As Kumbakonam is gearing up for the Mahamaham, discovery of a rare inscription throws light on the Mahamaham tank plan and the arrangement of 20 ‘theerthas’.
“I found inscription in Sanskrit on the outside wall of the sanctum sanctorum of the Brahma Theerteswara temple on the bank of the tank. Probably this is the first inscription giving plans of a temple tank,” historian Kudavayil Balasubramanian told The Hindu.
He said the Brahma Theertheswara temple is one of the sixteen temples built by Raghunatha Nayakkar under the guidance of Maha Pradani Govinda Dikshithar in the 17thcentury. He had also renovated the steps on all sides of the temple leading to ‘theerthas’ .
“The ‘theerthas’ listed in numerical order in the inscription will help the devotees find their exact location,” he says. According to the inscription, ghats leading to the tank have been identified as various ‘theerthas’ and they are similar to the ghats in the Ganga river at Kasi.
“In the past, the tank would be full during Mahamaham. But in the early 1900s, wells symbolising various ‘theerthas’ were dug and the water level in the tank was kept very low to prevent drowning of devotees,” said Mr Balasubramanian.
Raghunatha Nayakkar also built the sixteen Dhana Mantapas in front of the shrines.
The inscription has it that it was composed by Guru Rajacharya of Kumbakonam, who was the brother of Guru Ragavendra of Brindhavan.