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Thenupuriswarar Temple, Kumbakonam Overview

Located in the holy village of Patteeswaram in Kumbakonam, Thenupuriswarar Temple is a revered Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Believed to have been built during the reign of the Cholas, the current standing structure was completed by the Nayaks in the 16th century. The magnificent temple is presided by the lingam of Thenupuriswarar (Lord Shiva) and has an additional shrine for his consort- Goddess Parvati (colloquially known as Nyanambikai). The deity gets its vernacular name and identity from the 7th-century work of Tamil Saiva known as Tevaram. Besides, both the temple and the deity have lots of myths and legends attached to their existence, mentioned in the classified works of the Nayanars- Paadal Petra Sthalam.

Sprawling over an area of four acres, the temple boasts of a splendid seven-tiered gopuram and striking architectural features. In addition to the chief shrines of Thenupuriswarar (Shiva), Nyanambikai (Parvati) and Durga, the temple also has idols of several other Hindu deities and avatars including Ganesha, Sapthamatha, Mahalakshmi, Renuka, Navagraha, Surya, Chandra and Bhairava. All the shrines are enclosed in concentric granite walls and boast of beautifully sculpted pillars and elaborate interiors. The temple hosts four annual festivals, the most prominent of which is the Muthu Pandal Festival celebrated during the month of Chittirai (April - May). Currently, the premises are managed and maintained by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu and is flocked by thousands of tourists day in and day out.

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Legend of Thenupuriswarar Temple

The young poet saint of Tamil Nadu- Tirugnana Sambandar came to a village near Patteeswaram, called Thirusattimutram with a few saints (Adiyars) to worship Lord Shiva. After the rituals he started for Patteeswaram; however, the sun waves were too hot and the solar movement was oppressive, which in turn made it very difficult for little Sambandar (as he was a child) to cross the path. At that time, Lord Shiva sent his servants (bhoodaganas) to cover the streets with a ceiling of pearls over Sambandar. Sambandar was very pleased with Lord Shiva and for that reason, the temple in Patteeswaram also has the same view in its sanctum sanctorum.

The name of this temple is derived from Patti- the daughter of the renowned cow goddess Kamadhenu, who worshipped Lord Shiva here. Goddess Parvati herself performed penance here and Sage Markandeya worshipped at the very spot. All the Navgrahas face the Surya God.

History of Thenupuriswarar Temple

Thenupiswarar Temple is originally believed to have been built during the Chola period between 866 and 1004 CE. Certain patterns and architectural expertise suggest the origin of the temple to be the same. However, the bathing ghats and general structure of the campus are in the style of buildings constructed during the reign of Raghunatha Nayak. There have been two inscriptions found at the temple site dating back to the 12th century. Another five inscriptions date back to the 16th century during the Nayak Period. The temple came under the jurisdiction of Kumbakonam Devastana committee till 7th August 1945 and was later handed over to the management and maintenance of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Government of Tamil Nadu.

Architecture of Thenupuriswarar Temple

The magnificent temple boasts of five gopurams and three prakarams. The most splendid one of which is the seven-tiered chief gopuram in the front facing east. The lingam of Lord Shiva presides the main mandapa in the central prakaram, also called Thenupuriswarar. Goddess Parvati- consort of Lord Shiva is called Nyanambikai, presides the adjacent chambers towards the north. Lord Ganesha has been presented in three different forms and chambers inside the premises- Anugai Pillayar, Madhavarna Pillayar and Swarna Vinayagar. Besides, there are various shrines dedicated to different Hindu gods including Sapthamatha, Mahalakshmi, Renuka, Navagraha, Surya, Chandra and Bhairava.

The prakarams are circumferenced by huge granite walls and the sanctum sanctorum can be reached through the chief gopuram, Flagstaff, Nandi, Mukha Mandapam and Artha Mandapam. The Flagstaff and the shrine of the revered Nandi are located sideways to the main chambers of Therupuriswarar. Goddess Durga enshrines the third precinct in her unusual cheery form. In addition, the southern gopuram houses the temple tank and the shrine of Mathavarana Pillayar. The pillars, sculptures and the all-around interior architecture of the temple narrates stories from different fables and tales of the Hindu mythology.

Festivals and Rituals at Thenupuriswarar Temple

Muthu Pandal is the most popular festival celebrated at the temple during the month of Chittrai (April - May). The event is celebrated in association with the legend of the pearl ceiling over the head of Sambandar. At the time of the celebrations, an idol of the saint is taken out on a procession in a village along with the other deities beneath a roof of a floral sheet, marking the importance of the ocassion.

Goddess Durga at Thenupuriswarar Temple

The temple is more popular than the others of its kind, as it represents Goddess Durga in a very unusual form- soft, cheerful, extremely poised and graceful unlike her usual ferocious state. This form is called the Shanta Swarupi and is depicted in very few Durga shrines all over the world. The goddess can be seen seated on her vehicle lion who is facing left unlike the customary right facing lion. The deity looks all glory in her Tribanga stature- eight hands, three eyes, and bedecked with jewels. The head of the demon Mahishasura lies at her feet.

Best Time To Visit Thenupuriswarar Temple

The temple is a hot spot for the tourists and pilgrims alike, all through the year. However, the entire premises come alive and abuzz with activity especially during the months of April and May, at the time of Muthu Pandal Festival which is the most popular festival at the place. We encourage you to visit at the same time to take part in the festivities and witness the beautiful liveliness, fervour and zeal at the temple premises.

How To Reach Thenupuriswarar Temple

Thenupuriswarar Temple is located 6 kms from the town of Kumbakonam in Patteeswaram on the Kumbakonam - Aavoor road. Public buses are the easiest way to reach the revered place. Bus routes connecting Kumbakonam and Patteeswaram are 8, 11, 25, 35, 61, 62 and 67. Mini buses are also available from Darasuram which is at a distance of 3 kms from the temple.

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