Kumbakonam, is a religious town in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu and also known as temple town of South India. It is one of the most sacred place in South India, which hosts Mahamaham festival after every 12 year which attracts millions of people from across the globe.
As per Hindu mythology God Brahma had a Kumbha ( Pot) that contained seed of all living creatures of this Earth. That Kumbha have been displaced when universe got destroyed ( Pralaya) and finally it came to rest at the location of this very town. Due to this event, the town got its name Kumbakonam. Mahamaham festival is held every 12 years to celebrate this mythical episode.
Apart from its religious aspect, Kumbakonam is also a historically important town. Its history goes back to the Sangam period (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD) Several Empires ruled this region like Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. During 7th and 9th centuries this region was on its high time when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas.
During the British period this town emerge as a center of European education and Hindu culture. And it got another name “Cambridge of South India“.
Temple town of south India, Kumbhakonam
Kumbakonam is mainly famous for its temples and Mathas (monasteries). The city has almost 188 Hindu temples. Apart from these, there are thousands small and big temples around the town, so the town also known as “Temple Town” and “City of temples”.
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is the oldest Shaiva (the sect of the god Shiva) shrine in the town, believed to be constructed by the Cholas in the 7th century.
Kasi Viswanathar Temple– It is quite old and a big temple beside the Mahamaham tank. Here , you find various rivers in the form deities. It attract much crowed during Mahamaham festival.
These Shiva temples are mentioned in the Tevaram, a famous Tamil Shaiva canonical work of the 7th–8th century.
Patteeswaram- famous for the Sri Durgai Shrine and Sri Dhenupureeswarar Temple, 8 km away from Kumbakonam. Cholas brought the Goddess Durga idol to this place and built a separate shrine. The idol of Sri Durga has three eyes and eight hands. The idol stands over the body of Mahishasura, the famous demon king.
Thiruvidaimarudur Temple- It is one of the seven major Shiva temples. Here, Lord Shiva worshiped as Mahalingeswaraswamy and Parvati as Pirgu Chuntaragujambigai. It is a large temple with high Tower (Gopurams).
Sarangapani temple- is the largest Vaishnava (the sect of the god Vishnu) shrine present in Kumbakonam. The present structure of the temple having a twelve stories tower was constructed by Nayak kings in the 15th century. It is a colorful temple and looks to be drawn by chariot with beautifully carved huge elephants on either side.
It is one of the “Divya Desams“, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 Alvar saint-poets.
The Ramaswamy temple- which has scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana depicted on its walls, was constructed by Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of successive Nayak rulers in 16th century.
Chakrapani temple- one of the most prominent temples situated 3 km from Kumbakonam , It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu situated on the southern bank of Cauvery River. Here, lord appears in the form of a Chakra.
Uppiliappan Temple- It is believed that Lord Uppiliappan is the elder brother of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati and is equally benevolent and powerful. A must visit place in Kumbakonam
Darasuram Temple– An ancient Shiva Temple around 4 km from the center in Darasuram. Temple has beautifully carved out sculpture inside and on its outer wall. This is maintained by archaeological department of India.
Thenupuriswarar Temple at Patteeswaram, the Oppiliappan Kovil, the Swamimalai Murugan temple and the Airavateswarar temple at Darasuram are located in the vicinity of Kumbakonam.
Brahma Temple– very close to Ramaswamy temple, It is one of the rare temple of Lord Brahma. Here lord Brahma idol has four faces and the face which is facing back is a female face, you can request the temple priest to show the fourth face of Brahma in the mirror.
How to reach Kumbakonam
Air: Trichy or the Tiruchirappalli is the nearest airport around 96 km from Kumbakonam and other nearest airport is at Pondicherry at a distance of 110 km. You can travel to Kumbakonam via regular buses or by cab.
Rail: Kumbakonam itself have railway station which have frequent trains from Bangalore, Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, and various other cities. Trains are a convenient and most economic mode of transport.
Road: Kumbakonam is well connected with nice road network. There are many bus service available to the nearby major cities like Chennai, Trichy. Taxi service also available everywhere.