Sunday, May 3, 2009

Kumbakonam Temple Visits IV

Sarangapani Temple:
The Sarangapani temple is the principal and largest of the Vishnu temples in Kumbakonam dating to the thirteenth-century. It is among the 108 Tirupatis and is given third place next to Srirangam and Tirupati. The shrine is in form of a chariot. A beautiful tank called Hema Pushkarni separates this shrine and the Adi Kumbeshwara temple. Entry, into a hundred-pillar hallway from the seventeenth century (Nayak period), is through a twelve-storied pyramidal gopuram, more than 40m high which is considered one of the largest gopurams in South India. A smaller gopuram leads into a second courtyard that contains another columned mandapa and to the right, a shrine to Lakshmi. The central shrine dates from the late Chola period with many later alterations. Its entrance, within the innermost court, is guarded by huge dvarpalas, identical to Vishnu whom they protect. Between them are carved perforated stone screens in different designs, and in front of them stands the sacred, square fireplace (to do homam). During the day, pinpoints of light from ceiling windows penetrate the darkness around the sanctum, designed to resemble a chariot with reliefs of horses, elephants and wheels. A painted cupboard contains a mirror for Vishnu to see himself when he leaves the sanctum sanctorum. There are 2 entrances to the sanctum. One is kept open throughout the Uttarayan period and the other during the Dakshinayan period.
By the side of the temple is the Golden Lotus tank also known as Lakshmi Theertham. Goddess Lakshmi performed penance here and Vishnu came down as Lord Aravamudhan and married Her. Sarangapani, Aravamudhan and Komalavalli are the presiding deities.
Chakrapani Temple: Sri Chakrapani Temple, is situated at Kumbakonam a temple town in tamilnadu, India. This temple is considered to be one of the most important Vishnu temples in South India, along with Srirangam and Tirupati. Seven of the Alwars sang the glories of this temple. Lord Sarangapani is the presiding Deity of the temple.
The images of Chakrapani and with 8 arms and Sudarshanavalli Thayar with a gracious visage are inspiring. Brahma, Surya and Agni are depicted as worshipping the Lord. According to legend, Surya once competed with Vishnu to decide who was brighter. Vishnu appeared in the form of a Chakra and put down the pride of Surya. Like Shiva, Lord Chakrapani has a third eye on His forehead.
Most of the temple was built by the Nayak kings between the 13th and 17th centuries, but the central shrine dates to the end of the Chola period. There are two entrances for entering the central shrine of the temple.You enter the southern entrance during the dakshinayana period, when the sun is in the Southern Hemisphere and the northern entrance during the period of uttarayana, when the sun is in the northem hemisphere. This shrine is also called Baskara Sthala as it was established by the Sun. The passage around the sanctum in the south is Ganapathi and in the north Panchamuka (5 faced) Hanuman. In a circle of lotus blooms, the Deity stands, while goddess is seated. Wielding conch discus, bow, axe, udakkai, gadha, pan and lotus in eight hands He stands. The archana worship is conducted with Bel leaves.
Tirukkudanthai Keezhkottam Nageswaraswamy Temple: This temple is a big one located in the center of Kumbakonam town. Sun God Sooriyan and Adhiseshan are said to have worshipped Lord Shiva st this sivasthalam. A special feature of this temple is that the sun's rays falls on the Sivalingam (Nageswaraswamy) in the morning on 3 days in a year during the Tamil month of Chithirai - 11th, 12th and 13th day of that month. It is widely believed that Sun god Sooriyan Himself performs pooja at that time to Lord Shiva. Devotees gather in large numbers during these 3 days to witness the event. Scupltures depicting the whole story of Ramayana is found on the inner walls of the prakaram surrounding the sanctum. The goddess is Brihannayaki. This is the 27th in the series of Tevara Stalams located South of the river Cauvery. It is well known for its sculptural work, Vimanams and Mandapams.
The Legend: It is believed that Surya is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva here to regain his lost splendour and hence the temple tank is named after Lord Surya. Also known as "Vilvavanam", it is believed that a Vilva leaf from the pot carrying the celestial nectar (associated with the Kumbheswara temple) had drifted away and landed here. Aadi Seshan is said to have worshipped here and Lord Shiva is said to have blessed him with the might to bear the weight of the earth, here.
About The Temple: Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple, one of the finest early Chola temples, noted for the quality of its sculpture. This temple is believed to have been completed during the reign of Parantaka I (907-c.940). Though the temple is small but it is known for its marvellous architecture that exceeds many of the other Chola temples. The Nritta Sabha, or the dance hall, has an elevated Mandapam with a flight of steps. The 12 zodiac signs, 2 mammoth horses, 4 elephants all in stone adorn the Nataraja shrine.
The principal shrine to Lord Shiva, standing in a country is connected to a Mandapam (also spelt as Mandapa). 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 Nataraja shrine here is shaped in the form of a chariot, and the shrine dedicated to the Sun God is of great sculptural significance. So imposing is the shrine to Nataraja, that the hymns of Appar are addressed to Aadalvallar of Kudandai Keezhkottam in awe.
Someswarar Temple: 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). Thirumalanavar 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 wanted 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 Thirupugal. Thirugnana sambandar has sung a hymn about this temple deity.
Ramaswamy Temple: The temple town of Kumbakonam is the abode of several deities each unique and distinct. The temple of Lord Rama situated in the centre of the town is a connoisseurs' delight. The temple is replete with puranic lore. King Raghunayak ruled Tanjore from 1614-1640. He was an ardent devotee of Rama . His lieutenant Govinda Dikshitar called Govinda Ayyan was also devout and looked after the temple works. King Raghunayak dug a holy tank in Darasuram near Kumbakonam . while the work was in progress they found icons of Rama and Sita in the tank. The King's joy knew no bounds. Thus he built a temple for Rama and called it Ramaswamy temple. This temple is unique as Rama and Sita are in a Pattabishekam posture-Coronation scene . Rama and Sita are surrounded by Lakshmana, Shatrugna, Bharatha and the ever obedient Hanuman with Veena in one hand and the holy book of Ramayana in the other hand in a sitting posture. This coronation scene attracts people from far off places who are awe struck at the divine sight of the celestial confluence. A separate sanctum sanctorum is dedicated to Srinivasa with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi . There are separate shrines for Azhwars and acharyas. The temple looks majestic with a mammoth Gopuram which seem to beckon the devotees to propitiate the lord inside. There is a sprawling Mantap which is a treasure trove of sculptures about which we shall read in the next article. Presiding deities�Rama and Sita in the Pattabishekam Kolam.


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  2. Thanks for your comments.Please pass this on to others who may be interested in such travel information on temples.

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