Swaminathaswamy Temple, Swamimalai

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Timings : 5:00 AM - 12 NOON and 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

Entry Fee : No Entry Fee

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Swaminathaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam Overview

Perched atop a hill in the Swamimalai district of Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, Swaminathaswamy Temple is enshrined by Murugan, son of the Hindu God Lord Shiva who is also known as Swaminathaswamy. The shrine is only of the six holy temples of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu. The temple complex also houses shrines of Murugan’s mother- Parvathy and his father Shiva; although, those are located at the base of the hill. Sixty steps lead to the main shrine at the top which are named after sixty Tamilian years. Besides, the temple has three gopurams and three precincts.

There is an interesting story related to the name of the temple. It is believed that Murugan lauded the meaning of Pranava Mantra to his father and hence, came to be known as Swaminathaswamy. It is believed that the construction of the temple dates back to 2nd century BC from the Sangam Period, however, it was renovated and modified by Parnataka Chola I. The temple was greatly damaged and destroyed in the Anglo- French War in 1740, but later, it was renovated by the government. Currently, the temple is managed and maintained by Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

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Legend of Swaminathaswamy Temple

A lot of legends and myths are attached to the creation of this temple. The most prominent one goes to say that the God of Creation Brahma disrespected Muruga when he was a kid. Muruga got enraged and asked him how he created the universe. On hearing that Brahma recited verses from the Vedas, Muruga asked Brahma to explain to him the meaning of Pranava Mantra, which Brahma was unable to do so. Muruga then hit Brahma on the forehead and sentenced him with imprisonment. He took up the role of the creator himself. The other deities were surprised and shocked to see the absence of Brahma and Muruga performing all the duties so they asked Lord Vishnu to reason with Muruga.

However, Muruga would not listen to anybody. As the last resort, Shiva took up the responsibility to get Brahma released. Muruga agreed to the request of Shiva but on a condition that Brahma would have to learn the meaning of the Pranava Mantra. Shiva listened to Muruga explaining the meaning with rapt attention and thus gave him the title of ‘Swaminathaswamy’ meaning ‘teacher of Shiva’. For the same reason, the shrine of Shiva is atop the hill whereas Shiva’s shrine is at the bottom.

Festivals at Swaminathaswamy Temple

The temple celebrates a whole lot of festivals with much zeal and gusto-
1. Krithigai is an important festival celebrated in the Tamil month of Aadi. The event marks the victory of good over evil (marking the event when Muruga slayed demon Surapadma).
2. Kavadi Attam is a ceremonial offering made (preferably to the poor and needy) during the festival of Thaipusam.
3. Pankuni Uttiram is celebrated during the month of March. It signifies the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvathy.
4. Navratri is another important festival celebrated during the month of March- April.

Architecture of Swaminathaswamy Temple

The temple is built on an artificial hill which is locally known as ‘Kattumalai’. Another name of the place is ‘Thiruveragam’, and Murugan is known as ‘Balamurugan’ and ‘Swaminatha Swamy’. The temple has three gopurams and three precincts just like most other temples in the area. The precincts are located at the base, midway and at the top of the hill respectively. Sixty steps lead to the main shrine where each step is named after sixty Tamilian years. The main deity of Swaminathaswamy is carved out of granite and is decked in golden crowns and armours and is richly adorned with precious stones and jewellery.

The base precinct houses the shrines of Shiva and Parvathy along with images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and Navagrahas. The middle precinct has a chariot and a marriage hall which is let out for local wedding ceremonies and similar functions. The central idol of murugan is mounted on a white elephant in contrast to the regular mount of a peacock. It is believed that the elephant signifies power.

Golden Chariot at Swaminathaswamy Temple

The temple possess an oh-so-beautiful made out of 7 kgs of gold, 85 kgs of silver and alloys of copper, zinc etc. It is beautifully bedecked with precious ornaments and lighted with electric bulbs. On a fee charge of INR 1001, devotees can take the deity on the golden chariot for a tour in the outer corridors.

Best Time To Visit Swaminathaswamy Temple, Swamimalai

The best time to visit the temple is during the month of January. The temperature is also pleasant and the most important festival of Thaipusam is celebrated at this time.

How To Reach Swaminathaswamy Temple, Swamimalai

Swaminathswamy Temple is located in Swamimalai near the city of Kumbakonam. It can be reached easily in hired taxi- cabs, autos or state-run buses. Alternatively, you can drive down to the spot.

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