I had heard a lot about Kumbhakonam and its temples. We (Dad, Mom, Raj and me) started from Bangalore on 13th March. Travel, stay and sightseeing program was chalked by Raji's Dad and his friend Shekaran.

We started from Banglaore on 13th via the Mailadarui Express. Expressed chugged off from the Bangalore station at 7 pm. It reached Kumbhakonam next day morning at 5:45 am. We started back from Kumbhakonam on 15th night at 6pm and
reached Banglaore on 16th at 5:30 am.

Taxi was arranged by Shekaran uncle at 2000 Rs per day. It was there at the station waiting for us.

There are plenty of hotels at Kumbhaoknam. We stayed at Hotel Chela. They charged us 500 per room as it was off-season. Else the cost is 800 per room. Hotel was clean and neat but the staff was rude and of course there is no lift in the hotel. So if you can avoid this hotel, do avoid it.

Places to Eat:
Meenakshi Bhavan is the best place to eat.

Papanasam was the first place of our visit. This is 15 kms from Kumbhakonam. Main deity is Paalaivananathar and Dhavala Vennakaimangai.
One of the Main Shiva Lingas

Main goddess

The temple has a complex with 108 ShivaLingas apart from the main Shivalinga, Paalaivananathar and Parvathi. The 108 ShivaLingas bought forth the devotion buried somewhere in the soul. Legend says that Lord Rama installed all the 108 Shiva Lingas for washing off the sins of having killed Ravana. Ravana though an asura was a Brahmin. People had bought oil in cans and pour oil to all the 108 lamps; I really wish I had done that. I wish I had time; I would keep going round the 108 ShivaLingas.
108 Shiva Linga

Mullaivananathar Temple, Tirukkarukavur:
Mullaivananathar temple is located at a distance of 7 km from Papanasam. It is the abode of Mullaivananathar and GarbhaRatchaambikai.

The ShivaLinga is made of ant hill mud. This ShivaLinga was once covered with jasmine creepers. The impression is still seen on the ShivaLinga. No Abhishekam is done here, but once a month a kind of must called "Punuhu" is applied to the ShivaLinga. People with different diseases perform this puja.

We bought tickets for puja at Shivalinga and the Devi and also bought 11 lamps. We started the puja by lighting a lamp in front of lord ganesha. We proceeded to Shiva and lighted another lamp there and got archana done. We could see the impressions of jasmine creepers on the ShivaLinga. We then proceeded to the GarbhaRatchaambikai, we lit the remaining 9 lamps before entering the temple. We got archana done. We had taken the Madalakki and we offered it to the goddess. I could see women wanting to get married or get children, were cleaning the threshold of the goddess with ghee and then putting Rangoli.

The Punuhu puja happens once a month so we had to register for it. We got the Prasad a month later.
Kalyani in front of the temple

We proceed towards the Guru temple which is around 15 kms from Kumbhakonam.
At entrance of the temple is Shivalinga. Prayers have to be offered first here and then proceed to Guru. We lit 2 lamps to Guru. There are two entries one special which is 10 Rs per head and other is free. We took the free one as it is was not crowded much.We offered yellow cloth, channa along with archana to the lord.

Uppaliappan Temple:
From the Guru temple we hurried to the Uppliappan temple which closes sharp at 12:30pm. We grabbed tickets at the Entrance for 10 Rs per head. We were lucky to grab the darshan of the lord. He looked magnificent with Sridevi and Bhudevi. This temple is said to be equivalent of Triumala Tirupati temple.We couldn't get archana done as it was already late.
Gopuram of Uppliappan Temple

We headed to Shekaran uncle's house for a sumptuous lunch, and chalked out the program for the noon.

Mahamagam Tank:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.We first went to Mahamagam tank. It was a huge tank with 16 small mantaps. The water looked serene and I would have liked to spend a couple of hours staring at the water, but there wasn't much time. Kasi Vishwanath temple is located at the bank of the tank.
Mahamagam Tank:

Kasi Vishwanath temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Kasi Vishwanath and Vishalakshi Devi reside here. It is said that Lord Kasi Viswanatha, at the instance of the Nava Kannikas, i.e., Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Narmada, Saraswati, Kaveri, Kumari, Payoshni and Sarayu, came down to Kumbakonam and stayed with them. Temples for all the Nava Kannikas have been built here.

Sarabeshwara temple:
The god is a combination of Narashima, Kali, Eshwara and Durga. Prayer at this temple cures all the diseases.

Mahalingaswamy temple:
There was a huge Nandi in front of the Lord shiva. There were idols of 27 celestial shivalingas. Couldn't read what each stood for as it was all in Tamil.
Nandi in front of Mahalingaswamy

27 Celestial Shiva Lingas

Surya Narayana Temple:
In this tmeple, the main deity is SuryaNarayana. Opposite to SuryaNaraya is Guru. Within the compound are the temples for the remaining seven planets.We took archana ticket for Surya Narayana temple and got archana done. Then we got to know that there is a 151 Rs archana done for all the planets. Upon my insistence, we then got that done. They would give a plate full of coconuts and flowers, which had to be carried to all the temples. It was a thirty minute process but very satisfying. The archana began with surya narayana. The purhoit offered a coconut at every temple. We were finally given around 10 coconuts. We gave all the coconuts for free lunch.

Rahu temple:
We proceeded towards Thirunageshwaram for Rahu temple. Main deity of the temple is Nageswarar. There is an individual shrine for Rahu Bhagavan. Rahu Bhagavan resides with his both his wives. Hence this temple is called Raghusthalam. We offered blue cloths to the goddesses.

Abhisheka for Rahu lord is done three times a day apart from the Rahu kala. At 9 am / 12:30 pm an 4:30 pm. It is 150 per head to witness this miraculous abhisheka. Milk turns blue as soon as it touches Rahu bhagawan. When a trip is planned to Kumbhakonam, atleast half day must be dedicated to this temple to witness this feat. It is better to go there for the morning Abhisheka, crowd is a little less. During Rahukala crowd is overwhelming.

Within the temple complex is a shrine for Sri Lakshmi, Sri Saraswathi and Sri Shakti devi, called as GiriGujambika Devi.
Rahu Bhagawan

Nageshwaram Temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. Nageshwara is the main deity of the Nageshwaram temple. In the complex is a Nataraja temple, it is in form of a chariot.
Temple is constructed such that sun rays fall directly on the lord once a year.

Temple in form of a chariot

Sarangapani Temple:
Sarangapani is within Kumbhakonam. Ranganatha swamy resides here with Sridevi and Bhudevi. The main temple looks like it is on a chariot.
Sarangapani temple in form of Chariot

Brahma temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. The main diety here is Vishu with Sridevi and bhudevi. Yoga Narashima is also in the complex. Brahma with Gayathri and Saraswathi reside here.
Brahma Temple

Ramaswamy temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam. It is an awesome temple and the dieties are awesome. Sri Rama, Sita devi, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrugnaya and Hanuman reside here. Lord Rama, Site and Lakshmana are standing, while Bharata and Shatraugnaya are flying the chamara. Hanuman is sitting with a tambori and singing Ramayana,
In the temple complex painting of Ramayana are seen. It goes in three rows, to read the complete Ramayana we need to go around the temple three times, once for each row.
Pillar in the temple
Pillar in the temple
Paintings of Ramayana

Aathi Kumbeshwara temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Kumbheshwara resides with Mangala devi. The shape of Shivalinga here is different.

Chakrapani temple:
This temple is within Kumbhakonam.Here the main deity is Chakraraja and Sudharshana Chakra. Lord Vishnu can be seen within the Chakra.

SwamiMalai temple:
This temple is around 10 kms from Swamimalai. Main deity of this temple is the Lord Subramaneshwara temple. Of the six scared shrines of Lord Subramanya, this is the fourth. Around 120 steps have to be climbed to reach the lord. Mom so stayed back while Dad, Raj and me went up to the temple. Temple was heavily crowded, but we managed to get a good darshan.
Temple Gopura

Thiruvalansuzhi Vinayakar Temple / Vellai pillayar Swamy temple:
This temple is ar a distance of 2km from swami Malai.
Temple has a small white ganesh. It is believed that the Ganesh was formed by the white foam of the sea. This Ganesha is located in the start of the temple. Coconut and flowers are a must for archana in this temple. Atleast 200 meters from this temple within this complex is a Shivalinga.
Temple of Vellai pillayar Swamy
Main Shiva Linga in Vellai pillayar Swamy temple

This is at 5 km from Kumbhakonam.Goddess Durge, with eight hands resides here with Patteswaram. She is said to bestow all the Soubhayas to the devotees. First we need to visit Patteswaram and then come to visit goddess Durga. There is a area to light lamps in lemon rind. We bought the lamps and lit around 12 lamps. At 11 am abhisheka starts for goddess Durga. We bought tickets for Abhisheka and special entrance tickets. We could witness the abhishekam at close proximity.
Goddess Durge

Airavatesvara Temple:
It is a archelogical site and located in Darasaram. When we went there it was past 12 pm. So the temple was closed but we were allowed into the temple complex. The temple is called as Airavatesvara as Airavata, the elephant of Lord Indra worshiped Lord Shiva here. Temple has exquiste archeticture of Cholas.
Airavatesvara Temple Complex
Airavatesvara Temple Complex

Some points learnt:
To visit all the Navagraha temples 2 days is needed. When we visit Navagraha temples, we must first visit the Navagraha and then visit the moola God. But, we should never return without seeing the moola god.
To visit the other temples in and around Kumbhakonam around 2 days minimum is needed. So the total plan must be for 4 days if we need to do justice of going to Kumbhakonam.
From people in Kumbhakonam we got to know that the best time to visit is in March. That is when heat is bearable, and crowd will be less because of exams. Decemeber or any other holidays the temples get so overcrowded.
Try lighting Lamps in all the temples and get archana done. In many places without coconut archana is not done.
Make sure to be in Rahu temple to witness the miraculous abhisheka.
Don't try to take photos in any of the temples as it is strictly prohibited.

M M Hills / Malai Mahadeshwara Betta

March 28 our group of 9 (Latha, Vinay, Kavitha, Anitha, Joe, Pushpak, Raj, Suvarna and me) started off to M M Hills. M M hills is 210 km from Bangalore. We hired a TT @8.50 Rs per km. The TT started at Latha's and picked all of us and by the time we left Bangalore it was 6:30 am. Kavitha had listed quite a lot of temples to see and had made a note that all temples close by 10 am.

We reached Sathegallu at around 8:30 am. We went to Kote Varadharajar Swamy Temple but it was closed :-(. There was one Hanuman in the temple complex. We spent some time in the temple complex. We then started and searched for Gyana Ashwatha and Koormasanam but didn't find them.
Temple of Kote Varadharajar Swamy

From Sathegallu we started off to Madhyarangam. We first went to Sri Ranganatha temple there. There are 3 Ranganatha temples on the banks of Kaveri - Adi Ranganatha in Sri Ranga patnam, Madya Ranganatha in Madhyarangam and Antya Ranganatha in Tamil Nadu. Belief is that touring all the three places will mean the end of the ciruit of life on earth for any soul.

This temple was closed too but we had another load of people who had already landed there, so they got the main temple opened. There is also a Lakshmi temple beside it but they didn't open it.

Madya Ranganatha temple
Ranganatha Swami's Padas
Sri Ranganatha Swamy

Someswara temple
Fortunately this temple was completely opened. Lord Someshwara resides there with Goddess Meenakshi.
Temple complex of Someshwara
Meenakshi Devi

We reached Kollegal at around 12 pm and temples were closed so we headed for lunch. There is only one hotel in Kollegala, Hotel Annapurna which serves decent food. But the employees of the hotel were pretty rude. Since most of the temples were closed in Kollegal we started off to M M hills.

M M Hills
M M hills is abode of Lord Sri Mahadeshwara is the incarnation of Lord Shiva. M M Hills consist of seven hills Anumale, Jenumale, Kanumale, Pachchemale, Pavalamale, Ponnachimale and Kongumale.
Temple of Sri Mahadeshwara

All the lodges are controlled by the temple management. Chandrashekar is the contact person. His mobile is 9986601196, land lines are 08225 – 272129 / 5272129.
Latha co-ordinated to get the rooms for us.

Puja timings
Morning puja: from 4 am to 6 am.
To attend this puja we need to take the puja tickets the previous evening from the ticket counter 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Evening Puja: from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
To attend this puja we need to take the puja tickets durign the morning.

When the puja is on, the gates are closed and no one can get in. General darshan starts at around 6 am in the morning and 7:30 pm in the evening.

Lunch and Dinner
Free lunch and dinner are served at a hall close to the temple. Lunch starts at 12 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm.

We reached M M hills at around 4:30 pm. We checked in to Guru Darshini Guest house. We got two guest houses with four beds each. Five girls checked in one room and four guys in another room. Rooms were old but maintained well and clean. All of us just crashed and had a sleep till 5:30 pm. we then freshened up and went to the temple at around 6:30 pm. The evening puja had started and temple was closed. At same time there was God's chariot so we could watch that.

We took some good pictures of the temple and at 7:30 pm we went to have dinner. We stood in the queue for dinner at 7:30 pm, by the time we could enter the hall for dinner it was 8:20 pm. Food was tasty and all of enjoyed every morsel.

At 9:00pm we went to the ticket counter and bought tickets for next day puja. Couple of them went for Sahasra Bilwa archane and couple for panchamrutha abhisheka. They asked us to be at the temple by 3 am next day.

After dinner at around 9:20 pm we went into the temple there was a small queue for darshan. Raj, Joe and I decided to have the darshan while the rest of them retired to the rooms. It was a peaceful darshan and we 3 of us reached the rooms by 10:15 pm and crashed.

March 29th all of us woke up early and were ready by 3 am and headed to the temple. To attend the morning puja the queue started at around 3:30 am outside the temple. We were there at 3:30 am, but there was no place to leave our slippers. By the
time we decided on where to leave our slippers around 20 people piled up in the queue. We went into the temple; only 20 odd people could see the puja performed, as it was a small hall. I was able to see the god at small intervals and in bits and
pieces. There were arguments and fights amongst people who couldn't witness the puja.

I really wish that the temple authorities did something about this. All should get an equal chance to see the puja.

After darshan, we collected the prasad and came out by 5:30 am. We went to the Basavana at the temple top. They had pasted banana to lord shiva there and many kept pasting coins.

We returned to our rooms and started from M M Hills at around 9 am.

We reached Kollegal at around 10:30 am, after a brief break we went to Chilakvadi, which is around 20 km from Kollegal. At Chilakvadi we visited Shambhu Lingeshwara Temple and Matt of Sharana Nijaguna Shivayogi. Shambhu Lingeshwara Temple has Shambhu Lingeshwara and Veerabarda swami.
Shambu Lingeshwara Swamy
Veerabadra Swamy

Haleparivaradavara Chavadi
We came back to Kollegal for lunch and went in search of the less known Haleparivaradavara Chavadi. We located this place with quite a lot of diffculty, it was in the Chitrachavadi Bidhi. There were 18th century paintings and carvings.

The temple complex of Maruleshwara was open but the main temple wasn't. Apart from the main lord, there was Subrameshwara / Navagraha / Shivalingas too. There were quite a lot of other idols around. This temple was built in 1920.
Temple of Maruleshwara