Located along the banks of the River Kaveri, this temple is one of the Pancharanga Kshetrams (a group of temples dedicated to Vishnu on the banks of the Kaveri) and is considered third in line to the Srirangam and Tirupathi temples in prominence. The Sri Sarangapanai Temple also gains special mention as one of 108 Divya Desams or the temples that are special to God Vishnu. The Sri Sarangapanai Temple has a significant presence in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham sung by the 12 Alwar poets.
Sri Sarangapanai Temple is the largest Vishnu temple in Kumbakonam and has the tallest temple tower in the town. The temple is enshrined within a huge wall and the complex enshrines all the water bodies of the temple except the Potramarai tank. The rajagopuram (the main gateway) has eleven tiers and has a height of 173 ft (53 m). There are five other smaller gopurams in the temple. The rajagopuram has figures depicting various religious stories. The temple faces east and the Potramarai tank is located outside the western entrance. The central shrine of the temple is in the form of a chariot drawn by horses and elephants, with openings on either side, showing the descent of Sarangapani from heaven in the chariot. There is a sculptural representation of the sage Hemarishi in the western part of the temple.
The central shrine of the temple houses the image of Sarangapani in pallikonda posture, with his head resting on his right hand. There are other images of sage Hemarishi, Lakshmi and festival images enshrined within the sanctum. There are two stepped entrances to the sanctum named as Utharayana Vaasal and Dhakshanayana Vaasal, each open for a six-month period.
As per Hindu legend, the Vaishnava deity, Sarangapani, an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, appeared for a sage Hema Rishi, who performed penance in the bank of Potramarai tank. The penance was performed to obtain Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, as his daughter. Vishnu was pleased by the penance and he wished the sage to get Lakshmi as his daughter. Lakshmi emerged from the Potramarai tank among thousand lotuses and was thus named Komalavalli (the one who emerged from lotus). Vishnu descended to earth as Aravamudhan in a chariot drawn by horses and elephants from his abode Vaikuntam. He stayed in the nearby Someswaran Temple to convince Lakshmi to marry him and the couple eventually got married. The name Sarangapani ("one who has the bow in his hand") derives from the Sanskrit word Sarangam meaning bow of Vishnu and pani meaning hand.
From 15 January to 15 July, Utharayanya Vaasal is opened while Dhakshanaya Vaasal is opened during the other half of the year. The Potramarai tank has a central hall called Hemarishi Mandapam. The temple has two processional chariots carved out of wood stationed outside the rajagopuram.
From Trichy Airport ,Sarangapani temple is 99.5 KM. It is 1.6 KM from Kumbakonam station and 2.0 Km from Kumbakonam bus stand. From Uchipillaiyar Kovil Bus Stop, the temple is 350 m.
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