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Kumbakonam -
Adi Kumbeshwara temple
- Lalitha Venkat

The Saptastanams of Kumbeshwara are Kalayanallur, Valanchuzhi, Darasuram, Swamimalai, Kottiayur, Melaikkaveri and Kumbakonam.

According to legend, Kumbakonam's seventeenth-century Kumbeshwara temple centers on a lingam fashioned by Shiva himself.

Apparently, during Maha Pralaya after Dwapara Yuga, a pot (kumba) of amritam, the beverage of immortality, and seeds of creation, set afloat by Lord Shiva, was washed by a great deluge from atop sacred Mt Meru in the Himalayas, and carried all the way here. The Lord proclaimed that the place where the pot touched the ground would be considered the holiest of all places. When the pot finally rested in this place, Shiva, who happened to be passing in the guise of a wild forest-dwelling hunter Kiratamurthy, fired an arrow at the pot, causing it to break. From the broken pieces, he made this very lingam called Sri Adi Kumbeshwara. The divine consort is Mangalambika. The amritham that got spilt and pooled in a place became the famous Mahamagham Tank.

By looking at the entrance, it is hard to imagine the massive size of the temple, which covers more than 4 acres. It has a 9-tier gopuram, which rises to a height of 128 feet and is covered with several beautiful images. The four prakarams surrounding the temple are lined with local shops.

The east entrance is approached via a covered market. Beyond the flagstaff, a mandapa, whose columns feature painted yali (mythical beast) brackets, leads to the principal gopuram / entrance. A figure of Shiva's vehicle, the bull Nandi, faces the main sanctuary. There's also a fine collection of silver vahanas, vehicles of the deities, used in festivals, and pancha loham (compound of silver, gold, brass, iron and tin) figures of the 63 Nayanmar poet-saints. Moorka Nayanaar is one of the 63 Nayanars associated with this temple.

In the Navaratri Mandapam, all the 27 stars and 12 rasis / zodiac signs have been artistically carved in a single block of stone. The Kalyana Mandapam in the temple is the seat of the Tirukkalyana Utsavam. This temple also houses two nadaswarams made of stone. The images of Kiratamurthy and Subramanya are notable.

Shiva is known in this temple by other names like Amudha Kumbhesar and Amudheesar. The Kumbariya Vinayaka shrine is situated near the tank, while Adi Vinayaka is worshipped in the temple.

The Mahamagam festival is associated with the Mangalambika shrine, which is revered as a Shakti Peetham.