Kumbakonam is a town and a special grade municipality in the
Thanjavur district in the southeast Tamil Nadu,
India.Kumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and was ruled
by the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas,
Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur
Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a famous city
between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a
capital of the Medieval Cholas. The town reached the peak of
its prosperity during the British Raj when it was a important
centre of European education and Hindu culture; and it attains
the cultural name, the "Cambridge of South India". In 1866,
Kumbakonam was officially constituted as a municipality, which
today comprises 45 wards which makes it the second largest
municipality in Thanjavur district.
Kumbakonam is known as the "temple town" due to the prevalence
of a number oftemples here and is noted for its Mahamaham
festival which attracts people from all over the globe. The
main products produced are brass, bronze, copper and lead
vessels, silk and cotton cloths, pottery, sugar, indigo and
name "Kumbakonam", roughly translated in English as the "Jug's
Corner", is believed to be a reference to the fabulous pot (kumbha)
of the Hindu god Brahma that contained the seed of all living
beings on earth. The kumbha is considered to have been displaced
by a pralaya and finally came to rest at the spot where the town
of Kumbakonam now stands. This event is now honored in the
Mahamaham festival held every 12 years. Kumbakonam is also known
as Kumbam and Baskarashetram from time immemorial and as
Kudanthai in ancient times. Kumbakonam is also spelt as
Coombaconum in the records of British India. Previously
Kumbakonam was known by the Tamil name of Kudamukku. Kumbakonam
is also recognized with the Sangam age settlement of Kudavayil.
Climate of Kumbakonam
climate of Kumbakonam and other surrounding towns is usually
moderate and healthy. Kumbakonam receives an annual rainfall of
114.78 cm every year. Kumbakonam is cooler than Chennai, the
capital of Tamil Nadu. The maximum temperature in summer is
about 40 °C (104 °F) while the minimum temperature is about 20
°C (68 °F). The region is covered with mainly alluvial or black
soil which is conducive for rice cultivation. Other crops grown
in Kumbakonam include mulberry, cereals and sugarcane.
Location of Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is located 40 km from Thanjavur and 273 km from
Chennai and is the headquarters of the Kumbakonam taluk of
Thanjavur district. The town is enclosed by two rivers,
the Kaveri River to the north and Arasalar River to the
south. According to the 2011 census, Kumbakonam has a
population of 140,113 and has a strong Hindu majority; but
it also has sizeable Muslim and Christianpopulations.
History of Kumbakonam
region around Kumbakonam was inhabited as early as the Sangam
Age (3rd century BC to 3rd century AD). The present-day
Kumbakonam is considered to be the place of the ancient town of
Kudavayil where the Early Chola king Karikala held his court.
Some scholars recognize Kumbakonam as the site of the fabulous
prison of Kudavayir-kottam where the Chera king Kanaikkal
Irumporai was imprisoned by the Early Chola king Kocengannan.
Kumbakonam is famous with the town of Malaikūrram which had
served as the Chola capital as early as the 7th century and with
the town of Solamaligai which had also served as a Chola
capital.According to the Sinnamanur plates, Kumbakonam was the
site of a battle between the Pallava king Sri Vallabha and the
then Pandya king in 859 and between the Pandya king Srimara
Pandya and a confederacy of the Cholas and Gangas.
Kumbakonam came into attention during the rule of the Medieval
Cholas who ruled from the 9th century to the 12th century. The
town of Pazhaiyaarai, 8 km from Kumbakonam was the capital of
the Chola Empire in the 9th century.Kumbakonam was occupied by
the Pandyas in 1290 following the decline of the Chola kingdom.
Following the fall of the Pandya kingdom in the 14th century,
Kumbakonam was occupied by the Vijayanagar Empire. Kumbakonam
was ruled by the Madurai Nayaks and the Thanjavur Nayaks from
1535 to 1673 when it fell to the Marathas. Each of these foreign
dynasties had a considerable impact on the demographics and
culture of the region. There was a mass invasion of poets,
musicians and cultural artists from the kingdom when the
Vijayanagar Empire fell in 1565.
According to the records of the Hindu monastic institution, the
Kanchi matha, the matha was temporarily transferred to
Kumbakonam in the 1780s following an invasion of Kanchipuram by
Hyder Ali of Mysore. When Tipu Sultan invaded the east coast of
South India in 1784, Kumbakonam bore the impact of his invasion.
The produce fell sharply and the economy collapsed. Kumbakonam
did not recover from the calamity till the beginning of the 19th
Kumbakonam was eventually ceded to the British East India
Company in 1799 by the Thanjavur Maratha ruler Serfoji II (1777
-1832) and reached the peak of its prosperity in the late 19th
and early 20th century when it emerged as an important center of
Brahminism, Hindu religion and European education in the Madras
Presidency.The Tanjore district court was established in
Kumbakonam in 1806 and functioned from 1806 to 1863.
Kumbakonam continued to grow even after India's independence
though it fell behind the nearby town of Thanjavur in terms of
population and administrative importance. The population growth
rate began to fall sharply after 1981.This decline has been
attributed to limited land area and lack of industrial
potential. During the Mahamaham festival of 1992, there was a
major stampede in which 48 people were killed and 74 were
injured. On July 16, 2004, an overwhelming fire in the Sri
Krishna school killed 94 children.
Geography of Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is located at 10.97°N 79.42°E. It lies in the region
called the "Old delta" which encompasses the north-western
taluks of Thanjavur district that have been naturally irrigated
by the waters of the Cauvery and its tributaries for centuries
in contrast to the "New Delta" comprising the southern taluks
that were brought under irrigation by the construction of the
Grand Anicut canal and the Vadavar canal in 1934.It has an
average altitude of 26 metres (85 ft).The town is enclosed by
two rivers, the Cauvery River on the north and Arasalar River on
Tourist Attractions in Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is famous for its temples and monasteries. There are
about188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits of
Kumbakonam.In addition to these, there several thousand temples
around the town thus giving the town the sobriquets "Temple
Town" and "City of temples".
Ramaswamy temple has scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana
depicted on its walls, it was founded by Govinda Dikshitar, the
minister of successive Nayak rulers, Achuthappa Nayak
(1560–1614) and Raghunatha Nayak (1600–34). He added a
commercial corridor between the temple and the older Chakrapani
temple, which in modern times is called Chinna Kadai Veethi, a
commercial street in the town.
Sarangapani temple is the largest Vaishnava (the sect of the god
Vishnu) temple in Kumbakonam. The present structure of the
temple having a twelve storey high tower was built by Nayak
kings in the 15th century. It is one of the "Divya Desams", the
108 temples of Vishnu honored by the 12 Alvar saint-poets.
Nageswaraswamy Temple has a separate temple for the Sun god
Surya who is believed to have worshipped Shiva at this place.
Adi Kumbeswarar temple, Nageswaraswamy temple and Kasi
Viswanathar temple are Shiva temples in the town honored in the
Tevaram, a Tamil Shaiva canonical work of the 7th–8th century.
Kumbakonam has one of the few temples dedicated to the god
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is considered to be the oldest Shaiva
(the sect of the god Shiva) temple in the town. It is believed
to be constructed by the Cholas in the 7th century.
Airavatesvara Temple was founded by Rajaraja Chola II (1146–73)
during 12th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with
the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the
Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram that are
referred as the Great Living Chola Temples.
Thenupuriswarar Temple at Patteeswaram, the Oppiliappan
Kovil, the Swamimalai Murugan temple and the Airavateswarar
temple at Darasuram are located in the environs of Kumbakonam.
Pilgrims from all parts of India take a holy dip once every 12
years during the Mahamaham festival in the Mahamaham tank.An
estimated 2 million pilgrims participated in the festival during
the 2004 event. Govinda Dikshitar constructed the
sixteenmandapams (shrines) and stone steps around this tank.
Sri Sankara matha
Sri Sankara matha of Kanchipuram was
moved to Kumbakonam during the control of Pratap Singh (1739–63)
and remained in Kumbakonam until the 1960s. There are also two
Vellalar mathas in the close by towns of Dharmapuram and
Thiruppanandal and a Raghavendra matha in Kumbakonam.There is
also a branch of the Vaishnava Ahobila mutt in Kumbakonam.
How to reach Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam railhead is linked by trains from Chennai, Quilon,
Tirupathi and Rameshwaram. Tourists can use trains to reach this
place comfortably from Chennai and other places.
Tamil Nadu state transport corporation buses connect Kumabkonam
with almost all cities in Tamil Nadu. Regular buses are
available from Trichi, Chidambaram and Chennai to Kumbakonam.
The nearest airport to Kumbakonam is Trichy which is at distance
of 96 km away from Kumbakonam. Domestic flights operate from
this aerodrome. Regular flights are available to Chennai
International airport.. The major international airport is at
Chennai at distance of 273 km.