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Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam Overview

Located in Kumbakonam (Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu), Ramaswamy Temple is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to one of Vishnu's ten avatars, Lord Rama. The temple is enshrined by Lord Rama where he sits in the sanctum in the coronation posture with his consort Sita Devi at his side, flanked by the idols of his brothers Lakshmana, Bharatha, Chatruguna (in standing position) and Hanuman (in worshipping position). Believed to have been built in the 16th century by the Nayakkar Prime Minister- Govinda Dikshitar, the temple also has commercial corridor connecting it to the older Chakrapani Temple built by the same ruler. The temple had its last modern-day Kumbhabhishegam or consecration on September 9, 2015. Constructed in the traditional Nayak style of architecture, the temple has a magnificent three-tiered gopuram enclosed by a graphite wall.

The entire shrine is carved with beautiful depictions taken from the Hindu epic Ramayana, including the sixty-four pillars of the temple. There is also depicted essential events from the same book - coronation of Sugriva and Vibhishan, and relieving Agalya from her curse. The inner sanctum sanctorum also has pictorial carvings of Ramayana which can easily be read while performing three pradakshinams (taking rounds) of the sanctum sanctorum.

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Ramaswamy Temple Architecture

The Ramaswamy Temple of Thanjavur owes its architecture to the trademark, age-old Dravidian style. The main deities of the temple is Lord Rama himself, and his chief companions throughout the story of Ramayana - his wife and consort Seeta, brother and protector Lakshmana and loyal and powerful devotee, Anjaneya Hanuman. The central shrine houses the idols of all these figures as well as some more, perfectly depicting the last scene of Ramayana as we know. Lord Rama and Seeta sit on a throne, flanked by Lakshmana with a bow and arrow, their other two brothers Bharat and Shatrugna, with an umbrella and a fan respectively, while Hanuman sits near the Lord's feet in a praying posture and sings his praise with a veena.

Between the sanctum and the three-tiered gopuram of the temple lies the Maha Mandapam with 64 pillars, which are sculpted with certain episodes from the great epic. Events like the coronation of Vibishana and Sugriva, Hanuman playing the Veena, relieving Agalya from her curse - these are carved on the single-stone pillars of the hall. The carvings are delicate and tell the episodes of Ramayana in artistic details.

Around the three-tiered gopurams or gate, which is typical to almost all south Indian Hindu temples, there are wall paintings on the rock walls of the temple precincts, nearly 219 in number, telling the whole story of Ramayana in pictures. If you take rounds of the sanctum, following the rule of pradakshinam, then you can read through the whole story told through pictures in three turns. There are temples of some other deities like Alwar Sannathi, Sreenivasa Sannathi, and Gopalan Sannathi as well.

History of Ramaswamy Temple

From the architecture of the temple, it can be readily concluded that it was built during the rule of the Nayaks in Thanjavur. From being merely the feudal lords under the Vijayanagar Empire, the Nayaks went on to have their own autonomy over the land for a better part of the 16th century. They did a lot of cultural, political and administrative reforms to the area south of the Vindhyas. At some point during the Nayakkar rule, Govinda Dikshitar, the prime minister of the Nayaks for three consecutive rulers of Thanjavur, built this temple for Lord Rama. He also added a commercial corridor to the architecture between this temple and the old Vishnu temple, Chakrapani.

How To Reach Ramaswamy Temple

The temple is situated in Kumbakonam town of Thanjavur. Buses run to and fro from the main city areas to the temple. If you are planning a whole day trip, including some other sites, it is best to hire a car for the day for ease of conveyance.

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