Surrounded by two rivers called River Cauvery and River Arasalar, the town of Kumbakonam is an ancient city of Soth India the state of Tamil Nadu. Famed for having hordes of temples in the town, Kumbakonam, which is named after the deity Lord Aadhi Kumbeshwarar, is a place known for a true representation of South Indian Culture. The town is predominantly known for its many temples located all over the district whilst it is also known for its carving and production of panchaloha idols. Other famous productions stemming from the city include brass lamps and also silk. Visitors stream to the town every year to celebrate the unique festival of Mahamaham. Officially, the festival is celebrated once every 12 years to meet the entry of the sun into the constellation of Aquarius and Jupiter into the constellation of Leo but there is also an annual celebration which is very popular amongst tourists to grasp a true experience of the culture. A brief history of the region around Kumbakonam includes it being inhabited as early as the Sangam Age (third century BC to third century AD). Kumbakonam in the modern day is widely renowned as being the location of the famous and ancient town of Kudavayil where the Chola Empire King, Karikala held his court. However, despite what some may believe, others believe that the site was in fact the location of the prison of Kudavair-Kottam which is where King Kanikkal, who was chief of the Chera's, was imprisoned by King Kocengannan. In direct correlation to the Sinnamanur plates, it is believed that the city of Kumbakonam was the location of the battle with the Pallava King, Sri Vallabha and the Pandya King and also battles between the Pandya King, Srimara Pandya and also the Cholas and the Gangas. Modern day Kumbakonam is officially classed as a Municipality whilst also being the headquarters to the district Kumbakonam Taluk. The official language in the area is Tamil but English speaking visitors shouldn't be put off due to English being widely spoken. Due to the city's reputation of unearthing academic genius' such as world famous Srinivasa Ramanujan, the city has proceeded to claim the title as the 'Cambridge' of India. Most of the geniuses hailing from the city attended the well praised Town High School whilst the Kumbakonam Arts College also has a prestigious reputation. Best time to visit Kumbakonam Kumbakonam is a city where you can enjoy a tropical climate. Winters are the best season to visit as you can find a pleasant atmosphere and can enjoy the sightseeing there in a comfortable temperature. Winters starts from December until February where temperature ranges from 20°C to 26°C in comparison to 32 °C to 38 °C during the hot and humid summer months. Getting There The closest airport to Kumbakonam is Trichy International Airport, which is a four-hour drive away from the city. Here there are many internal flights and some international flights. The most common way to arrive into the city is by bus with many private companies offering routes from and to all major cities and towns. Kumbakonam is also well connected to the train network in India, and there are regular services from major cities such as Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Mysore. Tourist Attractions at Kumbakonam The Kumbeswara Temple - The most famous and prominent attraction in Kumbakonam is the truly magnificent ancient Kumbeswara Temple. The Kumbeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the legendary deity, Shiva. Shiva is worshiped as Adi Kumbeswarar and is represented by the lingam with Shiva's consort Parvati is depicted as Mangalambigai Amman. The presiding deity is revered in the seventh century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written by Tamil Saints known as the Nayanmars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. The temple complex covers an area of over 30,000 square foot and is the location of the four Gateway Towers known as gopurams. The tallest is the eastern tower, with 11 floors and a height of over 100 feet. The temple has many shrines, with those of Kumbeswarar and Mangalambigai Amman being most celebrated. The temple area has many halls with the most impressive being the sixteen-pillared hall built during the Vijayanagar period and has all the 27 stars and twelve Zodiacs sculpted into a single stone. The Sarangapani Temple - Sarangapani Temple is a Hindu temple constructed and then dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple consists of being one out of the 108 temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and also known as the Divya Desams. The Sarangapani Temple is located next to the Kaveri River and is also one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams. The temple is widely known to be of much antiquity from contributions during numerous ages including Medieval Cholas and the Vijayanagar Empire. The temple is based within a large wall composed of granite, with the area containing many shrines and bodies of the temple. The biggest entrance has eleven floors at a height of over 50 meters. Mahamaham Tank - The Mahamaham Tank is a huge temple tank which visitors will find in Kumbakonam. It is considered to be one of the largest temple tanks in the state of Tamil Nadu with the annual Masimaham festival held in the tank attracting has 100,000 visitors and the 12 year Mahamaham festival attracting close to 2 million visitors. The annual event occurs during the Tamil month of Masi which is between February and March and is always a spectacle to visitors. The event itself is held in the heart of the city, and it covers a huge 6.2 acres of space. The Tank is surrounded by sixteen other small shrines and has twenty-one different wells inside of the tank. The wells carry the names of the Hindu god Shiva and also that of Rivers of India. Chakrapani Temple - Chakrapani Temple is one of the most impressive and prominent Hindu temples in Kumbakonam and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Displayed in the interior of the temple, Lord Vishnu is seen in the form of a Chakra in order to lay down the pride of the sun, who ultimately turned into a devotee. The architecture of the temple is quite simply out of this world and it is specifically noted for its rather unique and spectacular pillars. Also situated within the realms of the temple is a huge bronze image of Kind Serfoji the second worshiping Lord Vishnu after being cured from a terminal illness by God. Both entrances on the eastern front and the western front have specific names which are “Thatchinaya Vayil” and “Utharavana Vayil” respectively. For those with a genuine interest in Hindu history and culture, you will be very well informed that Agampara Vinayakar, Panchamuga Aancheneyar and Vijayavalli are the important idols located in this temple. Ramaswamy Temple - Ramaswamy Temple is yet another vastly impressive Hindu temple located in Kumbakonam dedicated to Lord Rama (Son of Dasaratha) of Ayodhya, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu according to ancient Hindu texts. The temple displays a three floored gopuram which is encircled by walls with the center shrine displaying a seated picture of Rama alongside his consort. Also displayed are pictures of his four brothers in a standing pose with Hanuman in a pose of worship. The pillars in the hallway also demonstrate extreme astute architecture depicting a variety of episodes of the Ramayana epic. Each pillar is cut out of a single stone and the delicacy is very prominent. Must Do Activities Shopping – Kumbakonam as a prominent industrial centre in the state of Tamil Nadu and is the perfect place for visitors and travelers to the city to go shopping and pick up some bargains from the street stalls and stores. Silk is the most famous product in the region so it is the best place to come to purchase silk goods which can be perfect for souvenirs or gifts to friends and family. Accommodation In Kumbakonam, there is a whole host of options for accommodation for people of all budgets. Recommended hotels are as follows; Adithya Hotel Hotel Kasi International Hotel Rayas Mantra Veppathur PL.A Residency All of the recommended hotels have websites for more information about the facilities available and also to make reservations and bookings. An ancient city bound by two rivers with some of the most breathtaking temples in the country, the industrious town of Kumbakonam is a true gem in the state of Tamil Nadu. With many attractions to visit, you will never be bored in this unique city, and you will most undoubtedly leave with a warm feeling of seeing some of the most impressive ancient artifacts and monuments. Best of all if you're lucky enough to be in town during February and March, you will witness the spectacular Mahamaham festival.