|Sarangapani Vishnu Temple, Kumbakonamalamy.com|
The Pancharanga Kshetram Sarangapani Temple in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, is foremost among the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by the 12 Tamil poet/ saints, or Azhwars; it is ranked next only to Srirangam and Tirupati in terms of religious order. The temple is a highly sanctified place of worship as seven Azhwars had done Mangalasasanam of the Perumal.
|Kumbakonam, location map TN. Weather-Forecast.com|
A big temple complex, the largest in this city with tall granite boundary walls, the 173 ft tall rajagopuram, (the main gateway) with eleven tiers, is visible from a distance. There are five other smaller and attractive gopurams in the temple. The towers have artistically designed amazing figures / images, depicting various religious stories. As for the Vaideeka Vimanam of this temple it is believed to be based on the model of the Srirangam Pranava Vimanam - a replica of the vimanam presented to Vibhishana of Sri Lanka by lord Rama. It is conceived, as a chariot with wheels drawn by horses and elephants on a grand scale similar to that of the Melakkadambur temple built by Kulottunga I (early 12th century).
The Potramarai (Lotus) Kulam, the temple tank, is across the western entrance of the temple. it was desilted and repaired during recent renovation of the temple.
|Sarangapani temple Kumbakonam, Thamjavur dist. TN Alamy|
The main shrine of the temple has the image of Moolavar - pallikondar (reclining posture) with his head resting on his right hand. The unique feature of this temple is there are two entrances to the sanctum named as Utharayana Vaasal and Dhakshanayana Vaasal, each open for a six-month period. From 15 January to 15 July, Utharayanya Vaasal is opened for Dharsan while Dhakshanaya Vaasal is opened during the other half of the year.
Yet another feature worthy of note is various styles of Bharatanatyam, sculptures depicting the Natya karanas, as described in the Natya Sastra - 108 karanas form the basic movements; some of these karanas are sculpted around the walls of the temple. One can find similar styles at famous temples like the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram.
The Mahasamprokshanam (Kumbabishegam) of the temple was held on 13 July 2015 with great fanfare and devotion. Rajagopuram and other shrines were renovated extensively at a cost of Rs. 2 crore. Thousands of devotees witnessed the great event that took place prior to last Mahamaham.
Maha Vishnu visited here by Vaidheega Vimanam, carrying a bow called ‘Saarangam’ on the Mahara Sankaranthi Day and married Lakshmi who was brought up as the daughter of Hema Maharishi. The Aradhana Idol of Perumal was brought by Vibhishana (Ravana’s borther, who inherited Lanka after Ravana was killed by Rama) from lord Rama to be taken to Lanka. But it accidentally settled deep on the island of Srirangam as ‘Prana Vakruthi’, whereas the ‘Vaidheega Vimana’ settled at Kumbakonam as Sarangabani. This shrine is celebrated as ‘Ubaya Pradana Dhivya Desam.