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Timings : 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

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Mahalingeswarar Temple , Kumbakonam Overview

Located in the district of Tiruvidaimaruthur in Tamil Nadu, Mahalingeswarar Temple (also known as Thiruvidaimarudur Temple) is a highly revered temple by the Hindu sect of Savism. Enshrined by the Hindu God Shiva colloquially known as Mahalingeswararswamy, the presiding deity is represented by his lingam known and the venerated idol is known as Jothimayalingam. The shrine is one of the seven major Shiva temples and this particular lingum is the focal point of the seven consorts of Shiva. The temple also boasts of a magnificent shrine of Goddess Parvati- consort of Shiva, depicted in the form of Pirguchuntarakujambigai. Mahalingeswarar Temple has honourable mentions in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work called Tevaram and also in the 9th century Manikkavacakar poetry.

The 149 inscriptions excavated at the site suggest that the temple in an amalgamation of the architectural expertise and construction finesse in the life and times of Pandyas, Cholas, Thanjavur Nayaks and Thanjavur Maratha kingdom. Like most other edifices in the area, the construction of Mahalingeswarar Temple is believed to have been started in the 9th century during the reign of the Cholas and was completed around 16th century during the rule of Thanjavur Nayaks. Other than the magnificent gopurams, the temple boasts of spectacular shrines of various deities, the most prominent of which are Mahalingeswaraswamy, Pirguchuntaragujambigai and Mookambigai. Currently, Mahalingeswarar Temple is managed and maintained by a South Indian monastic institution in the name of Thiruvaduthurai Adheenam.

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Legend of Mahalingeswarar Temple

The temple as well as the city Kumbakonam has a really interesting legend attached to it. It says that when Brahma created the universe he had a jug (kumbha) which had the seeds of all living beings in it. The jug got misplaced during a massive storm (pralaya) and was ultimately found at the spot where the town currently stands now. That’s where the town of Kumbakonam gets its name from- Kumba meaning ‘jug’ and konam meaning ‘corner’. The drops of nectar from the jug were believed to have fallen at five different spots near Kumbakonam which were later developed into five shrines- namely Mahalingeswarar temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, Tirudharasuram, Naganathar Temple at Tirunageswaram, Tiruvorgam and Tirupadalavanam.

Another theory related to the temple states that once a Chola prince was killed a Brahmin and was chased by his spirit. In order to escape, the prince entered the Mahalingeswarar Temple and prayed to his favourite God Shiva to save him from the stray spirit, after which he exited from the second gopuram. It is tradition at the temple till date- pilgrims enter the temple from the chief gopuram and exit the temple from the second gopuram post worshipping.

Architecture of Mahalingeswarar Temple

The temple has been constructed in the traditional Dravidian style of architecture following a rectangular area plan. Boasting of a five tiered Rajagopuram, it has three precincts enclosed within impressive walls led by magnificent gateways. Enshrined by the Mahalingum, it also houses five temple tanks inside the temple, namely Karunyamirdha Theertham, Soma Theertham, Kanaga Theertham, Kalyana Theertham and Iravatha Theertham. A shrine for Mookambiga isi built separately where supposedly Goddess Parvathy performed her penance. Other shrines include Pattinathar, Bhadragiriyar, Ambal, Muruga, Nataraja, Padithurai Vinayagar and Agora Veerabadrar etc.

Among the three renowned precincts of Aswametha Pradakshina, Kodumudi and Pranava, the last one has the most notable inscriptions and sculptures dating back to the Nayak Period in the 16th century. The most splendid and famous amongst which is the chariot with twelve pillars denoting twelve lagnas. At present, the temple premises also house a Saiva Siddantha library which sells palm leaf scriptures and Saiva literature.

Rituals and Festivals at Mahalingeswarar Temple

The temple has daily rituals performed six times a day by the temple priest- Ushathkalam at 6:00 AM., Kalasanthi at 8:00 AM., Uchikalam at 12:00 noon, Sayarakshai at 6:00 PM., Irandamkalam at 8:00 PM and Ardha Jamam at 9:00 PM. The rituals involve the worship of both Mahalingeswarar and Pirguchuntaragujambigai amidst music from nagaswaram and tavil. The puja comprises four steps- abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps).

The weekly rituals are somavaram and sukravaram, fortnightly rituals called pradosham and monthly rituals called amavasai (new moon day), kiruthigai, pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.

Thaipoosam is the most revered festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Thai (mid January - mid February). The festivities involve dressing up the deities and carrying a procession in the temple and across town in different vehicles. The ten day festival is celebrated with much pomp and show.

Best Time To Visit Mahalingeswarar Temple

The ideal time to visit the temple is during the Tamil month of Thai (mid January - mid February) when the grand festival of Thaipoosam is celebrated. The occasion is a ten day long event and is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm.

How To Reach Mahalingeswarar Temple

Kumbakonam bus stand is 9 kms away from Mahalingeswarar Temple and direct public buses are available to the shrine. You can travel in any local bus numbered- 1, 17, 27, 33, 46, 54 and 64.

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