The temple of Lord Sarangapani is given the third place of importance
among the shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, she first being the temple of Lord Ranganatha
at Srirangam and the second that Lord Venkatachalapathy of Tirupati. The temple of
Sarangapani was built by the Nayak kings. Its main gopuram is 146 feet high, measuring 90
feet by 51 feet at the base - an imposing structure of 12 storeys with numerous ornamented
Just like the town Srirangam, on the two sides of Kumbakonam flow the
Kaveri and Arasalar rivers which the poets and Vaishnavaite saints have described as the
garlands decorating this place and the sacred shrine of Lord Sarangapani.
There are two entrances to the shrine of the Lord-one on the southern
and the other on the northern side. As the devotees are required to enter the shrine
through the entrance on the southern side during the period of Dakshinayana, it is known
as the "Entrance of Dakshinayana" and for similar reasons the entrance on the
northern side is called "Entrance of Uttarayana."
The Dakshinayana entrance is also known as the "Entrance of
Marriage", as Lord Sarangapani came out first through this gate and soon after
married Kamalavalli. The legend connected with the two entrances provided to the shrine of
the Lord is that once the two Devatas now in charge of the Uttarayana andDakshinayana
entrances prayed to the Lord to attain divine powers and eternal bliss.
Lord Sarangapani one day appeared before them and directed them to go
to Kumbakonam and stand at the two entran- ces to his shrine.It is said that thedevotees
pleased the Lord by serving him as directed and got their desires fulfilled.