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Timings : 6:00 AM - 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

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Bangaru Kamakshi Amman Temple, Thanjavur Overview

Bangaru Kamakshi Temple is located in a very well-known and crowded locality of Thanjavur, which is a residential as well as a commercial hub. This temple is situated amidst a few others, but it sure holds its own importance. A large part of its popularity lies in the history and legend of the temple. The word Bangaru means 'gold'. This is an obvious reference to the golden body of the deity. However, if you visit the temple, you will see that the goddess' face is black. This once again has a direct connection to its past.

When the idol was shifted to Thanjavore from Kanchipuram, to hide it from the invaders and thieves, the face of the goddess was smeared with a black substance called 'punugu'. The temple authorities maintain that tradition to date, and it has become a part of the temple's legacy. Lots of people from the surrounding areas visit this temple to offer prayers to Goddess Kamakshi.

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History of Bangaru Kamakshi Temple

History says that the idol of Goddess Kamakshi was situated elsewhere when the priests brought her over to the current location because of foreign invasion attacks. The central administration of the temple lies with the Shankaracharya Math, which was originally established in Kanchipuram. During the consecutive Islamic invasions on the city, there were serious attacks on the Kamakshi Amman Temple of Kanchipuram. To protect the deity, Shankaracharya Shri Chandrashekhar Saraswaty IV of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam shifted the idol to Udayarpalayam, and then later to Thanjavur.

Later, in the 18th century, military conflicts between the native rulers, the British and the Dutch armies led to the utter demolition of the Kanchipuram city. It forced Saraswati Swamigal V to shift the base of the Math as well. He was invited by Pratap Singh, the then Maratha ruler of Thanjavur to settle down his Math at his city. Thus, the current Bangaru Kamakshi Temple was established in Thanjavur and has continued to stand till this date. Swamiji shifted his Math once again from Thanjavur to Kumbakonam for different reasons, but the shrine of Kamakshi Devi remained here.

Legend of Bangaru Kamakshi Temple

The legend has that while bringing the idol from Kanchipuram to Thanjavore, in order hide the deity goddess from the eyes of the demolishers and invaders, the face of it was smeared with black civet, locally called punugu. It was then wrapped up in a cloth and smuggled out secretly in a palanquin. She was treated as a small child who was diagnosed with smallpox so that the wrong-doers could be fooled. The temple authorities were successful in bringing the idol to Thanjavur safe and secure in the cloth, and the idol was reinstalled in the new temple.

Bangaru Kamakshi Temple Architecture & Deity

Goddess Kamakshi stands upright in all the shimmering glory, holidng a parrot in her right arm. The deity is actually golden in colour which is smeared with punugu as a part of the ritual even today. Thus, she appears to be black in the face, while her hands and feet and rest of the body is still gold. When the Math was relocated to Kumbakonam, the goddess and her temple stayed in Thanjavur and over the time her shrine became one with the spirituality of the district.

Bangaru Kamakshi Devi is the central deity of the temple and resides in the sanctum sanctorum. The temple itself is simple in design and faces the north direction. It has a small spire towering above the roof. The entrance of the temple is graced by a big stone idol of Ganesh called Varada Maha Ganapati. The temple has yet another shrine, dedicated to Kamakoti Amman. There is one prakara or circumambulatory passage around the central shrine. Devotees take rounds of this corridor to pay respect to the goddess, as per the ritual.

How To Reach Bangaru Kamakshi Amman Temple

The area where the temple is located is crowded with a few bigger ones as well. This region, called the West Main Street, is the commercial centre of Thanjavur and thus gets quite a lot of traffic. The Bangaru Kamakshi Temple is located only 1 km behind the bigger temples which can be accessed through a straight street from the main road. You can locate the Kamakshi Temple beside the Navaneetha Krishna Temple where Lord Krishna resides with his consorts Rukmini, Satyabhama and Kodhai. The nearest station is Thanjavur, and the nearest airport is situated at Trichy. You can get onto public buses or hire a cab for the trip.

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