Kudumiyanmalai

This is my 500th post! A big thanks to each and everyone of you for making this happen! 🙂

A couple of weekends back, I had been to Mayavaram with my family and, as usual, we visited lots of temples. On Sunday, we went to Kudumiyanmalai and on Monday, we went to a whole lot of temples in and around Kumbakonam – Kumbheshwarar, Darasuram, Patteswaram, Baanapureeswarar, Thiruvisainallur SivayOginAtar temple, Thirunthudevankudi Karkateswarar temple, Thirubhuvanam, Thiruloki Sivan and perumAL temples. Almost all these temples are architectural marvels and, needless to say, we were just bowled over by the stunning architectural beauty! 🙂

Reaching Kudumiyanmalai

Kudumiyanmalai is at a distance of 20km from Pudukottai, which is at a distance of 50 km from Trichy and 59 km from Thanjavur. We passed by Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple on the way to Kudumiyanmalai, but we couldn’t go the temple due to lack of time. I have been to Brihadeeswarar temple just once and that was 5 years back!

The road from Pudukottai to Kudumiyanmalai was quite good. There were lots of cashew trees on both sides of the road. I love cashew nuts. 🙂 There is a place called Adanakottai on the way where you can find many people selling roasted cashews on road-side. The cashews are of good quality. So, don’t forget to do some cashew-shopping when you go there. 😉

You can see a lot of peacocks on the Pudukottai-Kudumiyanmalai route usually. We managed to spot 3 peacocks.

As you near Kudumiyanmalai, you can see a rocky hill, right in front of which the temple is.

Kudumiyanmalai

Kudumiyanmalai has a very old Shiva temple, which is currently being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The presiding deities of this temple are Shikhagireeshwarar and akhilAnDEshwari.

The priest explained the sthala purANam and also told us about some of the sculptures and mandapams in akhilAnDeshwari’s shrine, about which I have written below.

sthala purANam (The story behind the name Kudumiyanmalai)

Before this place was called Kudumiyanmalai, its name was Thirunalankunram.

Legend goes that the king used to visit the temple everyday in the evening and it was customary for the priest to give the prasAd to the king after the evening pUja. One evening, it was getting late and King Sundarapandian had still not come. Since the closing time of the temple was nearing, the priest gave the prasAd to the dAsis who danced everyday at the temple. Seeing the king enter the temple just as the dAsis were leaving, the priest got worried and took the flowers from the dAsis who had already worn it on their hair and gave it to the king. Seeing a strand of hair on the flower, the king became suspicious and questioned the priest about the presence of hair in the flowers. Overcome by fear, the priest lied that it was from Lord Shiva’s head. Angered by the priest’s reply, the king locked him inside the temple, telling him that he would come the next day and check if the Lord did really have hair. Worried, the priest prayed to the Lord.

The next day when the king came, there was indeed a kudumi/shikha (tuft) on the Shiva linga! Becoming suspicious, the king tried to pull it from the Shiva linga, only to see blood coming from the lingam! That’s how the Shiva here got the name ShikhagirIshwarar & the place got the name, Kudumiyanmalai.

Sculptures galore!

Just as you enter the temple, you will be greeted by lots of monkeys playing freely on all the pillars. 🙂 On both sides of the corridor from the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum housing ShikhagirIshwarar are pillars having huge, beautiful sculptures.

The pillars in the outer corridor have sculptures of Hanuman, some of the avatArs of Vishnu, etc.

The pillars in the inner corridor has sculptures of Shiva, Parvati, Vinayaka, Muruga, Shiva in UrdhvatANDava, Narasimha, etc.

Some of the sculptures are damaged. 🙁 It feels sad to see broken arms etc. on the otherwise very beautiful sculptures. 🙁

There was a power failure when we went and it was quite dark inside the temple except for the light from lamps. The main Shiva linga itself wasn’t clearly visible. That’s when my awe for all those sculptors and workers who would have built this temple, increased even more! Where was electricity in those days? Didn’t they carve all those beautiful, intricately-carved sculptures with just the light from lamps? How difficult it must have been for them to work in inadequate light and yet give so much attention to so many details in each of the sculptures carved! How skilled they must have been! Wow!

Goddess akhilAndEshwari’s shrine is adjacent to that of ShikhagirIshwarar’s.

When you enter it from outside, to the right is the old idol of akhilAndEshwari. This was replaced by the one present in the sanctum sanctorum now, since the old one got damaged.

After that is the rAsi mandapam. The ceiling of the mandapam has sculptures of all the 12 raasis.

On the right side of the rAsi mandapam is a door. There were beautiful sculptures, including that of anRil paravai (bird with two heads and one body), bordering the door.

After that is the hexagon-shaped mandapam made of a single piece of stone. This was where the king was crowned. Nowadays, weddings take place here.

Right from the entrance to akhilAndEshwari’s shrine till the sanctum sanctorum, there are pillars with miniature sculptures/designs carved on them.

There were sculptures of dancers. Were those that of dAsis who danced at the temple?

Sculptures in the temple apart, there are clearly-visible sculptures of Shiva and Parvati on rishaba, along with 63 nAyanArs carved on the hill!

There are lots of inscriptions on the temple walls.

Outside the temple is a mandapam having pillars. After the mandapam are rows of pillars. Maybe there was a long mandapam which is now gone?

After the pillars is nandi in a small mandapam. After that is the road, on the other side of which is the thEr broken into pieces and lying in ruins!

Time for some History 😉

While the sanctum was built by the Cholas, the outer portions were architecturally expanded by the Pandyas and the Vijayanagara kings. Thanks to attending Chithra Madhavan’s lectures, I was able to correctly identify that there must have been Vijayanagar’s contribution to the temple. 🙂 The sculptures of some of the dasAvatArs of Vishnu was one of the things that made me think Vijayanagaras might have added to the temple, since it was during their time that sculptures of dasAvatArs became popular.

Temple on the hill

There is a cave temple in the hill. We didn’t know about that and hence, we didn’t visit it. 🙁

Some time back, there was an article on Kudumiyanmalai in ‘The Hindu’s’ Friday Review which has lots of information about the temple. I didn’t read it at that time and remembered it only after I visited the temple and read it later. Here’s the link to that article.

Quoting the lines relevant to this post, from the article,

The Kuduminatha temple came a few centuries after the cave temple, sometime in the 10th century. Built by the Cholas, it was renovated by the Pandyas in the 13th century and by the Vijayanagar Kings in the 15th. There is what is called a 1,000-pillared mandapam at the entrance, which, however, has only 645 pillars. The sculptures here are of Vijayanagar style. Here one finds figures of Hanuman, Sugreeva and Vali. Completely smeared with butter and vermilion, it is not possible to take in the beauty of the sculpture.

In the Vasantha mandapam, the sculpture of Nrisimha tearing out the entrails of Hiranayakasipu, captures attention with its expression. The agony of a terrified Hiranyakasipu, whose hands and legs are held in vice like grip by the ferocious man-animal. The Rati and Manmadha figures are noteworthy for their attention to detail. The Siva in Urdhva tandava pose is a masterpiece. There are also two sculptures of soldiers on horseback, trampling down their enemies.

Click here for the entire set of photos.

41 thoughts on “Kudumiyanmalai

  1. Arunk

    1. Congrats on the 500th post (!)
    2. Nice photos indeed. Our temples do come alive in pictures.
    3. Did you know that this temple is of very significant importance in the field of musicology as there are musical inscriptions (earliest known) of the “old grama ragas”? These grama ragas are from the “older system” i.e. system prior to say 12-13th century – they are thought to be as the “main ragas” at that point of time.

    Arun

    Reply
  2. F e r r a r i

    Beautiful post. Nice way to bring up 500 😉 Motivates me to visit KMU and this place ASAP 😀

    Reply
  3. Sathej

    Nice post. And keep writing. One of those blogs I’ve been following for long. From that touching vegetarianism post to the moon post et al 🙂 Congrats Aparna..

    Sathej

    Reply
  4. Sami

    Browsing the blogs and coming here after long time and nice to find yours 500th post ! Great achievement indeed. Congrats !
    The main flavor of the posts which i like in your blog is the posts about the temples. Being in trichy for these long years, i never came across this kudumiyanmalai. It looks fantastic !

    Also did you take pictures of darasuram? and if possible pls do a post about it.

    And among your list of temples in kumbakonam, i know only few of them. May i know what is your source for the list of temples 😀 Just therijindu polamnu thaan.

    Reply
  5. Sowmya

    Very interesting post. Having lived in trichy for 10 yrs, I have been to a few temples around. So the photos were nostalgic too 🙂 Keep writing!!!

    Reply
  6. Dandilsa

    Congratulations on 500 Aparna! Lovely post and pictures..I find these sthala puranas so fascinating..

    Reply
  7. sundar

    Aparna !!

    Congrats for the 500th Post !!

    I’m in a hurry…will come back and read the post….I always wanted to know more about Kumbakonam temples…

    Reply
  8. Gradwolf

    Congrats on 500!

    I recently visited Kumbakonam with family too and covered more than 10 temples in the vicinity in two days. And I did not visit even one temple in your list! Ah, says a lot about how many temples stand in that area and how this part of India is truly land of temples!

    Reply
  9. Aparna

    Arun,
    Thank you 🙂 The musical inscriptions are mentioned in the Friday Review article to which I have linked.

    F e r r a r i,
    Thank you 🙂

    Sathej,
    Thank you!

    Sami,
    Thank you! I will write about Darasuram soon.

    My parents themselves know about a lot of temples. With my parents and so many relatives interested in visiting temples, we always have a long list of temples to visit 🙂

    Sowmya,
    Thank you 🙂

    s w a t,
    Thank you 🙂

    Dandilsa,
    Thank you 🙂

    sundar,
    Thank you

    Gradwolf,
    Thank you!

    🙂 The best thing about this part of TN is that there will be many temples within 1 km radius from any given point. Almost every village will have atleast one huge temple! What are the temples that you visited?

    Harish,
    Thank you

    Reply
  10. Gradwolf

    I visited Alangudi, Nachiyar Kovil, Suriyanar Kovil, Thirucherai, the Rahu Kovil in Thirunageshwar, Swami Malai(which was the main trip coz that’s our Kula Deivam) and Govindapuram.

    Yep every village has it’s own temple and not only that, there is some history, legend associated with each one of them that makes it special.

    Reply
  11. Rabic

    Hi Aparna

    Thanks for you’re posting about my native place kudumiyanmalai, Currently I am settled in Singapore. I am very happy about your post. All pictures are remembering my child life. I request you to please help me to remove the Damaged Car Picture.

    Thanks
    SM Rabic

    Reply
  12. sriram

    ahh mayavaram – my patti/amma’s place , where they grew up. i just love the town & the surrounding villages. my late mama used to endlessly talk abt growing up in mayavaram/ramapuram and how much fun it was playing in the cauvery! next time try visiting the vasudeva brahmendra saraswathi library if it still happens to be there – & the ponnur shiva temple. great piece – stirred a lot of memories

    Reply
  13. Aparna

    Puranjoy,
    Thank you!

    Gradwolf,
    Except Thirucherai & Swami malai, I have gone to all the other temples yu have mentioned. But I went to these temples a long time back & don’t remember much about those. 🙁

    What makes those even more special are that some legends run through more than one village, like, for instance, the legend about Bhrammahatti in Tiruvidaimarudur continues in Tirubhuvanam after that.

    Rabic,
    Welcome to my blog!

    Sriram,
    It’s my mom’s native place too 🙂 Where is vasudeva brahmendra saraswathi library?

    Sangs,
    Thank you 🙂

    Senthil kumar,
    Welcome to my blog! Thanks.

    Kannanraman,
    Welcome to my blog! Thanks.

    Reply
  14. sriram

    she probably knows her then(sundari – shroff venkatramaiyer’s g.daughter)!! everything in mayavaram revolves around pattamangalam st but i’ll have to ask her where exactly it is…

    Reply
  15. kanagu

    Congrats on the 500th post Aparna 🙂

    the pics are really nice and that Sthala puranam really great.. 🙂
    Its interesting but don’t know whether it is true 🙂

    Reply
  16. Balakrishnan

    Hi,

    Just came across ur blog. Great work!

    The inscriptions on the pillars are musical relics of the 7th century. These were of keen interest to HH kanchi chandrashekara saraswatigal.

    Check out this youtube link, its a single liner though 🙁 –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjIT36trPgM&feature=related

    The ‘1000-pillared mandapam’ is currently under reconstruction. There is also a big well to the right of the main sannidhi beyond the boundary walls.

    It’s a pity such pieces of marvel are going unnoticed while marble covered graveyards of selfish kings gain world attention.

    Excuse me for taking a jab in your blog.

    Reply
  17. Raj

    hey, that was nice post, and that too quite detailing. Im impressed with the your writing skills. Now i have a question for you, since you have quite an intersting skill i wanted to know if you write professionally also. If so, then i would want to read what you have written.

    Reply
  18. K Narayanan

    Hi

    This is the first time I have visited your blog. The writing and the photographs are good. I too am a regular visitor of the temples around Kumbakonam. I have visited some of the temples mentioned by you in this post. My rasi is Kataka rasi and I visit Karkadeswarar temple quite regularly. The last visit was just three weeks back. For those who do not know there are temples for each of the 27 nakshatrams and Karkadeswarar is the temple for Kataka rasi and Ahilyam nakshatram in particular. This is a very beautiful temple in a serene location. There is only greenery all around the temple. It is right in midst of the paddy fields. This temple is about 8 Kms from Thiruvidaimarudhur and just 2 kms from Thiruveesanallur. Thiruveesanallur is another beautiful temple for Yoganandeswarar. this temple is for Rishabha rasi. There are four bhairavars in this temple – one for each kalam. I have also started a blog on my temple visits. Currently I have written about a dozen temples and am regularly adding to the same. Visit at http://narayanank.blog.co.in/

    Regards

    Narayanan

    Reply
  19. Prabhakaran

    I have no words to describe the pleasure derived from reading this.
    Visiting and reading about Tamil Nadu temples is my passion.
    God bless you all

    Reply
  20. Krish Kumar

    Very impressive blog. I am new to your site. As our kula deivam is in a small village (pinnangudi) near kudumiyan malai, I visit this temple, atleast once in 6 months. I enjoy the work in this temple. There is a cave temple inside this kudumiyan malai temple. The site has some Great pictures. They also say that sa re ga ma was born in this temple. I was also told that few well known dancers are involved in research with the letter carvings of this temple. The butter Rock hills are just beautiful.

    Krish Kumar

    Reply
  21. V.Ganeshh

    Congrats on your 500 th post. I believe that one must be blessed to visit atleast with interest, the great temples built by our elders, where and all powerful installations are there.

    I was born in Kanjanur Kannanur village near suryanarkoil and have been visiting the holy temples in cauvery delta right from poompuhar to Karur and upto cape comorin from chennai.

    I am facinated by the Hindu temples of south India, which are all definitely architectural glory and highly divinely.

    One will get reminded about Kalki whenever they come to kollidam river bank and they will start floating in the sweet memories of Ponniyin Selvan.

    Hats off to Aparna ‘

    Reply
  22. Pingback: The pilgrimage of an atheist « Loud Thoughts

  23. L.Narayanan

    Aparna
    It is nostalgic to see the photoes & the write-up on Kudumiyan malai thru which
    I am introduced to your Blog. You are touching very interesting topics especially thru
    Music which bridges great interests. Congrats for giving an intersting article on your visit to Kudimiyan malai, our ancestral place. I have visited first in 1952 followed by 3 more
    visits inthe next 50 years. The presentation of the photographs are fantastic.
    The Thosand pillared mandapam was in dilapidated condition in those years and it is
    encouraging to see that renovation work is going on. All the best to your efforts.
    NARAYANAN.

    Reply
  24. M.Shajahan sait

    Thank u for bringing my native place into limelight. There is a lord murugan temple at the top of the mountain.By the backside of the temple steps go down towards a temple with lingam sir.

    Reply
  25. M.Shajahan sait

    yes i know there is a temple on the mountain of kudumiyanmalai. In between sunai(water reservoir made up of stone pit) and temple, steps go down to reach a siva lingam temple to be worshipped by the devotees sir. It is additional information thats all.

    Reply
  26. Ramesh

    Krish had introduced me to your blog. I have visit this 8th Century temple from my childhood and I am amazed each time. Its indeed fantastic sculpures, music edicts and lots of history. The photographs are excellent – far better than what I have tried. Sometime later I will add a little bit of history – The Godess was also the family deity of Thondaimaan’s and there was patronage from them. Even . In early 1700s Vijaya Raya Thondaimaan was crowned here so also others.

    Reply
  27. Ram

    A wonderful account of the temple !! Excellent article and a wonderful blog !! I am a native of Trichy and have started exploring the spaces around Trichy – will certainly use this blog as a guide !! Congrats on the devotion to post 500 posts !!

    Reply

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