Chakrapani, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:ChakrapaniAmbal / Thayar:Sudarshanavalli, Vijayavalli Nachiyar
Deity:PerumalHistorical name:
Vriksham:VilvamTeertham:Bhaskara Teertham, Amrita Pushkarini, Mahamaham tank
Agamam:

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:6 to 12 & 4 to 8Parikaram:

Temple group:
Sung by:

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:KumbakonamDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Kumbakonam (3 km)Mayiladuthurai (39 km)

Thanjavur (41 km)Tiruvarur (43 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

Jalandhara, the asura, was harassing the devas and rishis. Vishnu dispatched the Sudarshana chakram to take care of the asura. The chakram entered the earth, decimated the asura, and re-emerged splitting the earth through the Kaveri river, and landed on the lap of Brahma who was conducting a yagna at what is today the Chakra Teertham, on the banks of the river. A pleased Brahma built a temple for Vishnu as Chakra Raja, here.

The Chakram shone so brightly that Suryan became envious of it. Wanting to appear superior, Suryan increased his lustre, but the chakram not only outshone him, but also absorbed all of Suryan’s effulgence, making the latter dark. Realising the might of the chakram, Suryan repented by worshipping Vishnu. A pleased Vishnu emerged sporting eight hands and three eyes, and blessed Suryan and gave him back his effulgence. This is said to have taken place on the day of Masi Maham, and in Vaishnavite tradition, is the cause for the Mahamaham festival. Suryan also requested that his pride be remembered by people so they don’t commit the same mistake, and so this place was given the name Bhaskara Kshetram.

A brahmin named Surya Bandhu was taking the ashes of his deceased father, and was traveling with his disciple to Kasi to immerse the ashes in the River Ganga. When they stopped here at Kumbakonam, he placed the pot containing the ashes by the side of the Amrita Pushkarini, while performing his Sandhya vandanam. The disciple was hungry, and opened the pot expecting to see some eatables, but was in disbelief when he saw red lotuses. Not wanting to upset the brahmin, the disciple did not speak about this until they reached Kasi, where, upon opening the pot, they found the ashes. At this time, the disciple told the brahmin about the events in Kumbakonam. Immediately, they returned to Kumbakonam and immersed the ashes in the Amrita Pushkarini, since the brahmin’s father had told him to immerse the ashes in a place where they turned into lotuses. Even now, during the Tula masam, devotees take a dip in this tank and give charity.

In some ways, Perumal at this temple is similar to Siva, in that He has a third eye, and is worshipped with vilvam leaves which is usually done only in Siva temples. This may also be connected to the story of Tiruvirkudi Veeratteswarar temple, where Vishnu received the Sudarshana Chakram from Siva (that temple’s sthala puranam is about Siva slaying Jalandhara asura – the Saivite version).

Suryan is the overlord of the Navagraham deities, and he himself surrendered to Vishnu at this temple. Therefore, those worshipping here are said to be liberated from the negative planetary influences. Devotees also worship here to be rid of the 7½ years of Sani, Rahu and Ketu doshams, and to remove hurdles in getting married and with childbirth.

The original central shrine here is from the Chola period, though substantial renovations were undertaken during the Nayak period, particularly in the late 16th and early 17th century when the Ramaswamy temple nearby was built. The outer precincts are original to the Nayak period. In 1620, when Govinda Dikshitar, divan-administrator for the Nayaks, constructed the Ramaswamy Temple, Kumbakonam, he added a commercial corridor between that new temple and this Chakrapani temple which pre-existed at the time.

The temple has two entrances – the main one on the east with a 5-tiered raja gopuram, and a smaller one from the south. There is an ornate circular mandapam after the gopuram, followed by a bali peetham and dhwajasthambam. The temple tank is located on the northern side, near the raja gopuram. The entrance arch above the southern entrance features a stucco image of Perumal as Chakrapani, sporting eight arms.

There is a mandapam at the entrance, followed by the inner prakaram. To the left are a set of stairs that lead to the upper level where, as with several Perumal temples, there are two entrances – one each to the north and south, which are used during Uttarayanam and Dakshinayanam. These entrances lead to a mandapam. The sculptures in the mandapam pillars are nothing short of spectacular! From here is the way to the inner prakaram and the garbhagriham where Chakra Raja blesses His devotees. In the garbhagriham, Brahma, Suryan and Agni are depicted worshipping Perumal.

There is an inner prakaram at this level, in which Lakshmi Narasimhar, Thumbikkai azhvar (Vinayakar), Lakshmi Narayanar, Panchamukha Anjaneyar, and Vaikuntanathar are present either in the koshtam or in separate shrines.

A high granite wall encloses all the shrines. The temple’s most notable feature is the plethora of exquisite pillars with beautiful Nayak period architecture and craftsmanship. There is a bronze image of the Thanjavur king Serfoji II depicted as worshipping Lord Vishnu here, as he was cured of an illness due to the grace of Vishnu.

As one comes around the outer prakaram, there is a shrine for Kalinga Nardhana Krishnan, opposite the Vijayavalli Thayar sannidhi which is also at a slight elevation of a few steps. The three Sakti forms of Thayar are in the garbhagriham koshtams.

Interestingly, during the Nayak period, what is today the Ramaswami Koil Sannadhi street leading north from the Ramaswami temple’s entrance, ended at the Chakrapani temple, creating a trade corridor between the northern and southern parts of the town of Kumbakonam.

In addition to the 12 Siva temples connected with the story of Kumbakonam and the Mahamaham festival, there are five Perumal temples connected with the tank as well – Sarngapani temple, Chakrapani temple (this temple), Rajagopalaswami temple, Varaha Perumal temple, and the Ramaswami temple. There is an incorrect belief that these five temples together make up one Divya Desam.

But even those who have worshipped at all these temples and have taken a bath in the Mahamaham tank are not yet rid of all the malevolent planetary effects, unless they also visit this Chakrapani temple and surrender their benefits to Perumal here. This follows the Hindu convention of surrendering everything to the Lord by saying Krishnarpanam or Sivarpanam. This is not to say that those benefits are not accrued, but they will be kept by the Lord in good custody, and handed out as needed!

Other information for your visit

The Chakra Teertham where Brahma was conducting his yagam when the Sudarshana Chakram fell on his lap, is located here, 500m directly north of the temple.

Contact

Phone: 0435-2403284

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