Kamalalayam, Thiruvarur, TN is one of the largest Hindu temple tanks in India

Largest temple tank in India, Kamalalayam,Thiruvarur,TN,flickr.com

Kamalalayam temple tank,Tiruvarur. camerabytes.wordpress.com

The ancient Sri Thyagaraja temple at Tiruvarur town, the district capital in Tamil Nadu, India  is dedicated to the Somaskanda aspect of Lord Shiva, the cosmic dancer and destroyer. This huge temple complex holds the record of having  the most number of shrines  (Sannidhis in Tamil) in India.

Sri Thyagaraja temple at Tiruvarur, TN/templeservices.in

Above image:  During the Chola dynasty in the 9th century the present masonry structure was constructed. The Vijayanagara rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE) made additions and expansions.  The complex covers thirty three acres and the presiding deity is Sri Thyagaraja Swamy (Lord Shiva) and his consort here is Kondi (Parvathi). An interesting fact is Nithya (daily) puja is done to the Maragatha Emerald Lingam in the sanctum.  The legend has it  the temple is the place where Kamalambika (Parvathi's) penance to marry Sri Thyagaraja remained unfulfilled. The temple has the largest number of  shrines (Sannadhis) in the whole of India in the complex, a distinction  that many people may not be aware of. The temple is being  maintained and administered by the HR & CE, the Government of Tamil Nadu ...................................

The sprawling ''Kamalalayam'' temple tank of Tiruvarur, a historical heartland of the Cholas, is part of the temple complex, but covers an additional area of 17 acres  and is one of the largest n the country. The tank forms a distinct landmark in the middle of this busy town and the sight is just breath-taking and awesome.  Visitors to this  historical, semi rural and part modern town will never miss the tank and the vast sheet of water. 

.temple in the middle of Kalalayam, Thiruvarur. trekearth.com

One amazing aspect of this ancient tank, built several centuries ago, is  the water will never go dry even if there has been continuous failure of rain and poor show of water in the rivers. Monsoon rainy seasons failed  for three consecutive years,  the river Cauvery was almost dry in this delta region  in the past but the waters of Kamalalayam never went dry.  The water tank gets replenished by  numerous underground wells.

The ancient legend has it the Goddess Kamalambika had a strong determination to  marry Lord Thyagaraja, who was in perpetual penance, The Goddess' intense prayers, though remained unfulfilled, She kept praying to the lord. Local people say in Tamil, "kallu thaeer oodinaal, kaalai maadu paal kuduttha, Kamalalayam vadthi ponaal, Kamalambikaikku kalyanam" (if a stone chariot could run, if an ox could yield milk, if the Kamalalayam runs dry, only then will Kamalambika be married). This brings forth the uniqueness of  'Kamalalayam', the temple tank  and the careful planning by the builders of this temple. A shrine of Naganathar is located at the center of the tank.

Now renovation is going on in the tank  without disturbing its heritage value as the embankments frequently get damaged for various reasons.  Another aspect of interest in this temple is the festival chariot or Aazhi Ther  is the largest of its kind south of the Vindhya mountains  weighing roughly 300 tons plus. For pulling the ''ther'' during the festival, huge bulldozers are used for convenience.This festival is followed by yet another colorful  float festival (in Tamil Theppam)  in the Kamalalayam tank.

In this temple complex all the nine Navagraha idols (celestial planets) are placed towards south in a straight line  and the Navagraha shrine is in the  northwest corner of first  corridor (prakaram). All the Navagrahas (9 planets) were relieved of their curses when they prayed to Lord Shiva here.

It is worth visiting  this temple complex and its vast water tank that are living examples of creativity, ingenuity and extraordinary talents of  our  ancient rulers and their imaginative  skilled artisans  who could give life to the visualized stuff..

Other famous places of interest are Velankanni Church, Nagore Dargah and Subramanya (Murugan) temples at  Sikkil and Ettukudi. All are located near the  coastal town of Nagapatnam.