|STATES AND UNION TERRITORIES OF INDIA|
Kumbakonam - Nageswara temple
by Lalitha Venkat
One of the most ancient temples in Kumbakonam, the small Nageswara Swami
- Shiva temple, one of the finest early Chola temples, is noted for the
quality of its sculpture, thought to have been completed a few years
into the reign of Parantaka I (907 - 940). Adisesha and Surya had
worshipped Sri Nageswara here. When Adisesha was groaning under the
weight of the world, he came to Kuvinvanam, the present Nageswara temple
and did penance. Siva and Parvati appeared before Adisesha and blessed
him with enough strength. A well in the temple is called Naga Theertham.
Standing in a courtyard, the principal shrine to Shiva is connected to a
columned mandapa. Both share a base carved with scenes from the epics
and lotus petals. The main niches on the sanctum wall contain sculptures
- on the north, Dakshinamurti ("south-facing" Shiva as teacher), on the
west Ardhanarishvara (male Shiva and female Shakti in one figure) and
Brahma on the south. Joining them are high-relief near-life-size
sculptures of unidentified figures, perhaps worshippers, donors or
royalty. Within the courtyard, a shrine to Nataraja features rearing
horses and wheels, with tiny figures as spokes.
The sunís rays fall on the lingam in the central shrine through an
opening in the eastern tower for 3 days in a year Ė on the 11th, 12th
and 13th days in the month of Chithrai (April / May).