Mantra Koodam - place to visit ancient temples, Escape to heritage, discover historical wonders
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If you would like to experience art as a cultural institution, visit Rajmohan’s house in Kumbakonam. There, he is keeping the ancient artform of Kalamkari alive and thriving. A heritage passed on from generation to generation in his family, he is now carrying the artform into its new age. Kalamkari originated during the Marathas’ rule over Thanjavur and was frequently commissioned by the royal family. It involves intricate art work on fabric, where the colours are extracted from natural sources such as flowers, barks, roots and seeds to make plant-based dyes on cotton. Even the brushes and pens are carved from coconut shells and bamboo trees – because any synthetic material will not have the same effect on cotton. Rajmohan and his team painstakingly create these stunning pieces of art at his studio, which are then washed and dried on the banks of the nearby river. The water of the river also plays an important role in giving the final piece its rich texture.

The Weaving of Pattu Silk

Wiggling through narrow lanes of Kumbakonam, you reach a place where mere strands of threads are transformed into something magical. The timeless technique of 'Pattu' silk weaving is alive and thriving in the hands of these master craftsmen. Watch them weave intricate designs into silk saris with fine gold thread. The entire process of hand-assembled wooden machines meticulously weaving silk is a mesmerizing experience.

Temples of Thanjavur, Darasuram and Gangaikonda Cholapuram

An hour’s drive away from the property lies the historic town of Thanjavur, the epicenter of the Chola dynasty and a hub of South India’s indigenous arts, crafts and architecture. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples are located here and are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. At the centre of the city is the Brihadeshwara Temple or the ‘Big Temple’ as it is commonly known. This historic wonder was built by the Chola Emperor Rajaraja Chola I. Legend has it that he built the temple in obedience to a divine command that he received in a dream. The mammoth structure is made of over 130,000 tons of granite. Its grandeur and architectural marvel have to be witnessed in person to be believed.

Lost Wax Casting

The ancient town of Swami Malai in Thanjavur is home to a group of artisans called the “Sthapathis”, who are believed to have settled in the area during the construction of the 'Periya Kovil', brought in by RajaRaja Chola. They are known for the timeless sculptures they created for this temple, leading to the popularization of their trade across the world. A visit to their workshop is a memorable experience. Watch master craftsmen use the ‘Lost Wax’ technique, using a combination of wax and soft clay from the river bed to make moulds for ornate bronze sculptures.

A Scenic Bullock Cart Ride

Catch glimpses of the rustic village life with a bullock cart ride across the countryside. As your driver traverses expertly through the narrow lanes, you will be waved at, and even joined by excited kids with contagious smiles. Get a first-hand experience of the charm of rural life amidst acres of paddy fields and warm-hearted locals.

Navagraha Circuit

Ancient Indian astrology is determined by the positions of nine planets in a geocentric orbit. Each planet has been revered through history, but only in Kumbakonam will you find shrines to all nine planets together. The Navagrahas, or temples representing the nine planets, are all located within 60 km of Kumbakonam, and can be covered in a space of 1-2 days.