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Tourist Places To Visit In Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam, the land of more than a hundred temples, dates its recorded history back to the Sangam period, travelling through the aegis of many an ancient Kingdom. The Medieval Cholas, the Nayaks and the Vijayanagara Kings ruled over Kumbakonam, which later passed through the Colonial period as the anglicized Coombaconam.
According to legends, Kudamukku or Kumbakonam was created out of the Kumbh or pot of elixir and the seeds of creation so painstakingly collected by Brahma. The pot rolled down towards the south where it was knocked around by a pralaya caused by an arrow that Shiva had aimed. The nectar that oozed out of the pot filled up the Mahamaham and the Potramarai tanks and the sacred grass, coconut, sacred thread, bilwa and mango leaves that adorned the pot got washed away to get deposited in different areas of the region, out of which sprang Shiva lingams. Myths declare that most of the Shiva temples of Kumbakonam are said to have been built over these places.
There is a long list of places of tourist interest in Kumbakonam. We will give you a catalogue of some of the most interesting places you can visit.
The Mahamaham Tank is so synonymous with the holiness of Kumbakonam. Located in the heart of the city, the 6.2 acre wide tank is said to be one of the major temple tanks of the state of Tamil Nadu. The tank is encircled by 16 shrines and has 21 submerged spring wells that bear the names of celestial deities and the holy rivers of the country.
The most important festivals associated with the Mahamaham Tank are the annual Masi Maham (February - March) and the Kumbh Mela celebrated once in 12 years. The waters of the holy rivers of India are mixed with the waters of the Mahamaham tank and it’s believed that bathing in the waters is deliverance from sins. More than 10 lakh people attend the Kumbh Mela of Kumbakonam.
Adi Kumbeshwara Temple
The Kumbeshwara Lingam is said to have been shaped by Shiva himself, with sand and the elixir from the Kumbh. The Lingam is conical in shape and slightly tilted to the left. The temple was built by the Cholas with later additions by the Vijayanagara rulers and the Nayaks. The Adi Kumbeshwara is one of the largest temple complexes in Kumbakonam. With four huge gopuras, a number of shrines for different deities and as many a number of halls or mandaps, the architecturally splendid Adi Kumbeshwara or Thirukudamooku Temple is a must visit.
The temple is open from 5.30 am – 12.00 pm and from 4.00 pm – 8.30 pm and is located about 2 km from the Kumbakonam bus stand.
Kasi Viswanathar Temple
It is said that the soft natured Rama prayed to Shiva at the Kasi Viswanathar temple to get aakrosha (anger) to fight Ravana in his bid to rescue Sita. The Shiva Lingam worshipped by Rama is located in the north eastern courtyard of the temple.
Kasi Vishwanathar temple has idols of the Nava Kannikas or the nine holy rivers who had prayed to Lord Viswanath at Kasi for redemption from the sins that mankind had brought upon the holy waters by washing in them. Shiva had asked the Nava Kannikas to bathe in the Mahamaham tank at Kumbakonam to cleanse themselves. Upon the request of the Nava Kannikas, Shiva remained at Kumbakonam as Kasi Vishwanathar and the temple is also known as Nava Kanniyar Temple. Kasi Vishwanathar temple is located close to the Mahamaham Tank.
The temple is open from 7.00 am – 12.00 pm and from 4.00 pm – 8.00 pm.
Brahma Temple, also known as Vedanarayana Peruman Temple, is a unique place of worship where pilgrims can get the blessings of three deities. There are shrines for Brahma with his consorts Saraswathi and Gayathri, Vedanarayana Perumal with his consort Lakshmi and Vedavalli and Yoga Narasimha with his consorts Sreedevi and Bhoodevi.
Legends say that Brahma came to Kumbakonam to perform a penance to get rid of his pride. Pleased with his atonement, Vishnu came to Kumbakonam, taught the Vedas to Brahma and reinstated the creator to his former glory. Vishnu also used his mace to create the Hari Sollaru (Arasalaru) River for Brahma to bathe in. The unique significance of the temple is the Brahma Sankalp pooja conducted for success in education and prosperity in business.
Brahma temple is located about 1 km from the Mahamaham Tank and is open from 8.00 am – 11.30 am and from 5.30 pm – 9.30 pm.
Srinivasa Ramanujan International Monument
Srinivasa Ramanujan Centre (SRC) and International Monument pays tribute to the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan who made immense contributions to the field of mathematics including number theory and continued fractions. Founded by the Sastra University and inaugurated by the erstwhile President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Monument immortalizes the timeline and lifetime achievements of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
You can visit the house where Srinivasa Ramanujan lived in Sarangapani Sannidhi Street, which is being taken care of as a monument by Srinivasa Ramanujan Centre. Peep into the Town High School nearby which Srinivasa Ramanujan attended for six years from around 1898.
The Nageshwaran temple for Shiva is one of the most splendid architectural constructions of Kumbakonam dating back to the Chola period of the 9th century. Legends say that the celestial serpents Adisesha, Kaarkotaka and Dakshan worshipped Shiva here and thus the Lord came to be called Nageshwaran. It’s also said that Nageshwaran temple is located on the spot where a bilwa leaf had fallen from the Kumbh of elixir. A lot of technical expertise has gone into the building of the temple that lets sunlight fall on the peedam (base) of the deity on the first three days of the month of Chithirai (April / May).
The Nageshwaran temple is open from 6.00 am – 12.30 pm and from 4.30 pm – 9.00 pm. The temple is located on the eastern side of Adi Kumbeshwara temple.
Built by Kochengat Chola, Nachiyaar Kovil is a Navagraha Parihara Sthala. According to legends, Sage Medhavi wished to marry his adopted daughter Vanjulavalli, who was Lakshmi incarnate, to Vishnu with the condition that she should be given more prominence than the Lord. One among the primary deities of the temple is Garudalvar. The temple has stone idols of Garuda and a swan which are used to carry Srinivasa and Thayar in the temple processions. As the procession leaves the temple, the stone Garuda becomes heavy, so the procession slows down and requires more bearers. As the procession returns to the temple, the stone Garuda becomes less heavy. Devotees believe that the Lord fulfils his promise by allowing the swan carrying Thayar to lead the way by moving faster than his Garuda!
Nachiyaar Kovil is about 10 km from Kumbakonam.
The Vaishnavite shrine for Sarangapani or Vishnu is one of Kumbakonam’s most renowned temples. Built with contributions by the Cholas, Vijayanagara kings and the Nayaks, the Sarangapani Temple is one among the 108 Divya Deshams of Vishnu.
With an 11 storied 53 m high gopuram, the temple stands out predominantly for its beautiful architecture. The Potramarai Tank is on the western side of the temple. The Sarangapani Temple is about 3 km from the Kumbakonam Railway Station.
Kumbakonam Kanchi Mutt
Kumbakonam Mutt was founded as an offshoot of the Kanchipuram Mutt. Constant invasions of regions around Kanchipuram during the Carnatic Wars, triggered a need to shift the idol of Swarna Kamakshi and the mutt to safer places like Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. Swarna Kamakshi was installed as Bangaru Kamakshi in Thanjavur and the mutt was shifted to Kumbakonam.
The Kumbakonam Mutt has the adhishtanams or Brindhavans of the 62nd, 63rd and 64th Acharyas of Kanchi Mutt. The Mutt also runs a Veda pathashala. The Mutt is such a peaceful, serene place to be in and you could spend a morning there in meditation.
The Kumbakonam Kanchi Mutt is at Mutt Street, on the banks of the Cauvery River at Kumbakonam.