Early in the morning for the Thanjavur temple in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu – aiming to avoid the 45-degree heat in May in this humid region – I headed to the Thanjavur bus station. a de rigueur toast and I boarded the first cab going to Kumbakonam. 22 rupees for an hour’s drive between shanty villages and some paddy fields amid dense vegetation of palm and tropical trees.
As one travels within the country, the art of haggling becomes ridiculous. Station rickshaws usually charge more than central rickshaws. Ideally, the starting price they advertise is usually higher. Kumbakonam told me to start at 20 rupees, at such a ridiculous price, I didn’t force myself to say, “Okay, make it 10…”.
BC in the Kumbakonam area. At that time the powerful Chola regime was on the rise and the city has always been a military and religious reference point of Tamil Nadu.
There are nearly 200 temples in and around KumbakonamDespite its small size, it is known for this reason A city of temples. If you don’t claim to be a Hindu, you can wear three or four and after the visit you can continue your journey through Tamil Nadu as I did. I chose the following: Nageswara Swami, Sarangapani, Kumbeswarar and Ramaswamy.
I took a map and noted the position of different temples and bus station. As soon as I read it, I asked a rickshaw to drop me off at the western temple of all, to continue my journey towards my final destination in the city, the bus station, while visiting the other temples scattered inside the Kumbakonam.
As usual on this escapade through Tamil Nadu, I didn’t meet a single foreigner, no one pestered me with their persuasive arts to sell me anything or offer me a guide.
Of the three I went to, the one that surprised me the most Kumbeswarar Temple. It is dedicated to Shiva and the dark pillars inside have animal sculptures with fine quality carvings.
In all the temples I visited in Kumbakonam, when they yoked your forehead -of course- you could reach the sanctum sanctorum without anyone saying a word.
The town is quiet – considering Tamil Nadu standards- and a night’s rest is well deserved, but I wanted to take advantage of the time and head to the next destination to end the day: Chidambaram.