Toll Free No: 1800-425-31111

A town of temples

Tamil Nadu has a plethora of towns famous for their temples. But Kumbakonam is special among these. Part 14 of an Outlook special on lesser-known destinations in the state.

In Tamil Nadu, you will find a beautiful temple – big or small, ancient or new - almost every kilometre. But in Kumbakonam especially, history, spirituality and beauty come together to make a charming town. 

Famed for its ancient Hindu temples, Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district lies between the two rivers, Cauvery and Arasalar and is on every spiritual tourist’s pilgrimage list. As one of the oldest documented towns in Indian history, Kumbakonam is equally a must-visit for history lovers. 

The mark of history
First ruled by the Pallava Kings between the 4th and 9th centuries, Kumbakonam then came under the Cholas, who erected many shrines. During this period, the town was an epicentre of art, culture and literature.

After the fall of the Cholas in the mid-12th century, the Pandyas and then the Vijayanagar dynasty ruled. Legend says that Vijayanagara king Krishna Devaraya II visited Kumbakonam in 1524 and took a dip in the Mahamaham pond.

Points of interest
The Abhimugesvarar Temple is a specimen of Dravidian architecture. The Bhagavatha Padithurai Ghat on the Cauvery is believed to wash off a person's sins. These places are visited by thousands during the Mahamaham fair. 

The Gowthameswarar Temple, devoted to Yagnabhaveetheswar and his companion Sundaranayagi, is another famous site. The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Mutt, founded by Sri Adi Sankara in 482 BC is a must-visit. The Nageswarar Temple here is among the most notable Shiva temples while the Venkatachalapathy Swamy Temple, just two kilometres from Kumbakonam, is significant for Vaishnavites. 

Another significance here are the Navagraham temples - a set of nine temples, each dedicated to one of the nine planetary deities. Dotted in and around Kumbakonam, these were built between the 7th and 11th centuries by the Cholas.

The Airavatesvara Temple, built by the Chola emperor Rajaraja II, is a historical and architectural marvel. The King was a great patron of Tamilian art and architecture this mighty temple bears witness to the remarkable achievements of the Chola in art, architecture, sculpture, painting, and bronze casting. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is one of the three Great Living Chola Temples and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The Mahamaham
The Kumba Mahamaham, held every 12 years, is one of the reasons for Kumbakonam’s fame. Pilgrims come from all over the world to take a dip in the sacred Mahamaham tank as they believe that this will wipe away all their sins. 

Food and fun
Kumbakonam, being a temple town, offers mostly vegetarian fare. Fresh and delicious, the food here keeps tourists happy. Apart from the South Indian staples of dosas, idlis, utthapams, upma and paniyarams, the town is known for kozhukattai – a rice flour dumpling stuffed with a mixture of coconut and jaggery. The paruppu vada (channa dal fritters) and vazhakkai bajji (banana besan fritter) are popular snacks available here. Delicious non-vegetarian food is also available – especially combinations of curries with idiyappam or parrotas.

If one wants to shop for souvenirs and gifts, handloom silk sarees top the list. Idols of gods and goddesses carved in stone or cast in metal are ideal as both stone workers and metal casters of the region are highly skilled. The must-buy is the filter coffee of the area – the Kumbakonam Degree Kaapi – distinctive and special. 

Getting there
By Air: Trichy is the closest airport, 96 kilometres away. 
By Rail: Kumbakonam is well connected by trains with Chennai, Rameshwaram, Kollam, Tirupati and many other destinations of India.
By Road: Travelers can take private buses from Chidambaram, Bangalore, Thirunallar, Trichy, Chennai and other cities

Other Blogs

Cuisines of the Tamil Land

The delectable cuisine of Tamil Nadu is a culinary style which dates to antiquity and has since influenced the other states of South and South-East Asia.

1 year ago

Explore the regional cuisine of Tamil Nadu

Next time you visit Tamil Nadu explore beyond idli, vada and sambar. Instead savour each regional cuisine that boasts of unique cooking methods and spices. They have been backed with heirloom family recipes, ancient culture and traditions, community history and external influences.

1 year ago

Sweet Savouries from Tamil Nilam

No meal can be treated as complete without the desserts. The indulgent desserts of Tamil Nadu are exquisite and nutritious. Most are healthy preparations using less sugar and include healthy proteins like green gram and chickpea.

1 year ago

A relic of bygone Chola power & prosperity

The great Chola king, Rajaraja II (1143 CE –1173 CE), built the Airavatesvara Temple in Darasuram, which is ranked only third after the two famed Chola temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram. Read more...

1 year ago

Explore the Surreal Kolli Hills

Dazzling through the woods on top of hills of the Eastern ghats is the road that bends the most. Located in the high altitudes of the Eastern ghats, the Kolli Hills derive their name from the Goddess who guards the hills-ettukai Amman, also called the Kollipavai. Run wild and free in the unrevealed greenery.

1 year ago

The mountains are calling...

Check out these five lesser-known but pristine hill stations of Tamil Nadu that will certainly leave you spellbound. Explore the unexplored.

1 year ago

On the sands of time

The southernmost tip of India is a charming town blessed with beautiful temples, historical monuments and serene beaches. Kanniyakumari has been and remains a preferred destination for tourists. Part 5 of an Outlook special on tourism in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Of faith and history

A district steeped in the history of faith, with links to epic legends as well as to modern-day visionaries, Ramanathapuram delights those who love history, gladdens the hearts of nature lovers and soothes the souls of spiritual seekers. Part 6 of an Outlook Special on tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Of Worship and Waterfalls

A unique corner of Tamil Nadu, the newly-formed district of Tenkasi is home to spectacular waterfalls and ancient temples. A visit to Tenkasi is balm for the soul. Part 7 of an Outlook special on unexplored tourist spots in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Unstained Salem

Synonymous with stainless steel, Salem’s other charms usually go unremarked. About 160 km from Coimbatore, this small city on the route to many better-known getaway destinations is overlooked by tourists. While religious travellers flock here, Salem is as significant for its lush greenery, waterfalls and rich history. Part 9 of an Outlook Special on unknown tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Of forts, faith and food

Replete with a unique history and heritage, nature and nuance, culture and cuisine are the town and district of Dindigul in Tamil Nadu. Part 9 of an Outlook Special on lesser-known tourist spots takes you on a tour of this unforgettable destination.

1 year ago

Gift of the Forest

One of the top hill stations of Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal has many well-known attractions. Yet, in spite of its popularity, it remains a serene island and retains the simple charm of a century ago. Part 10 of an Outlook special series on tourist spots of Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Yours Truly, Trichy

With its magnificent houses of worship and its heavy industries, the symbols of its past glory and the titles of its present significance, Trichy is an intriguing city. Part 11 of an Outlook Special series on Tamil Nadu tourism.

1 year ago

Magical Madurai

Bustling and yet soulful, ancient and yet modern, cultured and progressive, Madurai epitomises the best of Tamil Nadu. Part 12 of an Outlook special on tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Of serenity and spirituality

Enveloped in an ambience of spirituality, Thiruvannamalai is one of the most serene destinations in Tamil Nadu. Part 13 of an Outlook special on lesser-known destinations in the state.

1 year ago

The Town of the Cosmic Dance

Yet another beautiful temple town built by the Cholas, Chidambaram has a quaint charm in addition to its spiritual significance. Part 15 of an Outlook special on tourist destinations in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Of serenity and scenery

Endless greenery, unique temples, interesting festivals and wildlife reserves make Pollachi in Tamil Nadu an intriguing destination. Part 17 of an Outlook special on lesser-known destinations in the state.

1 year ago

A Festival of Kite Runners

This Independence Day weekend over the Bay of Bengal, kite history will be created! The state of Tamil Nadu welcomes kite flying culture on the most historic weekend of India as it celebrates 75 years of Independence!

1 year ago

A Trail Along The Coromandel Coast

Azure waters, clear skies, and shimmering sand. Tamil Nadu is where each beach lover's heaven exists

1 year ago

From 16th Century To Now, The Past Still Lives On

Discover the beauty left behind by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, the Scottish, and the Irish in Tamil Nadu

1 year ago

15 free things to do in Chennai, India's southern capital

Chennai, the steamy capital of Tamil Nadu, is huge, sometimes hectic, and a perfect introduction to the wonderful, frenetic energy of South India. The city sprawls for miles along one of the world’s largest urban beaches, dotted with temples, museums, Raj relics, and restaurants serving what could well be the world’s finest vegetarian cuisine.

1 year ago

6 top day trips from Chennai for steamy southern adventures

Often overlooked by the crowds who flock to Delhi and Mumbai, fascinating, foodie Chennai is the gateway to India’s steamy south. Within easy striking distance of the Tamil Nadu capital are timeless temple towns, coastal nature reserves, old colonial outposts and beach resorts that are as popular for monsoon watching as sitting on the sand.

1 year ago

Of cuisine and culture

In the beautiful state of Tamil Nadu, is a quaint town that is typical as well as atypical of the state in several intriguing ways. Part 17 of an Outlook special on lesser-known destinations in Tamil Nadu looks at Karaikudi

1 year ago

History, built up

In our times of matchbox apartments and crowded parks, uninspired design and soulless malls, Chennai offers up a slice of both grandeur and grace through its several heritage buildings reflective of colonial times. Part 18 of an Outlook special on lesser-known destinations in Tamil Nadu

1 year ago

Colonial Cousins

Chennai is graced with a rich architectural legacy from the times of British colonial rule. Part 19 of an Outlook special on lesser-known aspects of Tamil Nadu as a tourist destination.

1 year ago

Pockets of Portugal

Much before the British established their stronghold over India, the Portuguese had established trade relations with the country. Heritage buildings in various parts of India reflect traces of Portuguese architectural traditions. While Goa might come first to mind, Tamil Nadu also has quite a few imprints of Portuguese culture. Part 20 of an Outlook special on lesser-known places of interest in the state.

1 year ago

Portal to Portugal

The imprint of the Portuguese in Tamil Nadu has a long history that predates the British, the Dutch and the French. This is still evident today in some churches and other buildings that remain, offering travellers who are interested in history and heritage an intriguing glimpse of our past. Part 21 of an Outlook special on lesser-known travel ideas in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

Scots and the city

The East India Company and the British Empire’s presence in Tamil Nadu caused an influx of officers, officials and men from not just England but Scotland and Ireland. This also left a distinctive and beautiful imprint on the landscape of Tamil Nadu, especially its architecture. Part 22 of an Outlook special on lesser-known travel ideas in Tamil Nadu.

1 year ago

The magic of Marghazi

Marghazi. From the name of an auspicious month to a word synonymous with a month-long festival of music and dance today, as the global cultural cognoscenti will attest to. Part 23 of an Outlook special on tourism in Tamil Nadu gives you a peek into one of the world’s biggest music festivals.

1 year ago

The dance of history

The Shore Temple. Magnificent sculptures. Windswept beaches. The whisper of waves. That is Mahabalipuram every day. But, for a month every year, it becomes a stage for the tinkle of anklets, the beat of the drum and the glorious sight of dancers in tandem. Part 24 of an Outlook special series on the tourism events and destinations of Tamil Nadu - the Indian Dance Festival.

1 year ago


Here's a list of top attractions in Tamil Nadu that you must experience at the very next opportunity.


Check out the world know your way of experiencing Tamil Nadu

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter Sign up for Tamilnadu Tourism's monthly newsletter to learn about our events, offers and more...