Kumbakonam is the temple city of South India situated in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. It is a fertile area on the banks of river Cauvery and one of its tributaries Arasalaru.
The city is famous for the MAHAMAHAM festival that is celebrated once in 12 years in the Mahamaham tank located in the heart of it. Kumbakonam is flooded with temples of large size. There are as many as sixty temples, in and around Kumbakonam within 40 Kms. of radius.
Brahma, the creator after the Prilaya Era, to continue with his work of creation wanted to have a Peetam. Lord Shiva asked him to make a pot made of "Amirhtam" and sand. The pot had a Peetam in it, with the vedas around it on four sides. A coconut was kept over the pot and garlands of Poonul ( Sacred Thread ) and Tharpai were decorated and Brahma worshipped it.
During a flood, the pot floated and moved towards south from Kailash. Lord Shiva in the disguise of a hunter, broke the pot with an arrow and the amirtham spilled as "AMIRTHA THEERTHAM". Mixing the amirtham of the Kumbha with sand Lord Shiva emerged as LINGAM. The sacred place where he gave darshan as "KUMBESWARAN" is now called as KUMBAKONAM.
Though rituals and archanas are done daily for the god, some special festivals are celebrated annually, which make the people gathered in large numbers and make their minds purified. Among the various festivals MAHAMAHAM that is celebrated once in twelve years is of very great importance.
The modern Kumbakonam is the nerve - centre of all the commercial activities in Tanjore District. Plenty of diverse small scale industries thrive in this town, chief among them being Silk, Scented & Shredded Supari, Chewing Tobacco, Brass & Stainless Steel Wares, Icon & Pith ware, Cosmetics etc.
The town has also been well - known for its prestigious educational institutions which have turned out eminent stalwarts in diverse spheres. It is perhaps because of this fact that the premier college of this ancient town namely the Government Arts College is proudly acclaimed as the "Cambridge of South
India " .