Saturday, June 16, 2007

Divya Desams around Kumbakonam

Route map courtesy: Balaji Hariharan

11 Divya Desams around Kumbakonam

Saint poets, Azhvaars (there were 12 of them including Andaal) were ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu. These saint poets composed verses in Tamil and revitalized the religious spirit sparking off a renewal of devotional worship, referred to as the Bhakti movement. The Azhvaars visited temples and sung praises in the name of Vishnu. Such temples have come to be known as Divya Desams. The compilation of the verses (known as Paasurams) is the revered Naalayira Divya Prabandam(4000 in all). There are 108 Divya Desams in all, 40 of these temples are in the Chola region (Trichy-Tanjore-Kumbakonam belt).

In today’s Divya Desam series, we take you on a trip to cover 11 temples around Thanjavur-Kumbakonam. You will find that in all these temples, Vishnu is represented in one of three postures – reclining, standing or seated posture. (Detailed version on each of these temples will also feature separately in the blog)

How to reach Kumbakonam(from Madras)

From Chennai, one can take the Rock Fort Express(1030pm departure) to Kumbakonam(via Trich-Thanjavur) to reach there early morning (the chord line to Kumbakonam via Cuddalore-Mayavaram is currently non-operational because of broad gauge conversion). There are direct buses aplenty from Chennai to Kumbakonam, including the most recently introduced TN state Ultra Deluxe buses.

Where to Stay

For stay in this temple town, there are a number of economical, medium and deluxe hotels around the Sarangapani temple. (Siva International, Hotel Green Park, VPR Lodge)

What should you look for

Do not miss the ‘Kumbakonam Degree coffee’ while here
A special sweet at Hotel Venkatramana on Big Street
Kumbakonam is know for Beetal leaves

1. Sarangapani(ThiruKudanthai) Temple

One can start off with the Aravamudhan Sarangapani temple in the heart of Kumbakonam town. This temple has the third tallest temple tower (150ft) after Srirangam(236ft) and Srivilliputhur(192 ft) in Tamil Nadu. Also, after Srirangam(11) and Tirupathi(10), this temple has the maximum number of Azhavaars (7 of them here) singing praise of the Lord. Another highlight of the temple is that it is the home to one of the biggest temple chariots in Tamil Nadu. It is at this temple that the Vaishnavite savant Natha Muni got the inspiration to compile the works of the famed 4000 verses of the Azhvaars, after listening to the Tamil hymn 'Aravamudhe' composed by Nammalwar.

One of the mandapams at the Sarangapani temple is believed to have been built in 7th Century AD by the famous Pallava King Mahendra Varma. This temple was later renovated by the famous Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya.

The main sanctum has been conceived like a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants and is truly a splendid sight to watch. A visit to this temple, it is believed, will help get rid of one’s past sins, just as a trip to Kasi in the North, would.
The Chittirai Chariot(April-May) procession of the Sarangapani temple is of great significance.
Contact: 0435 2430 349

2. Oppiliappan Temple
About 6 kms from Kumbakonam off the Kaaraikal road near ThiruNageswaram, it is believed that Lord Srinivasa here has similar powers to that of the Lord at Tirupathi and hence those who are unable to go to Tirupathi visit this temple. The Lord here is considered as the brother of Tirupathi Lord Srinivasa. This is the only Divya Desam where prasadams do not contain salt and hence the name ‘Oppiliappan’(Lord without Salt). Legend has it that any one bringing salt within this temple will go to hell. Some of the inscriptions at this temple date back to the period of Rajendra Chola, the great Chola king.

Local town buses ply between Kumbakonam and Oppilappan Temple.
Contact: 0435 2463 385

3.Nachiyar Temple in Thiru Naraiyur
Located about 10kms from Kumbakonam, the Nachiyar temple at Thiru Naraiyur is our next stop. This temple can be reached easily from Oppiliappan temple. Every year in the month of Margazhi, there is a one of its kind procession where Lord Srinivasa is taken out on a stone Garuda mount. The mount is said to grow exponentially in weight as it is carried out of its sanctum. While 4 people are enough to carry him out of his Sannadhi, the mount increases in weight as it comes out of every layer and by the time the Lord is out on to the last layer of the temple, it requires as many as 64 people to carry him. This is an experience not to be missed at this temple. This is a temple of special significance for Lord Garuda and he is said to be very powerful here. At this divya desam, Naachiyaar (Goddess) gets the place of primary importance, unlike most other divya desams, where the main deity is the Lord. Another feature is that the idols of all the 108 divya desams can be seen here.
Contact: 0435 2466 851

The Saranathan temple in Thirucherrai is 5 kms away from Nachiyar Temple and is close to Kudaivasal town. This is the only divya desam where the Lord provides darshan along with five Goddesses(Sridevi, Bhooma Devi, Neela Devi, Maha Lakshmi and SaraNayaki).
Contact: 0435 2468 175

From Thirucherai, one has to take a 45 minute drive back to Kumbakonam town.

5. Nathan Temple
The Nathan temple in Nandhipura Vinnagaram is about 5kms from Kumbakonam near Korukkai/Pateeswaram. Legend has it that Nandi performed penance here to seek atonement for insulting the Dwarapalakas of Vishnu and hence the name Nandipura Vinnagaram. It is also believed that Pallava King Nandivarma built this place and also created the temple here. An interesting feature is that Vishnu, who originally faced the east, turned westward to look at the spectacle of King Sibi saving a bird. An image of Nandi can be seen on one of the walls.

Lack of Attention from Vaanamaalai Mutt
This is under the administration of Vaanamaalai Mutt but despite the terrific commitment of the Bhattar, who does the daily rituals without fail even when there are no devotees, this is quite a neglected temple- something the Vaanamaalai Mutt must pay immediate attention to. Lack of attention from the Mutt has meant that that this temple, unlike Nanguneri Divya Desam, does not attract too many devotees, even on weekends. And add to this, the poorly paid bhattar, and it makes a very sad scene.
Contact: Prabhakara Bhattachar 98430 95904

6. Pulla Boothangkudi- Jataayu Moksham

From Kumbakonam, off Swami Malai, on the Kumbakonam -Thiruvaikaavur road, is Pulla Boothangkudi. This Divya Desam’s legendary tale dates back to the time of Ramayana. The Eagle King, Jatayu, an old friend of King Dasharatha (father of Raama) had fought a valiant battle trying to rescue Sita from Raavana, before the Lankan king cut off its wings. It is believed that parental curse will go away if one visits this place as Raama, who had not performed the last rites for his father, made up by performing his (Jataayu’s) obsequies, thus giving moksham to the Bird. In the Raamayana, this episode is referred to as the death of the 2nd father.

This is the only Divya Desam where Raama is in reclining posture and can be seen with all his ornaments and four hands. Interestingly, Goddess Sita is not seen with the Lord, as this temple relates to the time when Raama is separated from her.

The priest believes that many devotees have got employment after visiting Yoga Narasimhar (a separate sannadhi within the temple), so much so that the devotees have named it the Udyoga Narasimhar. This temple is administered by Ahobila Mutt.

This temple has been beautifully redone and has an air of freshness to it, especially with Gopal Bhattar’s friendly attitude towards devotees and his detailed explanation of the history of the temple.
Contact: Gopal Bhattachar / 94435 25365

This temple is very close to Pulla Bhoothangkudi. Legend has it that Kamadhenu, the sacred cow(she grants all wishes), had undertaken penance here and hence you would find sculptures of Kamadhenu and her daughter Nandini here. It is believed that Lord Anjaneya stayed here for a few days on his way back from Sri Lanka to Ayodhya.
Contact: Seshadri Bhattachar/0435 2000503

8.Kapisthalam – Gajendra Moksham
Located about 10kms from Kumbakonam on the Thiruvayaru road, this is the only Divya Desam where Lord Vishnu provides Darshan to two animals- Crocodile and Elephant. Legend has it that Vishnu, on his Garuda Vaahanam (a vehicle of the Lord), rescued Elephant (King) Gajendra from the clutches of the Crocodile(the Asura) on the banks of the river by hurling his Chakra at the Crocodile. This episode is known as Gajendra Moksham and is enacted every year during the month of Panguni (March-April). This is one of the ‘Pancha Krishna Kshetrams’ (5 Krishna Kshetrams).

Temple in Terrible state
This temple is under the administration of AG Lakshmana Moopanar family and is currently in a terrible state, completely neglected. It is a wonder how the Bhattar is managing the day to day affairs, with meager monthly salary. All the devotees who visit this Divya Desam have wondered as to why the Moopanar family is not doing something to renovate the temple, which has a rich history.
Contact: O.S. Seshadri Bhattachar- 04374 223434

9. Koodalur JagathRakshagan

5 kms west of Kapisthalam on the road to Thiruvayaru is Thiru Koodalur. It is believed that (River) Cauvery displayed her grief to Lord Jagathrakshagan here that all the impurities were being washed at the river and that she was feeling that the river here was becoming impure and unclean. With Lord’s grace, Cauvery regained all her glory at this place.
Buses ply at frequent intervals between Kumbakonam and Thiruvaiyaru (narrow road along the banks of Cauvery)

Currently, some renovation activities is taking place.
Contact: Venkatesa Bhattachar- 04374 244279

The next divya desam on this route is Kandiyur, about 3 kms from Tiruvaiyaru on the Thanjavur road. The deity here is called ‘Hara Saabha Vimosana Perumal’ as Lord Shiva got cleansed of Brahmma’s curse (Hara is another name of Shiva). This temple is a ‘Pancha Kamala Kshetram’(Lord Kamalanathan, Goddess Kamalavalli, Kamala Pushkarani, Kamala Vimaanam and Kamala Kshetram). The place is called Kandiyur in memory of Lord Shiva, also known as Kandeeswarar, who got salvation from the Brahmma’s curse.

Thirumangai Azhvaar’s only Paasuram at Kandiyur goes thus “ Pindiaar Mandai Endhi, Pirar Manai…………….” meaning - Vishnu rid the curse on Shiva, who went begging everywhere with Brahmma’s skull as a begging bowl. Other than worshipping the Lord, is there a way to salvation” sings Thirumangai Azhvaar(Paasuram-2050).

Buses ply every 5-10 minutes between Thanjavur and Thiruvayaru
Contact: Sriram Bhattachar- 98653 02750

11. Thanjai Maa Mani Temple
Our final stop on this Divya Desam journey is at three temples within a km of each other on the banks of Vennar River on the outskirts (North) of Thanjavur. These three temples together make this (one) divya desam. Legend has it that Lord Garuda flew over here and still guards this place. Hence it is believed that there are no snake threats here. The temples date back to the period of the Nayaks of Madurai. The three temples are administered by the Thanjavur palace

From Thanjavur, one can take the Rock Fort Express back to Chennai via Trichy.


Malini Venkatesh said...

Hello Prabhu.
Thank you so much for a detailed blog. I have a couple of questions about the temple visit since I plan to take my parents alongwith who are elderly. Are the temples in this region easily accessible? Hoping none are on a hill or have too many steps to be climbed before reaching the main garbha gudi i.e. perumal's sannidhi? Also can all these temples be covered completely in 2 days if I take a taxi?

Thanks in advance, pls. email me at

PRabhu S said...

Yes, they are easily accessible if you take a taxi.

No Hill temples. Not too many steps to climb in any of these temples.

Yes these can be covered easily in two days.

Taxi contact in Kumbakonam: 99945 46416 (Saravanan)

Taxi contact in Thanjavur: 94435 88102 (Senthil)


Kala Subramanyam said...

Hi I plan to visit divya desam in and around kumbakonam and Tanjore. As I am coming by car from chennai is call drivers who r trained available my travel is from 17 for 2 days.

PRabhu S said...

Are you looking for a car driver in Kumbakonam/Thanjavur? or are you looking for a driver in Madras.


Kala Subramanyam said...

At kumbakonam

PRabhu S said...


Please contact Shri. Saravanan, who runs a cab in Kumbakonam, on 99945 46416.

I have spoken to him.

He will organise a driver for you there.


Anu said...

Thanks for an excellent blog that provides a lot of details. Planning to a 2 day trip with 2 10 year olds to Thanjavur and Kumbakonam from Trichy. What would be a suggested temple tour route and itinerary. Would you be able to help ?

PRabhu S said...


Thanks for your kind words.

am assuming you will be taking a car and then coming back to Trichy at the end of the 2nd day. And am assuming you want to do a Divya Desam Trip around Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.

7am-8am Thanjai Maa Mani Koil(3temples)

815am-8.45am Kandiyur

915am-945am- Thiru Koodalur ( via Thiruvayaru from Kandiyur)

10am-1030am- Kapisthalam

11am-1130am- Pulla Bhoothangudi

1145am-1215pm- Athanur.

1245pm-4pm - Rest at Kumbakonam
(Let know if you would like a place to stay)


5pm-8pm: Sarangapani/ Ramaswamy/Chakrapani/Aathi Varaha Perumal temple within Kumbakonam


Day 2 Morning

7am-745am - Thiru Kannapuram

815am-9am Thiru Kannamangai

930am-10am- Thiru Cherai

10.15am-11am Nachiyar Koil

11.15am-12noon- Oppiliappan Koil

1230pm - Lunch at Kumbakonam

Return to Trichy....

Do let know if this works..

Let know if you need any other information/ local car/auto/Bhattar Support


ravilocanadas said...

Hello prabhu. I need your help I'm going to kumbakonam on 30th March at morning will be there. So m spent time for only 1day. Pls guide and need to taxi.. I col to that number that given contact mr Sarvanan bt not In the line

ravilocanadas said...

Hello prabhu.
Thank u for the details. We need a help from you. M cm with my family to kumbakonam on 30th morning. I will be there for only one day. So pls guide me. And pls give me a contact of taxi. Bcz you gv the saravanans number we can't get.

PRabhu S said...

that number of Saravanan will work.
request you to try again today.

In the morning, you can visit Oppiliappan, Nachiyar Koil, Thiru Cherai, Thiru Kannamangai Divya Desam from 7am-12noon.

In the evening, you can finish Pulla Bhoothangudi, Athanur, Chakrapani, Ramaswamy and Sarangapani Divya Desam from 4pm-9pm.


Bala r said...

very nicce piece of information.. we r planning for two days program around kumbakonam tepmles.. can u please guide us..

PRabhu S said...

You can contact Saravanan (cab). He will take you around at the appropriate time.

If you have a car of your own, below is the suggested option that you could consider:

1st half: Thiru Koodalur, Thiru Kapisthalam, Pullabhoothangudi and Athanur Divya Desams

2nd half: Sarangapani, Ramaswamy, Chakrapani, Varaha Perumal, Nathan Koil

Day 2 1st half: Thiru Kannapuram, Thiru Kannamangai, Thiru Cherai, Nachiyar Koil and Opppiliappan Koil


Mrs.J.Ganesan said...

hello Prabhu
I and my husband are going to come kumbakonam for four days. During this period, we want to visit divyadesams, swamimalai tanjore, and divyasesams around seerkazhi.Is it possible with in four days? we are senior citizens.Please provide the timetable for four days and give us the details of taxi and accomodation.we will come there on 4 th july.thanking u.

PRabhu S said...

Saravanan - Taxi Kumbakonam: 99945 46416

Senthil - Taxi Thanjavur: 94435 88102

You can contact either of them and they will take you around the divya desams in Thanjavur and Kumbakonam.

Seerkazhi is a little away.

You can reach Seerkazhi say by train from Kumbakonam and you can use a local auto/taxi to cover the divya desams in half a day there.

You can contact Satish Bhattar on 94439 85843 at Thiru Nangur and he will take care of auto/car around Seerkazhi DDs.

You can contact Soundararaja Bhattar at Kumbakonam on 94863 10896 reg accommodation. He will take care of that.

Yes, you can cover all of these in 4days.


Anonymous said...


We are coming in own car from chidambaram to kumbakkonam. After finishing chidambaram temple by 1 pm , we can proceed towards kumbakkonam for 2 nights stay . Can you pleas guide us the order of temples that we can see as we are with old parents and kids . Appreciate your guidance

PRabhu S said...

1st evening:


Varaha Perumal

( All are within a km of each other. Hence you can finish bath/tiffin at Kumbakonam at 4pm after arriving from Chidamabaram and visit these 4temples)

Day 2 morning:


Thiru Kannamangai - 8am-9am
Thiru Cherai - 930am-1015am
Nachiyar Koil-1030am-1130am
Oppilappan- 1145am
(all these four are in one route farthest being Kannamangai. Hence drive there first up in the morning starting at 7am from Kumbakonam)

back in Kumbakonam at 1pm

2nd evening - 4pm-9pm

Start at 4pm...
1. Koodalur(25kms on Thiruvayaru road)- 430pm-5pm
2. Kapisthalam - 515pm-545pm
3. Thiru Mandangudi( Thondaradi podi Azhvaar Avathara Sthalam - 2kms west of Pullam Bhoothangudi)- from Kapisthalam there is a short cut to Mandangudi- 615pm- 645pm
4.Pullam Bhoothangudi - 7pm-730pm


(all these are in the same route)

Back in Kumbakonam by 845pm

Day 3 morning: (i.e if you are staying back 3rd morning - else you can finish Nathan Koil after Oppiliappan by talking to the Bhattar and requesting him to keep the temple open)

7am - Nathan Koil (near Darasuram/Patteswaram)