Here’s another pristine shrine of Tamilnadu that is closely snuggled to the fringes of Kaveri River and preaches the name of the God of war, Muruga, the Swamimalai temple. This temple is revered as one of the six holy shrines of Murugan, popularly known as Arupadaiveedu. Talking about the setting, this temple is reached by climbing up a flight of stairs as it is set up on an artificial hill which is approximately 18 m high. The 60 steps that lead you up to this prismatic tourist attraction of Tamilnadu is a representation of the 60 months of the Tamil calendar. Apart from this, the temple is adorned with 3 Praharams and 3 Gopurams which add more grace to the temple. The shrine of Lord Shiva named Sundareswarar and Goddess Parvati named Meenakshi are carved downhill. Pilgrims who worship Muruga visit this temple any time of the year but the best time for a vacation here is considered to be the winter months(November-March). This popular pilgrimage place also hosts three festivals throughout the year but Vaikashi Vishakam (Birthday of Lord Muruga) in the Vaikasi month of Tamil calendar witnesses the most number of devotees in the temple.
Stories Associated with the Temple
This popular temple of Kumbakonam talks about the famous legend where Muruga made his father, Lord Shiva understand the meaning of Om, the Pranava Mantra. According to the legend, Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva was disrespected by the Hindu God of Creation, Brahma and in his anger questioned Brahma as to how he creates living beings. To which he replied that he is doing so with the help of the Vedas (Hindu Scriptures) and then Muruga asked him to recite them for him. The very first word that Brahma used was Om, the Pranava Mantra but when Muruga asked him the meaning, the God couldn't answer. Muruga with his clenched fists knocked the forehead of Brahma and sentenced him with imprisonment. Later when all the creations came to a halt, the Devas got to know about the absence of the Lord and requested Vishnu to settle the conflict with Muruga and ask him to release Brahma. Apparently, Vishnu also failed and hence it was only Lord Shiva who could make it happen. When Lord Shiva asked Muruga to release Brahma, he said that the imprisonment is just a way to punish the Lord for his ignorance. To which Lord Shiva asked if Muruga himself knew the meaning and Muruga replied that he is well aware of the meaning and will tell it to the Lord only if he accepts him as his Guru and will be his disciple and listen to him carefully. Thereafter, the name “Swaminatha Swami’ meaning the teacher of Shiva was given to Muruga.
Swamimalai temple, that has legendary tales attached to it, is believed to be existing from the 2nd century BC which is also known as the Sangam period. Furthermore, it is said that Parantaka Chola I was the ruler who beautified this temple and brought about some changes to its structure which post the Anglo-French war between British and Hyder Ali in 1740 was damaged widely. The temple that we see now in the Thanjavur district is taken care by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu. And boasts of its 3 Gopurams, 3 Praharams, 60 steps that represent the 60 months of the Tamil calendar and lead you up to the shrine where all the rituals and festivities take place.
The rituals are performed 6 times a day and are as follows:
- Ushath kalam at 5:30 AM
- Kalasanthi at 8:00 AM
- Uchikalam at 10:00 AM
- Sayarakshai at 5:00 PM
- Irandam kalam at 7:00 PM
- Ardha Jamam at 8:00 PM
Swamimalai, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu 612302
Best Time to Visit
While some pilgrims visit the temple during the winter months of November to March, the month of Vaikasi(May-June) is also a good time to visit Swamimalai temple as Vaikashi Vishakam(birthday of Lord Muruga) falls during this time.
How to Reach?
The temple is located at a distance of around 8 km from the Kumbakonam bus stop.
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- Adi Kumbeswarar Temple
- Mahamaham tank