meditation and browsing through books on religion and philosophy at the library.
Kumbakonam has an inclination towards vegetarian cuisine, but you do find delicious non vegetarian food, especially fresh fish caught in the ponds and rivers. Some of Kumbakonam’s favourite non veggie foods are Mayavaram curried mutton and pepper chicken with coriander.
Some foody items that are so synonymous to Kumbakonam are pungent and juicy betel leaves, slivers of areca nuts, Kumbakonam Kadappa, a spicy dish made of moong dhal and potatoes that is so particular to Thanjavur and Kumbakonam and of course, the piping hot Kumbakonam degree coffee (kaapi) served in a brass cup and saucer (dabara tumbler).
With hundreds of temples dotted round the town and with more temples beyond its boundaries, Kumbakonam never seems to run short of festivities. The most crowd pulling festivals are the annual Masi Maham and the once in 12 year Mahamaham. Thousands, if not lakhs of pilgrims gather at Kumbakonam during Mahamaham Kumbh Mela to bathe in the Mahamaham Tank, followed by more dips at the Potramarai Tank and the Chakra Padithurai on the banks of the Cauvery River. A procession of deities arrives from the Shiva and Vishnu temples for a Theerthavari or dip at the holy tanks, as well.