Name & Structure
The name of the Kshetra
The Sacred pot containing the primal seeds of all species deposited therein floated along the floods during the deluge and finally settled down at Kumbakonam. As Sri Parameswara aimed an arrow and split the pot into two, it came to be called Kudamukku. The Saivaite saints Tirujnana Sambandar and Tirunavukkarasar said to have been lived in the 7th Century A.D. praise this kshetra as Kudamukku and among the Alwars Periyalwar, Sri Andal and Tirumalisai Alwar call this as Kudanthai while Bootatalwar calls this as Kudamukku. As Arunagirinathar points out this kshetra as Kumbakonam, we can safely conclude that kudamukku turned into kumbakonam during the intervening period of the Alwars and Arunagirinathar. Kudam = Kumbham = pot, Kona = crooked. The pot which is broken is crooked or curved, hence it is kumbakonam. As Thanjavur shrank into Thanjai, as Tirunelveli reduced itself as Nellai so did Kumbakonam contract itself into Kudanthai.
Situated at the center of the town, it is one K.M. North east of kumbakonam Railway Station along the Thanjavur Road. It is 38 K.M. north east of the neighbouring big town Thanjavur and 35 k.m. west of Mailaduturai.
Sturcture of the Temple
This temple is situated in the middle of the town facing east in about 30,187 sq.feet. It has four big towers, viz; Rajagopuram, Kailasa Gopuram, katta Gopuram and Mulavar Gopuram. The Raja Gopuram at the east rises to the lofty height of 128' with nine terraces, a symbol of grandeur and splendour of the deities as also the majesty, immensity and all pervasiveness of the universal consciousness. In the northern and western sides there are small Gopurams and the Mottai Gopuram at the South. There are three circumambulatory paths in this temple. Adjacent to the outer wall is the Car Street along which the divine procession has its usual route during festivities. Beside the Raja Gopuram to the east on either side there are bazaars and the adjourning area is the chariot shed. There are only shops now. From the entrance at the bazarto the Mulavar Shrine is about 980`.the distance from rajagopuram toMulavar Shrine is about is about 650.
At the eastern end of the first circumambulatory path of the Mulavar shrine in theSouthern side there abide the sixty three saivaite saints continuing up to the Administrative Office of the temple.In the northern part there areBhairava,Kalabhirava, Jvarahareswara, Chasta, Sivalingam, Govinda Dikshitar and his consort Nagammal and ChandraSurya. In the South there are the Big Four of Saivism, 63 Nanmars, Sapta Kannikas. In the west there are Vinayaka, Bhikshatana, Subramanya Kartikeya Shrines and continuing there areTejolinga, Akshaya Linga, Kotilinga, as also Annapurani, Gajalakshmi, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati. At the center of the northern circumambulatory path there is Naavaneetha Vinayaka and to the west is the chamber of rest and respite of the Lord and Sri Ambal and to the east abides Sri kiratamurti holding the bow and arrow facing south in the standing posture. He is the principal Deity of this temple.
The centre of attraction at the inner circumambulatory path is the shrine of the Mulavar at the Sanctum sanctorum. The Mulavar Sri Parameswara in the self - originated linga form abides in all splendour and grace facing east. At the entrance of the Arthamandapa the sentinels - Dvarapalakas - Chandi and Mundi stand in vigil on either side. At the Mandapa - Swami Mandapa - western to this and in its southern side there is Aarukula Ganapati. At the centre of the mandapa there abides the Nandi followed by the sacrificial altar and behind this is Nandi made of brass, all facing Sanctum sanctorum. Passing through the southern gate of Mahamandapa we have the statue of Soma Skanda facing east.
Western to the Sabhamandapa in the souththere is SabhaVinayaka and at the entrance towards Mahamandapa there are sentinels on either side and continuing we have NandiDeva and Kasiviswanatha. Northern to this mandapa Lord Nataraja abides in all glory and grandeur persecuting the cosmic dances.
At the Navaratri Mandapa situated inside the second circumambulatory path - Mahamandapa - Nandi abides facing the Mulavar and behind it there is the sacrificial alter. Southwest to Nandi there abides Vallabha Vinayaka and at the northwest there is Shanmukha with six faces and twelve hands. Northern to Nandi abides Navagraha shrine.
Southeast to second circumambulatory path is situated the temple kitchen and at the Northeast the Yagasala. Southern to theYagasala there abides Lakshmi Narayana Perumal and eastern to this there is the flag mast of the temple.
At the outer circumambulatory path in the southwest,Kumbha muni siddha abides in meditation,upon the Gopura in bas - relief. Vinayaka of this shrine is called Adi Vinayaka,in the northwestern end there is AdiLinga shrine facing east. To the east of this circumambulatory path at the gateway of Kailasagopura are Mutra Vinayaka to the left and Balan Dandayuthapani to the right. Northwest to the Rajagopuram there is Mangalakupa a well and adjacent to it is the elephant shed and the Tirukkalyanamandapam. Southern to the Rajagopuram is the flower garden west wards to the flower - bower abides the Vannimara Vinayaka shrie facing east.