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Valangaiman

History Some People believe that Mother Parasakthi took away the heat from the world and provided Rain to protect the lives on the Earth. They thought that Mother Parasakthi appeared in this world as Mariamman. Some thought that Mariamman was Renuga mother of Parasuraman. Others though that Mariamman was Sakthi who destroyed Marasuran. Some thought that the worship of Kannaki later on changed into the worship of Mariamman yet people believe that Mariamman is part of Parasakthi who had taken away the heat from the Earth, provided Rain and protected the lives on the Earth. Still they belive that Mariamma is Mahasakthi.

There are temples in every place for this Mahasakthi and she has been creating womders in all these places. In Valangaiman, Varadharajanpettai’s Mahamariamman had a wonderful historical background.

In a street Valangaiman Varadharajanpettai about 200 years ago there lived Kathagounder. His wife’s Govindamammal both of them devotees of God. Kathagounder was a farmer. His wife prepared eatables and sold them in the nearby villages. She had a good sale of her eatable in a village called Pungancheri South East of Valangaiman. Oneday on Friday Govindammal went to Pungancheri for her business. She got a lot of money, paddy and then she went to a tank for bath, there she saw a Brahamin couple with their child went towards Adaikkalam Katha Ayyanar Temple. After bathing Govindammal heard the cry of a child from the side of the Ayyanar temple.

Govindammal hurried to the spot and found a girl child was crying there. She called the neighbours and the people from the street ran towards the temple. They searched for the persons who brought the child there, but ther was nobody. Govindammal took the crying child and immediately the child stopped her cry and laughed beautifully. All the people of the street were attracted by beauty of the child. And they wanted to bring up the child themselves.

Finally the people decided that the leader of the street (Nattamai) should bring up the child. Govindammal felt sorry that she did not get the child. She returned to her house and for three days she didnot go to Pungancheri for selling. In Pungancherri all of a sudden fowls, sheep and cattles died and many people suffered by small box. The child from the Ayyanar temple was also infected by small box. There was confusion everywhere at that time a furious man said that the child should be given to Govindammal and further said that then only that village would be come well. Immediately they called Govindammal and gave the child to her. Govindammal got the child named her as ‘Sithala’ and began to bring her up. But on the 3rd day by the acute small box the child passed away. Govindammal and her husband with sorrowful heart did the funeral at the back of their house (some belived that the child lived for seven and half years in Govindammal’s house and had done many wonders and then only she died).

Later on people after bathing in ‘Kudamuruti’ crossed the backyard of Govindammal’s house. They came to know that it was Mariamman came to the house of Govindammal in the shape of the child, immediately they built Sithala Devi Mahamariamman temple and considered the Goddess as Mother Parasakthi. This is the historical backgound of the Valangaiman Mahamariamman temple.

Festivals The two months Punguni and Avani are very important months for festivals in this temple. In the month of Avani on every Sunday special festivals are considered for Sithala Devi. On every Sunday special Abhishekam and Araathanai are conducted for the Goddess from 7.00 p.m night. Special Religious lectures, finearts programmes are conducted for the people for the devotion towards the Goddess. A number of people worship the Goddess and receives her blessings.

In the Last Sunday of the month Avani the floating festival of the Goddess is conducted. The Goddess in her Swan vehicle goes around the tank and appears before the devotees. The Punguni festival starts in the first Sunday of the month that night Kappu is tied both for the Goddess and the Priest.

 

Patteswaram

About Temple: The temple is located 6km away from Kumbakonam on the Kumbakonam- Aavoor road. The temple is 3 km away from Darasuram. Tirugnana Sambandar came to Thirusattimutram with Adiyars for worshipping. Then he started towards Patteeswaram. Since the Solar movement was towards the Mituna star causing oppressive heat waves, the child sambandar could not manage. The Lord sent his bhoodaganas to decorate the streets with beautiful Muthu pandal. The bhoodaganas prepared the pandal without Sambandar’s knowledge. Sambandar was astonished by the reverrence of God and enjoyed the shade offered. Inorder that Sambandar has a view of the Sanctum sanctorum from outside, Shiva ordered Nandi to shift position. The Lord is reverred by the hymns of Thirugnana Sambandar.

Speciality: Mother Durga appears with 8 hands. She is also called Vishnu Durga, Durga Lakshmi, Navasakthinayaki, Navayoganayaki and Navarathri Nayaki. The Chola kings including the Great Rajaraja Chola were staunch devotees of Durga Devi. She was the protecting deity of the Cholas in the northern side of their palaces centuries back. Lord Vinayaka, Lord Muruga and Lord Bhairava were also protecting the kings from other entrances. When the kings had to take some important decisions or to face a war, they worshipped Durga for her grace before venturing into action. After the end of the Chola regime, the Durga is installed in Thirupatteeswaram temple. Unlike in other temples, the Durga here is very soft in look and grace (Shanta Swarupi). Sitting on her vehicle Lion, placing the feet on the head of Demon Mahishasura, the Gooddess appears in a Tribanga stature, eight hands, three eyes and jewels in the ears. Generally, the Lion carrying Kali would be looking on the right side. But the Shanta Swarupi Durga’s Lion here faces the left side. In her hands, the mother holds, conch, wheel, bow, arrow, sword, shield and a parrot.

Pearl Umbrella Visiting the Shiva Temples in the state, once saint Gnanasambandar came to Thirumazhapadi – Patteeswaram. It was summer. The Sun was at his peak. To protect Gnanasambandar from the scorching Sun, Lord Shiva sent a Pearl Umbrella (Muthupandal) through his Bhudaganas. The Lord wanted to enjoy the childish walking movement of child saint ordered Nandi to move from his place. Gnanasambandar’s joy knew no bounds and sung a pathigam (10 songs) beginning with the word Marai. The incidence is remembered each year during the Tamil Ani Month June-July) with all festive celebrations.

Reputation: The name Patteeswaram was derived from the daughter of the Divine Cow Kamadenu PATTI WHO worshipped the lord here. The Lord asked his vehicle Nandi to move a little so he could see Gnanasambandar coming to have his Darshan. Sri Rama was relieved of Sayagathi dosha. Goddess herself performed penance here. A brahmin Darma Sharma belonging to to Malava Kingdom was relieved of the curse of Rishi Medhavi when a drop from the Holy Gnanavavi theertham fell on him. It was in Patteeswaram; Rishi Viswamitra was admitted in the company of Brahma rishis with the backing of Gayatri Mahamantra. Markandeya worshipped here. The Durga is all-powerful. Large number of devotees throngs the temple to worship Mother Durga. Ganasambandar praises the Temple in his Thevaram hyms. The temple has the arts of the Nayakkar period and also paintings of Maratha period. A very ancient temple.

History: Goddess Parasakthi wanted to perform penance in a calm place and chose this place. A forest was created in the belt areas of Thirupatteeswaram, The Devas took the form of trees and plants. Divine Cow Kamadenu sent her daughter Patti and served the Goddess in her penance. Lord Shiva gave dharsan to the Goddess and here and assumed the name Kabardeeswarar.. Knowing the reputation of the place, Patti also wanted to worship the Lord and made a Linga of sand.and worshipped as rules. She bathed the God with her milk and Gnanavavi theertham. The Lord was greatly pleased with the worship of Patti and incarnated himself in the Linga. The place came to be known as Patteeswaram after Patti, daughter of Kamadenu.

Unlike in other temples, the Durga here is very soft in look and grace (Shanta Swarupi). Sitting on her vehicle Lion, placing the feet on the head of Demon Mahishasura, the Gooddess appears in a Tribanga stature, eight hands, three eyes and jewels in the ears. Generally, the Lion carrying Kali would be looking on the right side. But the Shanta Swarupi Durga’s Lion here faces the left side. In her hands, the mother holds, conch, wheel, bow, arrow, sword, shield and a parrot.
Patteeswaram (8 km): Lord Shiva was worshipped by Patti, one of the daughters of Kamadhenu here. The Lord is known as Dhenupureeswara and the Goddess is Gnanambika. Devi Vishnu Durga is enshrined on the northern side of the temple.

Here, Lord Shiva gave a canopy of pearls (Muthu Pandal) to Shaivite saint Sambandhar on a hot summer day and made the Nandi to move aside to see His devotee enter the shrine.
Visiting the Shiva Temples in the state, once saint Gnanasambandar came to Thirumazhapadi – Patteeswaram. It was summer. The Sun was at his peak. To protect Gnanasambandar from the scorching Sun, Lord Shiva sent a Pearl Umbrella (Muthupandal) through his Bhudaganas. The Lord wanted to enjoy the childish walking movement of child saint ordered Nandi to move from his place. Gnanasambandar’s joy knew no bounds and sung a pathigam (10 songs) beginning with the word Marai. The incidence is remembered each year during the Tamil Ani Month June-July) with all festive celebrations.

The name Patteeswaram was derived from the daughter of the Divine Cow Kamadenu PATTI WHO worshipped the lord here. The Lord asked his vehicle Nandi to move a little so he could enjoy seeing the Child Gnanasambandar coming to have his Darshan. Sri Rama was relieved of Sayagathi dosha for killing Vaali. Goddess herself performed penance here. It was in Patteeswaram; Rishi Viswamitra was admitted in the company of Brahma rishis with the backing of Gayatri Mahamantra. Markandeya worshipped here. All the Navagrahas here face the Sun. And they are positioned as per the “Aagama” tradition

 

Thirukadayur

Prayer: Devotees perform here Sasthiaptha Purthi (61st. birthday, Ukratha shanthi, Bheemaratha shanthi (70th birth day), Sadhabishekam (80th birth day) birth star days, Ayush Homan (prayer for longevity) are performed in this temple. To perform pujas and prayers on these important days in life, people come here not only from Tamilnadu but from all states. Also from other countries.
Devotees visit the temple to pray on the 50th anniversary of their wedding days and for relief from planetary problems according their horoscopes. Abirami Amman is both powerful and merciful. The devotees are blessed with prosperity, marriage alliances etc. She blesses them with children and wisdom. The Kalasamharamurthy blesses the devotees with longevity; health, remedy from ailments and the devotees will be free from the fear of death. Thirukadayur is a place noted for remedies from many problems in life.

People roll around (Angapadhikshanam) the temple as a prayer commitment. Those awaiting marriages offer garlands called Kalyanamalai. Devotees also offer children in adoption so that they get child in turn. People offer Rudrabishaka for children and Sankabisheka for remedy from illnesses and those suffering from cardiac problem perfer Mrutyanja Homam for relief. Many had survived attacks after the Mrutyanja Homam. People offer Dhoti and Sari for the Lord and the Mother. They offer abisheks in turmeric powder, in water mixed with cosmetic powders, milk, curd, tender coconut, panchamirtham, lime, honey, sandal etc. People also feed (annadhanam) to the visitors. The wealthy offer liberal donations for the maintenance of the temple and its renovations taken up from time to time.

Kallapillayar During the churning of the milk ocean to extract the Nectar, the Devas stole a bit without the knowledge of anybody and without praying to Lord Ganapathy and hid it in a secret place. To teach a lesson to Devas for ignoring him in their haste, Lord Vinayaka simply changed the place of the Nectar pot. When they searched for it, they could not get it back. Lord Shiva advised the Devas to apologise to Lord Vinayaka to get back the nectar pot. After getting the pot, the Devas went for a bath. When they returned, they could not get the pot. It has become a Shivalinga. And that Shiva Ling is Amirthakadeswarar, the presiding deity of Thirukadayur.

Jathi Malli When Markandeya was performing Abisheka to Lord Amirthakadeswarar with Ganga Water, Ippinjilam flowers too came with the water. Ippinjilam is a flower also called Jathi Malli (Jasmine that blossoms throughout the yea).) This flower is used only for the God and should not be used for human purposes. An archana with a single flower is considered equal to 1008 archanas.

Reputation: The Linga is swayambu. The temple is west facing. If one observes closely, they could see another Linga too.
When the Lord of Death Yama, spread the rope on the Sivalinga, it caused a scar on the Sivalinga. It is still visible on the Linga. Of the 8 Attaveeratta holy temples, Thirukadayur is one because the God defeated Yama here. The Lord in the form of Kalasamaharamurthy, in the copper idol, looks furious, majestic,waving the Shoola on Yama and hit him by the left leg.

Many Siddhas performed penance here of whom, Pampatti Siddhar was one.
The nine planets have no power here, all devotees coming here perform pujas to the KalasamharaMurthy only. There will be no Rahu effects in Thirukadayur. It is also said that Goddess Abirami came from the Jewel of Mahavishnu. Brahma, Agasthya, Pulasthiya, Durga worshipped the Lord here.
Of the 63 Nayanmars, Kari and Kungiliakalaya Nayanar lived here and served the Lord. This is the holy soil that gave birth to Abirami Pattar. Thirugnansambandar sings Thirukadayur, Appar and Sundarar praised in the Saivite World as Moovar Mudaligal.
Thirukadayur lies on the Nagapattinam-Chidambaram route. Bus conveniences are available from Karaikal, Sirkali and Mayiladuthurai. Nearest Railway station is Mayiladuthurai and airport Trichy.

Festivals: Yama Samharam festival is celebrated for 18 days in the Tamil month Chithirai (April-May). During Mondays in the month of Karthikai (November-December) 1008 Sankabishekam is very famous. Purattasi Navarathri and Margazhi Vidhi Padam are
one-day festivals. Adipooram, Navarathri, Poornimas, are very devotionally observed in the temple. Skanda Sashti, Mahasivarathri, Panguni Uthiram, Abirami Andhadhi recitation, monthly Pradosha days, Tamil and English New Year days, Pongal speical pujas are performed in the temple.

History: Maharshi Mirigandu and Maruthuvathi were very sadmas they did not have a child. The Lord, in recognition of the penance of the Rishi granted the Child boon. He asked the sage whether he wanted a child full of wisdom and spartan character with a short life or one with a long lifeotelsINagapattinam
Known for all wickedness. The sage preferred the former. The boy was born and named Markandeya. When he was 16 he understood the truth of his longevity and began to visit the Shiva temples and came to Thirukadayur. It was the 100th one. And that was his last day. He saw the Yama too coming to take his life. Markandeya embraced the Shivalinga. When the Yama spread his death rope, it also covered the Lord Shiva. Exasperated by Yama’s action, the Lord hit him Since the Samahara of Yama by God, no death occurred on earth and the burden of Mother earth became heavy. At her request, the Lord restored Yama back to life.

Presiding deity Amirthakadeswarar
Speciality Swayambu
Reputation Attaveerattasthalam
Goddess Abirami Amman
Vinayaka Kallavinayakar
Holy tree Jathi Malli
Holy spring Amirthakulam

 

Thiruveezhimizhalai

Sthalam: Thiruveezhimizhalai
Swami: Veezhinathar, Veezhiazhagar, Nethrarpaneswarar
Ambal: Brihatsundarakuchamba (Azhagiyavanmulaiammai), Kathyayani
Legend: Parvati is said to have been reborn as Katyayani and married Shiva here. Vishnu received Chakrayudam from Shiva here in lieu of the 1000 flower worship to Shiva. Once due to the reduction of a lotus flower in the count, Vishnu plucked one of his his eyes and did archana considering it as lotus flower. A panel depicting the divine marriage is seen behind the Shivalingam. The Moolvar vimanam is believed to be brought to here by Mahavishnu.

When Appar and Sambandar visit this place, there was a severe drought all around. They prayed to Lord Shiva who gave Padikasu (Gold Coin) one each every day to both of them. Sambandar gets Padikasu at the Pedam in front of Mahamandapam. Navukarasar gets gold coin in the Pedam in Merkku (west) Pragaram. Using these gold coins, they offered food to the needy people. (In that sambandar got gold coins of more value and appar got coins of bit less value it seems). Special Deity: MAPPILAI SWAMY This special idol of swami and ambal is known as “mappilai swamy”. (Swami in bridal form). Swami and ambal were seen in this idol as newly married couples. This temple is also known as “Marriage Sthala”.

Route: In the Mayiladuthurai–Thiruvarur route, as usual get down at Poonthotam. From there, Poonthotam–Nachiarkoil (Get down at Thenkarai stop). From there a 5 min walk is required to reach the temple.

The temple is very big and there are so many special things to see (morning visit is advisable). A padhala nandhi is also there. It is also in a type of “Mada kovil”. This sthalam was sung by all the three saints (Appar-sundarar-sambandar)

Thirumananjeri

About Temple: Among the myriad temples in and around Kumabakonam and Mayavaram Kalyanasundarar temple Thirumananjeri is a famous Prarthana sthala. It is believed that unmarried boy or girl will enter into wedlock if they propitiate the presiding deity Kalyanasundarar and his divine consort- Kokilambal.

Punarvasu Nakshatra : Arulmigu Abathsagayeswarar temple – Alangudi Lord Guru Bhagavan or Lord Dakshinamurthy is one of the “Navagrahas” and is referred to the planet Jupiter, and Alangudi is the “Guru Stalam” dedicated to the planet Jupiter. Thursday is an auspisious day for Lord Guru Bhagavan. The temple here is known as the “Arulmigu Abathsagayeswarar temple” where the main deity is Lord Shiva. The presiding diety’s are, Lord Ganesha/Vinayagar known here as “Sri Kalangamar Katha Vinayagar”. Lord Shiva (Shiva is in the form of a lingam and known as “Sri Abathsagayeshwarar”). The lingam is the ‘Suyambu’ Lingam. Lord DakshinaMurthy also known as “Sri Guru Bhagavan” or “Brahaspati”. Goddess “Sri Elavarkuzhali Ammai” (Umayammai). There are also diety’s of Lord Murugan (Subramanyam) with his consorts; and Goddess Lakshmi.

WORKING HOURS: Thirumananjeri: Marriage archanas are performed only from 8am-1pm and from 3.30pm to 8.30pm on normal days and from 7am to 9pm without a break on Saturdays/Sundays; Fri/Sat/Sun/Govt.holidays/Muhurtham days are very crowded (500-1500 spouses per day; 100-120 per batch; one batch takes about an hour); other days : 100-200 spouses per day; one batch has 10-20 spouses; takes 30 mts per batch; batch starts every 30-40 mts and so need not hurry; Parents can partake on behalf of their children if the boy / girl is unable to visit in person. General timings for all temples in Tanjore district : 0800 – 1200 and 1600-2000 hrs definitely open; one hour leeway is possible on either side; hence check locally. Max. is 0700 – 1300 and 1500-2100 hrs. 

AUSPICIOUS TIMES AT THIS TEMPLE: All times are considered auspicious since Lord Shiva and Parvathy are in a bliss here always. Temple observes no Raagu kalam, Emakandam, Kuligai kalam, Ashtami, Navami etc.

Daily Pooja: Daily six poojas takes place in this temple namely Ushakkalam, Kalai Santhi, Uchikalam Sayaratchai, Irandam Kalam, and Artha Jamam.
Weekly Poojas Due to the welface of the world every Tuesday and Friday Sahasranamam and Lalitha Thiruchathi Archanas will take place. Common prayers also will be conducted.
Monthly Poojas Every 1st day of Tamil month ‘Karthigal’ and during Pradosham special Abisheham will be done. During ‘Sangadahara Sathurthi’ and ‘Pooja Natchathiram’ special Abisheham along with ‘Umamaheswara Homam’ will be done to Kalyana Sundarar.
Annual Poojas Navarathiri, Vijayadasami, Thirukkarthigai, Aruda Dharshanam, Festivals takes place. Every year during Tamil month ‘Chithirai’ Thirukkalyanam Festival will be celebrated in a grand manner.
The devotees can offer ‘Ashtothram’ and ‘Sahasranama Archanais’ from 6 a.m to 8.30 p.m every day.

Struture Of The Temple: Arulmigu Uthvaganathasamy Temple is a holy shirine of Lord Kalyanasundarar. This temple is facing East. As soon as we enter the Sanctum after leaving Rajagopuram Lord GAnapathi has embodied himself. Then we can see Thuvajasthambam, Balipeedam, Mahanandhi and Mandapam(Great Hall) After leaving Kattagopuram Varasihi Vinayagar bestow hiw good will infront of Vinayagar Shobana Manadpam. Inside the sanctum Arulmighy Sri Uthvaganathar (Arulvallanathat) bestows his Goodwill in a beautiful manner in Thuvara Mandapam with Thuvara Balagar and Nandhi. In Niruththa Mandapam Sherr Natarajar Bestows his goodwill in a dancing exposure. In front of Natarajar in the south Praharam Lord Kalyanasundarar stands by embodied the Goddess Ambigai with a laughing expose facing east. The Kalyana Sundarar is the king of monarc and Hero of Lord in the temple.

After getting their good wishes shree Kokilambal Ambigai Sitting in Suhasanam poisture as a bride in the wedding plateform. It is a great feast to our eyes to look after and worship the Goddess. When we enter to the Inner Praharam we can see the sanctum of four dieties of Samayakkuravar’s who propagate salvate in this country in front of the Natarajar Sabai. In the South side of the Devakushtam Pichadanar, Balaganapathi, Natarajar, Dakshinamoorthi in a yoga poisture were found. In the west side Lingothpavar, and in North side Brahman, RAghuBhagan and Sri Durga have been installed ina seperate sanctum.

In the Kannaimoolai a beautiful Lord vinayagar sannadhi in the western side Karuvarai along with Upaya Nachiar Lord Mahavishnu, Lakshmi sannadhi and also the Idols of Baharatha Maharishi, Sembian Madevi, Mallappa Naicker were installed in the four directions of Karuvarai. In the east Thirumalai row the following Idols were installed they are shree Saneeswara Bhagavanm Pachaiyappa Nathar, Rudravaneswarar, Pachaiammai and Nayagi Rudravaneswari. In general this temple is having so many immortal and rate deities to worship and pray for the grant of mercy and blessings of Lords for the Good will of devotees in all aspects in fulfill their ambition.

Another route from Kumbakonam : Take SH64 towards Mayuram, go 16km to Aduthurai, take left 4 km to Suryanar kovil, 6 km to Kanchanur, 9km to Thirumanancheri = 35 km approx.
Six Kalyana sthalams, all around Mayurm / Mayiladuthurai are: Parvathi requested Shiva to marry her again which he accepted with joy and also informed the time of their wedding. Parvathi became impatient as there was a fairly long time for the marriage. She became callous and cold shouldered Shiva. There are many unmarried men and women who are grouped to propitiate the deities. The priests conduct the rituals precisely and the pooja with the reverence. Rathi and Manmadhan were united in wedlock in Thirumananjeri.

LOCATION: Tamilnadu; Thanjavur District; 10 km west of Mayuram (Mayiladuthurai) as the crow flies.

CAR ROUTE: Cabs are available in almost all places like Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Mayuram, Seerkazhi, Chidambaram and even in small towns like Kuthalam.

Mayuram to Thirumananjeri Direct route: 10km without going to Kuthalam (saves 10km since Mayuram-Kuthalam-Thirumananjeri is about 20 km): enter from east/Thirukkadaiyur, take right at Y-Jn (for Kuttalam/Kumbakonam Rd take left here) – go thru bazaar 2km – take left adjacent to the HP Petrol Bunk – take right at T-Jn 300 M away – take left at T-Jn 200 M away – drive 7-8 km straight till you reach a vaaikkal (this is a good tar road 20 feet wide)- when you see a board “Thirumananjeri Temple route’ take right – drive in 8-feet tar/gravel road for 2 km – cross aathuppalam [30 feet wide bridge 50 feet long] – 1 km- enter Thirumananjeri; if you miss the right near the board, proceed straight and join the Kuthalam-Thirumananjer Road where you can take the right.

From Kumbakonam : Take SH64 towards Mayuram, go 16km to Aduthurai, 11 km to Kuthalam, take left 8km to Thirumananjeri = 35 km approx. Faster route but cannot visit Suryanar Temple if you want to. 

TEMPLE PROCEDURES:
Before entering temple:
 Car Parking is available in front of the gopuram on normal days; on weekends it is difficult to get parking.
Leave chappals in the car itself, if possible.
Buy archana thattu/bag INSIDE the temple, not in the outside shops though shopkeepers will keep pestering you.
Buy Archana tickets inside the temple in the counter: For marriage : Rs.15; Puthira Dosha archana : Rs.5; normal ashtothram archana : Rs.2/ticket;
Buy ghee dheepam thattu (Rs.20 for 5 lamps) near the archana counter, not outside. If possible, take original ghee from home since ghee sold there may be dalda. Clay lamps are available there (or we can take from home).
Step-1: Go into the temple; Selva Ganapathy is on the left of sanctum sanctorum: pray before him first.
Step-2: Pray Lord Shiva (Sri Uthvaganatha Swami) next and go to Amman Sannithi on the right. Meenakshi Amman here appears as a 13-year old Kokilambal, head slanted to her right, with three bends (”naanikkoni’). This kolam is before her marriage.
Step-3: On the left of this mandapam is the important Kalyana Sundareswarar sannithi and mandapam. Light the ghee deepams first, right opposite to the Kalyana sundareswarar sannithi (except for mangala raagu which has separate place for ghee dheepams); here the deities are in marriage kolam; Meenakshi is on his right looking at the floor in kalyana kolam; hence married girls should always stand on the right hand side of the groom during all auspicious functions; the priests perform the rituals here to remove our marriage obstacles. Details are given below.

Marriage delay Pariharam: Unmarried spouse should buy one set of archanai thattu/bag; there are two places where you can buy this thattu; there are ten shops just outside the temple which sell this thattu at Rs.80 for boys and Rs.90 for girls [because manjal kayiru is added] containing 2 garlands, 2 coconuts, one lemon, vetrilai paaku, kalkandu; the same thattu is available inside the temple also at Govt (HR&CE Dept)-fixed price of Rs.40 & 45 sold by an HR&CE employee; always buy it inside the temple in Tanjore temples.

As soon as you enter the Kalyanasundareswarar sannithi, light the dheepams first and then wait for the next batch; only girls and boys concerned are seated inside the enclosure and those accompanying should sit around this enclosure; couples who come after marriage to complete the rituals and the parents (of boys/girls who are unable to come in person) also can sit inside the enclosure; if you are parent(s) inform the priest as soon as you enter the enclosure.

The priests brief you first regarding the Do’s and Don’ts; then collect all the garlands and the archana tickets first; they keep all garlands at the feet of the god, return one garland each to the spouse to be worn, parents must keep it in their hands; sangalpam is done and the thattu is taken away; parents should tell the boy/girl’s gothram/name/star and not theirs; archana follows, coconuts are broken, thattus are returned after aarthi as usual; drop Rs.10 or so in the thattu for the priests.

Do’s and Don’ts: Vibuthi, kumkum (plus manjal for girls) are to be used, after prayers, for one mandalam (45 days or till they last) by the boys/girls only and NOT by others in the family.
Lemon should be drunk, without adding salt or sugar, by the boys/girls only and NOT by others; the next morning after bathing the boy/girl should pray wearing this garland and then drink the lemon juice with a little water.
Then retain the garland in a cloth bag (manjal pai), not in plastic bag, till marriage is over and come again with spouse; the same garland is finally put in the temple tank here.
Coconuts can be used by the entire family for cooking.

Step-4: After these rituals at the Kalyana sundareswarar sannithi, go and pray Shiva again. Normally no separate archana is done here.
Step-5: The kalyana melam/Nadhaswaram party collects Rs.10/boy or girl while coming out of the sanctum sanctorum, though not compulsory.
Step-6: Pray Raagu. Mangala Raagu here in the north of inner praharam is special for puthira dosha nivarthi; normal ghee dheepam (5 for Rs.10) available near Raagu, should be lit only by the boy or the girl or one of the parents if the boy/girl has not come;
Full procedure for Puthira dosha pariharam:: take bath in the thirukkulam nearby on amavasai day and take paal payasam for puthira bagyam; childless couple should offer ghee which is returned as prasadam which is to be taken at night for 48 days by both.

HISTORICAL / RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE: 10th Century Chola Temple.
There is a moat around the temple.
Once upon a time, Parvathy wanted to marry Shiva in an earthly marriage with all religious rites on the earth; Brahma, Vishnu and Indira came to earth as acharya in Thiruvaduthurai; while playing chokkattan (similar to Thaayam), Vishnu won and his sister Parvathy laughed aloud; Lord Shiva was angry and said “Ada pasuve!” and Parvathy was born as a cow on earth; Vishnu became her herder at Therazhundur; Barathamuni had no children and he prayed the Lord; he was given permission to remove her curse and so he converted her cow shape to a feminine figure at Thiruvavaduthurai; she grew up at Kuthalam alias Thiruthuruthi in Bharathamuni’s house; Lord Shiva came to marry her as promised earlier and Barathamuni received him at Ethirkolpadi; Shiva performed all the marriage rites / velvi at Velvikkudi before marriage; then he married Parvathy at Thirumanancheri. Shiva hence gets the name ‘Pasupathy’.

1. Therazhundur (Vedhapureeswarar – Soundaryanayagi) – 11km from Mayuram.
2. Thiruvaduthurai
3. Kuthalam.
4. Ethirkolpadi.
5. Velvikkudi.
6. Thirumanancheri.

The following story also keeps floating around: Two girls promised each other that their son and daughter would marry in future; one got a beautiful girl while the other gave birth to a turtle-shaped boy; former refused the marriage; the latter appealed to the Lord; he converted the turtle to a handsome young man; marriage went off well; so goes the story; hence the belief is that the physical disabilities of the spouse will be either corrected by the Lord or overlooked by the other spouse; hence the marriage obstacles would be removed once you come and pray here.

To bless the devout multitude on earth Lord Shiva and Parvathi got married in five different types. The celestial wedding that took place in this sacred spot was performed according to the sastras followed by human beings.

The wedding of Shiva and Parvathi When Shiva and Parvathi were in a happy mood in their abode in MT Kailash a strange idea struck Parvathi. Instead of the usual fight that separates the couple after which they unite in wedlock , Parvathi thought it correct and logical to request Shiva to marry her another time.

Parvathi requests Shiva to marry her
Shiva gets angry
 Shiva watched her behavior and in a fit of anger cursed her to be separated from him and take the form of a cow. Parvathi incarnated as a cow and roamed in the jungle. She was always thinking of her spouse while loitering in Asukadau( forest) he divine cow -Parvathi spotted a Lingam and showered it with milk from its udder. Shiva was overjoyed to see the devotion of his consort.

Mukti at Thruvavadurai Shiva happy with Parvathi’s (cow)deeds and granted Mukthi to her Thiruvavaduthurai. He was contemplating as to how Parvathi could be born on earth so that he can marry her quickly.

Bharatha Maharishi was conducting a yaga and Shiva thought it apt to make Parvathi appear from the yaga kundam. Thus a divine damsel emerged from the yaga kundam and the sage Bharatha was happy to see her and considered as a holy girl. He was worried about finding a suitable groom for her. The Lord appeared in his dream and assured him that he -Shiva would marry her as she is none other than Parvathi. Shiva also wished that the sage should perform the wedding in a grand manner Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of Sage Bharatha, that he will enter into wedlock with the celestial who appeared from Sage Kundam.

Thus the Sage meticulously looked after the wedding arrangements. The divine wedding took place in Thirumananjeri which was witnessed by celestial beings. Since the Thirumanam (Wedding) took place at Thirumananjeri, this place is called Thirumananjeri.

Praying For Marriage There is a popular belief that unmarried men and women will get married by worshipping the Lord and his consort. All the pooja items which is required to propitiate the deities are available inside the temple. But there are shops adjoining the temple who sell the pooja items.

One should visit Thirumananjeri only after completing their visits to other places. This temple should be the last leg in their tour. Faith can move mountains. Reposing faith in the deities will do wonders. Unmaried men and women who prayed for their wedding should compulsorily visit Thirumanajeri after their wedding and follow the ritual as ordained by the priests.

There is a separate shrine for Rahu of the Navagraha. The childless will get a progeny if they worship him thus called Mangale Rahu and worshipping him consecutively on three New Moon days will remove the malefice effects of Navagraha.

Thiruvizha: In the Tamil month of Chithirai on Poosam star; Shiva’s Thirumana Mahotsavam. PERSONAL TIPS for Thirumanancheri: Best time to visit: least crowded on weekdays especially during exam periods.
Food: Take food with you since nothing except tender coconuts and biscuits is available.
Toilets: no specific place as rest rooms; the whole world is yours!
Accommodation: Nothing is available there since none stays there; very small guest house is there for an emergency.
Dress code: no code; pants, dhothi, shirts, saree, chudidhar etc are ok;
Priests: only one priest stays locally; others come from nearby towns daily.
Medical facilities: none; nearest is Mayuram or Kumbakonam.

 

Tiruppanandal

Tiruppanantaal Temple is an Upadesa Stalam with Shiva facing West and Ambal facing East. This shrine is also known as Taalavanam. This temple is the 39th in the series of the Tevara Stalams located in Chola Nadu north of the river Kaveri.

Description: This Shivastalam is an Upadesa Stalam with Shiva facing West and Ambal facing East. Sambandar is said to have visited here after visiting Tirucheignalur. He is said to have proceeded to Tiruppayatrankudi from here. This shrine is also known as Taalavanam. Tiruppanantaal is considered to be the 39th in the series of the Tevara Stalams located in Chola Nadu north of the river Kaveri. Of the 275 Shivastalams six shrines are associated with Panai maram (Palm Tree). They are Panaiyur, Panankattur, Puravaar Panankattur, Cheyyar, Tirumazhapadi and Tiruppanantaal.

Legends: Shiva is said to have bent forward to allow an anxious devotee Tatakai to adorn him with a garland. The river Manni is said to be a derivation from its original name Subramanya nadhi. The fact that it is an Upadesa Stalam renders significance to this shrine. Bhrama was absolved of the blemish of having made the false declaration of having ascended to the top of the column of fire that Shiva manifested himself as, here.

The Temple: This temple is also a Maadakkoyil built at an elevation.Lofty fortress walls and towering Rajagopurams with several images adorn this temple. The Vimanam here is crowned with 3 kalasams. Raja Raja Chola II is known for his grants to this temple. Kungiliyakkalaya Nayanar is associated with Tiruppanantaal, he is said to have straightened the tilted Shivalingam by virtue of his ardent devotion to the deity. Images of the stalapuranams associated with Tatakai and Kungiliyakkalaya Nayanaar are seen carved in the 16 pillared hall. This shrine is under the able administration of the Dharumapura Adhinam. Six worship services are offered each day.

Ayyavadi

This temple for Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi is situated in a small village called Ayyavadi around 6 kms from Kumbakonam.
Located just 500 mts from Uppiliappan temple, this village was once called as Aivar Padi.According to legends, the 5 Pandavas visited this place, kept their weapons under a tree, worshipped Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi and went around in the forests. As the five Pandavas worshipped here, it is beleived that the place was called as Aivar Padi which later changed as Ayyavadi.

Lord Vishnu took the Narasimha Avatar to kill the demon king Hiranyakasipu who is the father of Prahalada. After being so furiously fought with so much of power to kill the king, the anger and the fierce of Narasimha didnt come down. With so much of hyper Narasimha couldn’t make out between good and bad people and started disturbing everyone and no one could control him. People prayed Lord Shiva to save them.
Lord Shiva took a new and more powerful form or Avatar as Sarabeswara, with lion’s face and eagle’s wings. Shakthi accompanied Lord Shiva in the form of Sri Mahaprathyangira Devi seated on one of the wings of Sri Sarabeswara. Sarabeswarar went and subsided Narasimha’s anger to bring back peace. Hence both Sri Mahaprathyangira Devi and Sri Sarabeswara are beleived to be more powerful than any other powers.

In Ramayana, Indrajit, son of Ravana performed a Yaga called “Nigumbalai Yagam”, worshipping Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi. It is beleived that from this Ayyavadi he performed the Yaga. If he had completed the Yaga successfully, he would have got the powers to kill Rama.
But somehow it was spoiled by Lakshmana and Anjaneya before completion. Here the Devi is seated on the chariot with 4 lions, 8 arms with weapons possessing Lion’s face.

Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi’s worship will take away all evil forces and unsolvable problems from one’s life. In this temple Homams are conducted every Full moon day and No moon day, after which huge volumes of Red Chillies are offered to the Goddess.
Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi is an important Goddess in Shakthi worship. There is a Gayatri Mantra too for worshipping Sri Maha Prathyangira Devi.
Prathyankira and her moola manthram was discovered by 2 rishis in ancient times – they were Angiras and Prathyankiras, in whose honour the Goddess assumed the name of Prathyankira. She is also known as Aparajitha.

 

Thirubhuvanam

About Temple: The devotees firmly believe that for removing obstacles in marriage, for begetting a child, for recovery from debts, for winning legal battles, for neutralizing the effects of black magic etc., worshipping Lord Sarabeswara is the best remedy.

Sri Sarabeswara – name Narasimhavathaaram by Lord Vishnu was taken to destroy the asura Hiranyan, who was filled with haughtiness proclaiming himself as God. Asura samharam was over. But Narasimha’s anger didn’t abate. The Universe couldn’t bear His anger. The ‘devas’appealed to Lord Shiva. To appease Narasimha’s anger, Lord Shiva assumed the form of a bird Sarabha. This form comprises the forms of an animal, human and bird – the face of a yali, human body and the form of a bird. The form of Narasimha consisted of a human body and the face of a lion. Kaali and Durga became the wings of Saraba. Lord Sarabeswara lifted Narasimha to space, drew out the asura blood (Hiranyan’s) and pacified him. He took him to space because even if a drop of asura blood fell on the earth, it would lead to the emergence of many asuras. So, Lord Sarabeswara took Narasimha above the gravitational sphere to prevent his blood falling on earth. The form of Sarabeswara comprises four Gods – Shiva, Kaali, Durga and Vishnu.

The devotees firmly believe that for removing obstacles in marriage, for begetting a child, for recovery from debts, for winning legal battles, for neutralizing the effects of black magic etc., worshipping Lord Sarabeswara is the best remedy. They pray for 11 weeks or light 11 lamps or do 11 pradakshanams.

Architecture of the temple: The 1000-year old temple has been built by Kulothunga Chola III as per Chola style. We enter through east gopuram. Lord Vinayaka welcomes us! Passing by kodimaram, altar and Nandi, we find Kambahareswarar sannadhi. He relieved Varaguna Pandian of his apprehensions and brahmahathi dosham. His consort Dharmasamvardini has a separate temple. The architecture of the temples of those times is astonishing. During rains and floods, people took shelter in these temples. The sannadhis have been built at a height with steps leading to them. During floods, these temples served as relief centers! Most of the temples on the banks of Cauvery River have been built in this style, keeping in mind human considerations. On coming out of Dharmasamvardhini sannadhi, we see the temple of Lord Sarabeswara. In other temples, Lord Sarabeswara is sculptured on pillars, but here, He has a temple. The temple has 2 gopurams and 3 sthoobhis. Its theertham is Saraba theertham, sthalavritcham is vilva tree.

Daily pujas and festivals Three worship services are done daily. The annual festival is celebrated on Pankuni Uthiram day (April month) and thirukalyanam is done. Festival for Lord Sarabeswara is celebrated annually. During this festival, laksharchanai and ekadhina laksharchanai are done. Special pujas are conducted during Rahukaalam on every day, especially on Sundays. Saraba homam is done for any devotee’s star. You have to register with the temple office. Kattalai archana for 11 weeks can also be done.

Darasuram

About Temple: The temple at Darasuram, 4 km west of Kumbakonam is Airvatesvara (Airavat is the holy white elephant) Temple, constructed by Rajaraja Chola II (1146-63), is a superb example of 12 Century Chola architecture. Many statues were removed to the art gallery in the Thanjavur Palace, but have since been returned.

The remarkable structures depict, among other things, Shiva as Kankala-murti – the mendicant. Stories from epics and Hindu mythology are depicted. Adjoining the Airavatesvara temple is the Deiva Nayaki Ambal temple.
In the year 2004, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated and restored the temple.
The town is known for the Airavateswara temple constructed by the Rajaraja Chola II in the 12th century AD. The temple is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage monument

History The earliest records of the temple mention the name of the town as Rajarajapuram. It is believed that this name might have been corrupted to Darasuram with the passage of time
The sanctum is in the form of a chariot
This temple is a storehouse of art and architecture. The vimana is 85 feet high. The front mandapam itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. The temple has some exquisite stone carvings. The main deity’s consort Periya Nayaki Amman temple is situated adjacent to Airavateshwarar temple. The Great Living Chola Temples. (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) at Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Darasuram were built by the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and have a lot of similarities. 

Legend: The legend is that Airavata, the white elephant of Indra, worshipped Lord Siva in this temple; so did also the King of Death, Yama. Tradition has it that the presiding deity Airavateswarar cured Yama himself (the God of Death) who was suffering under a Rishi’s curse from a burning sensation all over the body. Yama took a bath in the sacred tank and was rid of the burning sensation. Since then the tank is known as Yamateertham. It gets its supply of fresh water from the river Kaveri and is 228 feet in width. Pilgrims make a point to bathe in the tank. In the recent past Raja Raja Chola and Karikala Chola worshipped the Siva Lingam in this temple. Volume II of the South Indian Temple Inscriptions deals with a number of endowments of the Pandya Kings also (see pages 556 to 562). On the temple walls these inscriptions are given, from which it is seen that the temple was known in those days as Raja Rajeswararn and Raja Rajapuram. Two such inscriptions are copied here.

Inscription No. 563 at page 557. No. 23 of 1908 on the inner Gopura of the temple, right of entrance. Record dated in the 10th Year, Tai 11, of the reign of the Pandya King Maravarman alias T ribhuvana Chakravartin Srivallabhadeva registering the provision made for repairs and for celebrating festivals in the temple of XXXI Ra (ja) ra (ja) isuram Udaiyanayanar, by the residents of Uttattur-nadu, a sub-division of Kulottunga-valanadu. Inscription No. 564 at page 558. Record dated in the 31st Year, Makara, Ba. Dvitiya, Uttarashada (probably a mistake for Uttaraphalguna) of the reign of the Chola king Tribhuvana Ghakravartin Sri RAJARAJADEVA registering the grant of land (Irandu Ma mukkani araikkani) 23/160 of a veli to meet the expenses of worship, offerings, etc., to the God by a native of Peruchchalipuram, a village in Kilar-kurram, a sub-division of Pandyakulapati-valanadu.

As originally Airavata worshipped the Lingam, the Lingam is named after him as Airavateswara. The Goddess in this temple is known as Deva Nayaki. Whatever remains of the sculptural part of the temple is on the inside wall of the outer prakaram, about a foot from floor level. ‘The carvings contain different poses of gymnastic feats seen in the modern circus, shown by females keeping their head at the centre and legs interwoven in such a skillful way as to form the circumference of a circle. It may be a depiction of the present-day gypsy tribe entertaining villagers with gymnastic shows and dancing poses. Such gypsies are still to be seen visiting the interior villages of the country. Very many styles of physical feats shown by both men and women have been carved in the stone.

With heavily ornamented pillars accurate in detail and richly sculpted walls, the Airavateswara temple at Darasuram is a classic example of Chola art and architecture
The main mantapa is called Raja Gambira as the elephant draws the chariot. The wheels were put back by the ASI at a later date. The ceiling has a beautiful carving of Shiva and Parvathi inside an open lotus. All the dancing poses of Bharatanatyam are carved in the stone. They are referred to as the Sodasa Upasaras. There is a carving showing the village womenfolk helping in the delivery of another female, who has both her hands on the shoulders of the two ladies, who are pressing their hands and the abdomen of the lady to help her deliver. ‘These are very skillful and artistic works of superb style. This may give a glimpse into the social conditions of the past. The stone image of Ravana carrying Kailas is a fine specimen of workmanship. 

One finds sculptures of Buddha, Bhikshatana, Saraswathi without her Venna, and a sculpture of Ardhanarishwara Brahma and Surya. It was during this time that Shaivism took a very drastic step and lord Sarabeshwara would seem to have come into existence. Many reasons have been cited for this incarnation of Lord Shiva. Saraba has the face of a lion and the body of a bird and has placed on his lap the mighty Lord Narasimha. A mantapa has been specially built for lord Saraba, and thereafter has been installed in temples. The paintings on the walls have been repainted during the Nayak periods.

At the very entrance to the temple two Dwarapalakas, Sankhanidhi and Padmanidhi, are imposing figures, giving vivid anatomical expressions of the exuberance of youth. In front of the temple, there is a small mandapa, which can be reached by three steps in the form of a ladder. The steps are stones, which give different musical sounds when tapped. All the seven swaras can be had at different points.

 

Tiruvaiyaru

About Temple: Tiruvaiyaru Temple is the 51st in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located north of the river Kaveri.

Legends: A devotee, Sucharitan was saved from untimely death by Shiva in the form of a column of light. Agasthyar obtained his dwarfed physical stature here. Ambal worshipped Shiva here with two measures of grains.

History: There are several inscriptions from the Cholas, Pandyas, Krishna Devarayar and other rulers. Uttara kailasam was built by Rajaraja Cholan`s wife. Dakshinakailasam was also renovated by her. Appar on his trek to Kailasam, with divine intervention was miraculously transported to Tiruvaiyaru. This took place and is celebrated in the month of Aadi – New Moon. The river Kaveri was in spate and parted to allow Sundarar to walk across to Tiruvaiyaru.

Architecture: This temple has five prakarams and a seven-tiered Rajagopuram. It covers an area of 15 acres. Somaskandar (Ologamaaaveedivitankar) has his own shrine in the second prakaram, adjacent to the Japesa Mandapam (Kukti Mandapam). The Sivayoga Dakshinamurthy shrine is important here. The shrine to Ambal Darmasamvardhini Amman has two prakarams of its own. The outer prakaram has the Dakshinakailasam, and the Uttara Kailasam. To denote the primordial nature of Sound – Nada Brahmam, there are spots, which produce echoes.

Festivals: The Tirukkalyanam of Nandi is celebrated in the month of Pankuni at Tirumazhapadi. The annual Brahmmotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chittirai. The float festival is celebrated on Aavani Moolam, while the Appar festival is celebrated in the month of Aadi.

 

Mannargudi

About Temple: Much of the historical glimpses are Established in an area of six square acres with gigantic, sprawling seven circumambulatory paths with sixteen majestic towers and the typical grandeur of the stately Rajagopuram towering higher up the ethereal regions up 154 feet; the captivating marvel of a temples abides as a rare symbol of excellence.

Some of the circumambulatory path like Tiruvunnazhi Prakaram, Garuda prakaram, Champaka prakaram, Kasi prakaram, Nacchiyar prakaram are enormously spacious and extensive and unique in their appearance. The seven vast splendid halls like Vallala Maharaja Mandapam, Thousand-pillared mandapam, Garuda Vahana mandapam, Yanai vahana mandapam, Lattice-window mandapa (Palakani mandapa) Butter and pot mandapa-(Vennai thazhi mandapa) Mast – Wood vehicle mandapa (Punnai vahana mandap) add the to the captivating pervasive expance of the temple prakaras.

There are twenty-four shrines including Perumal and Thayar shrines in the temple. The mast – wood tree Punnai is the sacred tree of the temple adored with special devotion as it is dedicated especially to the Lord. It is located in the Champaka Prakaram. This kshetra glorified as Champakaranayam, in yonder days, abounded in Champaka plants.

The temple is established facing east. There is conjective among experts that the temple must have been originally facing west, for the mound of mansions over the western entrance was perhaps the remnants of the palaces used by the members of the royal family for stay and rest during their visit to the temple for worship. Also the Sangu Tirtham and Chakra Tirtham are seen interchanged in their left and right positions; that is obviously due to the fact that the temple once faced west. The temple is said to possess seven circumambulatory paths; if so which is the seventh Prakara? It was customary in those days to recognize the car streets called Pralaya Kala Veedhi circumscribing the present four Gopala Samudram Car Streets. Due to ravages of time those streets had disappeared. They were, perhaps, the seventh circumambulatory path. The four car streets of Gopala Samudram are the sixth circumambulatory path.These grand streets should have been once the locations of protective and fortified moats filled with water. That is perhaps why the nomenclature-Samudram-is still sticking to this location. It is also possible to determine from the erstwhile Revenue Settlement Records that excepting the pathway leading to the main shrine all the other surrounding areas of the temple are measured and compiled as the mote.Mannargudi.

Along the Gopala Samudram car street just opposite to the temple there is erected a magnificent granite monolithic Garuda pillar which extends a happy welcome to the devotees. At the crest of the column there is a small shrine dedicated to Garuda who stands facing west with folded hands. It is indeed the grace of the deity that sustains this column unimpaired and unimpeded unrestrained and unassailded from the ravages of nature for several centuries now. By using a mountain of cotton bales Tirumangai Alwar contrived to sustain the vertically of this immense magic column of granite. But it is strange and disconcerting that we have to reconcile to the fact that the pasurams of such a magnificent and benevolent Tirumangai Alwar is not available to us yet. On the northern side of this pillar there is a mandapa which houses the big chariot of this temple, which is next only to the chariot of Tiruvarur in its display of pomp and majesty. This is the East Gopalasamudram car street that beckons un on to Rajagopuram of the temple. There is the shrine of Sri Anjeneya at the northwest end of the car street. At the east car street there is an Agama school.

Advancing past the Garuda column we arrive at the sixteen-pillared mandapa abiding at the alluringly magnificent main entrance of the temple and extending an illustrious welcome to the vataries. During the festivities the Lord would be stationed here and numerous avowed ceremonial worships would be performed. On the southern side of the Sannidhi Street there abides the Ahobhila Mutt buildings where in we shall have the darsan of Sri Narasimha and Sri Adivan Sadagopa Yatinadra Mahadesikan. On the northern row of the Sannidhi street there is the Vanamamalai Mutt. When we move past the sixteen-pillared mandap the towering Rajagopura extending higher up the pervasive ethereal regions seems to behold us and swiftly sweeps down, as it were, to welcome us with an added vigour of joy and excitement. Just at the entrance in the southern side there abides Vira Anjeneya who is said to be proficient in extending merits to devotees.

Now we reach the fifth circumambulatory path.This is also called Nachiyar Prakaram. This is also the thoroughfare for the chariot procession of Sri Sengamala Thayar. For Sri Thayar, the Sumangali noted for refinement and moderation and gentleness of style would seldom betake herself beyond the gates of Her abode and this kind of festival of chariot procession is unique in the history of temple administration. Nowhere else is seen such a kind of festival to the deity. On the Southeastern part of the circumambulatory path there is an entrance and a tower but the gateway has been shut now. In former days it was customary to fetch water from the Gopralaya Tirtha for the anointing of the deities. At the centre of the southern Prakara there is a huge gateway and tower. Just opposite to the enclosure wall there is also a tower. It is said that there was a Thyagaraja mandapa where in the Lord Thyagesa of Tiruvarur used to visit this mandapa and participate in festivals once every year. At the western Prakara there is a granite tower and western gopuram. There are numerous delicate works of arts and sculpture belonging to the Nayak period. The kings of Thanjavur used to visit this temple through this gopuram and perform ceremonial worship to the deities. At the northwest and there is a tank for the use of Sri Thayar.At the northern Prakara there is the northern gateway, the granite gopura and gopura built of bricks. In the north eastern portion there is the elephant mandapa and the cowshed. The gate of Tirumanjanam street and a small gopuram are established in the Prakaram. Near the elephant mandapa at the eastern Prakara the mandapa for Sri Thayar chariot is located. Westward to this mandapa abides the sixteen-pillared mandapa and western to this, the shrine of Yoga Narasimha. At this sixteen pillared mandapa the Tiruvandikkappu of Sri Thayar is performed. At this entrance there is a new mandapa from where we can have the sight of the Krishna gopura.

Now we have arrived at the fourth circumambulatory path, which is also famous as Kasi Prakara. The path leading to the main shrine from Krishna gopura is famous as sabha. In the upper reaches of the Sabha mandapa we can witness beautiful sketches and drawings depicting skilled artistic acumen. Southern to the Sabha abides the thousand-pillared mandapam.Wes wards to thousand – pillared mandapa there abides the Administrative Office of the temple.At the south Eastern end there is mandapa from where the devotees enjoy the darsan of the Lord for Pakal Pattu and Era Pattu festival. At the Southern Prakara there is the sacred flower garden. From out of the jackfruit procured from the garden during the month of Vaikasi and coupled with Visakam constellation, the luscious delicacy of a delightful cuisine called Sahakara is prepared for the ceremonial offerings to the Lord. There is a sixteen-pillared mandapa at the northern Prakara famous as Tirumamani mandapa. During the Vaikuntha Ekadasi festivals the Lord would have prolonged, avowed ceremonial worships by the devotees throughout the day. Just opposite to this there is four-pillared mandapa where religious discourses would be held by the learned. At the eastern end of this prakara there are shrines for Kurattalwar, Udayavar and Vahana mandapa. The well abiding just opposite to the shrine of Karuttalwar is allowed open for the use of the general public for drinking purpose.Just opposite to the well by the Southern side there is the shrine for Sri Nigamata Maha Desikan.

Now we reach the third circumambulatory path, which is also famous as Champaka Prakara. There is Mohini Gopuram at the entrance of this Prakara through the Sabha.At the fore part of this Prakara in the southern side, Perialwar and Kulasekhara Alwar are seen on a pedestal. Just opposite there are Flag Mast and Sacrificial Altar.Then there are the Primary Alwars shrines.At the south there is the kitchen where in there abides the Madaipalli Nachiyar. The kitchen is also called Nachiyar Parigraham.At the southern Prakara there is the Store Room-Ugrana and near by there are Andal, Nammalwar, Manavaala maa munigal shrines. Nearby Tirumangai Mannan and Kumudavalli icons are displayed. Adjacent to tit are Anjaneya and Tondaradipodi Alwar propitiating Sri Rama padukas. Just opposite to Sri Thayar Shrine in this Prakaram there is a four-pillared mandapa in the open space and the Lord has the special ceremonial worships conducted here during Vasantha Utsava and Panguni Utsava. The shrine of Sri Sengamala Thayar abides at the southern Prakara.Entering the shrine we see the Flag Mast and the Sacrificial Altar attended by Garuda along with his consort Suparni.

When we reach the Thayar shrines and the adjacent South Prakara there is the niche for the sacred Basil Plant and opposite to it there is the glass mandapa. At the northeastern end there is the Vaikunda sabha also called Rohini mandapa at the projected stairs. Rohini Utsavam of Sri Perumal is performed in this mandapam. In the Nrithya Mandapa opposite to Sri Thayar shrine the grand Adhyayan Utsava and Ekasimhana Utsava for ten days for Sri Thayar are celebrated. In the Mattaiyadi Utsava when the Lord and Sri Thayar are seated at the same seat is called Ekasimhasanam. It is just like Sri Rangam Panguni Uttara consecrated worship. Here the famous Gadya Traya (Vaikuntha Gadyam Sri Ranga Gadyam-Saranaagata Gadyam) Chorus-cum-group recitals will be done by the learned. During Fridays in the month of Thai Thiruvolakkam for Sri Thayar will be done in this mandapa. The top of the mandapa has been fixed with brass plates.

Sri Thayar is anointed every Friday in this mandapam. Next to this there is the Ardha mandapa and the shrine of Sri Thayar. Sri Sengamala Thayar and Hemabja Nayaki as the Utasvar and the Mulavar extend immense grace and benediction to the devotees. From the western Prakara and Sri Thayar Shrine junctin a diversion branches as Champaka Prakaram of Sri Perumal. Northwest to this Prakara there is Sri Rams’s shrine with the Nrityamandapa, Mahamandapa and Arthamandap. The sixteen – pillared mandapa otherwise called Sri Paduka mandapa abides there in the Prakara. Nearby there is Praamapada entrance and Pancha Parva Utsava mandapa. At the eastern prakara the sacred tree –the Punnai tree (the mast wood tree) and the yagasala are there.

May I contemplate on Sri Sengamala Thayar, the incarnation of Sri Mahalakhmi with four arms and two efflorescent eyes like Neelotpala, adorned with Kundalas at the ears, decked with Keyura haras and golden necklaces, decorated with white floral garland, with a countenance dazzling with the lightning of a smile amidst the coral-like red lips, with the bright tilaka on the fore head, with the locks of curling hair dense dark in hue, with the lustrous complexion flawless white in hue like pearls originated from bamboos, with form akin to Mahalakshmi abiding on the lotus and the face charming and attractive.

May I meditate on Sri Sengamala Thayar the manifesting Viralakshmi, effulgent like the golden lotus, worshipped by all the celestials, resplendent with an ornament studded with gems at the tip of the nose, skilled in fulfilling all the aspirations on the votaries, the able and efficient consort of the manifestation of Vishnu, as Sri Vidya Rajagopala, the most indescribable and unparalleled in beauty and charm, the beloved daughter of Samudra Raja and the defender and protector of all the worlds.

Just in front of Sri Perumal Sannidhi there is a grand Vadya mandapa and norther to it the Uttaramandapa of Vallala Maharaja and the shrine of Perarulalan. In this Mahamandapa Sri Perumal extends darsan during Pakal Pathru and so does Sri Thayar during Brahmotsava. Western to the shrine of Sri Perumal there is the chamber of rest and respite. On the pillars of Vadya mandapam, Achyutappa Nayak, Vijaya Raghava Nayak Rani Champakalakshmi is seen with folded hands. Southern to this mandapa there are steps to pass by. Higher above the saligrama Anjaneya as consecrated at Haridranadi is also to be seen here.

We have arrived at the Garuda Prakara at the entrance of the second circumambulatory path. The bronze sentinels, Jaya and Vijaya are seen to be absorbed in vigilance. Nritya mandapa of Sri Perumal abides at the Garuda Prakara and Garuda along with Ulsavamurthy has the shrines here. It is said there is a subterranean path here. From the southern part of the western prakara there are shrines for Venugopala, Lakshmi Narasimha, Ananta Padmanabha, Lakshmi Narayana and Gajendra Varada. At the northeastern end there is the shrine for Vishvaksena and Sutravati Devi. Northern to this there is the mandapa for the silver, gold vehicles to be deposited in safe custody.

Now we reach the first circumambulatory path, Thiruvunnazhi. Just in front of the Perumal shrine there is the Mahamandapa, the Sabha. All the pillars there in are set with brass plates. Right to the Thiruvunnazhi Prakara and under the ceiling of the sanctum sanctorum there is Vinayaka shrines and in the northern Prakara the shrine of Durga, just as we have in Sri Rangam. Then we reach the Arthamandapa of Sri Perumal shrine. Inside the sanctum sanctorum the Supreme Deva Deva along with Sri Devi and Bhudevi, surcharged with the form of Mulavar Paravasudeva and Utsavar Sri Vidya Rajagopala consorted by Sri Rukmini and Sri Satyabhama endows the perennial wavelength of beauty and grace and at the same time dispelling all our taints and blemishes and conferring captivatingly ceremonial and fascinating darsan to the votaries.

“May I ake refuge in Sri Rajagopala decorated with the feathers of peacock at the locks of hair dressed as a coil, with the lustrous tilaka of musk illumining at the forehead, with single ear-ring in one ear and a kundala at the other, dazzling with the moon light of a smile amidst the bud like pink lips embellished with numerous ornamentsw, adorned with fragrant sandal paste, holding the golden rod of the whip, enjoying the beloved company of Gopis, holding the lotus in the left hand, seated on the throne studded with Navaratna gems and having Champakaranya as the permanent abode.”

 

Gangaikondacholesvaram

About Temple: Gangaikondacholapuram, now in the Udaiyarpalayam taluk of Tiruchi district, in Tamilnadu, was erected as the capital of the Cholas by Rajendra I, the son and successor of Rajaraja I, the great Chola who conquered a large area in South India at the beginning of the 11th century A.D. It occupies an important place in the history of India. As the capital of the Cholas from about 1025 A.D. for about 250 years, the city controlled the affairs of entire south India, from the Tungabhadra in the north to Ceylon in the south. The great temple of Siva at this place is next only to the great temple of Tanjore in its monumental nature and surpasses it in sculptural quality.

Architecture The temple was located at the center of the Gangaikondacholapuram city and occupies around 6 acres of land. There seems to be 2 Praharams surrounding the Srivimana, most of the wall is destructed and the Granite rocks where used to construct the Lower Anicut during the British rule. The remains of these outer wall is very less and one can judge the actual size of the temple if it had remained, whereas the second wall has the gopuram completely destructed and from the height of the entrance one could estimate the height of the second gopuram. 

Archeological Survey of India has renovated the Srivimana and painted it beautifully after the chemical cleaning. The sight of the Srivimana from this second entrance is magnificent and beautiful. A western historian who studied Gangaikondacholesvaram compared the structural difference of this Srivimana with that of Rajaraja-I’s Brihadisvara temple at Thanjavur and mentioned that this Srivimana is of feminine structure and the Tanjore Srivimana as masculine in nature. The main difference that is obvious is this Srivimana has 8 sided (Octagonal) in structure and Thanjavur Srivimana has 4 sided (Quadragonal) in structure.

The basement of Srivimana is 100 feet by 100 feet and the foundation is square in structure and raises 20 feet above the ground level. The 3 lower stages houses many beautiful masterpiece sculptures of chola period including the Laxmi (goddess of wealth), Gana Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge), Ardhanareeswarar ( Shiva and Sakthi in equal but in one form), Shiva blessing Chandigeswarar with along Parvathi. One has to enjoy the beauty and the elegance and these fine masterpieces by visiting Gangaikondacholesvaram no words or even the photographs that we have taken are only our attempt to bring this 1000 year old art and architecture near to the readers.

There are many shrines inside this temple found on the 2nd praharam (circumventing path), Mahisasuramardhini shrine, Amman shrine, Chandigeswarar shrine, Ganapathy shrine etc., There was Nataraja Mandapam now totally destroyed and only the remains were found. There were special Poojas for Mahisasuramardhini every month.

Special Poojas Pradosham event monthly twice
Shangadahara Chaturthi once in a month
Pournami Pooja on full moon days
Monthly Karthikai festival for Lord Muruga
Annaabishegam (rice abishegam) for the Shiva Linga once in a year – organized by Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Annaabishegam festival : This is one of the most important festival of this temple and it is mainly organized by Shankaracharyar of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. As mentioned earlier the Lingam (Peruvudaiyar – main deity) is one of the Ratchasa Lingam i.e, a Giant Lingam due to its huge size is decorated with rice. It requires 75 gunny bags of rice to completely cover the huge size of the Lingam, the whole Lingam looks like a white hill of rice. The Abishegam prasatham (i.e, the rice after offering to Lingam) is served as Annadhanam (free food) on that day.

Thalavirutcham Vanni tree is the thalavirutcham of this temple. It is resided in the northern prahara of the temple and rear to the shrine of Chandigeswarar.

Temple Management : The temple is under the control of ASI (Archeological Survey of India ) and HR&CE. The office of HR&CE is located inside the temple. One can contact the HR&CE office for pooja related service. Maalikai Medu (Ruins of Rajendra Chola Palace) The emperor Rajendra Chola (1012 A.D – 1044 A.D) built a big palace in the place of Utkottai, where a mound even now called Maalikai Medu (Palace mound) in Gangaikondacholapuram – the capital of chola dynasty. 

The base of the palace is found in Maalikai Medu which is 1.5km away from the Brihadisvara Temple, Gangaikondacholapuram. The breadth of the palace wall is 1m and built by using only the bricks.

Now the palace is maintained as a protected monument by the Tamil Nadu Archaeological Survey (State ASI), telling that the palace had two floors including some sculptures, paintings on the wall. Some of the beautiful handicrafts made up of elephant ivory , bones and Chinese style painted things were also found in the palace, proves that the Chinese accompanied with Tamil people in the period of Chola. The things used in the palace by the period of chola is kept in the museum of Gangaikondacholapuram.

 

Adi Kumbeshwara temple

About Temple: This is the largest and the oldest Shiva temple located in the centre of the town of Kumbakonam. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Kumbeshwara and the presiding Goddess is Sri Mangalambigai. There is a shrine dedicated to Adi Vinayaka (Lord Ganesh).

A Chola King built the temple and the temple building itself would seem to have been renovated by the Nayak King. Some of the old images like Sri Ambal, Sri Durgaiamman and Sri Kirathamoorti bear the impress of the antiquity about them.

The temple contains some wonderful pieces of sculpture and architecture. Its main Gopuram is 128 feet high and has many intricately carved sculptures on it. On a single block of stone in the Navaratri Mandapam all the 27 stars and 12 ‘Rashis’ (signs) have been carved out.

The image of Lord Subramanya, enshrined in this part of the temple, is a rare specimen. It has six heads but only six hands holding different kinds of weapons. There is an excellent collection of silver Vahanas (palanquins) used to carry the deities at festival times.

Legend Connected With The Temple Tradition goes to say that during the “Mahapralaya” (Great Floods) after “Dwaparayuga”, a ‘Kumbam’ (Pot) full of Amritham (also spelt as Amrit) and seeds for creation was set afloat by Lord Shiva. It was proclaimed by Shiva Himself that the place where the pot touched theground and had its rest would be considered as the holiest places in the world.

Since the said Kumbam, as announced by the creator of the world, had its rest in this place, this ancient place is named as “Kumbakonam” after that Kumbam. Immediately after its rest Lord Shiva appeared in the guise of a hunter and broke thesaid Kumbam full of Amritham with his arrow.

The nectar settled at two places one of which became the famous Mahamaham Tank. Out of the pieces of the broken pot Lord Shiva made out a ShivaLinga and entered into it. This is now enshrined in the temple, and hence the name Adi Kumbeswara, meaning – one who entered the Kumba or vessel long long ago.

It is to be noted that this MahaLinga unlike other Lingas found in other temples, is not made of granite stone and as such Abishekams (also spelt as Abhisheka) cannot be performed with watery substances lest it should dissolve the shape of the Linga (also spelt as lingam).

Idol Of Kirathamoorti The idol of Kirathamoorti is a special feature in the temple and it is a standing monument to commemorate the incidence that, Lord Shiva Himself has created the present MahaLinga.

The Shaivaite Saints, Appar and Sambandhar who flourished prior to the 7th century AD have sung devotional songs (”Thevarams”) in praise of the presiding deities of the temple.

Temple Timings: The temple is kept open from 5:30 in the morning and stays so till 12:00 in the noon. The temple usually remains closed during the noon hours, and reopens in the evening at 4:00 p.m. The temple closes in the night after the last pujas are performed by 8:00 p.m.

The divine consort is Mangalambika. The amritham that got spilt and pooled in a place became the famous Mahamagham Tank. This is an ancient temple dedicated to Shiva in the heart of the town. The Mahamakham tank where the Makham festival takes place once in 12 years is associated with this temple. The temple is said to be over 1300 years old. The Saivite Saints have sung its praise. The Chola and Naik Kings patronized this temple. The temple is in possession of two granite Nadaswarams (oboes). Adi Kumbeswarar temple is the major one among the Saivite temples and located in the centre of Kumbakonam at Big Bazaar Street.

This temple covers an area of 30181 sq.ft. with a length and breadth of 750 feet, and 252 feet respectively. This temple comprises of three Praharas and three Gopurams in the eastern, northern and western directions. It is believed that Govinda Theeksithan, the Chieftain of Achutha Nayakar of Thanjavur, renovated this oldest temple during 16th century. The East Gopuram consists of 9 stories with a height of 128-ft. Mangala Theertham, Marriage hall and small temples for Muruga, Ganapathi and Mangalambigai are other major constituents of this temple.

By looking at the entrance, it is hard to imagine the massive size of the temple, which covers more than 4 acres. It has a 9-tier gopuram, which rises to a height of 128 feet and is covered with several beautiful images. The four prakarams surrounding the temple are lined with local shops.

The east entrance is approached via a covered market. Beyond the flagstaff, a mandapa, whose columns feature painted yali (mythical beast) brackets, leads to the principal gopuram / entrance. A figure of Shiva’s vehicle, the bull Nandi, faces the main sanctuary. There’s also a fine collection of silver vahanas, vehicles of the deities, used in festivals, and pancha loham (compound of silver, gold, brass, iron and tin) figures of the 63 Nayanmar poet-saints. Moorka Nayanaar is one of the 63 Nayanars associated with this temple.

In the Navaratri Mandapam, all the 27 stars and 12 rasis / zodiac signs have been artistically carved in a single block of stone. The Kalyana Mandapam in the temple is the seat of the Tirukkalyana Utsavam. This temple also houses two nadaswarams made of stone. The images of Kiratamurthy and Subramanya are notable.

Shiva is known in this temple by other names like Amudha Kumbhesar and Amudheesar. The Kumbariya Vinayaka shrine is situated near the tank, while Adi Vinayaka is worshipped in the temple. The Mahamagam festival is associated with the Mangalambika shrine, which is revered as a Shakti Peetham.

Govinda Dikshitar’s contribution Govinda Dikshitar who was the Minister of Raja Acchudappa Nayakkar of Tanjavur, served as the Minister to three Nayaka rulers from 1515 – 1636. Acchudappa Nayakkar is said to have given gold equal to his weight (Tulaabaaram), which Govinda Dikshitar used to renovate the Mahaamahm tank, the 16 mandapams and the tank steps. He constructed the vimanams for the mandapams. He was in charge of renovating the Aadi Kumbheswarar koil with a new Raja Gopuram and the kudamuzhukku took place during the reign of Sevappa Nayakkar.

Govinda Dikshitar who was the Minister of Raja Acchudappa Nayakkar of Tanjavur, served as the Minister to three Nayaka rulers from 1515 – 1636. Acchudappa Nayakkar is said to have given gold equal to his weight (Tulaabaaram), which Govinda Dikshitar used to renovate the Mahaamahm tank, the 16 mandapams and the tank steps. He constructed the vimanams for the mandapams. He was in charge of renovating the Aadi Kumbheswarar koil with a new Raja Gopuram and the kudamuzhukku took place during the reign of Sevappa Nayakkar.

He had done various charities following the rules laid in the sastras. As a tribute streets in Thiruvidaimarudur, Thiruvenkaadu, etc. were named mahadhaana streets (great charities). He had erected pushpa mandapams with a pair of vimanams in Thanjavur, Vennarangarai, Thiruvalanchuzhi, Kumbakonam, Thiruvidaimarudur. The siver rishaba vahanam & the siver chariot in Thiruvidaimarudur were his contributions.

He had also formed the Raja Kaavya Veda Paadasalai in 1542 to teach sishyas the three vedams Rig, Yajur & Sama in the gurukula system. There is an idol of Govinda Dikshitar & his wife Nagammal in the Aadhi Kumbeshwara temple. Dikshitar was popularly knwon by the Ayyan in those days. Ayyan street, Ayyan kulam etc known to this by his name are a tribute to the great soul.

 

Ramaswamy Temple

About Temple: Here Lord Rama has been consecrated in His coronation robes. Both Sri Rama and Sita are seated on the same peeta and Hanuman is depicted as singing in praise of the Lord with the help of a veena.

This temple, known as the southern Ayodhya, has beautiful idols of Rama and Seethadepicted in coronation posture. Lakshmana stands next to Rama, holding a bow and arrows; they are flanked by Bharatha holding an Umbrella and Shatrughna holding a fan. This is the only temple where we can see idols of Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana along with Bharatha and Shatrughna.

The 62 pillars in the front mandapam are great works of art. Scenes from Ramayana are painted on the walls of the prakaram. The walls of the temple are decorated with beautiful paintings depicting the Ramayana. Every scene is painted, right from the birth of Rama to his coronation. I wish I had time to study each and every painting in detail, but failing that, I succumbed to temptation, and clicked a couple of photographs of the paintings. They will remind me to make another trip to this beautiful temple, at leisure.

The temple town of Kumbakonam is the abode of several deities each unique and distinct. The temple of Lord Rama situated in the centre of the town is a connoisseurs’ delight. The temple is replete with puranic lore. King Raghunayak ruled Tanjore from 1614-1640. He was an ardent devotee of Rama . His lieutenant Govinda Dikshitar called Govinda Ayyan was also devout and looked after the temple works.

King Raghunayak dug a holy tank in Darasuram near Kumbakonam . while the work was in progress they found icons of Rama and Sita in the tank. The King’s joy knew no bounds. Thus he built a temple for Rama and called it Ramaswamy temple. This temple is unique as Rama and Sita are in a Pattabishekam posture-Coronation scene . Rama and Sita are surrounded by lakshmana, shatrugna, Bharatha and the ever obedient Hanuman with Veena in one hand and the holy book of Ramayana in the other hand in a sitting posture. This coronation scene attracts people from far off places who are awe struck at the divine sight of the celestial confluence.

A separate sanctum sanctorum is dedicated to Srinivasa with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi . There are separate shrines for Azhwars and acharyas. The temple looks majestic with a mammoth Gopuram which seem to beckon the devotees to propitiate the lord inside. Jatayu attacking Ravana – painting at Ramaswamy Temple

There is a sprawling Mantap which is a treasure trove of sculptures about which we shall read in the next article.

Presiding deities:Rama and Sita in the Pattabishekam Kolam.
Temple timings:
6am – 12am 5pm- 8.30pm

 

Nageswaran Temple

About Temple: One of the most ancient temples in Kumbakonam, the small Nageswara Swami – Shiva temple, one of the finest early Chola temples, is noted for the quality of its sculpture, thought to have been completed a few years into the reign of Parantaka I (907 – 940). Adisesha and Surya had worshipped Sri Nageswara here. When Adisesha was groaning under the weight of the world, he came to Kuvinvanam, the present Nageswara temple and did penance. Siva and Parvati appeared before Adisesha and blessed him with enough strength. A well in the temple is called Naga Theertham.

History: Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple dedicated to Lord Nataraja is one of the finest early Chola temples, noted for the quality of its sculpture. This temple is believed to have been completed during the reign of Parantaka I (907-c.940). Though the temple is small but it is known for its marvellous architecture that exceeds many of the other Chola temples.
The Nataraja shrine here is shaped in the form of a chariot, and the shrine dedicated to the Sun God is of great sculptural significance

Nageswaran Temple, is dedicated to Shiva in the guise of Nagaraja, the serpent king. Also known as “Koothandavar Kovil”, it is located near the Kumbakonam old bus stand. Aditya Chola constructed this temple during the 12th century. It stands as a great marvel of Chola architecture, building technology and astronomy. The design and orientation are structured in such a way that it allows sunlight inside the temple only during the Tamil month of Chithirai (April/May), therefore, it bears another name called Surya Kottam or Keel Kottam. The Karuvarai (Sanctum Sanctorum) of Nageswaran temple is similar to that of Sarangapani temple, as it is made in the form of a Chariot. The temple consists of three gopurams in the eastern western & southern directions.

This vast temple known is for its shrine to Rahu, one of the nine celestial bodies in the Navagraha. A legend has it that the mythological serpents Adiseshan, Dakshan and Kaarkotakan worshipped Shiva here. Legend also has it that King Nala worshipped Shiva here as in Thirunallar
Standing in a courtyard, the principal shrine to Shiva is connected to a columned mandapa. Both share a base carved with scenes from the epics and lotus petals. The main niches on the sanctum wall contain sculptures – on the north, Dakshinamurti (“south-facing” Shiva as teacher), on the west Ardhanarishvara (male Shiva and female Shakti in one figure) and Brahma on the south. Joining them are high-relief near-life-size sculptures of unidentified figures, perhaps worshippers, donors or royalty. Within the courtyard, a shrine to Nataraja features rearing horses and wheels, with tiny figures as spokes.
The sun’s rays fall on the lingam in the central shrine through an opening in the eastern tower for 3 days in a year – on the 11th, 12th and 13th days in the month of Chithrai (April / May).

 

Kasi Viswanathar Temple

About Temple: This temple is very close to the Mahamagham tank, and the lingam here is a swayambhu. The importance of this temple is the belief that it is here that the Nava Kannigais(nine maidens representing the nine rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kaveri, Godavari, Narmada, Krishna, Tungabhadra and Sarayu) arrive to bathe in the Mahamagham tank once every 12 years.

The interesting thing about this temple is the presence of a sanctum dedicated to the Nava Kannigais, as soon as we enter the temple.

Here, it is believed, one must first offer one’s respects to them before going on to pray to the main deity Kasi Viswanathar and his consort Visalakshi.

 

Chakarapani Temple

Presiding deity -Chakrapani, Chakararajan, Sudarshana Azhwar,

Sri Chakra symbolizes Mahavishnu who adorns his right hand. Thus Chakrapani is also called Chakraroopa Vishnu, Hethiraja,Sudarsana Raja, Chakrathazhwar. This temple is dedicated to Chakrathazhwar and he is the presiding deity-Chakrapani.

Genesis of the temple Mahavishnu sent SriChakra to kill Jalantharasuran a demon. SriChakra went to Patalaloka killed the demon and emerged unscathed from river Cauvery at Kumbakonam and placed himself on the hands of Brahma who was bathing in the holy river. Happy and overjoyed Brahma consecrated the SriChakra at the place where the temple is constructed.

Surya is humbled
Surya one of the nine planets of the Navagrahas became jealous of Srichakra’s radiance tried to become more luminous then Sri Chakra. The Eastern and Western entrances of this temple are known as “Thatchinaya Vayil” and “Utharavana Vayil” respectively and outer Prakara of this temple is made in the form of balcony. Agampara Vinayakar, Panchamuga Aancheneyar and Vijayavalli are the important idols located in this temple. This temple is considered to be one of the most important Vishnu temples in South India, along with Srirangam and Tirupati. Seven of the Alwars sang the glories of this temple. Lord Sarangapani is the presiding Deity of the temple.

The images of Chakrapani with eight arms and Sudarshanavalli Thayar with a gracious visage are inspiring. Brahma, Surya and Agni are depicted as worshipping the Lord. According to legend, Surya once competed with Vishnu to decide who was brighter. Vishnu appeared in the form of a Chakra and put down the pride of Surya. Like Shiva, Lord Chakrapani has a third eye on His forehead.

Surya surrenders to Srichakra In order to regain his original form Surya surrendered to Srichakra who appeared with three eyes, eight hands, shining like Agni -fire, blessed Surya abundantly.
Surya also called Bhaskara requested that this hallowed spot should be named after him as Bhaskara kshetram. The spot where Srichakra appeared in Cauvery is called Chakra Theertham.

 

Mahamaham Tank

About Tank: Mahamaham is a Hindu Kumb Mela festival celebrated every 12 years in a town called Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, India. Hindus consider taking a holy dip at the Mahamaham tank on the day of Mahamaham as sacred. The last Mahamaham was celebrated on March 6, 2004, with people from various places taking the holy dip in the Mahamaham tank.

The festival is celebrated at an interval of around eleven to twelve years. The festival takes place at a particular time as determined by astrological position: during the full moon of the Tamil month of Maasi (February-March) when the conjunction of the moon with the lunar asterism (Magha Nakshatra) and when Jupiter is in the constellation of Leo.This Festival occurs when the sun is in the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius(Khumbha), Jupiter transists Leo(Simha) and the Moon is in conjunction with the constellation Maham. Generally all the these astronomical combination take place on a full moon day of the Tamil Month of Masi(Solar Kumbha Month) i.e. either in the latter half of February or in the first of March.

People are washing their sins on the holy rivers like Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati River, Sarayu, Godavari River, Mahanadi River, Narmada River, Pavoshnl and Kaveri River. These rivers wanted to get rid of their sins and approached Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma advised these rivers if you meet together and take bath in Mahamaham would wash off all the sins. Hence, during the time of Mahamaham festival, it is also believed that taking bath in the holy stream of water from the famous rivers like Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati River, Sarayu, Godavari River, Mahanadi River, Narmada River, Pavoshnl and Kaveri River, which are mixed together in Mahamaham tank, would get rid of sins according to Hindu religion. Mahamaham bathing festival is concentrated on a single day, the concourse of pilgrims being all the more. During this festival, thousands of Hindu devotees come to Kumbakonam, and take bath in a tank named Mahamaham tank, generally followed or preceded by a dip in the kaveri river at Kumbakonam. The tank has 20 holy wells. These wells are named after 20 holy rivers flowing across India. People get themselves drained in these wells. These wells are also called as “Theertham” (Holy water). 

The 20 theerthams in the Mahaamaham tank

1. Indra Theertham – provides moksham
2. Agni Theertham – rids Brahmahatthi dosham
3. Yama Theertham – rids fear of death
4. Nruthi Theertham – rids from fear of evil spirits
5. Varuna Theertham – provides long life
6. Vaayu Theertham – rids diseases
7. Gubera Theertham – provides prosperity
8. Isaana Theertham – moksham (to reach Lord Siva’s feet)
9. Brahma Theertham – pacifies ancestors
10. Gangai Theertham – provides Kailasa padavi
11. Yamuna Theertham – provides wealth
12. Godavari Theertham – fulfills wishes 13. Narmada Theertham – provides physical strength
14. Saraswathi Theertham – provides Gnaanam (enlightenment)
15. Cauveri Theertham – provides knowledge
16. Kumari Theertham – blessings to pets
17. Payodini Theertham – provides joy
18. Sarayu Theertham – removes mental strain
19. Arubathaaru(66)kodi Theertham – removes grief & provides hapiness
20. Deva Theertham / Naaga Theertham – rids of all sins & provides Devendra’s post / rids of Kaala Sarpa dosham

It is believed that taking dip or sprinkling water of the tank on the bodies cleanses all the sins. The Mahamaham Tank has four streets alongs its four banks. It is constructed with steps on the sides for people to easily access the tank and take dips. There are 16 Mandapas ( Gopuram Towers) around the corners and sides of the tank.These towers are considered to be forms of lord Shiva ( The Hindu God)

NAMES OF GOPURAM TOWER:

Shri Brahmatheerthaeswarar
Shri Mugunthaeswarar
Shri Thaneshwarar
Shri Yedabeshwarar
Shri Bhaneshwarar
Shri Koneshwarar
Shri Guneshwarar
Shri Bairaveshwarar Shri Agatheeswarar
Shri Vyaseshwarar
Shri Umabageshwarar
Shri Nairutheeshwarar
Shri Brahmeshwarar
Shri Gangeshwarar
Shri Mukthaeswarar
Shri Sathirabaleshwarar

History: It is believed that when the earth was transformed from one planet to other, the samples of all the living beings are collected in a ” Kumbaham” meaning a pot in tamil. When the same slipped over the earth , it fell on the place where the Mahamaham tank is located. When the pot fell down and toppeled, the living beings are created in earth. Hence the name of the place “Kumbakonam” meaning “Pot Toppled” in Tamil.
There are three famous temple in kumbakonam from where the idols are prayed. These temples include the ” Abimuhadeeswara Temple” , ” Kasi Viswanathar Temple” and ” Kumbeshwara Temple”.
On the Mahamaham day people start with praying these shivan temples and start dips in the 20 wells and go to kumbeswarar Temple and dip in the holy tank and finally in kaveri river to complete the process .
On the occasion of the festival, Metal idols of the deities of the main temples of Kumbakonam is carried on palanquins or chariots and taken around the different streets of the town.

There is an oft quoted popular saying in Sanskrit noting Kumbakonam as even as more sacred than Varanasi(Kasi). A sin committed at some ordinary place is washed off by a visit to a holy place, sin done in a sacred spot is washed off by going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi(Kasi). If one dares to commit a sin in that sacred city too, that sin is wiped off at Kumbakonam and any sinful act done at Kumbakonam is atoned for there itself.