||Mahamaham, Sapthasthanam, Thirukalyanam
||Centre place of Kumbakonam
The most important
shrine in the temple town of Kudamookku -> Kudandhai -> Kumbakonam. The Mangalambikai shrine here is revered
as a Shakti Peetam or Mantra Peetam. The Kumbheswara
temple in Kumbakonam is considered
to be the 26th in the series of Thevara Stalams in the
Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri. This temple is situated at the center of the town which is 38 km north east of the neighbouring big town Thanjavur and 35 km. west of Mailaduturai.
Legends: During the great deluge, it is believed that
Shiva caused the Amritakalasam to stall here. This shrine is said to
have been established built and consecrated by Bhrama. Amirthakalasam - The pot holding the
divine nectar. The Saivaite Saint Tirugnana Sambandar and Tirunavukkarasar praised this kshetra as Kudamookku and among the Alwars Periyalwar, Sri Andal and Tirumalisai Alwar called this as Kudanthai while Boodhathazhwar, called this as Kudamukku. As Arunagirinathar points out this kshetra as Kumbakonam, we can safely conclude that kudamukku turned into kumbakonam during the intervening period of the Azhwars and Arunagirinathar.
The Temple: Kumbeswarar Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located at the center of the Tamilnadu town Kumbakonam, India. The famous Hindu festival of Mahamaham is associated with this temple.
The huge temple with built over an area of 30187 sq ft is reported to be more than 1300 years old. This temple covering an area of about 4
acres in the heart of the temple town of Kumbakonam.
The Raja Gopuram at the east rises to the lofty height of 128' with nine terraces, a symbol of grandeur and splendour of the deities as also the majesty, immensity and all pervasiveness of the universal consciousness. In the northern and western sides there are small Gopurams and the Mottai Gopuram at the South. Four prakarams
line this temple and are lined with local shops, that
it is hard to visualize the spread of the temple by
looking at its entrance.
At the eastern end of the first circumambulatory path of the Mulavar shrine in the Southern side there abide the sixty three saivaite saints. In the northern part there are Bhairava, Kalabhirava, Jvarahareswara, Chasta, Sivalingam, Govinda Dikshitar and his consort Nagammal and ChandraSurya. In the South there are the Big Four of Saivism, 63 Nanmars, Sapta Kannikas. In the west there are Vinayaka, Bhikshatana, Subramanya Kartikeya Shrines and continuing there are Tejo Linga, Akshaya Linga, Kotilinga, as also Annapurani, Gajalakshmi, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati. At the center of the northern circumambulatory path there is Navaneetha Vinayaka and to the west is the chamber of rest and respite of the Lord and Sri Ambal and to the east abides Sri Kirathamurti holding the bow and arrow facing south in the standing posture. He is the principal Deity of this temple.
The centre of attraction at the inner circumambulatory path is the shrine of the Mulavar at the Sanctum sanctorum. The Mulavar Sri Parameswara in the self - originated linga form abides in all splendour and grace facing east. At the entrance of the Arthamandapa the sentinels - Dhwarapalakas - Chandi and Mundi stand in vigil on either side. At the Mandapa - Swami Mandapa - western to this and in its southern side there is Aarukula Ganapati. At the centre of the mandapa there abides the Nandi followed by the sacrificial altar and behind this is Nandi made of brass, all facing Sanctum sanctorum. Passing through the southern gate of Mahamandapa we have the statue of Soma Skanda facing east.
Western to the Sabhamandapa in the souththere is SabhaVinayaka and at the entrance towards Mahamandapa there are sentinels on either side and continuing we have NandiDeva and Kasiviswanatha. Northern to this mandapa Lord Nataraja abides in all glory and grandeur persecuting the cosmic dances.
At the Navaratri Mandapa situated inside the second circumambulatory path - Mahamandapa - Nandi abides facing the Mulavar and behind it there is the sacrificial alter. Southwest to Nandi there abides Vallabha Vinayaka and at the northwest there is Shanmukha with six faces and twelve hands. Northern to Nandi abides Navagraha shrine.
Southeast to second circumambulatory path is situated the temple kitchen and at the Northeast the Yagasala. Southern to theYagasala there abides Lakshmi Narayana Perumal and eastern to this there is the flag mast of the temple.
At the outer circumambulatory path in the southwest, Kumbha Muni Siddha abides in meditation, upon the Gopura in bas - relief. Vinayaka of this shrine is called Adi Vinayaka, in the northwestern end there is Adhi Linga shrine facing east. To the east of this circumambulatory path at the gateway of Kailasagopura are Mutra Vinayaka to the left and Balan Dandayuthapani to the right. Northwest to the Rajagopuram there is Mangalakupa a well and adjacent to it is the elephant shed and the Tirukkalyanamandapam. Southern to the Rajagopuram is the flower garden west wards to the flower - bower abides the Vannimara Vinayaka shrie facing east.
The Navaratri mandapam
bears a carvings of the 12 zodiac signs and the 27 asterisms.
This temple also houses two nadaswarams made of stone.
Many images in this temple deserve mention, especially
those of Kiratamurthy and Subramanyar. The Kalyana Mandapam hall in the temple, is the seat
of the Tirukkalyana Utsavam.
Kumbeswarar is represented as a Shivalingam fashioned
out of earth - said to have been made by Shiva in the
guise of a hunter - Kiratamurthy. Shiva is also known
as Amudha Kumbhesar and Amudheesar. The Kumbariya Vinayakar
shrine is situated near the tank, while Aadi Vinayakar
is worshipped in the temple. Moorka Nayanaar is one of the 63 Nayanars associated
with this temple.
The Saptastanams of Kumbeswarar
are Kalayanallur, Valanjuzhi, Darasuram, Swamimalai, Kottiayur, Melaikkaveri and Kumbakonam.
Festivals: Six worship services are offered each day
here. The annual festival in the month of Masi is well
attended. The Mahamaham tank is the center of great
festivity once every 12 years - when Jupiter is positioned
in the zodiac sign of Leo, and the sun is positioned
in Aquarius and the moon is in the asterism of Magam - when Kumbeswarar is taken in procession
there. Thousands of pilgrims converge for a dip in the
Mahamagam tank during that time. Several other minor
festivals are celebrated each month here.