Ramaswami, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:RamaswamiAmbal / Thayar:Sita Piratti
Deity:PerumalHistorical name:
Vriksham:Teertham:
Agamam:

Pancharatra

Age (years):

500-1000

Timing:6 to 12 & 4 to 9Parikaram:

Temple group:
Sung by:

Temple set:

Kumbakonam Pancha Ramar Kshetram

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:KumbakonamDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Kumbakonam (2 km)Mayiladuthurai (40 km)

Thanjavur (40 km)Tiruvarur (42 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

The worship of Rama as an avataram of Vishnu is not new to Tamil culture. Kambar’s Ramayanam is dated to the 12th century CE, but stories from the Ramayanam are expressed in allegory or directly even in the Sangam epic Silappatikaram, which is dated to the 5th or 6th century CE. However, the worship of Rama as a deity began only from the time of the Vijayanagara dynasty, and this temple belongs to that convention, even though it was constructed after the begin of the decline of that great empire.

The temple is built in honour of the 12-year old king Srirama Raya of the Vijayanagara dynasty.

The depiction in the garbhagriham celebrates not only the unity of the four brothers, but the oneness that is Vishnu, who was born to Dasaratha as Rama; Adiseshan is regarded as having been born as Lakshmana; Vishnu’s discus as Bharatha and conch as Shatrughna. There are only three places where all of Dasaratha’s sons are depicted together in the temple – this is one of them, while the other two are at Ayodhya, and Ayodhyapatnam near Salem.

The temple was built during the Nayak period, in the time of Achutappa Nayak, in the mid-16th century, and completed in the early 17th century, during the reign of Raghunatha Nayak. Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of Achutappa Nayak, was responsible for the construction of the temple. According to the temple’s historical records, the vigrahams of Rama and Sita were found in a water tank that was being dug in Darasuram.

The raja gopuram is filled with detailed work in stone and plaster, depicting various scenes from puranams, kings, queens, ordinary people, sages, saints and much more.

Immediately upon entering from the raja gopuram is a 64-pillared mandapam, with virtually every single inch covered with detailed sculptures, indicating the superior architectural and iconographical prowess of the sthapathis and workmen. Throughout this mandapam and the rest of the temple, are various episodes from the puranams, particularly the Ramayanam. These include scenes of the coronation of Sugriva after the killing of Vali, Vibheeshana’s coronation, Rama blessing Ahalya, etc.

In the garbhagriham, marking the coronation (pattabhishekam) of Rama, are large vigrahams made of granite. Rama is seated with Sita to his left, surrounded by Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. Such a depiction is almost unheard of, in the garbhagriham of a temple. Hanuman is depicted holding a veena in one hand and some manuscripts in the other hand, singing the Ramayanam – this little-known facet may well be the core theme of the temple. Hanuman is regarded as one of the most learned beings, as well as being an expert in music.

Outside the garbhagriham is a frieze depicting the king Raghunatha with his two wives. (Interestingly, Raghunatha is also a name of Rama). In the outer corridor are some Ramayana panels which are modern paintings – there are 219 of these, depicting the entire Mahabharatam. However, the cultural issue here is that these are modern paintings which have been painted over existing Nayak craftsmanship.

Ordinarily, one does not find vigrahams in the garbhagriham koshtams in Perumal temples. Here, there are murtis in virtually every koshtam, although admittedly, none of these are original to the temple. Yet, this is quite unique. These include Varaha, Vinayakar (Thumbikkai Azhvar), Hanuman, Maha Vishnu, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, etc. Other shrines in the temple include separate ones for Azhvars, Srinivasa Perumal and Rajagopala Perumal.

Devotees worship at this temple for a blessed married life, much like Rama and Sita had.

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, Rajagopalaswami temple, Varaha Perumal temple, and the Ramaswami temple (this temple). There is an incorrect belief that these five temples together make up one Divya Desam.

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

Other information for your visit

Contact

Phone: 0435-2471788

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