CHENNAI: Tribhuvanam, near Kumbakonam is known for its 12th century Kampahareshwara (Siva) temple constructed in the reign of Kulottunga Chola III (1178-1218 C.E.), a devotee of God Siva. He was the son of Rajaraja Chola II in whose time the splendid Airavateshwara temple in Darasuram (also near Kumbakonam) was built.
The Kampahareshwara temple is not as renowned as the ones in Thanjavur, Gangaikonda - cholapuram and Darasuram, constructed earlier in the Chola times. However, the Tribhuvanam temple too is a splendid specimen of Chola architecture. It is said that the deity in this temple cured Kulottunga Chola III of a disease due to which he was shivering and hence came to be called ‘Kampahareshwara’ (Siva who cures shivering).
However, the original name of this temple as given in the inscriptions is Tribhuvanavireshwara (Siva who is the victor of the three worlds), since ‘Tribhuvanavira’ was the title of Kulottunga Chola III and he sponsored the construction of this temple. The stately stone vimanam (superstructure above the main sanctum) bears a striking similarity with the famous vimanam of the Thanjavur temple, though much shorter in height.
A Samskrit inscription mentions that the consecration ceremony here was performed by Someshwara alias Isvara Siva, a profound scholar, who was the spiritual teacher (guru) of Kulottunga Chola III. Of special importance is a separate sanctum for Sarabeshwara, a fierce form of Siva. An image of this deity is found in a niche in the Darasuram temple, but in the Kampahareshwara temple, a large and separate shrine is seen, highlighting the importance this deity had gained over the years.
The shrine for Parvati (irukkamakottam) is known as Ammankovil among the locals. The temple has three gopurams with two on the east side, which is the main entranceway of this temple, and one on the west. The outer east gopuram has sculptures of dancers and musicians on the inner side. Numerous carvings depict episodes from the Ramayana.
This temple was originally known as Tribhuvanavireshwara
The shrine for Sarabeshwara is a rare one
Carvings of many episodes of this epic are seen here
The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture