Kalahasteeswarar Temple is a Shiva temple located at Kumbakonam. The presiding deity is known as Kalahasteeswarar. His consort is known as Gnanambikai. After installing Lord Kalathinathar, devotees wished to install Mother Ambika. Many idols were made but none was perfect. For quite long years, the temple remained without Ambika. Appearing in the dream of a devotee, Lord Shiva said that Ambika would emerge from Mullai Periyar River. During floods, a basket came floating with Ambika idol. Their joy knowing no bounds, devotees, named Her Gnanambika after the name of the Ambica in Kalahasthi temple in the north. Some scars caused through the tossing of flood waters are still visible on Ambia’s face. The temple is more known as Gnanambikai temple than as Kalatheeswarar temple. Lord Somaskanda shrine is in between those of Lord and Mother. Devotees can have the darshan of Mother Ambia and Muruga simultaneously from one place. The temple is a symbol of Mother-child love. Any mother or son differing from each other and separated are united by prayers in the shrine. As Ambia Gnanambika was found at a place known as Kokilapuram nearby, it is revered as Her birth house-Piranthaveedu in Tamil. During the Wedding Festival -Tirukalyanam, people of Kokilapuram use to bring gifts to Ambia and dresses for Son-in-law Lord. These are used in the Alankara during the festival.
The temple is situated on the western bank of River Mulla Periyar. Ganga flows northward from the south in Kasi. Lord Kala Bhairava is a special deity in Kasi-Varanasi. Similarly, the river flows northward in this place also as Utharavahini – river flowing northward. Hence, Kalabhairava in this temple too is powerful and merciful. Those seeking repentance for sins committed and salvation pray to Him. Those facing adversities due to their birth star, Rasi, involved in land disputes pray to Lord Shiva standing under the Vasthu, Surya chakra. The temple belongs to Vayu category as Kalahasthi in the north (in Andra Pradesh). Hence, Lord of the temple is also known as Vayu Lingeswarar. As we cannot touch Vayu the air, He cannot be touched – Theenda Thirumeni in Tamil. The story of Kannappa in Kalahasthi getting back his eyes from Lord Shiva is popular among Shiva devotees to whom a chapter is dedicated in the Tamil Epic Peria Puranam Remembering this episode, there is a shrine for Kannappa Nayanar appearing with Rudraksha Mala, bow and arrow. Special pujas are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Kannappar on Shivrathri. Those facing eye problems pray here offering vastras to both Lord and His celebrated devotee, with sweet pudding – Sarkarai Pongal Naivedhana. Traditionally, we see Saptha Madhas – seven mothers – Brahmi, Maheswari, Goumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundadevi. There are Ashta Madhas – eight mothers- here. According to Devi Bhagavatham, seven madhas came from the Aadhi Shakti with seven powers. Based on this philosophy, Kali Devi is also here making the number to eight. This darshan is considered very beneficial to devotees. Mother Saraswathi graces in the temple with Her Veena in a left hand and the Aksharamala in the right. Kubera, the Lord of Wealth graces in the pra kara with Mother Aishwarya Lakshmi. Special pujas are dedicated to Him on the Akshaya Thrithiya day occurring in April-May. People pray in this shrine that day seeking all prosperity. Serpent Planets Rahu and Ketu have their own shrines next to each other in this temple. Planet Rahu has a shrine in Tirunageswaram and Ketu in Kilperumpallam temples. Here, they are together in one temple with own shrines. Planet Rahu is on a square peeta with his consort Simhika and Ketu on other peeta with his consort Chitralekha. There are separate Dwarapalakas (security guards) in each shrine. The seven Naga Devadas-serpent deities are carved in the shrine. Special milk abisheks are performed for them on Swati Star days. On Sundays, during Rahukalam (4.30 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.) Sarpa Dosha Parihara Homa is performed in the temple. Devotees join this worship for relief from the adverse effects of these planets. Also, special pujas and homas are performed in the shrines during Rahu-Ketu transition day with wedding festival. Black belongs to planet Saturn. Devotees offer black vastras to him. Green belongs to Mercury-Budha the authority for education. People here offer green vastras to Saturn to gain academic benefits. King of Poison-Visha Raja is outside Kalatheeswarar temple. He does not have a shrine as such. There is a small wall around him. It is said that he dries under Sun and goes wet under rains to grace his devotees. Those suffering from poisonous bites worship here on Poornima-full moon day offering milk abishek and vastras. They also do Angapradakshina. Nine heroes-Nava Veeras are before Lord Muruga shrine. Sun and Moon grace the devotees with their consorts on a lotus peeta near the tower. Lord Sarabeswara appears without Lord Narasimha. People pray here during Rahukalam time here on Tuesdays – 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. Those facing Naga dosha use to tie Mangal Sutra to Nagar for reliefs performing turmeric abishek. Sri Nandi Deva graces under the tower with His consort. Lord Veena Dakshinamurthy graces the devotees as a procession deity.