Tamil Nadu in south India has plenty of stories about kings and kingdoms that once ruled this place. What every flourishing reign by the Chera and Chola dynasties left within the city are marvelous architectures and temples which still retain their grandeur. The city of Kumbakonam is the temple town of Tamil Nadu which hosts many temples which worship lord Vishnu and lord Shiva. The Shiva temples are connected with Mahamaham festival which happens once in twelve years. These temples are full of colors and festivities with various celebrations happening around the year. If you are looking forward to some peaceful pilgrimage through the divine cities of south India, then here are 5 most famous temples in Kumbakonam to add to your list.
1. Kasi Viswanathar Temple
Kasi Vishvanathar temple in Kumbakonam is situated close to the Mahamaham tank with the principal deity being Kasi Viswanathar and his consort Visalakshi or Parvati. What fascinates you in the temple is the stala lingam, which is believed to have been worshiped by Ram and Lakshman on their way to Lanka, and said to have acquired Rudraksham which helped them kill the demon king Ravana. The idol is believed to have been growing with ages. Masi Magam festival celebrated during the month of February-March is the most important festival here. The present masonry structure was built during the 16th century.
2. Adi Kumbeswara Swami Temple
Adi Kumbeswara Swami temple in the center of Kumbakonam worships Adi Kumbeswara and the Lord’s consort Manthrapeeteswari Mangalambika. The huge temple covers marvelous artworks comprising of three Praharas and three Gopurams. The east gopuram has nine stories and the temple is said to have been renovated to its present form in the 16th century. It has several halls, the notable one with 16 pillars built during Vijayanagara period. The single stone carving of 27 stars and 12 zodiacs speaks volumes about the engineering skills of the masons.
3. Nageswaran Temple
Nageswaran temple is dedicated to Shiva in the guise of serpent king Nagaraja. Aditya Chola constructed this in the 12th century and stands as a fascinating structure that depicts the prowess of the Chola dynasty in architecture and astronomy. The temple is also known by the name Surya Kottam as sunlight enters the temple only during the months of April and May. Legend is that King Nala worshiped Lord Shiva here.
4. Sarangapani Temple
Sarangapani is a famous Vaishnavaite temple in Kumbakonam. Situated in the middle of a busy market street, this temple used to be the tallest temple tower in Asia with its mammoth 12 storied Gopura built by the Nayak Kings in the 12th century. The chariot festival held in the spring season attracts a lot of devotees during the Tamil month of Chittirai. This temple dedicated to lord Vishnu derives its name from the Sanskrit words Sarangam which mean ‘Bow of Vishnu’ and ‘Pani’ meaning hand. All the water tanks except the Potramarai tank resides inside the temple. Legend has it that Goddess Lakshmi arrived from the Potramarai tank from thousand lotuses.
5. Chakrapani Temple
Chakrapani temple, located near the Kumbakonam railway station is devoted to lord Vishnu. Vishnu appears in the form of his most powerful form, Sudarshana Chakra and thus the name, Chakrapani. Legend is that lord Vishnu sent his weapon to kill king Jalandasura. The weapon came through the river Kaveri and lord Brahma, who was stuck in awe with the bright shining Chakra installed its image in the place where the temple is now located. This is one of the five Vishnu temples which takes part in the Mahamaham festival.
The exquisite pillars and pious shrines of the fill your mind with a sense of tranquility. The walls and corridors, with their imaginative drawings, depict the stories from mythology, religion, and battles fought by valiant kings. Whether you are on a spiritual journey or an escapist traveler who loves to go back in time, these temples are ideal destinations for you. If you are yet to see the stunningly beautiful sky-scrapper gopurams of South India, then Kumbakonam awaits you!