Swaminathaswamy Temple is one of the six holy shrines of Lord Murugan at Swamimalai, near to Kumbakonam, in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Murugan here is also known as Balamurugan. The temple built on an artificial hill (known as KattuMalai) is at a height of 60 feet and the architecture is of Dravidian Style. It lies on the bank of River Cauvery.
The shrine of Lord Murugan is presiding at the top of the hill, whereas the shrines of his mother Meenakshi and father Shiva is at the downhill. There are three Gopuram for each unit/section. One is at the basement of the hill, the second at midway to the top and the third on the hillock around the main shrine. There are 60 steps and each one represents the 60 Tamil years. The first 30 steps lead to the second unit. The main deity of granite image is 6 feet tall with golden armour, golden crowns and a diamond lance. The deities present at the first unit are Lord Shiva, Goddess Meenakshi, Dakshinamurthy, Goddess Durga, and Lord Chandikeswarar. The second unit which is the largest, houses a marriage hall and a golden chariot (made of 7 kilos of gold, 85 kilos silver and other metals like copper).
History:-The temple is in existence from the Sangam period (2nd century BC) and is built by ParantakaChola I. The temple underwent major damages during the Anglo-French war between Hyder Ali and British in 1740. However the temple now is maintained and administrated by Tamil Nadu Government.
Legend:-As per the legend, once Lord Brahma on his visit to Mount Kailash disrespected Murugan who got angry and asked him to recite the Vedas that are used by him to create living beings. Brahma started reciting the Vedas starting with the holy word Pranav Mantra ‘Om ’. Murugan at that time asked to explain the meaning of it to which Brahma could not reply for which he was imprisoned by Murugan. Therefore he became the creator. The Devas were worried and requested Lord Vishnu to release Brahma from Murugan. Lord Vishnu could not help them and had to request Lord Shiva for releasing Brahma. On the request of Lord Shiva, Murugan explained him the meaning of Pranav mantra ‘Om’. Shiva behaved as a student to a teacher, listening with attention at this place and so the name ‘Swaminathaswamy’ (meaning Teacher of Shiva) was given.
Puja:-The temple priests belonging to Shaiva community perform the puja during festivals and daily puja that are performed six times a day. Ushathkalam, Kalasanthi, Uchikalam are performed in the morning while Sayarakshai, Irandamkalam in the evening followed by Ardhajamam at night.
Festivals:-The important festivals celebrated here are VaikasiVisagam (May-June), TiruKarthikai, Navaratri and Taippucam festivals. Vibuthi and Panchamrita Abhishekam are also performed. People worship Murugan by offering milk pots for abhishekam.
How to reach:-
By Bus:-One can conveniently access this temple by bus from major cities of TamilNadu.
By Train:-The nearest Railway Station is in Kumbakonam.By Air:-Nearest Airport is in Trichy. The temple is best suited to visit all-round the year.
Accomodation:-The rooms and halls available at reasonable rates. Online services are also available.