Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Banapureeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soma Kalambigai|
|Timing:||7 to 11.30 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kumbakonam||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (2 km)||Mayiladuthurai (38 km)|
|Thanjavur (42 km)||Thanjavur (42 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). Banathurai (which is a later naming) is where He stood to discharge the arrow that broke open the kumbham. Thereafter, Siva settled here as a swayambhu murti Lingam. (Read the full story of the origin of Kumbakonam, and about the related Mahamaham festival.)
Sage Vyasa was once cursed by Nandi, so he went to Vishnu for a remedy. Since it was Nandi who had cursed the sage, Vishnu advised him to install and worship a Siva Lingam at Banathurai, where Siva stood to discharge the arrow, during the creation of Kumbakonam. The sage did so, and was rid of his curse. On the western side of the outer prakaram, the Vyasa Lingam installed by Vyasa can be seen.
King Surasenan of Vangadesam (modern day Bengal) worshipped here, as his queen was suffering from a chronic disease. He consulted Sage Sudha, who told the king that the queen’s disease will vanish if he, the king, worshipped at this temple. So the king and his entourage came here, and worshipped Siva, after which the queen was cured. As a mark of his gratitude, he carried out renovations here, since the temple was in a poor state when he visited.
Amman here has a unique name – Soma Kalambal – and is depicted with four arms, holding a rudraksham mala and a lotus, with the other two arms in abhaya and varada hastam. It is believed that worshipping Soma Kalambigai here cures one of lethargy.
It is believed that since this temple is connected to the very origin of Kumbakonam, arising from a pot of celestial nectar, those who worship here derive the benefit of having drunk that amritam!
There is a reference in Manikkavasakar’s Tiruvasagam, about this temple.
This temple is from the early medieval Chola period – possibly late 9th or early 10th century – a given its architecture. The simple raja gopuram is only 3 storeys tall, and features no exceptional depictions, except for one of Siva wielding the bow. From the mandapam to the garbhagriham is at a slightly elevated level, with steps on the southern side, to enable one to enter. There are no records of inscriptions to glean further information about this temple. Inside the temple, on the walls of the mandapam, the sthala puranam is depicted rather well through paintings.