Swamimalai is one of the six famous abodes of Lord Subramanya. The temple is built on an artificial hill and is reached by a flight of steps.The deity is worshipped as Swaminathan.
Swamimalai is about 2 km from the railway station of the same name and is about 8 km north of Kumbakonam .The temple is easily accessible by road with frequent bus service from Kumbakonam.
The temple has three ‘gopuram’ with three ‘praharam’. The ‘gopuram’ on the south side of the temple is decorated with statues and contains five storeys while the other two entrances have no towers above them.
The arrangement of the ‘praharam’ is peculiar in this temple. The first ‘praharam’ is at the base of the hill, the second halfway up the hill and the third at the top surrounding the sanctum. Once you pass the ‘Raja gopuram’ and the ‘Kalyana mandapam’ you reach the shrine dedicated to Goddess Sakthi at the base. In addition to this there are other shrines for various other deities and the well with ‘Vajra theertham’. Steps lead from here upwards towards the top of the hill. When you reach half way up the hill there is a small area where beautiful statues depicting the legend associated with this temple have been created. Further above is the second praharam. You climb further to reach the level where the shrine for Lord Swaminathan is built. There are various shrines to other deities on the first ‘praharam’
Story of Swamimalai in Sculpture Creative Hands at Work
Once the young Murugan was playing with his entourage in Mount Kailash -the abode of Lord Shiva and his family. The Devas who happened to pass by duly paid their respect by worshipping him. Brahma ignored him as he thought that he did not need to worship this young God. So Lord Murugan wanted to teach him a lesson. He summoned Brahma to his presence and asked Brahma, the creator himself, to recite the ‘Vedas’. Brahma started reciting with the first ‘Vedhic’ syllable, the ‘Pranava manthra’ ‘Om’. Lord Murugan stopped him at that and asked him to explain the meaning of ‘Om’. Brahma was unable to explain the meaning of ‘Om’ to the God who is the embodiment of the ‘Manthra’ ‘Om’. As Brahma was incapable of explaining the meaning of ‘Om’ Lord Murugan took away the power of creation from him and imprisoned him. Other Devas took pity on Brahma and pleaded with Lord Shiva to get Brahma released. Lord Shiva then requested Lord Murugan to release Brahma from imprisonment. Now Lord Shiva became curious to know the meaning of ‘Om’. So he asked Murugan to explain to him the meaning of the Manthra ‘Om’. He agreed to teach him the meaning of the word only from a position of a ‘guru’. Lord Shiva agreed to this and thus Lord Shiva the supreme God assumed the position of a student, the ‘sishya’, while his son assumed the position of a teacher, the ‘Guru’.
This incident of being a guru to his father gave Murugan the names, Gurunathan, Swaminathan, Thahappansamy (words meaning ‘teacher to the Lord’). It is to depict this relationship of a ‘guru’ and the ‘sishya’ that the temple of Lord Murugan is in a higher position at the top and that the shrine of Lord Shiva is in a lower position at the base of the hill.
The important festivals are ‘Thaipoosam’, ‘Valli Kalyanam’, ‘Kanthasashdi,, and ‘Karthigai Theepam’.