The Swamimalai Swaminathaswamy temple, one among the Aaru padai veedu or sacred shrines is dedicated to Lord Muruga. The Lord here expounded the meaning of the Pranava Mantra ''OM'' to his own Father Lord Shiva Himself. In Tamil he is often referred to as 'Thagappan Swami (Acharya to his father). The temple, it is believed, exists from the Sangam period - 2nd century BC and Parantaka Chola I made some modifications. Here at Swamimalai, Muruga is also known as "Balamurugan."
Swamimalai is an embodiment of the motifs of fertility, eternal youthfulness and wisdom that are essential in life. Here, the god of wisdom is believed to impart immortality and eternal bliss to the devotees..
Sage Bhrugu, before his arduous tapas or penance, got the boon that anybody disturbing his penance will forget all his knowledge. The frightened devas over his intense penance which caused a lot of unbearable heat, requested Lord Siva to stop the penance. The Lord put out the sacred fire by covering the saint's head by hand but because of the boon the Lord lost his knowledge and later regained them at this shrine by learning the Pranava mantra from none other than Lord Muruga, his son.
Lord Shiva learned the exposition from him and then only he released Brahma. Lord Karthikaya explained the meaning of Pranavam to Shiva, the cosmic dancer.
The place where the temple is located is a delta area and there are no out-crops of rocks. Nor are there small hills. The temple is built on an artificial hillock of about sixty feet height with sixty stone steps representing sixty ''Tamil years'' leading to the Lord's shrine. In the ground floor there are temples dedicated to Lord Sundareswarer and Goddesss Meenakshi. During the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740, the temple was badly damaged and subsequently it was repaired.
The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.,
Navaratri festival in May, Skanda Shashti festival in October; Tiru Karthikai festival in Nov/December; Taippūsam festival in January; and Pankuni Uttiram festival in March are some of the festivals worthy of mention and they are conducted with devotion and religious fervor. The annual Vaikasi Visagam festival attracts thousands of devotees from far and near. Soorasamharam annual - festival slaying of demon Soorapadman by Karthikaya (Muruga) created by lord Shiva is the most attended festival in this temple.
Swamimalai is 5 km from Kumbakonam on the banks of a tributary of the river Cauvery and is about one kilometer from Thiruvalanchozhi bus stop on Thanjavur-Kumbakonam route.
At Thiruvalanchozhi there is a famous big temple dedicated to Vinayagar. The temple has beautiful stone sculptures and beautifully carved, ornate pillars.