|STATES AND UNION TERRITORIES OF INDIA|
Kumbakonam - Sarangapani
Text & Photographs by Lalitha Venkat
Sarangapani temple is the principal and largest of the Vishnu temples in
Kumbakonam dating to the thirteenth-century. It is among the 108 Tirupatis
and is given third place next to Srirangam and Tirupati. The shrine is
in form of a chariot. A beautiful tank called Hema Pushkarni separates
this shrine and the Adi Kumbeshwara temple.
a hundred-pillar hallway from the seventeenth century (Nayak period), is
through a twelve-storied pyramidal gopuram, more than 40m high which is
considered one of the largest gopurams in South India.
a smaller gopuram that leads into a second courtyard that contains another
columned mandapa and to the right, a shrine to Lakshmi. The central shrine
dates from the late Chola period with many later alterations.
within the innermost court, is guarded by huge dvarpalas, identical to
Vishnu whom they protect.
are carved perforated stone screens in different designs, and in front
of them stands the sacred, square fireplace (to do homam). During the day,
pinpoints of light from ceiling windows penetrate the darkness around the
sanctum, designed to resemble a chariot with reliefs of horses, elephants
and wheels. A painted cupboard contains a mirror for Vishnu to see himself
when he leaves the sanctum sanctorum.
There are 2 entrances
to the sanctum. One is kept open throughout the Uttarayan period and the
other during the Dakshinayan period.
By the side
of the temple is the Golden Lotus tank also known as Lakshmi Theertham.
Goddess Lakshmi performed penance here and Vishnu came down as Lord Aravamudhan
and married Her. Sarangapani, Aravamudhan and Komalavalli are the presiding