Kumbakonam is often called the temple town of Tamil Nadu. It has thousands of temples which demonstrate the supreme faith of the residents in their deities. Drench yourself in the religious tenor of this town to see more of the Indian customs. Read on.
Kumbakonam is a town in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. It is about 170 miles from Chennai. Cauvery and Arasalar rivers flow along the north and south parts of the town. The place is dominantly a Hindu region and hence it has a number of temples. It has been called the ‘temple town’ and the ‘Cambridge of India’, at times. The origin of the name (which means Pot’s Corner or Kumbh) of the town finds its roots in the mythological folklore, according to which Lord Brahma’s pot or kumbha containing the seeds of life was displaced during the pralaya and finally came to rest at this place. This is celebrated as Mahamaham festival which is held every 12 years. The festival sees an influx of tourists and devotees from all over the world. During such times, the hotels in Kumbakonam are full and anyone visiting the town should make prior bookings in order to avoid any disappointments.
Kumbakonam is famous for its temples and monasteries. It has around 188 temples of various Hindu Gods within the town itself. Outside the town the number of temples goes into thousands, which is just amazing. Such a large number of religious sites draws in a lot of religious sentiments for this city. The Mahamaham tank is full of people during the Mahamaham festival, as every visitor intends to take a holy dip in its water which is considered sacred. Adi Kumbeswarar temple is believed to be the oldest shrine of the Shaiva sect who worship Shiva as the supreme lord. Sarangapani temple is the largest shrine of the Vaishnava sect who consider Vishu as their absolute deity. It is twelve storey high and was built in 15th century by the Nayak kings. It is part of the 108 Divya Desams, which are temples of Lord Vishnu glorified by 12 Alvar saint-poets. Witness all this and more and while it may take a few days, you can stay at one of the budget hotels in Kumbakonam which offer reasonable tariffs.
The charm of any place that you visit is in the fact that how much you explore it, not through just the guidebooks, but also through the local people. Conversing with the locals and shopkeepers is a great way to enhance your knowledge about the place. They can tell you more closely about the cultures, rituals, beliefs, and a lot of other common stuff that you cannot find in the books. If you visit the place in groups, you can think of hiring a tour guide who is well-versed with the history, sites, and routes of the place. Just make an advance booking in one of the hotels in Kumbakonam and try to find your alternatives about exploring the place. The hotel staff and reception desk might also help you there. Frequenting small tea-stalls, cafe, etc. is also a nice way to find out the unseen aspects of a place.