Kumbakonam or Coombaconum is a town and a special grade municipality in the Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. It is located 40 km (25 mi) from Thanjavur and 273 km (170 mi) from Chennai and is the headquarters of the Kumbakonam taluk of Thanjavur district. The town is bounded by two rivers, the Kaveri River to the north and Arasalar River to the south. According to the 2011 census, Kumbakonam has a population of 140,113 and has a strong Hindu majority; but it also has sizeable Muslim and Christian populations.
Kumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and was ruled by the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas. The town reached the zenith of its prosperity during the British Raj when it was a prominent centre of European education and Hindu culture; and it acquired the cultural name, the "Cambridge of South India". In 1866, Kumbakonam was officially constituted as a municipality, which today comprises 45 wards, making it the second largest municipality in Thanjavur district.
Kumbakonam is known as the "temple town" due to the prevalence of a number of temples here and is noted for its Mahamaham festival which attracts people from all over the globe. The main products produced are brass, bronze, copper and lead vessels, silk and cotton cloths, pottery, sugar, indigo and rice.
Kumbakonam is known for its temples and mathas (monasteries). There are around 188 Hindu temples within the municipal limits of Kumbakonam. Apart from these, there several thousand temples around the town thereby giving the town the sobriquets "Temple Town" and "City of temples".
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple is considered to be the oldest Shaiva (the sect of the god Shiva) shrine in the town, believed to be constructed by the Cholas in the 7th century. The Nageswaraswamy Temple has a separate shrine for the Sun god Surya who is believed to have worshipped Shiva at this place. Adi Kumbeswarar temple, Nageswaraswamy temple and Kasi Viswanathar temple are Shiva temples in the town revered in the Tevaram, a Tamil Shaiva canonical work of the 7th-8th century. Kumbakonam has one of the few temples dedicated to the god Brahma.
Sarangapani temple is the largest Vaishnava (the sect of the god Vishnu) shrine present in Kumbakonam. The present structure of the temple having a twelve storey high tower was constructed by Nayak kings in the 15th century. It is one of the "Divya Desams", the 108 temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 Alvar saint-poets. The Ramaswamy temple, which has scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana depicted on its walls, was constructed by Govinda Dikshitar, the minister of successive Nayak rulers, Achuthappa Nayak (1560-1614) and Raghunatha Nayak (1600-34). He added a commercial corridor between the temple and the older Chakrapani temple, which in modern times is called Chinna Kadai Veethi, a commercial street in the town.
Pilgrims from all parts of India take a holy dip once every 12 years during the Mahamaham festival in the Mahamaham tank. An estimated 2 million pilgrims participated in the festival during the 2004 event. Govinda Dikshitar constructed the sixteen mandapams (shrines) and stone steps around this tank.
Kumbakonam also has a number of mathas. The Sri Sankara matha of Kanchipuram was moved to Kumbakonam during the reign of Pratap Singh (1739-63) and remained in Kumbakonam until the 1960s. There are also two Vellalar mathas in the nearby towns of Dharmapuram and Thiruppanandal and a Raghavendra matha in Kumbakonam. There is also a branch of the Vaishnava Ahobila mutt in Kumbakonam.
The Thenupuriswarar Temple at Patteeswaram, the Oppiliappan Kovil, the Swamimalai Murugan temple and the Airavateswarar temple at Darasuram are located in the vicinity of Kumbakonam. The Airavatesvara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola II (1146-73) during 12th century is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, the Gangaikondacholisvaram Temple at Gangaikonda Cholapuram that are referred as the Great Living Chola Temples.
Distance from ISRO Layout to Kumbakonam is 382 Km. Travel Time from ISRO Layout to Kumbakonam is 6 hr 51 min.