Amazing Sarangapani temple , Kumbakonam with two entrances to the sanctum!

Sarangapani Vishnu Temple,
Above image: The temple tank Porthamari Kulam (lotus tank) and the Sarangapani temple in the middle of the city. it is across the western tower. .......................
The  Pancharanga Kshetram Sarangapani Temple in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu,  is foremost among  the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by the 12 Tamil poet/ saints, or Azhwars; it is ranked next only to Srirangam and Tirupati in terms of religious order. The temple is a highly sanctified  place of worship as seven Azhwars had done  Mangalasasanam of the Perumal.

Kumbakonam, location map TN.
Legend has it that Nathamuni, the compiler  of Divya Prabandham, found only the first ten verses sung on Aravamudhan. Nammazhvar recited the remaining 3990 verses unconsciously while he was in a trance  and Nathamuni completed all of them. A  temple of great, antiquity, it was built partly by  Medieval Cholas, Vijayanagar Empire and Madurai Nayaks.  During the Pallava period the temple existed with no marked change. Vikrama Chola (1121 AD and later) made vast contribution to this temple and Cholas of later period built the  majestic tower with 11 tiers. However, the Vijayanagar rulers completed it later. 

A big temple complex, the largest in this city  with tall granite boundary walls, the 173 ft tall rajagopuram, (the main gateway) with eleven tiers, is visible from a distance.  There are five other smaller and attractive gopurams in the temple. The towers have   artistically designed  amazing figures / images,  depicting various religious storiesAs for the Vaideeka Vimanam of this temple it is believed to be based on the model of  the Srirangam Pranava Vimanam - a replica of the vimanam presented to Vibhishana  of Sri Lanka by lord Rama. It is conceived, as a chariot with wheels  drawn by horses and elephants on a grand scale  similar to  that of the Melakkadambur temple built by Kulottunga I (early 12th century).

 The Potramarai (Lotus) Kulam, the temple tank, is across  the western entrance of the temple. it was desilted and repaired during recent renovation of the temple.
Sarangapani Temple,Kumbakonam,
Above image: Sarangapani temple, Kumbakonam. Raja Gopuram (main tower) with countless artistically made small deities.......................
Sarangapani temple Kumbakonam, Thamjavur dist. TN Alamy
Here from 5:30 a.m to 9 p.m Puja  is regularly conducted six times and this temple is a seat of 12 major annual temple festivals  that attract devotees in thousands.  The temple chariot festival is the most prominent one in Tamil Nadu during the Tamil month of Chitrai (March–April). The twin well- decorated temple chariots weigh 300 tons (660,000 lb) each (renovated in 2007). They are next only in size to those at  Thygaraja temple in Thiruvarur and Andal Temple in Srivilliputhur. Sarangapani Perumal (Utchavar), along with Upayanachiar (his consort Komalavalli) was taken to the car from the temple in a procession. The chariot  festivals are held twice a year  during the Brahmmotsavam -April–May and other during Ratasaptami in January–February. They are carved out of  fine quality  wood preferably teak with  fine wooden carvings showing scenes from the great epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The main  shrine of the temple has  the image of Moolavar - pallikondar (reclining posture) with his head resting on his right hand. The unique feature of this temple  is there are  two entrances to the sanctum named as Utharayana Vaasal and Dhakshanayana Vaasal, each open for a six-month period. From 15 January to 15 July, Utharayanya Vaasal is opened  for Dharsan while Dhakshanaya Vaasal is opened during the other half of the year.

Yet another feature worthy of note is various styles of Bharatanatyam, sculptures depicting the Natya karanas, as  described  in the Natya Sastra -  108 karanas form the basic movements; some of these karanas are sculpted around the walls of the temple.  One can find similar styles at famous temples like the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur and Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram.

The Mahasamprokshanam (Kumbabishegam)  of the temple was held on 13 July 2015 with great fanfare and devotion. Rajagopuram and other shrines were renovated extensively at a cost of Rs. 2 crore. Thousands of devotees witnessed  the great event that  took place prior to last  Mahamaham.

Maha Vishnu  visited  here by Vaidheega Vimanam, carrying a bow called ‘Saarangam’ on the Mahara Sankaranthi Day and married Lakshmi who was brought up as the daughter of Hema Maharishi.  The Aradhana Idol of Perumal  was brought by Vibhishana (Ravana’s borther, who inherited Lanka after Ravana was killed by Rama) from lord Rama to be taken to Lanka. But it accidentally settled deep on the island of  Srirangam as ‘Prana Vakruthi’,  whereas the ‘Vaidheega Vimana’ settled at Kumbakonam as Sarangabani. This shrine is celebrated as ‘Ubaya Pradana Dhivya Desam.,_Kumbakonam