|STATES AND UNION TERRITORIES OF INDIA|
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.