Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam is a town in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. The town is popular for the Betal Leaf Combination (Vettrilai Cheeval) and for the thick-strong coffee.

Understand

The town is bounded by two rivers - " River Cauvery" on the north and "River Arasalar" on the south. Kumbakonam gets its name from the deity Lord Aadhi Kumbeshwarar. A traditional representation of South Indian Culture, the town is known for its temples, intricately carved panchaloha idols, exquisite brass wares especially lamps and silks(kancheepuram and kumbakonam are the very well known silk producers). The place, like many other sacred places has a unique festival known as the Mahamaham festival. The festival celebrated once in twelve years coincides with the entry of Sun and Jupiter into constellation of Aquarius and Leo respectively. People from all walks of life have a dip in the Mahamaham tank along with the presiding deities of the town.

Kumbakonam is full of temples. Every street, road, locality has a prominent temple. Better read some litereture on them before your visit them. The Sankara Matam and associated institutions preserve and represent all that is great about the Hindu ancient scholarly tradition.

Some of India's world renowned scholars and intellectuals hail from Kumbakonam including the genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam. The Town High School and the Kumbakonam Arts College are the grand old centres of education with the latter built on the banks of River Cauvery (kaveri) sometimes referred to as the Cambridge of South India.

It has an excellent road link to all the navagraha temples (gods representing nine planets).

The town which was originally a religious town become an industrial center during last quarter of the 19th Century and early period of 20th century. Predominance was gained for Silk Industries and Metal manufacturing.

The major supplier of silk sarees to the Indian market is the Kumbakonam silk industry.

All the South Indian Brass Pooja articles and utensils are manufactured in Kumbakonam and these articles are manufactured nowhere in South India other than Kumbakonam. KuthuVilakku and Statues are the famous articles. Stainless Steel utensils are manufactured.

Betelnuts, Suparis are manufactured in Kumbakonam.

Brass ornamental Lamps (Kuthuvilakku) are also manufactured in Naachiyar Kovil. It is near by Kmbakonam just 8 km towards Tiruvarur.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is Tirchy Airport . Kumbakonam can be reached from Airport by Bus which will take 3 hours travel.

By bus

Kumbakonam is well connected to all the major towns and cities. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka State Transport Corporations operate buses to Kumbakonam. A highlight in Kumbakonam is its central bus stand, which is served with AC waiting halls and waiting shades. This is the first full AC bus stand in India.

From Chennai 5-6 hrs of travel by bus.There are excellent bus services provided by both government and private travel services. For more comfortable travel its better to choose a private travel service. from Tiruchy it's about 90 km and about 40 km from Thanjavur.

By train

Rock Fort Express connects Kumbakonam to Chennai, JanShatabthi express Connects the town with Coimbatore, while the Mailaduthurai-Mysore Express connects the town with Bangalore and Mysore. There are various passenger trains to Thirunelveli and to other towns nearby.

Janashatabthi express Reaches by 13.30 and leaves to Coimbatore by 14.30

The Train from Bangalore starts @ 19:15 from Bangalore and reaches Kumbakonam early morning at 05:30.

Auto's from the Kumbakonam Station charge a minimum of ₹40/- even for the nearest Hotel. If you can move out of the Station and get a 'running' auto and talk as if you have visited the city a zillion times :)

Get around

Auto Rickshaw: The cheapest mode of hired transport. Autos ply to small towns in and around Kumbakonam (less than 10 km). As with any other town in Tamil Nadu, negotiate the price before making the trip.

You can negotiate an Auto for half-day or full day rates for the nearby places and temples within Kumbakonam. Charges range from 500/- to 750/- approximately for half-day, depending on the places you need to visit. For a 1.5 days I paid ~₹900/- in total.

Taxis: There are two prominent taxi stands in the town. One near the bus stand and the other near town hall. As with any tourist place, the prices are hiked up once they know you are from out of town.For the Navagraha trip, one can base the trip from Kumbakonam.It taken 1.5 days to cover the 9 temples.Taxis charges approximately ₹10 per Km.For covering 250 km, I paid ₹2500/- including driver charges

Its a good idea to check with locals on the average fare for autos and taxis.

Bus: State and private operated buses ply to all towns in the vicinity.

See

Airavatesvara temple
The Cholapuram temple in nearby Gangaikonda

There are several prominent temples in the town:

Surrounding Kumbakonam are the popular Navagraha temples. Although the presiding deity in all these temples are various forms of Shiva, the Navagraha Sannidhis are quite popular.

Navagraha Town Presiding Deity Phone Number
Budhan (Mercury) Tiruvenkadu Swatharanyeswarar 04364 256 424
Chandran (Moon) Thingaloor Kailasanathar 04362 236 0936
Chevvai (Mars) Vaitheeswaran Kovil Vaitheeswarar 04364 279 423
Guru (Jupiter) Alangudi Aabhatsakayeswarar 04374 269 407
Kethu (South Lunar Node) Keezhaperumpallam Naganathar 04364 275 222
Rahu (North Lunar Node) Tirunageswaram Naganathar 0435 246 3354
Sani (Saturn) Thirunallaru Tharparaaneswarar 04368 236 530
Sukkran (Venus) Kanchanoor Agneeswarar 04435 247 3737
Surya (Sun) Suryanarkovil Kasi Viswanathar 0435 247 2349

The Mullaivananathan Temple at Thirukarukkavur is quite famous for the goddess Garbharakshambika who is the God's consort there.

Eat

There are lots of budget restaurants in Kumbakonam. Although food in general will be tastier all around the city, it might not be hygienic. Check out the hotels around as some also have good restaurants. Hotel Raayas is better for Non Vegetarian and if you are after some quality Parottas and tasty Non-Veg, Hotel SHANMUGA seems to be the place as it is the LOCAL'S Favourite. Hotel Meenatchi Bhavan, Archanas and Venkatramana are all good for a veggie.

Sterling Resorts provide excellent food for the rich. But if a simple home style food of the local cuisine is what you want, try out one of the 'mess'.

Drink

Coffee. You'll be missing the essence of the trip if you didn't taste the coffee here. Kumbakonam filter coffee is one of the best in India.

Sleep

There are quite few good hotels that one can stay in. It is better make an advanced reservation to save time from running around to find a good place, especially when you have the family with you.

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