Nageswara (also spelt as Nageshwara) temple, a Shivastalam located in the temple town of Kumbakonam is known for its sculptural work, Vimanams and Mandapams.
It is believed that Surya is said to have worshipped Lord Shiva here to regain his lost splendour and hence the temple tank is named after Lord Surya. Also known as "Vilvavanam", it is believed that a Vilva leaf from the pot carrying the celestial nectar (associated with the Kumbheswara temple) had drifted away and landed here. Aadi Seshan is said to have worshipped here and Lord Shiva is said to have blessed him with the might to bear the weight of the earth, here.
Possibly the oldest in Kumbakonam, the Nageshwara temple, one of the finest early Chola temples, noted for the quality of its sculpture. This temple is believed to have been completed during the reign of Parantaka I (907-c.940). Though the temple is small but it is known for its marvellous architecture that exceeds many of the other Chola temples. The Nritta Sabha, or the dance hall, has an elevated Mandapam with a flight of steps. The 12 zodiac signs, 2 mammoth horses, 4 elephants all in stone adorn the Nataraja shrine
The principal shrine to Lord Shiva, standing in a country is connected to a Mandapam (also spelt as Mandapa). The main niches on the sanctum wall contain sculptures; on the north, "Dakshinamurti" ("South-Facing" Shiva as teacher), on the west Ardhanarishvara (male Shiva and female Shakti in one figure) and Brahma on the south. Joining them are high-relief near-life-size sculptures of unidentified figures, perhaps worshippers, donors or royalty. Within the courtyard, a shrine to Nataraja features rearing horses and wheels, with tiny figures as spokes.
A Close View
Going round the temple prakaram, one comes across some of the most splendid architectural sculpture ever seen. Niches in the outer wall of the sanctum contain large, graceful figures in standing postures-both male and female. Their beauty, hairstyle, attire, jewellery and shape are all examples of the supreme skill of the Chola sculptor. These are not figures of gods, but those of the wealthy patrons of the temple. A fabulous Brahma and Ardhanariswara are found on the other side of the outer wall. Smaller sculptures can be seen along the temple main walls.
Idols and Images
A mesmerising Goddess Durga is housed in a separate shrine here. Further down the compound on the left, is a huge Mandapam complete with giant chariot wheels in stone. Mythology states that the entire Mandapam descended from heaven, on a chariot drawn by elephants. One has to climb the steps of the chariot to the shrine of Nataraja and Sivakami- said to be one of the loveliest bronze images that exist. Lord Siva is seen dancing vigorously here, and Sivakami is shown keeping tala (the beat) for his cosmic dance.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air : The nearest airport is at Tiruchirapalli (Trichy).
Rail : Kumbakonam is on the Chennai-Tiruchi line.
Road : Kumbakonam is one of the important pilgrim centres of Tamil Nadu. It is well connected by road with the major cities and towns the state. For local transportation taxis and auto rickshaws are also available.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation is available at the economy class hotels and choultries in Kumbakonam.