Saturday, 27 January 2018

Kampaheswarar/Sarabeswarar Shiva Temple - Thirubhuvanam (Near Kumbakonam)

Chola dynasty has contributed tremendously to the growth of temples in South India. Raja Raja Chola, the most prominent king among the Chola Kings constructed the magnificent Brahadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur. He was also responsible for founding Rajarajeswaram (currently name is Tarasuram) Temple. His son, Rajendra Chola continued the father's legacy and constructed yet another masterpiece - Gangai Konda Cholapuram in commemoration of his victory and expanding the Chola Kingdom until Ganga. The glory of Chola dynasty was at its zenith during Rajendra's Chola. All these three temples are architectural wonders containing intricately sculpted stone statues and massive temple towers. No wonder, they have been enlisted in the world heritage sites of UNESCO.

Continuing the glory and tradition of building such marvellous temples, Kulothunga Chola III (belonging to the later chola period and considered to be last in Chola dynastry) built this famous Kampaheswarar temple at Thirubhuvanam (approx 1217 AD). Looking at the grandeur of the main temple entrance and the temple complex, one can infer that Kulothunga Chola has proved that he is in no way inferior matching the greatness of his forefathers Raja Raja and Rajendra.  It is the last of the four great temples built by the Cholas—and the last built by the last great Chola king.

Kulothunga Chola III made three wars against the Pandyas. After his victory in the third war, he held a grand celebration at Madurai, the Pandyan capital, and assumed the title of Tribhuvana Vira devar and built, in commemoration of his great victory, a temple here dedicated to Siva in the name of Tribhuvana Viresvarar. It is now called Kampaharesvaram, based on a local legend that a certain Chola king -  got relieved of the evil effects of Kampa(quaking) after his flight from Tiruvidaimarudur to this place where he took shelter, and so this locality was chosen for building the new temple. Hence the lord is referred as Kampaheswarar.

This temple is also famous for housing Sarabeswarar in a separate shrine within the temple complex
 - The Sarabha image, unlike its counterpart at Darasuram which is in a niche on the main wall of the temple, is housed in a separate independent shrine north-east of the central shrine. The Sarabha cult was a new one evolved in the latter half of the Later Ghola period. It is said that in Narasimha, an avatar of Vishnu, He continued his rampage even after achieving the immediate purpose of the avatar, namely, the destruction of the demon-king, Hiranyakasipu. Devas and men suffered, and the devotees of Siva prayed to their Lord for protection. Hence Siva assumed the form of Sarabhamurti, and relieved peoples’ distress by destroying the fierce Narasimha and sending back Vishnu to Vaikuntha.

This temple is just 6 kms from Kumbakonam, another famous temple town of Tamil Nadu.

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