Destinations - India Heritage

Navagraha temples tour | A Step by Step guide

Written by Poorna & Brinda

Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu in South India is considered very auspicious for Hindus. Each of these Navagraha temple dedicated to 9 planets in Indian mythology are thronged by devotees seeking their blessings.

Having been to these Navagraha temples twice – we were there in September this year – we will give you a detailed step by step guide to help you plan your trip to these temples.

As the name suggests there are nine temples dedicated to Navagrahas or nine planets. These are Surya, Chandra, Mangala or Angaraka, Bhudha, Guru, Shukra, Shani, Rahu and Kethu. One can visit all temples or may visit individual temples based on one’s requirements.

These Navagraha temples are located in the Cauvery delta region of Kumbakonam – Thanjavur. Traditionally these are Shiva temples with a shrine for one of the planets. But in most of the temples, Shiva has taken backseat giving prime importance to the planet!

Please follow the details in this post to make it a memorable Navagraha temples tour.

Base

We suggest that you make either Kumbakonam or Thanjavur as the base to explore these temples. Our recommendation is to make Kumbakonam as the base. If you are also planning to visit Thanjavur as part of your trip, then you can make Thanjavur as the base.

Reaching there 

By air – The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli which is well-connected to other cities in India.

By Train – Thanjavur and Kumbakonam are well-connected to other cities in the country.

By Bus – Thanjavur and Kumbakonam is well-connected to other cities by bus.

Stay options

Both cities have multiple options to stay depending on one’s budget.

Mode of transport

The best mode of transport to visit Navagraha temples is in a car. You can either drive in your own car or hire a taxi at either Kumbakonam or Thanjavur

Best time to visit

Winter months – October to February – are best time to visit as temperatures will be bearable. Summers will be very hot and humid. Tamil Nadu gets rainfall in winter months of October till December. Please cover yourself with a good hat and keep drinking lot of water as temperatures are hot and sultry.

Travel Information

  • Navagraha temples are located in two clusters as given in the picture below. Thus, it is always better to complete one cluster at a stretch before starting with other. The following are the Navagraha temples with location and distance from Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. All distances in Kilometres. We have mentioned the local name for planets in brackets.

  • The complete circuit can be completed in one day if properly planned. We will help you with a detailed itinerary. However, if you feel it as a bit of a stretch, then one can do it over two days.
  • All temples open at 6.30 AM and close around 1.30PM. Opens again around 4.00 PM till 9 PM. Sometimes if it is a special day, the timings may be extended or it may not be closed in the afternoon. Please check with your hotel concierge on this.
  • Shani and Rahu temples are most crowded temples in the circuit.
  • Each planet god has special offering – for example it is Lotus for Surya and Gingelly seeds (Til) for Shani – which can be bought at the shops near temple if one wish to.
  • If you are planning to special puja in these temples, please allot more time in your itinerary.
  • Popular temples like Shani, Rahu, Guru and Surya has special Darshan tickets. One can buy them to beat the rush.
  • Each day is auspicious to one god. For example, Saturday is auspicious for Shani and Thursday for Guru. Expect more people in these temples on these special days.
  • Doing the circuit on two days will help to club other Chola temples and also the famous shrine of Velankanni and Dargah of Nagore in the circuit.

Itinerary for Cluster 1

  • We recommend you to complete the circuit in the morning before it gets hot.
  • Start from your place of stay at 6 AM. Not later than 7AM in any case.
    • Staying in Thanjavur
      • Itinerary  :- Thanjavur – Raghu sthalam (Rahu) – Guru Bhagwan (Guru) – Surriyanar temple (Surya) – Shukran temple (Shukra) – Chandiran temple (Chandra) – Thanjavur
      • Total Distance – 157 Kms
      • Follow this navagraha temple tour route map from Thanjavur – https://goo.gl/maps/wRdr2LdJC7M2
    • Staying in Kumbakonam
      • Itinerary :- Kumbakonam – Raghu sthalam (Rahu) – Guru Bhagwan (Guru) -Chandiran temple (Chandra) – Surriyanar temple (Surya) – Shukran temple (Shukra) – Thanjavur
      • Follow this navagraha temple tour route map map from Kumbakonam – https://goo.gl/maps/P5gAogtV7Z22
  • Road conditions are excellent in the region.
  • We are suggesting that Raghu Sthalam (Rahu temple) be visited first as it is the most crowded of the temples in cluster 1. It is good to complete the visit to this temple first and then continue visit to others.
  • Breakfast break – After visiting Raghu temple
  • Late lunch in your place of stay or in Kumbakonam city.

Itinerary for Cluster 2 

  • We recommend you to complete the circuit in the morning before it gets hot.
  • Start from your place of stay at 6 AM. Not later than 7AM in any case.
    • Staying in Thanjavur
      • Itinerary – Thanjavur – Shani Temple (Shani) – Kedhu tyemple (Ketu) – Budhan temple (Budha) – Angarakan (Mangala or Angaraka) – – Thanjavur
      • Total Distance – 249 Kms
      • Follow this navagraha temple tour route map from Thanjavur – https://goo.gl/maps/YRf9BoUiDjo
    • Staying in Kumbakonam
      • Itinerary – Kumbakonam – Shani Temple (Shani) – Kedhu tyemple (Ketu) – Budhan temple (Budha) – Angarakan (Mangala or Angaraka) – Kumbakonam
      • Total Distance –
      • Follow this navagraha temple tour route map from Kumbakonam – https://goo.gl/maps/vFRhYj2ZRBT2

Road conditions are excellent in the region.

We are suggesting that Shani temple to be visited first as it is the most crowded of the temples in cluster 2. It is good to complete the visit to this temple first and then continue visit to others.

Breakfast break – After visiting Shani temple depending upon the crowd. If the crowd is large and darshan would be delayed, then have breakfast and then go to temple.

Late lunch in your place of stay or in Thanjavur.

Information on temples

Suriyanar Temple (Surya)

Entrance to the temple

Navagraha temples

Shrines for graha devatas

Navagraha temples

Emblem of Surya

Navagraha temples

Located at Aduthurai, this is not the largest in the chain. But it is fairly big. Avoid going here on Sundays as it is auspicious for Sun god and there would be a large crowd. This is the only temple which also has shrines for other graha devatas or planet gods.

Chandiran temple (Chandra)

Main shrine

Navagraha temples

Entrance to the temple

Navagraha temples

This is the smallest of navagraha temples. The temple is located in the middle of rural Thanjavur amidst green fields.

Mangala (Angaraka)

Temple entrance

navagraha temples

Interiors of temple

navagraha temples

We were there on Krithikkai day. There was a special puja for Lord Muruga

navagraha temples

Temple tank

navagraha temples

  • This is in the well-known Shiva temple – Vaitheeshwaran Koil. This is the only temple where we saw equal importance given to Shiva along with the graha devata!
  • Vaidyanathaswamy as Lord Shiva is called here is known to help cure incurable diseases. This place is also famous for Nadi Jyotishya. You will find hordes of shops advertising for Nadi Jyotishya services.

Raghu Sthalam (Rahu temple)

Entrance to temple

Navagraha temples

Devotees have a tradition of tying a holy thread to this with a belief that it will bring them good luck

Navagraha temples

Nicely carved pillars

Navagraha temples

One of the largest temples in the circuit. This also gets crowded.

Kethu Temple (Ketu)

Temple entrance

navagraha temples

Devotees tie small cradles for good luck

navagraha temples

navagraha temples

A small temple in the list of nine temples.

Budhan temple (Budha)

Entrance to temple

navagraha temples

Temple tank

navagraha temples

Budha shrine

navagraha temples

Temple tower in light from west

navagraha temples

One of the largest temples in the circuit. The main temple for Shiva is huge. The shrine for Budhan is at the rear-side and is smaller in size.

Guru Bhagvan Temple (Guru)

navagraha temples

Guru temple is of modest size. One can expect slight rush on Thursdays as it is considered auspicious especially with students.

Shukran temple (Shukra)

Temple entrance

navagraha temples

Shukran temple is also not big. But considered generally auspicious for those who start new business etc.

Shani temple (Shani)

Entrance to Temple

navagraha temples

Long line of devotees

navagraha temples

This is the largest and also most busiest! What a transformation from what we had seen five years back!

We strongly suggest to avoid Saturday and on also on weekends where you will find huge crowds and have to wait at least an hour for darshan. Go for special darshan by buying ticket which is quicker.

Important Travel Advise

  • As we said, you can combine both clusters of Navagraha temples on one day. After finishing Cluster 1, you can proceed to complete Cluster 2 starting from Angaraka Temple first (Vaitheeshwaran Koil) and Shani temple in the last going in the reverse direction. You can have lunch in Mayiladuthurai on the way – Mayura restaurant will serve you excellent vegetarian lunch on Banana leaf – and then proceed to Vaitheeshwaran Koil.
  • If you are doing Cluster 1 and 2 on separate days, we recommend you to cover Dharasuram and Sarangapani temples in the evening after Cluster 1.
  • You can combine the shrines of Velankanni and Nagore dargah while doing Cluster 2. In this case, it is better to do reverse circuit and visit Shani temple last and then proceed to Nagore and Velankanni. See the route map here
  • If you are not keen on Velankanni and Nagore, then you can visit the lovely Danish fort and town of Tranquebar or Taragambadi as it is locally known. This will be before Shani temple and fits perfectly in the itinerary. See the route map here
  • If anyone is more interested to know about these individual temples in detail, please check out this excellent link – Navagraha Sthalams of Tamil Nadu

Postscript

We strongly recommend to keep another day to explore Brihadeeshwara temple – A UNESCO World heritage site – Thanjavur and other Chola temples. More on it here in this post in this blog

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple – Big, Beautiful & Divine!

Lastly, the road conditions may change due to various factors. It will be good to join a road trip enthusiasts’ FB group HVK Forum managed by H V Kumar, the doyen of road trip in India. You can get the latest updates on the road conditions in this very active group.

We strongly suggest that you download customised Routo app from H V Kumar. HVK as he is fondly called, provides you customised route maps, live support on the road trip and will also help you with hotel accommodation as well. Check out all details here.

Routo – The Right Route & Travel Support For The Motorist Traveller

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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