Nageswar temple Kumbakonam

Temples in Kumbakonam Town

Our long awaited road trip to the holy town of Kumbakonam at last materialised in December 2019. We decided to visit the temples we had never visited and formed a list. Staying at Raya Grand close to Maha Magam tank was an advantage as the major temples in Kumbakonam town was within walking distance.

Kasi Viswanathar Temple Kumbakonam
At about 4 PM we walked to the first temple close to the Mahamagam Tank. The temple was getting ready for Pradosham and we saw locals carrying baskets laden with milk packets and Vilvam leaves and flowers entering the temple. There was a lot of camaraderie and they seemed like regulars.
The Kasi Viswanathar temple is an important Padal Petra Sthalam with the Khsetra Lingam under a neem tree. Legend says that the 9 rivers or the nava kanikkas namely Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Tungabhadra, Saraswathi, Krishna, Kauvery, Sarayu and the Narmada were burdened by the sins of all the people who took a dip in their waters. So they approached Lord Shiva who suggested that they go to the Mahamagam Tank in Kumbakonam and wash off their sins. The Nava Kannikas did as suggested and got rid of their sins. They requested Shiva in the form of Kasi Viswanathar to remain in Kumbakonam and bless other pilgrims.
Legend also suggests that Lord Rama worshipped this Lingam just before embarking on a war with Ravana. He is said to have acquired his Rudra (Anger) needed to face a war from Kasi Viswanathar.
The shrine has idols of the Nava Kannikas. This temple is known for resolving puberty issues of girls as well as removing obstacles in married life or marriage ceremony.

Kasi viswanathan temple Kumbakonam

Kasi viswanathar temple near Mahamaham tank

Nageswar Temple Kumbakonam

Next we took a 10 minute walk to Nageswar Temple which seemed much bigger than Kasi Viswanathar temple. Pradosham pooja was going on and we were fortunate to witness the abhishekam of the Nandi. While we were standing there a lady, obviously a local, suggested we go to the Nataraja sannidhi where the spadika lingam’s abhishekam was next to happen. Following her suggestion we reached the sannidhi and also got a vantage spot to view the abhishekam before the crowd near the Nandi arrived there. The Spadika lingam was small in size and it was mesmerizing to watch the milk abhishekam from such close quarters. People behind us were in raptures chanting Om Nama Shivaya. There were so many containers which were passed on to the priest’s helper to collect the milk which was overflowing from the Lord. The Nataraja Sannidhi had a panchaloka idol which was impressive. Then we moved to the Moolavar, Nageshwar for the abhishekam and deeparadhanai.
The Nataraja temple sannidhi was fashioned like a chariot. The 9th Century Chola architectural magnificence was apparent in this temple. It is built in such a way that the sunlight falls directly on the Lord in the month of Chithirai for 3 days (April/May)
One of the legends of Hindu mythology states that the serpent king Adhisheshan (Naga Raj, the king of serpent) holds the earth in its place. Once he was tired and was unable to hold the earth. He pleaded to Lord Shiva to give him enough strength to continue doing his job. Lord Shiva advised him to go to earth and worship him at this temple in Kumbakonam. The lord further advised him that he would get the energy to hold the earth with a single head instead of having 1000 heads. He installed a Shivalingam here and worshipped the lord. As Nagaraja worshipped the lord here, the lord is praised as Sri Nageswarar. (Courtesy

Other noteworthy features of this temple is Pralaya Kaala Rudrar which is not very common in other temples. Gangai Vinayagar has been brought by Rajendra Chola in one of his conquests of regions near the Ganges. It is installed near the sanctum sanctorum. People also worship Jwara Hara Vinayagar in the praharam to ward off all kinds of fever.

While the temple was getting ready for the Pradosha Pradikshinam, we accepted an offering of Pidi Kozhukattai from a teenaged girl and sat in the praharam revelling in the majesty and glory of this wonderful temple.

The stone chariot Nageswaran Temple Kumbakonam

Nageswaran Temple Gopuram Kumbakonam

Sarangapani Temple Kumbakonam

A 10 min walk from Nageswar temple led us to the imposing Sarangapani Temple, one of the 108 Divya Desams. We stood outside staring at the mesmerising awe inspiring Gopuram. There was a buzz of activity on the right-hand side of the temple. A pooja/festival was just concluding and we reached there just in time for the deeparadhanai. This was followed by Kalkandu Sadham (Like sweet Pongal) and Tamarind rice prasadam. On enquiring we heard that Pagal pathu/Raa Pathu was going on. We had no clue so decided to delve deeper online. It’s customary for us to read about the temple we visit before we step in so we sat in the praharam reading up about this Margazhi festival and of course about this magnificent temple.

the magnificient Sarangapani temple Gopuram

What is Pagal Pathu/Raa Pathu?
The Adhyayana Utsavam means the Study, learning, and remembrance of Vedic Verses. 4000 Divya Prabandham is the composition by the 12 Sri Vaishnava Saints (Azhwars) in praise of Sriman Narayana.Thirumangai Azhwar, the last of twelve Azhwars sang one of his divine Pasurams (Thiru-Nedun-Thaandakam) to Lord Ranganatha. The Lord (Emperuman) was pleased by the meaning of the pasuram and granted two boons to Thirumangai Azhwar. The Azhwar took this propitious moment and asked Lord Ranganatha the following two boons:
1. The Lord with his divine consorts should listen to the divine Pasurams, Thiruvaimozhi
2. The sacred verses of Azhwars i.e. 4000 Divya Prabhandams should be given the equal status in terms of authority and supremacy to that of Vedas. Lord Ranganatha agreed to the above request and singing of 4000 verses (Divya Prabhandham) has become the Sri Vaishnava tradition of worship. This is celebrated as the Adhyayana Utsavam in Sri Vaishnava temple.
The Adhyayana Utsavam is celebrated 10 days before Vaikunta Ekadasi in the morning hours (called “Pagal Pathu”, also known as “Thirumozhi Thirunal) and 10 days after Vaikunta Ekadasi in the evening hours (called “Raa Pathu”, also known as “ThirivAimozhi Thirunal”). (Courtesy:

The Legend:
Once sage Bhrigu wanted to meet Vishnu at his residence, Ocean of Milk. The sage did not get the attention of Vishnu and in his anger, he kicked Vishnu on his chest. Mahalakshmi who resides in Vishnu’s chest got angered as Vishnu did not show his anger towards the sage. She left Vaikunta and reached earth and lived in Kolhapur for many years. Vishnu followed Lakshmi who was named Padmavathy and married her. This incident took place in the Seshachalam Hills or Tirupathi.

Padmavathy got her memories and was still angry with Vishnu. To avoid her anger, Vishnu resided in the underground chamber in the Sarangapani temple as Pathala Srinivasa. In the meanwhile, the sage Bhrigu sought his apology and requested Mahalakshmi to be born to him as Komalavalli in his next birth. The sage was born as Hemarishi and performed penance to attain Mahalakshmi as his daughter. Vishnu was pleased by the penance and he wished the sage to get Lakshmi as his daughter. Lakshmi emerged from the Potramarai tank among thousand lotuses and was thus named Komalavalli (the one who emerged from lotus). Vishnu descended to earth as Aravamudhan in a chariot drawn by horses and elephants from his abode Vaikuntam. He stayed in the nearby Someswaran Temple to convince Lakshmi to marry him and the couple eventually got married. The name Sarangapani (“one who has the bow in his hand”) derives from the Sanskrit word Sarangam meaning bow of Vishnu and pani meaning hand. (With inputs from Wikipedia)

Importance of this temple:
1. The place where the Naalayira Divya Prabandham was compiled by Saint Nadhamuni, with the help of the Lord Sarangapani.
2. People have darshan of Komalavalli Thayar first before seeing Sarangapani Perumal. Since Kumbakonam is the birth place of Komalavalli Thayar, Mother holds more importance hence pilgrims are led first to see the Mother.
3. The sleeping posture is different in different Vishnu temples. Legend says that Thirumazhisai Azhwar asked the lord in one of his hymns whether his legs are hurting and that’s why he is lying down. The Lord started getting up to please his disciple. Azhwar asked the Lord to stop in a half reclining posture which is called Uddhana Sayanam. The Lord’s head rests on his right hand.
4. Only one entrance is open at a time to view the Lord. The Utharayana Gate is open from Jan to July and the Dakshinayana entrance is open from August to December.
5. The Moolavar and the Utsavar in Sarangapani Temple holds the same respect unlike other temples. This custom is called Ubaya Pradhana Kshetram.
6. The Moolar and Utsavar both hold a bow (although the bow is not visible in the presiding deity or Moolavar) Sarangam meaning bow of Vishnu and Pani is Hand. Thus the name was derived as Sarangapani.
7. Lakshmi Narayanaswami an ardent devotee served the Lord throughout his life and was instrumental in building the Rajagopuram. When he died, since he was childless the Lord himself is said to have performed his last rites. On Midday every Deepavali this event is performed every year, although devotees are not allowed to witness this.
8. Padala Srinivasan Sannidhi in the prahara is the place where the Lord used to hide when he played with the Thayar. Steps take you down to get a darshan of Lord Srinivasan.
9. The temple has two chariots carved out of wood. The Lord is taken on festival days in a procession.
10. Some poses of Bharatanatyam are sculpted on the walls of the temple.

It was a great experience visiting this temple and we decided that we should visit again very soon. Only then all that is to see will get assimilated into memory.

Someswar Temple Kumbakonam

Next to the Sarangapani temple is the Someswar temple which is also a padal petra sthanam.

According to Hindu mythology, at the end of every “yuga”, there is a huge flood that leads to the destruction of all living beings in the earth. This is called the “Pralayam”. Lord Shiva, through Lord Brahma, arranged for the seeds of all living organisms and four Vedas and Puranas to be put in a pot (“Amutha Kalas” or Kumbham or Kudam in Tamil) filled with nectar (“amirtham”). This was decorated with flowers and cloth and a string was tied to it. This was kept on top of the Mount Kailash. When the Maha Pralayam started, it destroyed all living creatures on the earth. The Amutha Kalas also got displaced and started floating on the seas for years. Eventually when the Pralayam stopped, the Kalas settled in Kumbakonam. Then Lord Shiva took the form of a hunter (Kiratha Murthy) and split open the pot with his arrow. The life on earth started flourishing again.It is believed that when Lord Shiva opened the pot with his arrow, the pot broke and the decorative items on it fell in various places across the earth. Each of these pieces became Shivalingams. One such place is Someswar, Kumbakonam. (Courtesy:

Other important points to note: 
1. Lord Mahavishnu is said to have worshipped this Lingam and thus Someswar is also called Maleswar, Mal meaning Thirumal/Mahavishnu
2. Planet Guru/Jupiter and Chandran/Moon have also worshipped this Lord. So Someswar is also called Vyazha Someswar (Soma meaning Moon, Vyazha – Guru)
3. The Nava Kannikas came to the Mahamakam tank to wash away their sins. The graet commotion that happened frightened the Goddess and she is said to have embraced the Lord asking for support. The place is known as Kaya Arakonam, Kayam means body and Arakonam meaning embrace. In due course of time the name changed to Karonam.
4. Lord Muruga is famous in this temple. He is seated on his vehicle, the peacock and is flanked by Valli and Deiyanai his wives. Arunagirinathar has sung a Thirupugazh in praise of this Murugan.
5. Chola King Paranthaka Cholan was childless. He installed a Shivalingam here and prayed for a child. Hence the lingam is called Chozeeswarar.
6. The Goddess is Thenar Mozhiyaal/Somasundari

Someswar temple KumbakonamSomeswar temple Gopuram Kumbakonam

Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, Kumbakonam

The next morning we woke up early to take a walk around the famous Mahamagam Tank. The town was already bustling with activity although it was just 7 AM. There were about 3 temples around the tank and some people were taking a holy dip. Our first stop for the day was the famous Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, Kumbakonam has derived its name from this temple. Legend says that the Seed of life with nectar kept in a pot called Kumbam, fell in this town in two places, in Mahamagam Tank as well the Potramarai tank which is in the Adi Kumbeswarar temple. The presiding deity is called Kumbeswarar after Kumbam. And thus this town got its name Kumbakonam.
A stately elephant greeted us on our way inside. He seemed very restless and the mahout was nonchalantly checking out his phone. The temple was thankfully not very crowded. We were in no hurry and stopped to admire the Chola Architecture dating back to the 9th Century. The temple was impressive with huge halls and well sculpted pillars. The Moolavar, the Lingam was conical in shape. It is said that Lord Shiva himself created this Lingam out of Nectar and Sand. So Abishekam is performed only to the base or Aavudaiyar of the Moolavar.
We had read about the Navarathri Mandapam with sculptures of Rasis and Stars and looked for it, but could not fine it. Some locals had not heard about it! So I walked back to the Shiva Sannnidi and asked the priest. He asked us to go back to the Nandi and look above, at the ceiling. There it was! 27 stars and 12 Rasis carved in a single stone. Sadly it was painted in garish colours and had lost its antique look.
We felt a lot of vibrations at the Mangalambika Sannidhi. The Goddess was adorned in a beautiful red sari and looked mesmerising in her divine glory. “Sri Parameswara extended the left –half of His body to Sri Ambal at Tiruchengode. Likewise in this kshetra, he conferred His 36,000 crores of mantra saktis to Sri Ambal thereby making Her supremely glorious to become Sri Mantra Peetesvari. Sri Ambal added Her own 36,000 crores of mantra sakthi to that extended by Her Lord and consequently making it thereby to be 72,000 crores of mantra saktis and shines lustrously and blesses us all as the foremost of the Shakthi Peetas of our land. The body of Sri Ambal from tip of the – toe to head – crest illumines as 51 symbols of shakti. While some of the deities of other Sakti Peetas are symbols of their specific shakthi Peetas, this deity, Sri Ambal in this temple is the agglomeration, assimilation and absorption of all the symbols and essences of the Shakti Peetas pooled together and hence this kshetra is the Premier of all the Shakthi Peetas in its benediction.”
The Nava kannikas who took a dip at the Mahamagam tank also came here to this temple and took a dip at the Potramarai tank, which is in between Adi Kumbeswarar and Sarangapani Temple.
Do not miss the lion carrying stones in the front hall, a stone sculpture as well as the 27 stars and 12 rasis stone slab. There is a popular saying in Sanskrit – Kumbakonam is more sacred than Varanasi (Kasi). A sin committed at some place can be washed away by visiting a nearby holy place. A sin committed in one of the sacred places is washed away by going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi. However, if one commits a sin in Varanasi itself, it can only be washed off in Kumbakonam. Similarly, any sinful act done at Kumbakonam is washed away in this temple.

Adi Kumbeswara temple Kumbakonam

Adi Kumbeswara Gopuram

Posing with the elephant Adi Kumbeswara temple Kumbakonam


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