Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sundareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Meenakshi Amman|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kambanur||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (17 km)||Pudukkottai (45 km)|
|Madurai (78 km)||Sivaganga (82 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Located 16km west of Karaikudi and about 7km from Pillaiyarpatti is Kambanur, named for the poet Kambar, author of the Tamil Ramayanam. However, the poet has no verifiable connection to this place.
No sthala puranam is available about this temple, but at least the temple is very well maintained. As is fairly common in the Chettinadu region, this temple is for Siva and Parvati as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, indicating a clear Pandya influence from their capital Madurai.
The temple itself is from the late Pandya period, perhaps the 14th century, and comes under the administration of the Sivaganga Samasthanam Devasthanam. The last kumbhabhishekam was performed in 1995.
The temple has a 3-tiered raja gopuram, outside which is a lone Nandi– possibly one of the older murtis that was replaced by a newer one that is inside the temple now – and a bali peetham. There is no dhwajasthambam at this temple. Once inside, there is a bali peetham followed by Nandi, at the start of the maha mandapam, connected by a pillared corridor.
The temple is most famous as the Kottai Vinayakar temple, named for the Kottai Vinayakar shrine in the outer prakaram. During the Pandya period in the 14th century, this place was overseen by a Pandya feudatory named Azhagesan, who had built a fort in this region. To protect the fort, he built a shrine for Vinayakar, and named it Kottai Vinayakar. This practice of having a separate temple for Vinayakar (and other deities as well, on occasion) was prevalent in this region, as also evidenced by the Kottai Bhairavar, Kottai Vinayakar and Kottai Muneeswarar, all guarding the Tirumayam fort from different points on the outside.
The Kottai Vinayakar shrine was the original temple of the place. The shrine for Siva as Sundareswarar was added later, and the Amman shrine is relatively much more recent – possibly 300 years old.
Amman is in a separate south-facing shrine. The entire temple is made of granite, with the Natarajar sabhai made of polished black granite. In the koshtam are Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga. While none of the koshtam murtis are original to the temple, they are interesting in terms of iconography. Of particular mention is the one of Brahma, which actually depicts a fourth face on the side towards the garbhagriham’s outer wall.
In the inner prakaram are shrines for Vinayakar, Siva as Kasi Viswanathar and Thanthondreeswarar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Gajalakshmi, Chandikeswarar, Bhairavar, Chandran and Suryan. There is a separate Navagraham shrine.
In the inner part of this prakaram is a corridor containing the murtis of the 63 Tevaram saints. To the west, is a mandapam housing Aghora murti, Vishnu Durga and the Sapta Matrikas. There are also several inscriptions in the temple, but the caretaker who let us in was not aware of what they indicated.
The interesting part of the temple’s proceedings is the annual festival, when the deities of the temple leave in procession, and reach the nearby temple Meenakshi and Sundarareswarar at Nachiyapuram (just 1.5km down the road from Kambanur). It is there that the main functions are then held, together for both sets of deities.
The temple’s architecture is in classic Nagarathar style, indicating renovations in the last 1-2 centuries. The architecture here includes bas relief carvings on pillars, of which the ones of Garudazhvar and Varasiddhi Vinayakar deserve special mention.
The temple is a favoured wedding spot among people not just in the village, but the region in general. There are specific administrative procedures that need to be undertaken by the groom and bride separately, before getting married here.
Other information for your visit
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.