Lord Subramanya Temple, Swamimalai

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Location : 8-km From Kumbakonam In Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped: Lord Muruga As Swaminathan
Significance: One Of The Famous Six Abodes Dedicated To Lord Muruga

Tiruverakam, popularly known as "Swamimalai" is located at a distance eight kilometers from Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district on the northern banks of the river Cauvery. It is one of the six famous abodes (Arupadaiveedu) dedicated to Lord Muruga (also spelt Murugan). Lord Muruga preached Pranava mantra "OM" to Lord Shiva and that why he is called "Swaminathan".

The temple is built on an artificial hill and is reached by a flight of steps. It is believed that the sixty steps of the temple ascending to the sanctum sanctorum represent the sixty months of the ancient Tamil calendar. Lord Shiva enshrined at the foot of the hillock is known as "Sundaresar" and the Devi is known as "Meenakshi".

History Of The Temple
The temple of Swaminatha is a very ancient one and it is known to have existed even in the 2nd century BC. It is said that Parantaka Chola I built the temple. The temple was damaged to a great extent and the Gopurams were demolished and razed to ground in the year 1740 when the Anglo-French War was waged later when war broke out between Hyder Ali and the British.

About The Temple
The temple has three 'Gopurams' with three 'Praharams'. The 'Gopuram' on the south side of the temple is decorated with statues and contains five storeys while the other two entrances have no towers above them.

The arrangement of the Praharam (also spelt as Prahar) is peculiar in this temple. The first Praharam is at the base of the hill, the second halfway up the hill and the third at the top surrounding the sanctum. Once you pass the 'Raja Gopuram' and the 'KalyanaMandapam' you reach the shrine dedicated to Goddess Sakti at the base. In addition to this there are other shrines for various other deities and the well with 'Vajra Teertha'.

Steps lead from here upwards towards the top of the hill. When you reach half way up the hill there is a small area where beautiful statues depicting the legend associated with this temple have been created. Further above is the second Praharam. You climb further to reach the level where the shrine for Lord Swaminathan is built. There are various shrines to other deities on the first Praharam.

Legend Connected With The Temple
The Lord here presents Himself as Gurunatha Who taught the essence of Pranava to His Father, Shiva ('Swami') and thus became Swaminatha.

It is said that once, as a result of the curse laid on him by Bhrigumuni, Lord Shiva forgot the "Pranava Mantra". He immediately sent for his son Subrahmanya and asked him if he knew the Mantra. The young Subrahmanya smilingly replied that he does and he asked Lord Shiva that if only the Lord is prepared to learn the Mantra in a proper manner, then he would teach Him. Thereupon, with folded hands and bowed head, Lord Shiva stood before his young Guru (Subrahmanya) with great veneration and learnt the Mantra. As this incident took place in this sacred place it came to be known as "Swamimalai" and the deity as Swaminatha, indicating that the son was superior to his Father.

It is in keeping with this legend that the shrine of Subrahmanya is built on the hillock and that of Lord Shiva below the mound.

Festivities
The temple possesses gold, jewels, diamonds, and rubies, silver vessel and other costly articles worth many lakhs of rupees. Every Thursday, Lord Swaminathan is decorated with Diamond Vel. The day of Krittika is very important and thousands of people worship the Lord every month on this day. The main festivals are the Brahma Utsavam, Skanda Shashti and the festival of Subrahmanya's marriage with Valli.

A popular event performed a few years ago is the Sri Subrahmanya Sahasranama (1008 names of Subrahmanya) Archana. A Sahasra namamala, a garland of gold coins on each of which one of the 1,008 names of the Lord was inscribed, was made and offered to the deity. Devotees from far and near in large numbers participated in this holy and pious act.

Here also pilgrims carry Kavadis to the shrine and abhishekams are performed to the idol on behalf of the devotees. Bathing of the deity in holy ashes, known as "Vibhuti Abhishekam", is a feature here as in Palani temple, and in that Abhishekam the idol has a very captivating and awe-inspiring aspect.

HOW TO GET THERE

Rail:Swamimalai is about 2-km from the railway station of the same name and is about 8-km north of Kumbakonam.
Road: The temple is easily accessible by road with frequent bus service from Kumbakonam.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the moderate class and small budgeted hotels in Kumbakonam.



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