General view from back of Sarangapani and Someshvara Temples, Kumbakonam
Photographer: Rea, Alexander
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of temples at Kumbakonam, taken by Alexander Rea around 1892, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections. Kumbakonam, in Tamil Nadu, was an important centre during the 9th to 13th centuries under the Chola dynasty. There are fifteen temples in the town dedicated both to Shiva and Vishnu. Some of these temples have Chola foundations with later extensions constructed under the patronage of the Vijayanagara and Nayaka rulers. The Sarangapani Temple is the largest Vaishnava temple in Kumbakonam and was erected between the 13th and 17th centuries. A tall gopura or tower leads to a mandapa and a further gopura leads to an inner court. The principal shrine belongs to the late Chola period and is conceived as a chariot with horses and elephants carved on the sides. The niches on the shrine walls are empty but there are figures of saints carved directly on to the walls. The Kumbeshvara Temple is the largest Shaiva temple and dates to the 17th century, Nayaka period. This view looks across the tank of the Sarangapani Temple towards the gopura of other temples in the background, with the Kumbheshvara Temple on the right.