Swamimalai Murugan Temple is a Hindu temple located in Swamimalai, 5 km from Kumbakonam on the banks of a tributary of river Cauvery, 250 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. The temple is one of the six holy shrines of Murugan called Arupadaiveedu.
The town has one of the six abodes of Karthikeya and the temple is fourth among the Padai Veedugal. According to Hindu belief, Swamimalai is where Muruga preached what as called as "Pranava mantra" to his own father, Lord Shiva, at a young age, after arresting Brahma for not answering his question about Pranava Mantra. The teaching capabilities of Murugan is found as one of his identifying features.
In Swamimalai, Muruga is known as "Balamurugan" and "Swaminatha Swami". The temple is built on an artificial hill of about sixty feet height. The temple has three gopuram (gateway towers) and three precincts. Out of the three precincts, one is located in the basement, the second at midway to the top of the hillock and the third on the hillock, around the sanctum of the Swaminathaswamy shrine.
There are sixty beautifully laid stone steps representing the Hindu cycle of sixty years - leading to the Lord. The first thirty steps lead to the second precinct of the temple. The image of Swaminathaswamy is 6 ft (1.8 m) tall. There are golden armours, golden crowns and a diamond lance for Swaminathaswamy. There is a shrine of Vinayagar outside the first precinct. The central shrine houses the granite image of Swaminathaswamy.
The first precinct has the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and the festival image of Swaminathaswamy. The images of Sundaresawar as lingam (Shiva) and Meenakshi (Parvathi) are located down hill and the first precinct around their shrines have the images of Dakshinamurthy, Durga, Chandikeswarar and Navagrahas. The second precinct and the largest one of the temple houses a marriage hall and the chariot of the temple.
The temple has an imposing golden chariot made of seven kilos of gold, 85 kilos of silver and other metals like copper, beautifully illuminated with electric bulbs. Another architecturally beautiful temple at Kilpazhayarai dedicated to Lord Somanathaswami is worth mentioning that this shring is the birthplace of Saint Managaiyarkarasi, one among the 63 Nayanmars. Hymns in praise of the presiding deity have been sung by Tirunavukkarasar. Swamimalai also houses several temples apart from the Navagraha temples, the nine planet temples and it is also the capital of bronze iconography.