Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Aadi Kambatta Viswanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Anandanidhi|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kumbakonam||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (3 km)||Thanjavur (39 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (41 km)||Tiruvarur (43 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This is one of 12 temples directly associated with the origin of Kumbakonam and the Mahamaham festival. According to that puranam, Brahma put together the seeds of all living organisms and also the Vedas and Puranas, in a pot which came to be called the Amrita Kalasam (pot of nectar). Kumbham is the Sanskrit and Kudam the Tamil, for a pot of this type. This was decorated with various items like flowers, vilvam, auspicious cloth, chandanam (sandal paste), and sacred thread, a coconut was kept on top of it. The whole thing was tied together, similar to the kalasams we see today at domestic functions and in temples. The pot was kept on the top of mount Meru. When the pralayam began, it destroyed all creatures on earth. The Kumbham prepared by Brahma was also displaced, and floated on the flood waters for years and years. Finally, it settled at a spot (which is regarded as modern day Kumbakonam). Siva, in the guise of a hunter, broke open the kumbham with his bow and arrow (banam). The jasmine flowers adorning the kalasam fell south-west of Kumbakonam, at a place that came to be called Malathivanam, where a swayambhu murti of Siva as a Lingam emerged here. (Read the full story of the origin of Kumbakonam, and about the related Mahamaham festival.)
A sage named Nirasara lived at nearby Udayagiri, and his son Dhoomaketu was a brilliant scholar and teacher. Every day, after teaching his students, he would taken them to various Siva temples and expound on the greatness of the Supreme One, in addition to teaching them Vedas and agamas. On one such trip, he came here and found this temple, and was captured by the spirituality of the place. So he stayed here for several days, continuing to teach his students. Pleased with Dhoomaketu’s devotion and his sincerity with teaching his students, Siva appeared to him here and blessed him. Dhoomaketu then named Siva here as Visweswarar, and as a mark of gratitude, also , built a tank for the Lord – today, this is called the Dhoomaketu Teertham.
Accordingly to a slightly different version, Dhoomaketu came here and realised this is where he could gain spiritually and wanted to remain here. But he also realised his responsibilities towards his students, so he continued to teach them, while staying here. Siva blessed him for his commitment and devotion, as mentioned above.
One of the capital cities during the Chola period was Pazhaiyarai, located nearby. During that time, this place became the mint for gold and silver Chola coins. The ancient Tamil name for a mint is Kambattam, and so the moolavar here came to be called Kambatta Viswanathar (or Visweswarar). The “Aadi” in the name refers to the sthala puranam associated with the beginning of the yugam, as above.
Because of its Chola history, goldsmiths and artisans who work with precious metals, worship Siva here for success in their profession. This is also one of the temples where Murka Nayanar (who was born in Tiruverkadu near Chennai) worshipped in order to fund his gambling.
This Chola temple is said to have been originally built in the 10th century and renovated soon thereafter in the 11th century as well – the structure of the garbhagriham, ardha mandapam and maha mandapam support this. The architecture is simple but telling. The murtis in the koshtams, however, are not original to the temple, but are later additions. Further renovations were made in the 16th century and even a few decades back. Also unusual (but in no way unique) is the presence of a vavvaal-nethi mandapam in the temple, which is not a feature seen in many temples inside Kumbakonam. Amman is named Ananada Nidhi, as She is considered to represent the entire trove of happiness in one’s life, when they worship Her.