You can imagine the amount of eagerness and excitement for a festival that occurs once in 12 years! Mahamaham is one such festival that happens every 12 years because people believe that the water of Mahamaham Tank is met by the holy waters of 9 sacred rivers such as Ganga, Yamuna and more after a regular interval of 12 years.
The city of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu welcomes a huge gathering of Hindu devotees and tourists every time during this festival. People take a dip in the holy water of the tank with a belief of washing off their sins and becoming pure again.
The festival is quite auspicious, and people come down to the place from all over the world just to take a dip in the sacred water. Mahamaham festival takes place when the moon is adjacent to a constellation which is known as Maham.
This 10-day event usually happens in the Tamil month Masi, which is the month of February or March, as per the Gregorian calendar. Local people and devotees from all around the globe wait for years to take part in this festival as it really fills the soul with positivity and purity.
Legends have it that once the sacred rivers of India such as Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Mahanadi, Sarayu, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri reached Lord Brahma with a request to purify their water which has become dirty because people have washed their sins in them. On hearing the plea of these rivers, Lord Brahma asked them to combine and take a bath in Mahamaham tank to become pure again.
Mahamaham Festival commemorates this significant mythological event. The Mahamaham square tank is surrounded by Shiva mandapams and is believed to be spread in an area of 20 acres. People perform puja at these mandapams because each of them has a shivalinga in its sanctum.
1. Flag Hoisting Ceremony. Special flag hoisting is carried out amidst celebrations. The festival begins after the flag is hoisted at Vaishnavi and many other significant shrines of the city.
2. Sacred Bath. Lakhs of devotees from the city and all around the country arrive here to take a dip in the holy water of Mahamaham.
The town of Kumbakonam is one of the prominent towns from the bygone era which was known for its rich architecture, art, and culture. Locals claim that Kumbakonam town is home to more than 180 Hindu temples. Some temples also feature intricate carvings on its walls depicting the verses from Ramayana. The town has a well-established transportation network which makes it easy to reach here via airways, roadways, and railways. From Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru, Kumbakonam is nearly 2,500, 1,300, 1,900, and 400 away respectively.
By Air. The nearest airport from Kumbakonam is in Trichy which is known as Tiruchirappalli International Airport. The airport is around 100 km away from the city. There are regular flights from all parts of the country to the airport hence one may consider travelling by air if budget is not a constraint. From the airport, one is required to hire a taxi or get on a bus to reach the desired destination. There are only connecting flights from Delhi and Mumbai to this airport whereas there is a direct flight by IndiGo from Bengaluru to Tiruchirappalli airport.
By Rail. The nearest railway station to the city is the Kumbakonam railway station. After deboarding the train one can hire a taxi or get on a local bus to reach the desired destination in the city. Mailaduturai Express is a direct train from Bengaluru to Kumbakonam. There are no direct trains from Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata to this station. From the Chennai Egmore Railway Station, one may travel via Trichy Express, or Rame Swaram Express, Jan Shatabdi Express from Coimbatore Junction and Uzhavan Express if arriving from Madurai Junction to reach Kumbakonam.
By Road. People can easily reach the city by inter-state or intra-state tourist buses. The base price for bus travel from Bengaluru to Kumbakonam starts from Rs.900 onwards, from Chennai Rs.500 onwards and from Madurai Rs. 550 onwards. One may also drive to the city if the idea of a long road trip excites you.