Aathi kumbeswarar temple
Aathi kumbeswarar temple is the major one among the saivite temples and located in the centre of Kumbakonam at Big Bazaar Street. Shri Aathi Kumbeswara is the presiding deity of Kumbakonam and Manthrapeeteswari Mangalambika is the lord’s consort. Aathi is primordial origin implies ancient or the first and the foremost.
The Kumbeswarar is in Shivalinga form which is a formless form called aaru (formless) + uru (form) = aaruuru. The shape of the linga is of very special significance it is of conical shaped lingam. This is a unique linga in the world. The Paramas derives the meaning of the shape and the name. The city name Kumbakonam itself is derived from the name of God Kumba and the slight angle of the linga and hence the name.
It is one of the 127 temples on the Southern banks of the river Cauvery. It is a prime temple amidst many temples in Kumbakonam. It is also one of the 64 ‘Saktibheta Sthala’ (Mantrabheta Sthala).
During cosmic dissolution, a pot containing nectar (amrta) was floating and lord Shiva came in the disguise of a hunter and pierced the pot with an arrow, thereby making the nectar to flow through its nostril named Kudamooku (Kuda-port; mooku- nostrial or tip). The objects such as mango leaf sacred grass (Therppai), hoop (uri), Bell tree leaf (vilva), coconut and the sacred thread (poonool) which adorning the post fell into different places due to whirl wind. They appeared as sivalingas and later on they became Siva temples. As per puranas the genesis of life happened by the Thiruvilaiaadal of God Shiva here, and from here all the living beings’ originated.
Mangala theertham, marriage hall and small temple for Muruga, Ganapathi and Mangalambigai are other major constituents of this temple. This temple outer prahara has an important shrine called as Kumba Muni Siddhar.
Aathi kumbeswarar Temple is located in Thanjavur main road of Kumbakonam city. It is 2 km from Kumbakonam Bus Terminal. The bus stop is called ‘Mottai Gopuram’ bus stop. Many buses go via this bus stop. Nearby temples are Ramaswamy Temple, Bramman Temple, Someswarar Temple and Chakrapani Temple.
Kasi Viswanathar Temple
Kasi Viswanathar Temple is situated very close to Mahamaham tank and another one temple is place in Solaiyappan Street. The main deity Kasi Viswanathar resides in the temple with the Goddess Vishalakshi Amman. The important and peculiar point about this temple is the Navakanniyar, which are the 9 holy rivers. It is believed that the Mahamaham function is closely associated with the 9 presiding deities namely Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Saraswati, Kavery, Godavari, Tungabhatra, Krishna and Sarayu. Another important part is the stala lingam present in the southern part of the temple. It was worshipped by Ravana and is believed to grow with ages.
Kasi Viswanathar temple is very near to Mahamagam tank. It is less 2 km away from Kumbakonam bus terminal. The bus stop name is Mahamagam Tank or Kumbakonam head post office.
Nageswaran temple is dedicated to shiva in the guise of Nagaraja, the serpent King. Also know 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 Keelkottam.
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 western and southern directions.
This vast temple known is for its shrine to Raahu, 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.
Nageswarar Swamy is the main deity of the temple Nageswaran. The deity is Linga (form of God Shiva). The main deity resides into the chariot mandapam. The goddess of the Nageswarar Swamy is Perianayagi Amman.
Nageswarar temple is about 2 kms from Kumbakonam bus terminal amidst of the busy business center of Kumbakonam. Infact the temple is the center of today’s main business street.
Bana Pureeswarar Temple
During the pralaya the puranakumbam (amirtham in a pot-bowl of nectar) moved from Mahameru to south direction and reached Kumbakonam, Shiva in the form of Kirathamurthy (as hunter) aimed the Puranakumbam with the bow and arrow (banam in Sanskrit language) and breaked in, the bowl split and the Amirtham got stagnated in two places at Potramaraikulam (golden lotus pond) and Mahamahamkulam. (Mahamagam Tank).
A Shivalinga formed at the place where kirathamurthy aimed the Amirthakudam. Since the Lord used the arrow (Banam) deity Lingam is called Banapureeswara.
The Rajagopuram has 3 stages with Vyasa worshipping Banapureeswarar as per Lord Ganesh advice to get relief from the curse and Shiva in hunter form aiming the Amirthakalasam (bowl of nectar) in the first stage of the Rajagopuram.
Legend has that Pulikal Munivar (saint with tiger legs), a great Shiva devotee performed daily Shiva Pooja here by offering flowers and vilva (bowl tree leaves) from a near by forest. In order to avoid attacks from the wild animals and requested the Lord Shiva to change his legs to tiger legs so that the movement of the saint will not be noticed by the wild life.
The temple is located on the northern part of Kumbakonam city, also reachable via Government men’s college.
This temple is known as Kudanthai Karonam and located near Potramarai Kulam. The Sikkam (threads) around the Amirthakalasam (the nectar pot) fallen here and took a shape of Linga and hence known as Sikkeshwarar.
Once chandran (Moon god) due to Guru’s (Brahaspathi) curse arrived Kumbakonam and worshipped the Lord Shiva Sikkeshwarar, he created a holy water source for the worship, this tank was known as Chandrapushkarani (does not exist now)
Thirmalanavar worshipped Somanathar and received the boon to get victory over Asuras. He also built a shrine for Maleeswarar (a Linga) and Mangala Nayagi Amman.
Paranthaka Chola King constructed a shrine for Choleeswara and Tripurasundari Amman for want of a child.
One among the Navagraha –Guru (God of planet Jupiter) worshipped the main deity Someshwarar and hence the Lingam is also known as Vyazha Someshwarar (Guru’s Sikkeshwarar).
Shivagami and Nataraja can be seen.Kodipanchagraha temple is also present. Sambandar’s beautiful idol is seen. Thirupathigam (hymn’s of Nalvar) in the form of epigraph is found in this temple.
The main deity is in Linga form and the Banam (prominent cylindrical structure of Linga) is of special type known as Narmadhai banam.
The Murugan is in the form of Arumugan (6 faces and 12 hands) in a sitting pose over his vaghana (ambassador) a Mayil (peacock), his legs were decorated with Patharatchai (shoe). Saint Arunagirinathar has sung a hymn about this Arumugan of this temple in his work Thirupugazh.
Thirugnana Sambandar has sung a hymn about this temple deity.
Temple is situated near Sarangapani Temple at the central zone of Kumbakonam city on the Thanjavur main road.