The town is bounded by two rivers - " River Cauvery" on the north and "River Arasalar" on the south.
Kumbakonam gets its name from the deity Lord Aadhi Kumbeshwarar. A traditional representation of South Indian Culture, the town is known for its temples, intricately carved panchaloha idols, exquisite brass wares especially lamps and silks(kancheepuram and kumbakonam are the very well known silk producers). The place, like many other sacred places has a unique festival known as the Mahamaham festival. The festival celebrated once in twelve years coincides with the entry of Sun and Jupiter into constellation of Aquarius and Leo respectively. People from all walks of life have a dip in the Mahamaham tank along with the presiding deities of the town.
Kumbakonam is full of temples. Every street, road, locality has a prominent temple. Better read some litereture on them before your visit them. The Sankara Matam and associated institutions preserve and represent all that is great about the Hindu ancient scholarly tradition.
Some of India's world renowned scholars and intellectuals hail from Kumbakonam including the genius mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam. The Town High School and the Kumbakonam Arts College are the grand old centres of education with the latter built on the banks of River Cauvery (kaveri) sometimes referred to as the Cambridge of South India.
It has an excellent road link to all the navagraha temples (gods representing nine planets).
The town which was orginally a religious town become an industrial center during last quarter of the 19th Century and early period of 20th century. Predominance was gained for Silk Industries and Metal manufacturing.
The major supplier of silk sarees to the Indian market is the Kumbakonam silk industry.
All the South Indian Brass Pooja articles and utensils are manufactured in Kumbakonam and these articles are manufactured nowhere in South India other than Kumbakonam. KuthuVilakku and Statues are the famous articles. Stainless Steel utensils are manufactured.
Betelnuts, Suparis are manufactured in Kumbakonam.
Brass ornamental Lamps (Kuthuvilakku) are also manufactured in Naachiyar Kovil. It is near by Kmbakonam just 8 Km towards Tiruvarur.
Kumbakonam is well connected to all the major towns and cities. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka State Transport Corporations operate buses to Kumbakonam.
From Chennai 5-6 hrs of travel by bus.There are excellent bus services provided by both government and private travel services. For more comfortable travel its better to choose a private travel service.From Trichy it's about 90 Kms and about 40 kms from Thanjavur.
Chozhan, Mannai, Uzhavan and Chendhur Express connects Kumbakonam and Chennai, JanShatabthi express Connects the town with Coimbatore, while the Mailaduthurai-Mysore Express connects the town with Bangalore and Mysore. There are various passenger trains to Thirunelveli and to other towns nearby.
Janashatabthi express Reaches by 13:30 and leaves to Coimbatore by 15:15
The Train from Bangalore starts at 19:15 from Bangalore and reaches Kumbakonam early morning at 05:30.
Auto's from the Kumbakonam Station charge a minimum of Rs.40/- even for the nearest Hotel. If you can move out of the Station and catch a 'running' auto and talk as if you have visited the city a zillion times you can get a better deal.
Auto Rickshaw: The cheapest mode of hired transport. Autos ply to small towns in and around Kumbakonam (less than 10 km). As with any other town in Tamil Nadu, negotiate the price before making the trip.
You can negotiate an Auto for half-day or full day rates for the nearby places and temples within Kumbakonam. Charges range from 500/- to 750/- approximately for half-day, depending on the places you need to visit. For a 1.5 days I paid ~Rs.900/- in total.
Taxis: There are two prominent taxi stands in the town. One near the bus stand and the other near town hall. As with any tourist place, the prices are hiked up once they know you are from out of town.For the Navagraha trip, one can base the trip from Kumbakonam.It taken 1.5 days to cover the 9 temples.Taxis charges approximately 10 Rs per Km.For covering 250 Kms , I paid Rs 2500/- including driver charges
Its a good idea to check with locals on the average fare for autos and taxis.
Bus: State and private operated buses ply to all towns in the vicinity.
There are lots of budget restaurants in Kumbakonam. Although food in general will be tastier all around the city, it might not be hygenic. Check out the hotels around as some also have good restaurants. Hotel Raayas is better for Non Vegeterian and if you are after some quality Parottas and tasty Non-Veg, Hotel SHANMUGA seems to be the place as it is the LOCAL'S Favourite. Hotel Meenatchi Bhavan, Archanas and Venkatramana are all good for a veggie.
Sterling Resorts provide excellent food for the rich. But if a simple home style food of the local cuisine is what you want, try out one of the 'mess'.
Aachi Restuarant, Hotel Habib Towers, Kumbakonam (Opp. to Railway Station), . a veg n non-veg restaurant in kumbakonamedit
Gowrishankar Hotels, Upstairs to New Bus Stand (New Bus Stand Shopping Complex), ☎ 0435-2401220. 05:30-22:30. A Vegetarian Restaurant in the premises of Kumbakonam New Bus Standedit
Mantra Veppathur (Mantra Veppathur - Eco Friendly Traditional Resort), Mantra Veppathur, No.1 Bagavathapuram Main Road Extension, 536 / 537 A Sri Sailapathipuram Village, Veppathur - 612 103 Kumbakonam. Thanjavur District. South India , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, ☎ +91 98412 88000, . An Eco-friendly, high end traditional, pure vegetarian resort. Mantra Veppathur invites you to experience their blend of traditional values, faith & spirituality of Veppathur – a very vibrant and fertile destination with the ideals of relaxation & a healthy well being. The resort is spread over several acres on the banks of river Veera Chozha on one side and river Cauverey on the other side. edit
Murugan Cafe. Very comfortable stay. Has A/C rooms as well.Rooms are neat and clean. well maintained. Also has a vegetarian restaurant.edit
PL.A Residency (Hotel Habib Towers), 122, Kamaraj Rd (opposite the railway station, close to Navagraha Temples), ☎ 04352403181, . checkin: 24 hours; checkout: 24 hours. A star class business hotel. A competitive and luxurious hotel having all rooms with A/C, spacious lobby, 5,000 Sqt carparking area, free internet wifi, Curry Leaf Multi Cusine Reasturant.edit
Rama Cafe, mahamaham tank west, ☎ 0435-2402940. Good vegetarian hoteledit
Sivamurugan Hotels, 60 feet main road (near new bus stand), ☎ 0435-2425276,2426276, . checkin: 24 hours. Hotel with a vegetarian restaurant.800,900,1300,1500. edit
Sterling Resort, (Swamimalai). This is on the outskirts of the town, but easily commutable if you take an auto or hire a taxiedit
Paradise Resort (kumbakonam), 3/1216 tanjore main road,Darasuram (Near Swamimalai ) (towards Thanjavur), ☎ 914353291354, . checkin: 1400hrs; checkout: 12 noon. Eco Friendly Traditional River side Resort,very clean & neat room,Swimming pool,known for the food,easy access,centrally located to visit all the navagraha temple,authentic ayurveda,yoga.on the bank of the river arasalar(branch of cauvery)contact- email@example.com.Mobile or handphone +919943311354,99433113534000+. edit
Konerirajapuram - an ancient Chola temple about 1/2 hour drive off the Kumbakonam Karaikal road. The world's tallest bronze Nataraja is housed in this temple, the statue is bigger than that at Chidambaram. There are also ancient inscriptions and frescoes from various periods in Tamil history. Well worth a visit.