Adi Kumbeshwara Temple – Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam is known as a Temple city because of many temples at every nook and corner. It is also known for Mahamaham Tank, where the annual festival is conducted every 12 years. The most noted temple in Kumbakonam is Adi Kumbeshwara, located at the center of the City.

After visiting the most incredible Airavateshwara temple with amazing architecture at Darasuram, I took local bus back to Kumbakonam Bus stand. Reaching in 15 minutes. I preferred to get down at the junction, which lead to Hotel Aathitya. I had exhausted my Camera Memory Card. I decided to search in the city to buy a new one. Instead of going back to the Hotel, I looked around for memory card. I couldn’t find one. Decided to use only Gopro for pictures. Hence, I missed out on lots of DSLR photographs of incredible places from hereon. Still, managed with Gopro & Mobile.

I decided to have early dinner. As usual, they served Dosa & Idlis. While going back to the hotel, there was a Cake shop on the way, craving for sugar set in, bought a Bread Pudding and Chocolate pie. Offcourse, couldn’t eat them, kept them for the morning. Retired for the day.

I had planned to visit Adi Kumbeshwara Temple early morning to avoid the usual crowd. I woke up by 6 AM, visited the temple, for the early start to Tanjavur. I ate the desserts bought at night to satiate the early morning hunger.

The small lane that lead to the temple was deserted, I think later in the day, flower and vegetable vendors covered the whole area. It was like really a long narrow alley. Photography is not allowed once you enter the Rajagopuram. Signboards are places everywhere mentioning the same. Hence, was able to click only at the entrance.

As per the legend, after the deluge and just before the onset of Kaliyuga, the celestial pot containing the nectar with seeds of life came to rest here. Lord Shiva in the form of hunter, shot an arrow at the pot which was held by Lord Brahma and broke it, thus reviving the life. Kumbham means Pot & Konam means Crooked – The pot that broke. The place where the nectar fell is the Mahamaham Tank.

The temple was built during the Chola reign around 7th Century and further worked upon later in the  15-17th Century by the Nayak Dynasty. Adi means Primordial Origin which implies ancient or the Foremost. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Shiva Linga is called as Kumbeswara and is in conical shape. This is the unique Linga in the World.  Hence, also the city called as Kumbakonam because of the Konam = Crooked, slight angle of the linga. Like all other temples, this one too is associated with different legends.

As per the legend, after the deluge and just before the onset of Kaliyuga, the celestial pot containing the nectar with seeds of life came to rest here. Lord Shiva in the form of hunter, shot an arrow at the pot which was held by Lord Brahma and broke it, thus reviving the life. Kumbham means Pot & Konam means Crooked – The pot that broke. The place where the nectar fell is the Mahamaham Tank.

This is the largest temple in the Kumbakonam. You will many temples in every nook and corner. Locating this one was like asking every passerby, whether this is Adi Kumbeshwara temple and walking through the long lane, I was making sure I reach the right one. It has a 9 storeyed Raja Gopuram  almost 125 ft tall, spreading over 4 Acres of the town. The temple has three concentric Prakara or Compound, elongated in east – west axis, with triple set of Gopurams.

Manthrapeeteshwari Mangalambika is his Consort and her temple is parallel to the left of Kumbeshwar Shrine and Somaskanda Shrine to the right. There are five silver plated chariots or Vahanas that are used to carry the deity during the Festival Processions. The pillars feature Yallis which lead the way to the Gopuram. Navrathri Mandapam has 27 stars and 12 Rasis (Constellations) carved in a single block. The main attraction of the temple are the Subramanya Idol with six hands instead of 12, Stone Nagaswarams and Kiratamurti. The images of the Nalvars (Appar, Sambanthar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar), images of 63 Nayanmars, Veerabhadra, Saptakannikas, Visalakshi, Visvanatha, Valam Chuzhi Vinayaka, Bhikshatana, Karthikeya, Annapurna, Gajalaksmi, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Jastadevi, Durga, Chandikesa, Kurathirtha, Arukala Vinayakar, Nandi, Bali Peetham, Sabha Vinayaka, Kasi Vishwanatha, Natraja are located in the first precinct around the Sanctum. The temple also has images of navaneetha Vinayaka, Kiratamurti, Bhairava, Jvarahareshwara, Chaota Sri Govinda Dikshits – Nagammal, Chandra, Surya, Adikara Nandi, Vallabha Ganapathi, Shanmukha, Navgraha, Lakshmi Narayan, Mutra Velli Vinayaka, Bala Dandayutapani, Vanni Vinayakar, Kumbha Munisidhar, Kumarappar, Adilinga and Sattananthar.

The parts of the temple are Chamber of repose, Decoration Hall, Sacrificial Hall, Grand Kitchen, Kalyana Mandapam, Elephant Shed, Vasanta Mandapam, Cattle Shed, Garden and Four Pillared Hall. The Flag Mast is located in second zone.

There are seven tanks that are associated with this temple. Notably, Mahamaham Tank is well known other tanks are Potramarai Tank, Kasyapa Tirtha, Varuna Tirtha, Chakkara Tirtha, Matanga Tirtha and Bhagvad Tirtha.   

Mangala Kupam Asva, Naga Tirtha, Kura Tirtha are the three wells associated with the temple. Chandra Tirtha, Surya Tirtha, Gautama Tirtha and Varaha Tirtha are the four tanks within the temple complex. Mahamaham festival takes place every 12 years in the month of Feb-March, where in lakhs of pilgrims travel to Kumbakonam to take a dip in the Mahamaham Tank. Tulapurushadaram, the practise of weighing oneself against gold and donating to the temple was started by Govinda Dikshitar and the funds were utilised for the construction of 16 Mandapas around the Tank, during the period of Krishnadeva Raya. His name mentioning the donation was found in another inscription.

I walked all the way to the hotel. Had breakfast at the nearby hotel, by 09:00 I was back to the hotel, checked out, took an auto to the Bus Stand. Bus for Tanjavur was waiting at the Platform.

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