Cholan Tours-Spiritual Tamil Nadu  & Chola World Heritage Monuments

Spiritual Tamil Nadu & Chola World Heritage Monuments

  • May 21, 2024

lot of significance since it discusses Chola World Heritage Monuments as well as the nine planets which is a set of nine Hindu temples, each dedicated to one of the nine planetary deities called the Navagraham. All nine temples form a compact circuit in and around Kumbakonam, a famous temple town. Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu is the most auspicious and holy location, where one can offer prayers to the nine planets. Each of these temples is distinctive, with distinct beliefs, rituals, and customs. This 'temple town' contains over 188 temples. One of the temples that exist in Kumbakonam is the oldest, from the seventh century. 

The town is well-known for its brassware, bronze sculptures, and the best silk sarees manufactured by local artisans. Skilled artists and weavers continue these traditional techniques, producing intricate and magnificent works of art. Kumbakonam is also the ideal location for metal sculptors and idols of famous Hindu gods and goddesses, which were produced by local artists at the time.

Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam, or "Kudanthai," is a city in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, India. It is known as a "temple town" and has a startling number of Hindu temples, each with its architectural style and significance. It is also known for its Mahamaham festival, which takes place every 12 years and attracts people from across the country. The city is located between two rivers: the Cauvery (Kaveri) to the north and the Arasalar to the south. The Cauvery, a lifeline for the region, provides a tranquil touch to the scenery. Beyond temples, Kumbakonam is well-known for its bronze art. The city has a rich history of bronze casting, and some of the best specimens of South Indian bronze craftsmanship may be found here. It has a strong legacy of silk weaving and metal crafts, as well as notable educational institutions. Kumbakonam origins date back to the Sangam period, about 2000 years ago. It has seen the rise and fall of many kingdoms, including the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, and, later, the British Raj. It thrived under the Chola dynasty, especially between the seventh and twelfth century AD. During this time, it also functioned as the Chola capital. The beautiful temples created by the Cholas demonstrate their architectural prowess and enduring devotion. During the British era, the city earned the nickname "Cambridge of South India" for its strong European educational institutions and thriving Hindu cultural scene.

 

How to reach Kumbakonam 

By Flight: The nearest airport is Trichy International Airport which is 100 km away from Kumbakonam and the second nearest airport is Chennai International Airport which is 300 km away and easily connects Kumbakonam with various destinations of India and overseas. 

By Train: Kumbakonam Railway Station (station code: KMU) is well-connected to various parts of Tamil Nadu and other major cities in India.

By Road: Kumbakonam is well-connected by road to major cities in South India. National Highways NH85 and NH36 pass through the city. 

Important local attractions of Kumbakonam: 

Aadhi Kumbeshwarar Temple: The Adi Kumbeshwarar Temple, also known as Thirukudamooku, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century CE, the temple is estimated to be over 1200 years old. It is one of the most revered Shiva temples in South India and is classified as a “Paadal Petra Sthalam”, indicating it has been revered by the 63 Nayanmars, saint poets of Tamil Nadu, in their hymns. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva, worshipped as Adi Kumbeshwarar, represented by the lingam. His consort, Parvati, is worshipped as Goddess Mangalambigai Amman. Her shrine is located to the left of the Kumbeshwarar shrine. There are also shrines dedicated to other deities like Ganesha, Muruga, Saraswati, and Lakshmi within the temple complex. The temple has a 9-storeyed rajagopuram (gateway tower) that is 125 ft tall, making it a prominent landmark & a spacious inner courtyard with long corridors lined with intricate pillars, sculptures, and murals. There’s a holy tank within the complex where water is drawn for rituals. The Sabthasthanam festival, celebrated during the Tamil month of Chithirai, is a time for special pujas and processions where the deities visit seven other temples in the vicinity. Legend associates the temple with a story of Lord Shiva creating the lingam (the idol representing Shiva) from a mix of nectar of immortality and sand to counter a deluge.

Timings: 06.00 AM – 12.00 PM & 04.00 PM – 08:30 PM 

No Entrance 

Camera: Not Allowed 

Video: Not Allowed 

No Holiday

Sarangabani Temple: The Sarangapani Temple, also known as Tiru Kudanthai, is a majestic Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, situated in the heart of Kumbakonam. The temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams, revered holy places dedicated to Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is enshrined here in his reclining posture, a unique depiction compared to standing or seated forms found in other temples. The temple complex is vast and enclosed within a large granite wall. Inside the complex, there are five other smaller gopurams, adding to the temple’s grandeur. The central shrine itself is designed in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants, a unique architectural marvel. The temple’s origins are believed to be ancient, with contributions and expansions made during the reign of the Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayanagara Empire, and Madurai Nayaks. The Sarangapani Temple is part of the Pancha Kshethram, five sacred temples associated with the birth of Goddess Lakshmi & five revered Vishnu temples associated with different colours. Here, Sarangapani represents the blue colour. Here, she is worshipped as Bhargavi, daughter of sage Bhrigu. The presiding deity is Lord Vishnu, worshipped here as Sarangapani, meaning “one with a bow in his hand.” He is depicted reclining on a serpent (Ananta Shesha). Devotees are advised to offer prayers to Goddess Lakshmi before entering the main shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Several festivals are celebrated throughout the year, with Vaikunta Ekadashi and Masi Pooram being particularly prominent.

Timings: 06.00 AM – 12.00 PM & 04.00 PM to 08.30 PM 

No Entrance 

Camera: Not Allowed 

Video: Not Allowed 

No Holiday

Rama Swamy Temple: The Rama Swamy Temple in Kumbakonam is a prominent Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu. It was built in the 16th Century, during the reign of the Thanjavur Nayak kings, Achuthappa Nayak and completed during the reign of Raghunatha Nayak. It was also known as “Southern Ayodhya” (referencing Rama’s legendary birthplace), the temple holds special importance as it’s believed to depict Rama’s coronation scene (Pattabhishekam). The temple showcases Dravidian architectural influences, characterized by towering gopurams (gateway towers), pillared halls, and intricate carvings. The temple has a single three-tiered gopuram and a spacious complex with a Maha Mandapam near the entrance. The sixty-four pillars in the hall near the gopuram are exquisitely carved with scenes from the epic Ramayana, narrating Rama’s life story. The principal deity is Lord Rama, worshipped alongside his consort Sita, brother Lakshmana, and half-brothers Bharata and Shatrughna. Hanuman, Rama’s loyal devotee, is also enshrined within the sanctum, further emphasizing the sense of unity and devotion. Rama Navami, celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April), is the temple’s grandest festival, attracting many devotees.  

Timings: 06.00 AM – 12.00 PM & 04.00 PM to 08.30 PM

No Entrance fees. 

Camera: Not Allowed 

Video: Not Allowed 

No Holiday

Chakkarabani Temple: The Chakrapani Temple in Kumbakonam is a unique Hindu temple dedicated to a different form of Lord Vishnu – Sudarshana Chakra, his powerful discus or cosmic weapon. Unlike many Vishnu temples that enshrine him in his human-like form, the Chakrapani Temple celebrates him as the powerful Sudarshana Chakra. This divine discus symbolizes Vishnu’s cosmic power and his role as the protector of dharma (righteousness). The temple boasts granite walls enclosing the shrines and a five-tiered Rajagopuram (gateway tower) marking the entrance. The temple is also known for its exquisite pillars and sculptures. The presiding deity, Sudarshana Chakra, is housed in the central shrine, positioned on an elevated platform within the sanctum sanctorum (innermost shrine). Shrines dedicated to Goddess Vijayavalli (believed to bless devotees with children) and other Hindu deities like Ganesha and Shiva can also be found within the temple complex. A bronze statue of Maratha King Serfoji II (1772-1824) can be found within the temple complex, signifying his reverence for the deity.  

Timings: 06.00 AM – 12.00 PM & 04.00 PM to 08.30 PM 

No Entrance 

Camera: Not Allowed 

Video: Not Allowed  

No Holiday

Please note that non-Hindus will not be allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the few temples, and the temple timings may differ during auspicious days and festival days. 

Kumbakonam is particularly well known for its nine Navagraha temples, each dedicated to one of the nine celestial bodies (planets) in Hindu astrology. These temples are highly auspicious and attract devotees from all over India seeking blessings for peace, prosperity, and overcoming the negative influences of certain planets in their astrological charts. Each of these temples is distinctive, with distinct beliefs, rituals, and customs. The temple constructions are very beautiful and architecturally impressive. The locations are all lovely and appealing. Aside from pilgrims, many tourists who adore nature and its gifts choose to visit Navagraha Sthalas. The word "Sthalas" refers to the location of the Nine Planets (Navagraha). The temples dedicated to nine planets are Vaitheeshwaran Koil Angaraka dedicated to Mars, Thiruvenkadu dedicated to Mercury (Budhan), Keezhaperumpallam dedicated to Kethu (stands for the descending node of Chandra-Moon), Thirunallar dedicated to Saturn (Sani), Kanjanoor dedicated to Venus (Sukran), Suriyanaar Koil dedicated to Sun (Surya), Thirunageshwaram dedicated to Raaghu (stands for the ascending node of Chandra-Moon), Thingaloor dedicated to Moon (Chandra), and Aalangudi dedicated to Jupiter (Guru).  

1. Suryanar Kovil (Sun Temple): The temple is considered one of the nine Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu and is one of the few historic temples dedicated to the sun god. It is located 17 km away from Kumbakonam. The central sanctum houses the imposing idol of Surya, the Sun God, depicted standing in a chariot-like vimana, representing his celestial chariot. He is flanked by his consorts, Ushadevi (goddess of dawn) and Pratyusha Devi (goddess of dusk). The temple’s unique feature is the presence of separate shrines dedicated to all nine Navagraha deities, the nine celestial bodies in Hindu astrology. Devotees visit these shrines to appease any malefic planetary influences and achieve harmony in their lives. Pilgrims visit the temple to seek Surya’s blessings for good health, prosperity, success, and overall well-being. Specific rituals and pujas might be performed to appease Surya or nullify negative planetary influences. The first Sundays of the Tamil months of Aavani (Leo) and Karthikai (Scorpio) are also considered auspicious days to visit the temple. The temple comes alive during festivals like Rath Saptami (celebrated in the Tamil month of Thai) featuring a procession of Surya’s chariot. Timings: 06.00 AM to 12.30 PM and from 04.00 PM to 08.00 PM. 

2. Thingaloor Chandra Kailasanathar Temple (Moon Temple): The Thingaloor Chandra Kailasanathar Temple is located 36 km from Kumbakonam. It is also known as the Moon Temple, dedicated to the moon god, Chandra. The temple is one of the nine Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu, which are dedicated to the nine celestial bodies in Hindu astrology. The temple is said to have been built by the Cholas in the 12th century. While the temple is commonly known as the Moon Temple, the presiding deity is Kailasanathar, a form of Lord Shiva. There’s a separate shrine within the temple complex dedicated specifically to Chandra. The idol of Chandra is carved from black granite and is typically adorned with a white cloth. The temple tank, called Chandra Pushkarani, is believed to possess healing properties and is associated with the moon god. Devotees bathe in the tank for purification and to seek blessings. Devotees with Chandra Dosha, an astrological affliction believed to be caused by negative influences of the moon, visit the temple to perform remedial pujas (prayers) seeking relief. The temple is also believed to be a good place to pray for success in exams and job interviews. During the Tamil months of Puratasi (September–October) and Panguni (March–April), on full moon days, the moon’s rays are said to fall directly on the Shiva Lingam within the temple, creating a unique and spiritually significant event.  Timings: 07:00 AM to 01:00 PM and from 04:00 PM to 09:00 PM.

3. Vaitheeswaran Temple (Mars Temple): This temple enshrines Angaraka, or Mars, located 52 km from Kumbakonam. The temple is dedicated to Angaraka, the embodiment of the planet Mars in Hindu astrology. Mars is associated with aspects like courage, energy, determination, ambition, and potential aggression or conflict. Vaitheeswaran Temple holds immense significance for devotees seeking relief from ailments and illnesses. The name “Vaitheeswaran” itself translates to “Lord of Healing.” Devotees believe that worshipping Angaraka here can appease any negative influences of Mars and promote good health. The temple has two distinct representations of Angaraka. One is a bronze utsava murti (processional idol) kept near the main Shiva sanctum. The other, the moolavar (main idol), is believed to be housed within the sanctum itself and not visible to the public. While the temple is dedicated to Mars, the main sanctum sanctorum also houses a Shiva Lingam. The temple complex also houses a separate Juyheshwar Navagraha temple dedicated to all nine planetary deities. The temple has a sacred pond called “Sthira Teertham,” where devotees take a dip and offer jaggery and salt. This offering is believed to appease the fiery nature of Mars and promote healing. An interesting aspect is the association of Mars with a goat. On specific occasions, like Tuesdays, considered an auspicious day for Mars, the utsava murti of Angaraka is taken out in a procession on a mount shaped like a goat. Tuesdays are considered particularly auspicious days to worship Angaraka. Devotees offering fruits, lentils, and clothing in crimson to God are thought to protect their followers from the negative consequences of all planetary shifts.Timings: 06.00 PM to 01.00 PM and from 04.00 PM to 09.00 PM

4. Thiruvenkadu Budhan Temple (Mercury temple):  The temple is dedicated to Budhan, or Mercury, and is located 62 km away from Kumbakonam. While widely known as the Mercury Temple, the main deity of the temple complex is Lord Shiva, enshrined here as Swetharanyeswarar (meaning “Lord of the White Forest”) or Thiruvenkaattu Nathar. The temple is particularly significant for housing a separate shrine dedicated to Budhan, the embodiment of the planet Mercury in Hindu astrology. Devotees visit the Budhan shrine seeking his blessings for improved communication skills, intellect, analytical abilities, and success in business endeavours because, in Vedic astrology, mercury is believed to govern aspects like communication, intellect, and business. An interesting feature is the association of three deities with Budhan within the temple complex. These are the Swetharanya, Aghora, and Nataraja forms of Shiva, believed to govern the influence of Mercury. Three sacred water bodies named Surya Theertham, Chandra Theertham, and Agni Theertham are located within the temple complex, each believed to possess unique spiritual properties. The temple is said to have shrines dedicated to other deities like Durga (the goddess of power), Kali (the goddess of destruction), and Nataraja (the dancing form of Shiva), signifying a rich and diverse portrayal of the divine. Wednesdays are considered especially auspicious days to visit the temple and seek blessings from Budhan. Timings: 06.00 AM to 12.00 PM & from 04.00 PM to 09.00 PM

5. Aalangudi Guru Apsahayesvarar Temple (Jupiter Temple): This temple is dedicated to Brihaspati, or Jupiter. It is located about 20 kilometres south of Kumbakonam. The main deity enshrined here is Lord Shiva, known as Apathsahayesvarar, meaning “saviour in difficult times.” He is represented by the lingam (aniconic representation). Within the temple complex, there’s a separate and important sannadhi (shrine) dedicated to Dakshinamurthy, a form of Shiva associated with wisdom, knowledge, and teaching. This association makes Aalangudi a significant pilgrimage site for devotees seeking blessings related to Jupiter’s influence in their lives. In Vedic astrology, Jupiter is believed to govern aspects like education, growth, prosperity, and good fortune. Devotees visit the temple to appease any negative influences from Jupiter and seek blessings for success in these areas. Devotees typically offer yellow-coloured clothing, yellow flowers (like Vella Mullai, a type of jasmine), and chickpeas to pacify Guru (Jupiter). Thursdays are considered particularly auspicious days to visit the temple and seek blessings from the Guru. Devotees might observe fasting or a single meal on these days. Timings: 06.00 AM to 01.00 PM and from 04.00 PM to 09.00 PM. 

6. Kanjanur Sukran Temple (Venus Temple): This temple is dedicated to Sukran, or Venus. It is located about 3 km from Suryanar Kovil and 19 km from Kumbakonam. Unlike other Navagraha temples dedicated to a single planetary deity, this temple is unique. The main deity enshrined here is Lord Shiva, worshipped as Agniswarar (meaning “fire god”). However, Agniswarar himself is considered a manifestation of Shukra (Venus) in this temple. Devotees seeking the blessings of Venus come here to worship Lord Shiva as Agniswarar. The central sanctum houses the main deity, Lord Shiva, worshipped as Agniswarar. Here, Agniswarar embodies the influence of Venus. Shrines dedicated to Goddess Parvati (as Karpagambal) and other deities like Ganesha and Murugan are also present within the temple complex. An interesting aspect is the presence of five Vilva leaves (Aegle marmelos) offered to the deity. Typically, three leaves are offered to Shiva, but here, the five leaves symbolize the five benefic aspects of Venus. Devotees visit the temple to calm down the evil influences of Venus and seek blessings for a happy and prosperous life, including success in love, marriage, material pursuits, and creative endeavours like arts and music. Venus is also associated with love, pleasure, and artistic pursuits in Vedic astrology and is considered the significator of teachers and education. Fridays are considered particularly auspicious days to visit and perform pujas (prayers) dedicated to Shukra. Devotees typically offer white flowers and white-coloured clothing to appease Venus. Timings: 07.00 AM to 12.30 PM & from 04.00 PM to 08.00 PM.

7. Thirunallar Dharbaranyeswarar Temple (Saturn Temple):  Thirunallar Saneeswaran Temple, or Saturn Temple, is situated 55 km away from Kumbakonam. The temple’s name, "Thirunallar,” translates to “the place of healing” (Tiru, holy; Nallar, heal). The primary deity is Lord Shiva, worshipped as Dharbaranyeswarar, meaning “Lord of the Cosmic Dance.” The Shiva Lingam here is said to bear the imprint of Dharba grass, used in rituals. Within the temple complex lies a separate shrine dedicated to Lord Shani, or Saturn. Legends narrate that King Nala, a devotee of Shiva, was cursed by Shani, leading to immense hardship. Nala prayed fervently at Thirunallar, and Lord Shiva intervened, mitigating the curse’s intensity. This is the reason why Shani is believed to be less powerful here and is even considered a “doorkeeper” to the main Shiva shrine. This signifies the belief that seeking blessings from Lord Shiva can help mitigate the harsh effects of Saturn’s influence. Devotees visit the temple, especially during the transit periods of Saturn (Shani Peyarchi), to appease the planet and seek relief from “Shani Dosha” (afflictions caused by Saturn’s placement in a birth chart). It’s believed that prayers here can help mitigate negative influences like delays, obstacles, and health problems. Devotees often take a holy dip in the temple tank, “Nala Theertham,” using sesame oil, believed to have purifying properties. Wearing black clothing is considered customary while offering prayers to Shani. Devotees offer various things to Shani, including mustard oil, black til (sesame seeds), black gram (urad dal), and iron objects to appease Shani. Timings: 06.00 AM to 01.00 PM & from 04.00 PM to 08.30 PM. 

8. Thirunageswarar Temple (Rahu Temple): This temple is dedicated to Rahu, the ascending lunar node. It is located about 8 kilometres west of Kumbakonam. Unlike most Shiva temples, Thirunageswarar is dedicated to Rahu, a shadowy entity in Hindu astrology associated with eclipses and karmic influences. It’s one of the nine revered Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu, each linked to a specific planetary deity. Legends narrate that Rahu, after swallowing the celestial nectar during the churning of the cosmic ocean, sought refuge at Thirunageswarar and worshipped Lord Shiva to be relieved of his bodily ailments. This association with Rahu seeking remedy makes the temple significant. In this temple, Lord Rahu is seen with a human face, which is its unique feature. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva, worshipped as Lord Naganathaswamy. The temple is known for a “miracle” associated with the abhishekam (ritual bathing) of the Rahu idol with milk. It is believed that the milk offered to Rahu turns blue during the abhishekam, particularly during Rahu Kalam (an inauspicious time) that attracts a lot of devotees from distant places. Devotees visit the temple not just for Rahu Dosha relief but also to seek blessings for overcoming various challenges, including marriage obstacles, marital issues, lack of progeny, and serpent dosha (afflictions related to serpent deities). They typically offer urad dal (black gram) and blue cloth to appease Rahu. Sundays and Rahu Kalam are considered particularly auspicious for performing pujas (prayers) and seeking blessings at the temple. Timings: 06.00 AM to 01.00 PM & from 04.00 PM to 08.30 PM.

9. Keezhaperumpallam Temple (Ketu Temple): This temple is dedicated to Ketu, the descending lunar node. It is located about 9 km south of Thiruvenkadu (Budhan Temple) and 62 km from Kumbakonam. The temple is dedicated to Ketu, one of the nine celestial bodies (Navagraha) in Hindu astrology. Unlike the other planets, Ketu is depicted as a headless torso, often associated with mystery, detachment, spirituality, psychic abilities, and both positive and negative influences depending on its placement in one’s horoscope. Mythology suggests this is the place where Ketu attained moksha (liberation) after seeking forgiveness from Lord Shiva. This association makes the temple significant for those seeking spiritual liberation. While Ketu is the main deity worshipped for its astrological significance, the presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva, enshrined as Naganathaswamy (Lord of Serpents). Unlike most Ketu depictions as a headless torso with a serpent tail, the Keezhaperumpallam temple portrays Ketu with a human body and a serpent head, facing west. Devotees come to the temple seeking Ketu’s blessings for spiritual liberation, overcoming past karmic issues, improving intuition, and achieving success in endeavours requiring focus and determination. Devotees typically offer lily flowers, horse gram (kollu), and multi-coloured cloths to appease Ketu. Special pujas (prayers) are performed on new moon days and during eclipses, considered particularly significant for Ketu worship. Timings: 06.00 AM to 12.30 PM & from 03.30 PM to 08.00 PM. 

Please note that the temple timings may differ during any auspicious days and festival days. 

Important note: Guests have to stay a minimum 02 nights in Kumbakonam to visit all the above Navagraha temples in and around Kumbakonam. 

Important Festival in Kumbakonam: 

Mahamaham Festival (February): 

The Mahamaham Festival is a grand Hindu festival celebrated once every 12 years in the temple town of Kumbakonam. It's considered one of the most important religious gatherings in South India, attracting lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of devotees. The core significance of the festival revolves around a sacred bath (holy bath) in the Mahamaham tank, situated in the heart of Kumbakonam. Hindus believe that on this day, all the important holy rivers of India (Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery) converge in the tank, making it a powerful source of spiritual cleansing. Taking a dip in the Mahamaham tank is believed to wash away sins, remove negative karma, and bring blessings for prosperity and liberation. The festival coincides with a specific astrological event: when the planet Jupiter (Guru) enters the zodiac sign Leo (Simha). This alignment is considered highly auspicious and adds to the spiritual significance of the Mahamaham festival. A spectacular highlight of the festival is the procession of deities from all the major temples in Kumbakonam. The temple chariots, adorned with vibrant colours and intricate carvings, are a visual treat. A central event is the mass bathing ceremony at the Mahamaham tank. Devotees gather at the tank in the early morning hours, chanting prayers and seeking blessings. The atmosphere is filled with devotion and spiritual fervour. Apart from the holy bath, the festival includes various religious rituals, pujas (prayers), and cultural performances. Devotees offer prayers, seek forgiveness for past transgressions, and pray for a better future. Due to its sheer scale and significance, the Mahamaham festival is often referred to as the "Kumbh Mela of South India," drawing comparisons to the immensely popular Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in North India. The ten-day festival period is filled with vibrant processions, cultural performances, religious discourses, and special pujas at various temples. The last Mahamaham festival was celebrated in February 2016. As the festival occurs every 12 years, the next Mahamaham festival is to be held only in February 2028.

Swamimalai Murugan temple: The Swaminatha Swamy Temple, also known as the Swami Malai Temple, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Murugan. It is in Swamimalai, 5 kilometres from Kumbakonam. The temple is the fourth abode of Murugan among the six holy abodes of Lord Murugan (Arupadaiveedu). According to Hindu belief, Swamimalai is where Murugan preached what is called the "Pranava mantra" to his father, Shiva, at a young age, after arresting Brahma for not answering his question about Pranava Mantram. The teaching capabilities of Murugan are found to be one of his identifying features. The cult of Murugan is a source of pride for the Tamil people, who identify with six, with Murugan connoting six directions and six chakras in human anatomy. The temple complex is enormous, including shrines, halls, water bodies, and a gopuram (gateway tower) designed in Dravidian architecture. Swaminathaswamy, the presiding deity, has his shrine atop a 60-foot (18-meter) mound. During the Tamil month of Skanda Sashti (usually October or November), the temple is open all night.

Timings: 06.00 AM to 01.00 PM & from 04.00 PM to 09.00 PM. 

Entrance fee: No 

Camera fee: Rs.100 

Video Camera fee: Rs.500

Please note, temple timings may differ during any auspicious days and festival days

Darasuram Airavatesvara Temple: : Darasuram is 35 km from Tanjore and 5 km from Kumbakonam. It's renowned for a magnificent 12th-century Hindu temple called the Airavatesvara Temple. The Airavatesvara Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, part of the "Great Living Chola Temples" group, and a prime example of Chola dynasty architecture (10th–12th centuries CE). It was built by King Raja Raja Chola II and exemplifies the architectural brilliance of the Chola dynasty. It is known for its intricate carvings, sculptures, and exquisite proportions. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism, and has a separate shrine for his consort, Periya Nayaki Amman. The name "Airavatesvara" translates to "Lord of the White Elephant," a reference to Airavata, the mythical white elephant and mount of the Hindu god Indra. The temple boasts intricate stone carvings depicting deities, celestial beings, and scenes from mythology. The vimana (tower) is 85 feet tall, and the front mandapam (hall) is especially noteworthy for its chariot-like appearance. The frontal mandapam (hall) itself is in the form of a huge chariot drawn by horses. A unique feature is the reliefs along the base of the main temple narrating the stories of the 63 Shaiva saints (Nayanars) from the Periya Purana. Darasuram was once part of the Chola Empire's urban complex, which included the nearby city of Pazhaiyarai (also called Ayirattali). The presence of the Airavatesvara Temple indicates the area's historical importance during the Chola reign. Darasuram is also known for being a traditional centre for silk weaving. Visitors can witness the intricate process of silk thread production and purchase beautiful silk sarees.

Timings: 06.00 AM to 08.00 PM (inner sanctum 12.00 pm to 04:00 pm closed) 

Entrance fee - No 

Holidays - No 

Camera and Video charges - No

Gangaikondacholapuram Temple: Gangaikondacholapuram is 75 km away from Tanjore and 35 km away from Kumbakonam. The Gangaikondacholapuram Temple, also known as the Gangaikondacholisvarar Temple, is a magnificent historical landmark in Tamil Nadu. It was built by King Rajendra I of the Chola dynasty around 1035 AD. The temple served as the capital city's (Gangaikondacholapuram) prime temple for over 250 years. The temple's name translates to "The City of the Chola who Conquered the Ganges." It was built to commemorate Rajendra Chola I's successful military campaign in the north, reaching the Ganges River. The temple exemplifies Dravidian architecture, known for its towering structures, intricate carvings, and symmetrical layouts. While resembling the earlier Brihadeeshwarar Temple in Thanjavur, built by Rajendra I's father, the Gangaikondacholapuram temple boasts even more intricate sculptures and artwork. Like many Chola temples, Gangaikondacholapuram is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism. The main deity here is enshrined as Gangaikondacholisvarar, meaning "Lord Shiva, the conqueror of Ganga." The main vimana (tower) above the sanctum sanctorum (inner sanctum) stands at a height of 55 meters (180 ft). The temple complex features several exquisitely sculpted mandapas (halls), each serving a specific purpose in rituals and ceremonies. The temple walls and pillars are adorned with intricate carvings depicting deities, mythological scenes, and various aspects of Chola life. Presently, the temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and continues to be a significant archaeological and cultural landmark. Timings: 07.00 AM to 12.00 PM and from 04.00 PM to 08.00 PM (for inner sanctum) 

Entrance fee - No 

Holidays - No 

Camera and Video charges - No 

The temples, including Darasuram Airavatesvara temple, Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, and Gangaikondacholapuram temple, were built by the Cholas between the 10th and 12th centuries CE and share architectural similarities that are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Monuments and are part of the "Great Living Chola Temples" group.

Hotels in Kumbakonam

Hotel Names

Category 

Website Link

Distance 

Mantra Koodam - CGH Earth

Luxury Resort 

https://www.cghearth.com/mantra-koodam  

Location: Veppathur (15 Kms from Darasuram & 10 kms from Kumbakonam)

Indeco Swamimalai  

 

Deluxe Resort 

https://indecohotels.com/indeco-swamimalai/

Location: Swamimalai (07 kms from Kumbakonam city and 05 Kms from Darasuram temple. 

Quality Inn Viha 

Standard 

http://www.qualityinnviha.com/

Location: Near to Railway station (07 Kms from Darasuram temple)

Cholaa Dynasty 

Standard 

http://choladynasty.in/

Location: Thiruvalanjuli, Kumbakonam & 5 Kms from Darasuram temple

Le Garden 

Economy 

http://www.hotellegarden.com/

Location: Naal road Kumbakonam & 6 Kms from Darasuram.  

Lee Benz Ark 

Economy 

http://ark.hotelsintamilnadu.com/en/

Location: Valayapettai Agraharam, Kumbakonam & 4 Kms from Darasuram.

Vinayaga 

Economy 

https://poppyshotels.com/vinayaga-by-poppys-kumbakonam

Location: just Opp of Kumbakonam Railway station & 5 Kms from Darasuram temple

Restaurants in Kumbakonam: 

Kumbakonam is known as a temple town. Most of the guests prefer vegetarian meals while staying here. We normally recommend that clients eat at the hotel where they stay. However, the following restaurants can be considered for a meal, if required. 

  • A2B Restaurant 
  • Indeco
  • Mantra Koodam

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