25 November 2009

Temples at Par with KASI.

Six Shivasthalams on the banks of river Cauvery are said to be the most sacred and on par with KASHI [Varanasi/ Benares]. They are:

1. Thiruvengaadu
2. Tiruvaiyaru
3. Chaayaavanam
4. Mayiladuthurai
5. Tiruvidaimarudur
6. Tiruvanchiam

1. Sri Swedaranyeswarar Temple, Thiruvengadu

This Shivasthalam is one of the 6 most sacred places on the banks of river Cauvery which is considered as equivalent to the temple at Varanasi. The other 5 shivasthalams are Tiruvaiyaru, Chaayaavanam, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvidaimarudur and Tiruvanchiam.
Indiran, Airavatam, Budhan, Sun God Sooriyan and Moon God Chandiran are said to have worshipped God Shiva here. From the stone inscriptions found inside this temple, it is seen that the earlier chola kings Aditya Chola and Rajaraja Chold have made a lot of contributions to this temple. There are several shrines of significance in this well visited temple, including those to Durga and Kali. The image of Natarajar here is of great beauty. Worship to Aghoramurthy - (Veerabhadrar) is said to be of significance on Sunday nights in this temple. As found in Chidambaram, there is also a shrine for Lord Vishnu near the shrine for Natarajar.

The present structure of the temple as well as the beautiful bronze images in this temple are a contribution of the Great Chola emperor Raja Raja Chola I. Some of these bronzes were recovered in treasure troves unearthed here. The Ardhanareeswarar and Chandeswarar bronzes are now housed in the Chennai Museum. Natarajar, Somaskandar, Devi are housed in the temple, while images of Subramanyar, Rishabhavahanadevar, Bhikshatanar, Kalyanasundarar, Kannappar and others are housed in the Thanjavur Art Gallery.

Here everything is three – the presiding deity, holy water and the holy tree. Of the nine planets, Thiruvengadu belongs to Mercury. This is one among the 51 Sakthi Peethas. Thiruvengadu has the pride of being sung by the Great Four, Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar (Appar), Sundarar and Manickavasagar. Of the 64 Murthas of Lord Shiva, the Agoramurthy form is here. Here the Lord performed Six dances. This is also called Adhi Chidambaram. The Chidambara Rahasya is also here. Vishnu has a place near the Nataraja here as in Chidambaram. Indira, Iravadha (the white elephant) Vishnu, Sun, Moon, Agni (fire) worshipped the Lord. It is in Thiruvengadu Pattinathar had Sivadiksha, ascesticismThe Budhan Sthalam at Thiruvengadu lies about 20 Kms from Mayiladudurai towards Poompuhar, where the Kaveri flows into the sea. This is one of those temples where Shiva danced his Tandavam, and the main deity here is Swetaranyeswarar. There are a number of legends connected to this temple, the foremost being the story of the Rishi Swethaketu being saved from the clutches of death by Shiva.

Separate Sannidhi for Mercury

Of the nine planets, Mercury is the lord to bless with good education, knowledge, eloquence, music, astrology, mathematics, sculpture, medicine, scholarship in languages. A temple for Chandra (moon) the father of Mercury is just opposite to the Mercury with Chandra Pushkarani theertha. If mercury is not favourably placed in a horoscope, the native may not have children. Also he/she will have nervous debility and lack of knowledge. They have to propitiate Lord Mercury. Musicologists and film makers worship Mercury.

Pillai Idukki Amman:

When Thirugnanasambandar reached the borders of Thiruvengadu, the whole place looked like Sivaloka and the sands Sivalingas. He hesitated to place his legs on this holy land and cried Amma (Oh! Mother). On hearing his voice, Goddess Periyanayaki appeared there and took the child on her hips. The idol of Periyanayaki with Thirugnanasambandar is majestically installed in the temple.


The demon Maruthuvan, with the boons gained from Brahma misused it torturing the Devas. The Devas went to Shiva for freedom from the demon. The Lord advised the Devas to go to Thiruvengadu and live there in disguise. Shiva sent his vehicle Nandhi and defeated the demon. The demon, without losing heart, performed penance, got the trident (Soolayudham) and injured the Nandhi, which is still visible on the idol. Infuriated by the injury on the Nandhi, Lord Shiva converted his anger into the Agoramurthy form. On seeing the Lord, the demon surrendered at his feet and begged his pardon. He also prayed that those worshipping Agoramurthy would not have enemies at all.

The goddess here has a separate temple to herself, and is known as Brahma Vidayambigai, the goddess of knowledge. Just outside her sanctum is the shrine to Budhan, the graham known to preside over knowledge.

It is also believed that it was here that Shiva took the fierce form of Aghoramoorthy to vanquish the demon Maruttuvan. There is a shrine to Aghoramoorthy with a huge image which is at once beautiful to look at, in terms of the artistry, and yet, terrible, as suits this, one of the most angry forms of Shiva. Here is a photograph of Aghoramoorthy, as depicted on one of the gopurams of the temple.

Presiding deity: Swadharanyeswarar, Nataraja, Agoramurthy

Holy water: Agrni, Suriyan and Chandra theerthas
Goddess: Brahmma Vidyambal, Swetha Mahakali, Maha Durga
Hymns: Thirugnanasambandar, Appar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar
Place: Thiruvengadu
District: Nagapattinam

General Information:

6.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and 5.30 to 9.30 p.m. are the Puja timings. Thiruvengadu is in Nagapattinam district. It is 10 Kms southeast of Sirkali on the Poompuhar road. Buses are available from Sirkali. Nearest Railway station is Sirkali and the airports Trichy and Chennai.


Every month is a festival month. There will be flag hoisting on Tamil Masi Month (February-March) on the Punarvasu star day and continues for 10 days.

How to reach the Temple:

The temple is 10 Kms by road from Sirkazhi on the way to Poompuhar. Town Bus facilities are availbale from Sirkazhi. It is also one of the Navagraha Sthalangal and has a seperate shrine for Budhan (Mercury)

Temple address

Arulmighu Swetharanyeswarar Temple Tiruvenkadu
Tiruvenkadu Post
Sirkazhi Taluk
Nagapattinam District.
PIN 609114

2.  Panchanatheeswarar- Thiruvaiyaaru [Dakshina Kailasam]

Thiruvaiyaru is about 15 Kms from Thanjavur and got its name due to the 5 rivers that flow through this town. The five rivers are the tributaries of the Kaveri and form a sort of network around this town. The main temple here is to the lord who shares the name with the town � Panchanadeeswarar in Sanskrit, or Ayyaarappan in Tamil. The story of how the temple came into being is an interesting one. A king�s chariot once got embedded in the ground. While digging around the wheels of the chariot to get it out, they chanced upon a lingam. A wise minister advised them to dig further, but carefully, and they were rewarded for their efforts with the idols of the goddess Dharmasamvardhini, Vinayaka, Muruga, and also a Nandi. To top it all, they also found a Siddhar (saint) deep in meditation underground. The saint advised the king to build a temple at the same place, and also told him to dig under the hoofs of the Nandi where he would find the wealth needed for building the temple.

[View of Thiruvaiyaru temple's Rajagopuram from inside the temple, the abode of Sri Panchanatheswarar (also called as Aiyarappar) and Sri Aram Valartta Nayaki (also called as Dharma Samvardhini) Amman]

This Shivasthalam is one of the 6 most sacred places on the banks of river Cauvery which is considered as equivalent to the temple at Varanasi. The other 5 shivasthalams are Thiruvenkaadu, Chaayaavanam, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvidaimarudur and Tiruvanchiam.

Tiruvaiyaru is one of the big and famous temple for God Shiva and is known as Dakshina Kailasam. Covering an area of nearly 15 acres with 5 prakarams and a 7 tier Gopuram (Tower), the sculptural work in this temple is of special importance. More than 70 stone inscriptions from the Chola period have been found inside the temple. The samadhi of Saint Tyagarajar, one of the foremost composers of Carnatic music is in Tiruvaiyaru.

Thirunavukarasar went on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash to have a darshan of God Shiva. In view of the hardships faced on his way, Tirunavukarasar found it very difficult to continute his journey to Mount Kailash. With his divine intervention, god Shiva made Tirunavukarasar to submerge himself in a pond and asked him to take his bath in the pond. When Tirunavukarasar emerged from the pond, he was transported miraculously to Tiruvaiyaru and god Shiv a blessed Tirunavukarasar with a vision of Mount Kailash at Tirvaiyaru.

The Thiruvaiyaru temple is one among a group of seven, collectively known as the Saptha Sthaanam temples. These temples are unique, for they are related to the marriage of Shiva�s foremost attendant, Nandi, and the part that Shiva played in this marriage.

Nandi was born to Siladha Maharshi and performed great penance to his favoured deity, Shiva. Shiva was so pleased with his worship, he not only made Nandi his prime attendant, He also got him married. The marriage itself took place at Thirumazhapadi near Thiruvaiyaru, and Shiva took his devotee around these seven temples as part of the Sapthapadi. Every year, this occasion is celebrated in April/May with the idol of the Lord starting out in a beautifully decorated glass-encrusted palanquin from Thiruvaiyaru, and taking a round of these seven villages. At each village he is received at one boundary by the Lord of that village and accompanied by him to the next village, where he is received by the next one. In such a way, he completes a full circle and returns to Thiruvaiyaru. These seven temples are: 1. Thiruvaiyaru, 2. Thiruchotruthurai, 3. Thiruvedikudi, 4. Thirupponnthuruthi, 5. Thillaisthanam, 6. Kandiyur and 7. Thiruppazhanam. All these temples are situated around Thiruvaiyaru (see the map) and it is possible to visit all these temples within 4 hours.

Location of the temple : Tiruvaiyaaru

Lord Shiva known asIyaarappar, Panchanatheeswarar
Female deity is known as Dharmasamvardhini, Thiiripurasundari

How to reach the Temple:

This temple is located 10 Kms to the north of Thanjavur. Town bus Bus facilities from Thanjavur are available.

Temple address

Arulmighu Iyaarappar Temple
Tiruvaiyaaru Post
Tiruvaiyaru Taluk
Thanjavur district
PIN 613204

3. Chaayaavaneswarar Temple, Tiruchaaikkadu (Chaayavanam)

The temple in this Sthalam is one among the six temples which are compared as equivalent to the temple in Varanaasi. The other 5 shivasthalams are Thiruvenkaadu, Tiruvaiyaaru, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvidaimarudur and Tiruvanchiam.

This temple is one of the Maadakovil built by Kochengat Chozhan. The temple is facing east and the temple tank is in front of the east entrance. The sanctum sanctorum of the main deity Chaayavaneswarar is at an elevated site (Maadakovil). The Sannidhi for Sooriyan, Devendiran and Iyarpagai Nayanar along with his wife are located in the outer prakaram. The Sannidhi for the female deity is also located in the inner prakaram along with the main sanctum for Lord Chaayaavaneswarar.

Temple history: Athithi, mother of Indira was harbouring a desire to come to earth and worship Chayavaneswarar. Therefore, she landed on the earth. Indira was searching for the missing mother and found that she had come to earth. To fulfill the desire of the mother, Indira wanted to take the temple to his place pulling it through his white elephant Iravadha. While he made the attempt, Mother Parvathi made a sound that was sweeter than that of a nightingale, hence the name to the Goddess. Lord Shiva also appeared before Indira and told him to drop the idea of taking the temple to his place and advised him to do the worship on Earth itself and be blessed.
Iyarpagai Nayanar: Iyarpagai Nayanar is one the 63 celebrated devotees of Lord Shiva. Iyarpagai means doing something against established customs. This devotee had an abnormal trait of parting anything belonging to him to others. It is here, the devotee-attained salvation.

The Story goes like this. Lord Shiva once came to Iyarpagayar in the guise of a Shiva devotee and demanded his wife to be sent with him. Without any hesitation, the devotee offered him his wife. The wife also did not disobey the husband nor opposed his decision. The Lord said, that his relatives or others can intercept and attack Him on the way and therefore, Iyarpagai Nayanar should escort Him until He crossed the borders of the place. Iyarpagayar obliged and escorted the Lord with a sword on hand. The devotee defeated those who came to oppose. Reaching the border, the devotee was asked to return as the danger was over. While turning to go back, Iyarpagayar saw the Lord with Parvathi asking him to go back with his wife, live happily for years and come back to HIM at the end of his life. It is in this holy soil, Chayavanam, the miracle took place.

Also it is here, that Lord Muruga holds the bow and the arrow instead of his usual weapon Velayudham, readying for the war against Soorapadman. It is also said that the idol of Lord Muruga was found in the sea and taken from there to the temple. Muruga also wears the Veeragandamani (anklet) in his right leg, presented by Father Lord Shiva. Those who have fear of enemies, worship this Muruga for freedom from enemy fear. While Mother Shakthi offered the Vel to Muruga, the Lord gave him the Veeragandamani. Those who come and worship here sum up all courage to advance in life.

The temple is open for darshan from 7-00 AM to 12-00 Noon and from 4-00 PM to 7-30 PM.

The temple puja time is from 7.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m. and from 4.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Temple Telephone No. 04364-260151.

How To Reach the Temple:

Chayavanam is located in Sirkali Taluk in Nagapattinam district. Chayavanam can be reached by road on buses from Sirkali to Poombuhar. The nearest railway station is Sirkali and the airport is Trichy.
Tiruchaikkadu can also be reached from Mayiladuthurai. The temple is located about 24 Kms. from Mayiladuthurai.

Location of the temple: Tiruchaaikkadu (now known as Chaayavanam)

Lord Shiva known is known as Chaayaavaneswarar
Female Deity is known as Kuyilinim Nanmozhiammai

Temple address

Arulmighu Chaayaavaneswarar Temple
Chaayavanam Kaviripoompattinam Post
Sirkazhi Taluk
Nagapattinam District.
PIN 609105

4.  Mayuranathar Temple, Mayiladuthurai

The temple in this Sthalam is one among the six temples which are compared as equivalent to the temple in Varanaasi. The other 5 shivasthalams are Tiruvenkaadu, Chaayaavanam, Tiruvaiyaru, Tiruvanchiam and Tiruvidaimarudur.

Arulmigu Mayuranathar Temple is located here. According to the Hindu mythology, Annai Parasakthi danced in the form of a peacock and hence the place is called Mayiladuthurai. Devotees after worshipping Mayuranathar can travel from here to all the places of Navagrahas and other important temples by bus. The festival of Holy bath known as Kadai Muzhukku in the river Cauvery is celebrated in the month of Ippasi.

Mayuram means peacock in sanskrit and it was later translated as Mayiladuthurai in tamil. Lot of sidhars have lived here. Even today we find an area called Sidharkaadu, a suburb of Mayuram. Legends also tell that it was a part of Tharukavanam.

The legend goes that Daksha did not invite his daughter Parvati, and his son-in-law Lord Siva to the sacrifice he conducted. Being vexed at the disrespectful attitude of Daksha towards him, Lord Siva sent Veerabhadra, a minor deity, to go and desecrate the sacrifice conducted by Daksha. Lord Siva at the same time instructed Parvati Devi not to attend the yaga. However, the Devi attended the yaga, disobeying her Lord's prohibition. While Veerabhadra was desecrating the yaga, a peahen got injured and it immediately ran to Parvati Devi and took refuge under her. After everything was over, Parvati Devi repented very much for having disobeyed the Lord. To wash off the sin, she entered the fire. At the time of entering the fire, she was thinking about the peahen to which she gave refuge and so in the next birth she took the form of a peahen and came to this place. The Devi conducted penance for many years and at last attained re-union with Lord Siva. Hence the place came to be known as Mayuram or Mayavaram (Mayuram means peahen). The Lord of the temple came to be known as Mayuranatha.
The other names by which this place is known are Sudavanam, Sikliandipuram, Brahmapuram, and Brahmavanam etc. The Devi is known as Abhayapradambika, Abhayambika, Anjalanayaki, Anjalai, etc., meaning one who gave refuge to the peahen

The temple is a unique blend of fine sculpture and exquisite architecture; it is designed with a beautiful tank and features several gopurams and mandapams. The temple has a nine-tiered 165 ft high Rajagopuram with 5 prakarams. There are 14 vimanas with numerous stucco images.

The sculptures of Lord Ganesh, Nataraja, Dakshinamurthy, Shiva-Uma-Alinganamurti, Lingodbhavar, Brahma, Ganga Visarjanamurti, Durga and Bhikshatanar from the period of Sembiyan Mahadevi (10th century) have been well preserved in the niches.

Inscriptions from the Imperial Chola period can be found in the temple.

Brahmotsavam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June).

Tula Utsavam, celebrated here, attracts thousands of devotees from far and near.

Festivals: Thousands of pilgrims converge here during the Thulaa (Libra) festival. A noteworthy feature of the Mayuranathar temple is the daily processional ritual to the banks of the Kaveri throughout the monsoon month of Libra. Shiva’s dance is enacted at the Aadi Sabhai on the 7th day of the grand festival in the month of Libra. The annual festival Bhrammotsavam is observed in the Tamil month of Vaikasi.

How to reach the Temple

This sivasthalam temple is located at Mayiladuturai, also known as Mayavaram and Mayooram. One of the 108 Divya Desam shrines of Lord Vishnu is also located in Mayiladuthurai and is more popularly known as TiruIndalur Parimala Ranganathan temple.

5. Vaanchinathar Temple, Tiruvaanchiyam

Six Shivasthalams on the banks of river Cauvery are said to be the most sacred and on par with Varanasi (Benares). They are Tiruvengaadu, Tiruvaiyaaru, Chaayaavanam, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvidaimarudur and Tiruvanchiam.  Out of these, Tiruvanchiam is "one-sixteenth" more sacred than Varanasi. Lord Shiva is said to have told Parvati that he loves this place the most. The presiding deity of this sacred temple Vanchinathar is a Swayambu Lingam and the oldest among the 64 in the world.

This is one of the largest temples in Tanjavur district measuring 558 feet in length and 320 feet in breadth, with 3 gopurams (towers), three prakarams and a 5 tier main gopuram. A prominent feature of this temple is that Yama, the God of Death is having s separate shrine for Him and is given preference in the daily worship. There is a separate shrine for Bhairavar also in this temple in the inner prakaram. Bhairavar is in yoga posture, without his usual mount, the dog, is another rare feature of this temple. Next to the shrine of Bhairavar is the shrine for Rahu-kethu, both carved out in one composite sculpture which is another unique feature of this temple. Milk poured over this Rahu-Kethu sculpture turns blue. Performing prayers and worship at this shrine are said to bless devotees with marriage and progeny and cure nervour disorders.

There is no Navagraha shrine in this temple and Saneeswaran (Saturn) is housed in a separate niche.

The inner prakarams houses the images of 63 saivite saints (Nayanmars), a separate shrine for Goddess Mahalakshmi and another shrine for Goddess Mahishasuramardhini, standing beside her simha vahana. Worshipping Her with 108 lotus flowers during Rahu kalam is considered special.

The 3 sacred tanks at Tiruvanchiam temple - Lakshmi Theeratham, Naga Theertham and Chakra Theertham - were created by Lakshmi, Adiseshan and Chakrathazhwar. A holy dip in Lakshmi Theertham is said to reunite a person with his estranged family. A holy dip in Naga Theertham is said to liberate one of all Naga Doshas. It is said that by taking a holy dip in Chakra Theertham, one is absolved of Brahmahatti dosham.

Devotees are cured of illnesses after a bath in the Gupta Ganga, on the northern side of the outer prakaram. According to Puranas, a holy dip in Gupta Ganga is equivalent to one in Varanasi, Rameswaram and the Maha Maham tank in Kumbakonam. Lord Vinayakar on the banks of Gupta Ganga is to be worshipped first before taking the holy dip.

God of Death, Yama (who decides Heaven or Hell for the human beings according to their good and bad deeds) was pretty worried about Himself. He was wary and heavy with all the sins (or so, He thought) of taking away lives and wondered what he could do to atone for this. Well, Brahma allayed Yama's fears and sorrow and asked Him to scan the earth, saying, "Go ahead and see if you can spot a place by the banks of the Cauvery, where you find Sandal Trees growing in abundance; that is the holy place where you should sit for penance. Meditate on Lord Shiva and He will give you the answer."

So, Yama went and found this place called Gandhaaranyam (the fragrant forest) and sat there to do His penance. True, Lord Shiva appeared to Yama and asked Him to build a Temple . Yama built the Temple (Purana has it that Mayan built this.) and also stayed on as the vehicle for the Lord here. Lord Vanchinatha or Vancheeswarar is a Swayambu Lingam, the most ancient of the 64 Swayambhu Siva Lingams in the country. The Lord also told Yama that there will be a Temple for Him also here and that the people who visit the Lord should first offer prayers to Yama. So, we have the Temple or a Sannidhi to the Lord Yama in the first Prakaram. As you enter through the Raja Gopuram, there is the Gupta Ganga Temple Tank on your right and the Temple for the God of Death to your left. A dip in the tank is supposed to be a blessing and clears you of all the sins and a rebirth. The Sthala Vriksham is the Sandalwood tree. And the deities are worshipped with Sandal leaves and not Vilva.

The shrine for Yama is a small one where He is seated facing the South. There is a Moorthy of Kubera, in a standing posture near Him. We worship Him and enter the second prakaram. This has Vinayaka and Bala Muruga. As we enter the inner court we can see among other structures, the Sannidhi for Goddess Sugandha Kundalaambikai. There is the Kodi Maram, Bali Peetha and Nandhikeswara. In the third gopuram entrance, there are the Twin Ganeshas and Adhikara Nandhi. Inside, in the Garbha Graha the Lord Vanchinaatha gives us His darshan. There is a relief sculpture in a pillar in the first prakara; He is called the Vennai (butter) Pillayar and people with stomach ailments smear butter on His bulging stomach. One has to visit the Temple here to experience the spirituality and enjoy the beauty of the Sculptures and architecture. The style of architecture ranges from the Chola to the Nayakkar era. The Sundays of the month of Karthikai are supposed to be very blessed.

This Temple is supposed to be a very important one and the main Moorthy-Lingam is supposed to be a thousand times greater than the Holy Kasi. Here, even a Death in this small place does not have any impact on the routine Poojas conducted in the Temple. (In most other places, if there is a death in the village, the Temple remains closed until the Last Rites are conducted) .

Location of the temple: Tiruvaanchiyam

Lord Shiva known asVaanchinathar, Vanchi Lingeswarar
Female deity is  known as Mangalanayagi
Pathigam: Thriunavukarasar, Sambandar and sundarar

How to reach

This temple is located 35 Kms from Kumbakonam. This sthalam is located near Achutamangalam which is located on the Kumbakonam - Natchiarkovil - Nannilam bus route. Srivanjiyam is about 2 kms. from Achutamangalam. Nearest town is Nannilam. It can also be reached from Tiruvarur.
6.  Mahalingeswarar Temple, Tiruvidaimarudur

The Shivasthalam at Tiruvidaimarudur on the banks of river Cauvery is one of the 6 most sacred places on par with Varanasi (Benares). The other 5 sivasthalams are Tiruvengaadu, Mayiladuthurai, Tiruvaiyaaru, Tiruchaaikkadu[Chaayaavanam] and Tiruvanchiam.

This Shiva temple at Tiruvidaimarudur is about 1200 years old and is a big temple with lofty gopurams and lengthy corridors. This sivasthalam is popularly known as Madhyaarjunam. The term Madhyaarjunam tranlates into "Idaimarudhu" in Tamil language. Arjunam refers to Marudhamaram, the sthalavriksham of this temple. The temple has 3 prakarams [ corridors] and according to many legends associated with the temple, it is considered highly auspicious to do a pradakshinam [a circumambulatory walk through the corridors] on these 3 corridors.

  • Aswamedha praharam: This prakaram or corridor is the outermost prakaram and doing pradhakshinam in this praharam will give the effect of doing Ashwamedha yagam.
  • Kodumudi praharam: This is the middle corridor and doing pradakshinam in this prakaram will give the effect of visiting Mount Kailash - the Abode of Lord Shiva.

  • Pranava praharam: This the innermost corridor and doing pradakshinam in this prakaram will give mokshaa (salavation).
This temple is also known as Panchalinga Sthalam as the main deity is surrounded on four corners by temples dedicated to Vishwanathar, Aatmanathar, Rishipureeshwarar and Chokkanathar.

Because of the glory and importance of the temple at Tiruvidaimarudur, some nearby temples in the vicinity of Tiruvadiamarudur are referred as Parivara Devatha shrines. They are

  • Tiruvalanchuzi - Vinayakar
  • Swamimalai - Murugar (one of the 6 Abodes of Lord Muruguar)
  • Tiruvarur - Somaskandar
  • Chidambaram - Natarajar
  • Alangudi - Dhakshinamoorthy
  • Tiruvavaduthurai - Nandhikeshwarar
  • Tiruchaignallur - Chandikeshwarar
  • Srikazhi - Bhairavar

  • Sooriyanar Koil - Navagrahams

Significance: This temple is associated with the life of King Varaguna Pandian of Pandiya Naadu. The king was once returning to his capital after a hunting trip to nearyby forests. It was after sunset and the king was riding on a horse. He unwittingly killed a brahmin riding over him. Thus he was afflicted with Brahmahathi dosham (the sin of killing a brahmin) and further was possessed by the spirit of the dead brahmin. The king was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and offered prayers to the God to free him from the Brahmahathi Dosham. One day Lord Somasundarar of Madurai appeared in his dreams and advised him to visit Tiruvidaimarudur. Accordingly the king Varaguna Pandian visited Tiruvidaimarudur and when he entered the temple, the spirit of the dead brahmin did not have the courage to enter the sanctum of Lord Shiva and stayed behind hoping to catch the king once again when he came out of the temple. But the king was directed by Lord Shiva to exit through the west gate of the temple and was thus relieved from the Brahmahathi dosham. Even today the practice of entering the temple through the main entrance and exiting through the west gate is followed by all the visitors and devotees to the temple.

Lord Shiva gave darshan and appeared in the form of Arthanareeswarar to sage Markandeyar as desired by the sage at this sivasthalam. A separate shrine for Mookambikai, situated to the south of the shrine for presiding female deity, is of special importance at this temple. It is to be noted that shrines for Goddess Mookambikai are only at two places in India, one at Tiruvidaimarudur and the other one second at Kollur in Karnakata state.

Great Saints like Agasthyar, Adi Shankaracharya, Pattinathar, Sridhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, Bodhendra Saraswathi (59th Peedathipathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam), Badragiriar, Arunagirirnathar had visited this shrine and worshipped the lord. It is believed that when Adi Shakara worshipped, the Lord Mahalingeshwarar uttered "Sathyam Advaitham" three times. It is also believed that Sridhara Ayyaval a great Shiva bhatka has merged with the Lord as a joyti (light). Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi's jeeva samadhi is also situated in Govindapuram near Tiruvidaimaruthur.

There are two Puranams. Sthala purana written by Sivakkolundu Deshika of Kottaiyar Marudavana Puranam. There is an Ula written by Mahavidvan Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai. The Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thiruvidaimarudur Mummanikkovai, Thiruppazh, Thiruvidaimaurudur Pathirruppathanthathi, Thiruvidaimaurudur Kalambakam, Thiruvidaimarudur Nondi Natakam contain sufficient information about the temple. Kandapuranam, Lingapurana, Brahmavaivartham and Sivarahasya mention the glory of the Lord.
This temple is maintained by Thiruvavadudurai Adheenam. His Holiness Seervalarseer Sivaprakasha Deshika Swamigal (23rd Gurumagasannidhanam), adorns the throne of the Adheena and doing all kinds of spiritual (Sivatthondu and Tamilthondu) and social service.
Location of the temple: Tiruvidaimarudur

Lord Shiva known asMahalingeswarar, Marudhappar
Female deity is known as Bruhath Sundarakusaambaal, Nanmulainayagi, Perunalamulainayagi
Pathigam: Thirunavukarasar, Sundarar

How to reach the Temple:
This famous Sivasthalam is located 9 Kms from Kumbakonam en route to Mayiladuthurai. Town bus facilities are available from Kumbakonam. There is also a railway station at Tiruvidaimarudur on the Kumbakonam - Mayiladuturai section of the Southern Railway.
With this, my Posting on "Temples at Par with KASI" comes to a close.  More to follow soon.

24 November 2009

Pancha Sabaigal Sthalams

Temples where Lord Shiva performed Cosmic dance are called Pacha Sabhaigal - Pancha means - 5;  Sabai means - Dance hall.

1.Chidambaram ( sky ) - Kanaga sabai

2.Thiruvalangadu ( Gems ) - Rathina sabai

3.Thirukkutralam ( Art ) - Chitra sabai

4.Thirunelveli ( Copper ) - Tamira sabai

5.Madurai ( Silver ) - Rajatha sabai

The dance of bliss, or the Ananda Tandavam of Shiva is said to symbolize the five divine acts of creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowment of grace.

The dance of Shiva has been frozen in metal and held in worships in Nataraja Sabhas, in virtually all of the Saivite temples in Tamilnadu. Five of the foremost Sabhas (Pancha Sabhai) are at Chidmbaram (Kanaka Sabhai the hall of gold), Madurai (Rajata Sabhai the hall of Silver), Tiruvalangadu near Chennai (Ratnasabhai the hall of rubies), Tirunelveli (Tamrasabhai the hall of copper) and Kutralam near Tirunelveli (Chitrasabhai the hall of pictures).

Other dance halls of significance are Adri Sabhai (the Himalayas), Aadi Chitsabhai (Tiruvenkaadu near Chidambaram) and Perur Kanakasabhai (Patteeswarar temple at Perur near Coimbatore).


Chidambaram, variedly known as Ponnambalam, Thillai, Kanagasabai etc., is one of the rich treasure houses that remind us of the heights that civil engineering had reached in the days of yore in our country. This is especially so, when one sees that the temple whose structures occupy a sprawling 39 acres, the large halls, the tall towers, gateways, water tanks et al are built of stones, rocks hewn from hills. The feat becomes quite awe-inspiring when one realises that the temple is built on alluvial plain enriched by two rivers and where there is not even a trace of mountains for a circumference of about 50 Kms from where the temple is situated.

One can easily visualise the kind of planning, labour and co-ordination that would have gone into the simple process of bringing stones from elsewhere when the modes of transport as we know them now were non-existent.

All that we know of the antiquity of the temple is from the inscriptions that Parantaka Chola I (907 to 953 AD). Authorities on the history of architecture are of the opinion that the central temple belong to the 10th century AD while the Parvati temple and the enclosures are estimated to have been constructed somewhere around the 14th century AD.

Chidambaram is around 200 km. away from Chennai, on the banks of Coleroon, 28 km. from Cuddalore and is the headquarters of South Arcot District. It is one of the five Shiva temples of the South dedicated to the five elements. The Lingam of Kancheepuram temple is known as the Prithivi or the earth; at Jambukesvara the Lingam is worshipped as Appu or the water Lingam; at Thiruvannamalai it is known as Theyu or Thejas meaning fire; the Vayu or the wind Lingam is to be seen at Kalahasthi. At Chidambaram, the Lingam is called Akasa or the sky - but that it cannot be seen by these mortal eyes is that which makes it unique.

The idol of Lord Shiva in his dancing form - Nataraja - is installed and is worshipped in the main temple. The sanctum sanctorum is known as the Chitsabha, which is a wooden structure supported by wooden pillars and has a roof of unusual shape. The images of Nataraja and Sivakami are installed in the Chitsabha. A set of two veils are behind the idols, the outer one - that can be seen by all - black in colour while the inner veil - that cannot usually be seen - is red in colour.

And on the right side of Shiva is the most famed ‘Chidambara rahasyam’. It is the Akasa lingam or the empty space, representing Him in one of the five elements, the emptiness garlanded by golden Vilva leaves. The Divine Couple are there in their ‘formless form’.

The Chitsabha has other famed idols like the Ratnasabhapati (or the dancing Lord in ruby), the Spatika Lingam of Chandramauleeswara, Swarnakarshana Bhairavar, Mukhalingam, etc.

The Lord is believed to have danced in ecstasy in the Chitsabha, in the presence of sage Vyagrapadha, or the sage with ‘tiger’s feet’. The Damaru or the drum of Shiva is the originator of the sounds of alphabet. Tamil and Sanskrit are believed to have born of the drum. The swift-footed deer that He holds in his hand represents the human mind. The skin of tiger that the Lord is attired with represents Ahankara - or ego - that He killed. The river Ganges flowing out of his matted hair represents Chit Sakthi - wisdom - and the Crescent Moon that He wears is representative of the blissfulness of the Soul.

The dance of Shiva has been discussed by scholars like Dr. A. K. Coomaraswamy, who says, “The essential significance of Shiva’s dance is three-fold: first it is a symbol of his rhythmic play as the source of all movements within the cosmos, which is represented by the Arch or Tiruvasi; the second purpose of the dance is to release the countless souls of men from the snare of illusion; thirdly the place of the dance - Chidambaram, the centre of the Universe - is within the heart.”

There are two annual Brahmotsavams at Chidambaram, the most important one occurring in the month of Margazhi (December 15 to January 15), concluding on the full moon day corresponding to the Arudra Darsanam. This is a ten-day festival in Chidambaram. The second Brahmotsavam falls in the month of Aani and ends with Aani Thirumanjanam on the tenth day.

2. Thiruvalangadu ( Gems ) - Rathina sabai

Thiruvalangadu is one of the 5 Sabai’s where Lord Shiva has performed his cosmic dances. This place is called the Rathina Sabai (Gem Court).

This is a vast and beautiful temple heralded as Ratnasabhai - one of the five Pancha Sabhais special to Nataraja featuring a sprawling well maintained temple complex with beautiful mandapams and gopurams. It is located within two hours drive from Chennai, and within an hours drive from Kancheepuram.  This is the 15th of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of South India.


Shiva is said to have defeated Kali in a fierce dance duel by lifting his foot up on the Oordhvatandavam posture. Kali is depicted in a dance posture as well here. Karaikkal Ammayar is said to have walked on hear head to this shrine and her image is seen in the shriine to Oordhvatandavamurthy. There is yet another image of Nataraja, housed within the sanctum of Vadaranyeswarar. Legend has it that upon being requested by Naradar, to save the earthly beings from the rage of Kali, born out of her vanquishing the demons Sumban and Nisumban in the banyan forest in this region,Shiva agreed to a dance duel, and defeated Kali by raising his left foot, to adorn his ear with a earring that had slipped away during the duel - a gesture that Kali failed to imitate and admited defeat.

The Temple: A sprawling banyan tree constitutes the Stala Vriksham. There are inscriptions here which speak of grants given by Rajendra Cholan for the upkeep of the temple. Inscriptions here date all the way back to the 5th century. The towering Rajagopuram here, is visible for miles around. The towers and the walls surrounding the temple courtyards date back to the 12th and the 13th centuries.

It is inferred from the inscriptions that an earlier Pallava temple was reconstructed and renovated during the Chola rule, and during the later Chola period beginning with the reign of Kulottunga Chola I, the temple campus was enlarged (1075 - 1120). One of the bronze images of Nataraja unearthed here, now adorns the Art Gallery of the Chennai Government museum.

Festivals: The Margazhi Tiruvadirai celebrations witness festivities related to the Cosmic Dance of Shiva.

3. Thirukkutralam ( Art ) - Chitra sabai

Kutralam is a popular tourist resort in Southern Tamilnadu known for its waterfalls, amidst picturesque surroundings - and is a source of inspiration of many a literary work. Thousands visit this town when the waterfalls are in season. Kutralam represents one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas of Nataraja - Chitra Sabhai.

Kutralam is also known as Trikootaachalam. Near Kutralam, is Ten Kaasi with its Viswanathar Temple featuring one of the largest Gopurams in Tamilnadu. This shrine is regarded as the 13th of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu.

Legends: Agastyar who at Shiva's request, proceded southward to stabilize the balance of the earth, and relieve it from the instability resulting from the presence of a multitude of entities at Shiva's and Parvati's wedding in the Himalayas, to wait for a glimpse of the divine couple, is said to have created the Shivalingam here by shrinking an image of Vishnu, hence the name Kutralam.

The Temple:Kurumpalaveesar, sung in Tevaram is associated with the stala vruksham Kurumpalaa. Tirikootaraasappakavirayar's well known work Kutrala Kuravanji glorifies this shrine.. The temple has a conch shaped temple (Prakaram) plan and is referred to as Sangakkovil. In the Mummurasukkovil, Shiva showed himself as Bhrama and Vishnu. The Tirikootamandapam here is the site of festivities here. Parvati's shrine is also of significance here and is regarded as one of the 64 Shakti Peethams.

The Chitra Sabhai or the hall of pictures is located in a picturesque locale [see image above] away from the main temple. Architecturally the Chitrasabha resembles that of the other Nataraja Sabhas elsewhere in Tamilnadu, and its interior is decked with hundreds of murals, depicting images from the Indian epics. Natarajar is brought here during festivals from the Kurumpalaveesar temple.

Festivals: Nine worship services are offered each day here. Arudra Darisanam is celebrated in the Chitrasabha, and the Taandava Deepa Aradhanai carried out then is of significance here. In the annual festival Shiva appears as Bhrama, Vishnu, Rudra, Eswara, Sadasiva and Subramanya. Other festivals celebrated here are Vasanta Utsavam in Chittirai, Pavitrotsavam in Kartikai, Navaratri, Skanda Sashti, Chittirai Vishu and Aippasi Vishu. The ivory festival used in processions is of great beauty.

5.Madurai [Silver] - Rajatha sabai

The Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is one of the greatest Shiva temples in India, known for its sprawling landscape filled with sculptural wonders; halls, pillars and lofty towers with lavish artwork in all forms. Madurai is a vibrant cultural center speaking of the glorious traditions of the region. It is the site of the 64 Tiruvilayadalgal of Shiva [Tiruvilayadal puranam and Halasyamahatmiyam] and is one of the 5 Pancha Sabhais of Nataraja - Rajatha (Velli )Sabhai - where Shiva dances with a raised right foot.

In terms of the richness of the legends, the abundance of literature & the stunning architectural& sculptural splendour,Madurai is second to none in representing the rich cultural traditions of India. Madurai is regarded as the 1st of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu.

History: Madurai has been a seat of Tamil culture since very ancient times. Nakkeerar, Appar and Sambandar have sung of its glories. The original temple was razed to the ground by invaders & the current magnificient structure was built by the Nayak Rulers.

Legends: Shiva is said to have been worshipped by Indra in the Kadambavana forest and hence Sundareswarar's vimanam is known as Indra Vimanam. Legend has it that Meenakshi [Parvati] the daughter of Malayadwaja Pandyan married Shiva here. Together, Shiva [Soundara Pandyan] and Meenakshi are said to have ruled over Madurai. There are several legends surrounding this temple.

Legend has it that Shiva performed the Aananda Natanam or the Dance of Bliss here. It is said that Patanjali and Vyagrapadar the supreme devotees of Nataraja, upon being requested to dine – on the occasion of Meenakshi's wedding with Shiva a Madurai expressed their desire to leave for Chidambaram to perform their daily ritual of witnessing Shiva’s dance of bliss there. Shiva is said to have requested the munis to stay on at Madurai, and to have danced the Aananda Natanam dance of Bliss at Madurai in the silver hall or the Rajatha Sabha.

Festivals: The Chittirai Tiruvizha (Apr 15-May 15) causes the entire city to take on a festive look; Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are taken in colorful processions; the divine marriage and the coronation are enacted.The float festival here is also of great importance.

5. Thirunelveli ( Copper ) - Tamira sabai

This Shivastalam is a vast temple with sprawling mandapams decked with life sized images in the town of Tirunelveli. It is one of the most beautiful temples in India and is hailed as one of the 5 Pancha Sabhas of Nataraja housing Tamira Sabha (the copper hall) - a beautiful hall with exquisite woodwork, where Natarajar is worshipped during Arudra Darisanam. The image above is that of the approach to the Tamirasabha, with the Sandana Sabhapathi shrine behind the dance hall. This shrine is regarded as the 14th of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu.
Legends: It is believed that food grains collected for worship at the temple were protected from the floods by a fence of grains and hence the name Nel Veli. Agasthyar & Vishnu are said to have worshipped here.
With this, my postings on Pancha Sabaigal Sthalams comes to a close.  More of such interesting Sthalams to follow..

The Temple: In reality the temple is a complex of two huge temples for Nellaiappar and Kantimati linked by the Sangili Mandapam which has several life sized sculptures adorning the pillars.The Oonjal Mandapam and the 1000 pillared hall are of great beauty.There is a Nellai Govindan shrine near the sanctum. Periya Sabhapathi and Sandana Sabhapati are the other two Natarajar images enshrined here.

This temple is known for its sculptural splendor and its musical pillars. It could take days, if not hours to soak in the grandeur of this temple. An example of its several unique features is the Manimandapam near the Nandi mandapam with 2 giant pillars carved out of a single stone. Each of these has 48 small sub pillars which produce musical notes when struck.

Festivals: Six worship services are offered each day here. The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aani for an extended period of time. Arudra Darisanam in Margazhi witnesses a lot of festivity.

1.Chidambaram ( sky ) - Kanaga sabai

03 November 2009

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Tirukkaaraayil [Now known as Tirukkaaraavasal], Thanjavur]

Tirukkaaraayil [Now known as Tirukkaaraavasal] is the 7th Saptha Vidanga Sthalam.
This paadal petra sthalam is situated 13 Kms to the south from Tiruvarur at Tirukkaaraavasal village on the way to Tiruthuraipoondi. The temple is located by the side of the main road itself.
Other Paadal Petra Siva Sthalams in the vicinity are Tirukollili, Tirunellikka, Tirukkaichinam.
Lord Shiva known as Kannayiranathar. Female[Goddess] deity known as Kailaya Nayagi
Thrirukkaravasal is about 13 Kms from Thiruvarur on the way to Tiruthuraipoondi. The main deity here is Sahasra Nethra Natha Swamy alias Kannayiranathar, and his consort is Kailaya Nayaki. Tirukkaaraayil is one of the Sapthavidanga sthalams of Lord Thyagarajar. The Vidangar here is Aadi Vidangar and His dance is " Kukkuda Nadanam". The Abhishekam is performed everyday at 9:30AM and 6:30PM. This again is a lingam substituted for the original, which has been long lost. This one was installed by the Paramacharya of Kanchi during a visit. There is a beehive in the sanctum of "Goddess Abishekavalli Thayar".
An interesting shrine in this temple is the one of Mahalakshmi, where she faces 3 Bhairavars. There is also an image of Dakshinamoorthy with the kundalini represented on top of the head, which is rare. He is known as Gynaana Guru.
Other temples/Shrines around Thiruvarur are Lord Veerateswarar in Thiruvirkudi; Sri Bhaktavatsala in Thirukkannamangai[8Km]; Mannargudi Sri Raagopalaswamy; Sri Gnanapuriswarar in Thirumakkottai; Murugan Temple in Ettukudi; Vinayaka Temple in Thiruchenkattankudi; Sikkal Singaravelar or Murugan; Ammayar in Karaikal; Goddess Lalithambika Shrine in Thirumeychur[Peralam].
With this, my Blog on the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams comes to an end. I must mention here that it is possible to cover all of these temples in a day, juggling a little in order to see as many lingams as possible. To see all the lingams, it might take, at the most, a couple of days, depending on the time you spend at each temple. One should plan the trip in such a way, so as,not miss the abhishekams at Thiruvarur and Thirunallar, as they are the best and really worth seeing. Thiruvarur is the most ideal place to keep as your base, to see all these temples.

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Vedaranyam [Thanjavur]

Vedaranyam considered very sacred, second in sanctity only to Rameswaram. The place is very much distinguished on four aspects.
They are:
1] It is one of the seven sacred places of Siva[Saptha Vitanka Sthalams].
2] The main Deity is adored by the three renowned Saiva Saints, out of twelve Thirumurais the Lord is hailed by the Saints in seven Thirumurais.
3] Both the name of the Deity and the name of the town are woven with numerous legendary and mythical stories.
4] The very important incident Salt Sathyagraha during the time of freedom moment took place here only. Hence the place occupies an intelligible identity in the history of modern India.
Vedaranyam is in Nagapattinam District and is 35 Km. South of Thiruthuraipoondi. It is situated in the sea coast of Bay of Bengal. According to the legendary and mythical stories the place is attributed with several names. Such as: – 1.Maraivanam 2.Vedavanam 3.Sathyagiri 4.Aadisethu 5.Thenkailayam 6.Thirumaraikkadu 7.Vedaranyam.
Though the place got various names both in literature and inscriptions, the place is familiarly called as Thirumaikkadu in Tamil and Vedaranyam in Sanskrit.
The Maragatha Lingam enshrined near the Thyagesar shrine is known as "Bhuvanin Vidangar" and His dance is "Hamsa Paada Natanam".

The presiding Deity is attributed with several names.They are: 1.Vedaranyeswarer 2.Vedaranyanaadhar 3.Vedavanesar 4.Maraikatteesar The Deity is in the form of Siva Lingam. Behind the Siva Lingam, a panel adorns the inner side of the back wall of the sanctum. Curiously enough to our surprise, the panel represents Lord Siva and Parvathi in Sukhasana pose sitting with comport. The Deity is called as ‘Maraikkatturayum Manalan' in Tamil, meaning the bridegroom who resides at Vedaranyam. Siva Lingam in front and Lord Siva and Parvathi panel in the back wall of the sanctum, both are simultaneously considered as the principle object of veneration.

Here also a mythical story is narrated. To see the Divine marriage (Thirukalyanam) of Siva and Parvathi at Kailasam, the Devas, Rishis and other celestial beings went towards north.It is said that, when all of them went towards north, the northern part of the earth slopped down and the southern part went upwards. The Whole earth was in confusion.At that moment, knowing about the chaotic condition of the earth, Lord Siva asked the Rishi Agasthiar to travel and go towards south. To one's astonishment the earth automatically came to a balance and both sides became equal. But Agasthiar was not happy because he missed to see the Divine marriage. However Lord Siva blessed him that he will witness the Divine marriage in a place at south. He selected Vedaranyam, where the four Vedas worshipped the Lord Siva. Hence to his promise Lord Siva gave special darshan of his marriage with Goddess Parvathi in Vedaranyam. The Divine marriage, which occurred here, is depicted through a panel in the niche of the back wall behind the main Deity Siva Lingam in Sanctum. Here Lord Siva as bridegroom and Goddess Parvathi as bride are portrayed in a sitting posture. In commemoration of this sacred and spiritual incident, every year during the month of Chithirai (April – May) on the Sapthama Thithi, Suklapaksha, when the star is Punarpoosam, the Divine Marriage is celebrated in a grand manner. The Images of the Divine couple are consecrated (Thirumanjanam) at noon.

After this sacred bath, sandal paste is applied fully to both the idols and that will remain in tact throughout the year. It will be removed only the next year when the marriage ceremony is performed in the temple. Hence the Deity is familiarly called as ‘Maraikkatturaiyum Manalar'which means the Bridegroom who resides at Vedaranyam.

For the Goddess, there is a separate shrine in the eastern side of the main shrine. She is known as Veenavada Vidhusini in Sanskrit and Yazhaipazhithamozhiyal in Tamil, meaning that one who challenged the melody of the veena of Goddess Saraswathi. This name is attributed to her because her voice is said to be so musical, melodious and pleasant to the ears even that of the melody of the Veena. Here it is interesting to note that the image of Goddess Saraswathi in side of the temple is seen without Veena but with a palm leaf in her hand in a yogic posture. Goddess of Vedaranyam is one of the Sakthi Peeta Sthalams. 1. As usually seen in other Saptha Vitanka Sthalams, the Navagrahas are seen in one row all facing the same direction. But here the Grahas are seen in sitting posture as per the day order. They are situated in the outer Corridor. 2. There is a separate shrine for Saneeswara (Saturn) in the inner Prakara. In the same Prakara there are two images, one is Surya and the other is Chandra. 3. In the outer Prakara we come across the Idol of Goddess Saraswathi, but is seen without Veena. She is in Yogic posture with Japamala in one hand and Palmleaf in other hand. 4. The Sthala Vinayakar is Veerahathi Vinayakar.There is a separate shrine in the outer Prakaram near the western Gopuram. He is also known as Chinthamani Ganapathi.A bronze idol which is considered as the processional idol and is familiarly called as Katchikodutha Nayanar.

5. The Goddess Durga is another famous deity of the place. She is considered to be the guarding deity facing south side in a Thribhangi posture.

In this temple, for the Vidangar[Bhuvani Vidangar], the abhishekam is performed at 8:30 AM and 6:30PM everyday. Festivals on Full Moon day in Adi [uly/Aug] and Thai [Jan/Feb] attract a number of devotees.

If you happen to visit Vedaranyam, a visit to Kodikkarai will be ideal as this is the easternmost point of our country, also known as Point Calimere, 11 Kms from Vedaranyam. The sea is absolutely wonderful, and one must experience going on a boat ride; It will be a wonderful experience indeed, with the beach so full of sea-shells!!. There is also a bird and deer sanctuary nearby the beach which will add flavour to your visit. Vedaranyam is a place not to be missed.

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Thiruvaimur [Thanjavur]

Thiruvaimur is on the road from Thiruvarur to Thiruthuraipoondi, about 5 Kms from Thiruvarur. Neelothpalambika is the Goddess. The main deity in this temple is Vaimurnathar. The lingam is extremely small, and is always kept covered with a kavacham.
This is the place where Sri Thyagarajaswami is known as "Neela Vidangar" and His dance is " Kamala Natanam" and the Abhishekam is performed at 9:30AM everyday.
However, this again is not the original one, but an emerald one substituted very many years back, for the one that was stolen. In addition to this, a Spatika lingam has also been installed. If any of the devotees want to have a peep at the Lingam, the priest in the temple offeres to show the lingam , even though it is not abhishekam time, for a token fee.
An interesting thing about this temple is the presence of Ashta Bhairavarseight forms of Kala Bhairavar. There are special shrines for Natarajar and Navagrahas also. Rishaba Dakshinamurthi, a rare idol, is enshrined in this temple.

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Thirukkuvalai [Thanjavur]

Thirukkuvalai or Thirukkolili, is 3 Km from Ettukudi and is about 5 Kms from Kachinam, on the road from Thiruvarur to Thiruthuraipoondi. This temple is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva.
The Lingam made of white sand, is said to have been installed by Brahma Himself. The main deity in this temple is Brahmapureeswarar, a small swayambhu lingam, kept covered with a kavacham. Abhishekam to the moolavar is performed only on every Amavasya (new moon days). Abhishekam is performed everyday at 9AM and 6 PM. His consort is Brihannayaki.
It is said that the Navagrahas worshipped Lord Shiva here, to absolve themselves of their sins.
The Processional Deity of Lord Thyagaraja is known as "Avani Vidangar" and His dance is "Bringa Natanam".

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Thirunallar [Thanjavur]

Situated about 5 Km from Karaikal, Thirunallar is one of the most frequented Navagraha Sthalams. This is a well-known temple, dedicated to "Darbharanyeswarar".
The Processional Deity in this temple is "Somaskandar" and is also known as "Nagara Vidangar". His dance is "Unmatha Natanam".
The Vidangar at Thirunallar is the largest one among the seven, and is about a foot high including the avudayar. The abhishekam is performed everyday to this lingam at 6:30AM and 5:30 PM. This temple being more popular, the abhishekam is a crowded affair. If you want to have a good look at the lingam, it is best you reach the sannadhi well in advance to watch the proceedings[abishekam] clearly.
A rare Maragatha Lingam is kept in a box. Here, Lord Vinayaka is known as "Swarha Ganapathi". The Sthala Vriksham is Dharba[grass]. Nala Theetham, Brahma Theertham and Saraswathi Theertham are considered very sacred. Being a popular Navagraha Sthalam, dedicated to Lord Saniswarar, Thirunallar is visited by thousands of devotees, throughout the year.

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Nagapattinam [near] Thanjavur]

Nagapattinam is situated about 25 Km away from Thanjavur. This temple is dedicated to "Karayoganaswami" and "Neelayadakshi". This place is hailed as one of the Shakthi Peetams.
The main deity in this temple is Karayoganaswamy – it is believed that the lord blessed his devotee Sage Pundari to attain moksha with his body. The rishi also asked for moksha for his descendants, and till this date, when anyone from the sage’s family passes away, the body is brought to the temple gate, where the lord’s clothes and garlands are brought to adorn the body, thus blessing it.
The goddess, Neelayadakshi, is the one with the blue eyes. She is in the form of a pubescent girl, and is believed to be one of the Shakti Peethams. She is also considered to be one among the five most important goddesses, all in different stages of life. These are – Visalakshi [Kashi – Child], Kamakshi [Kanchi – young girl], Neelayadakshi [Nagai – pubescent], Kamalambigai [Thiruvarur – young woman] and Meenakshi [Madurai – married woman].
Lord Thyagaraja is known here as "Sundara Vidanga" and He performs "Paaraavaara Tharanga Natanam". The intricate workmanship of "Panchamukha Vinayaka" seated on a lion, is indeed noteworthy.
Abhishekam is performed at 9 AM and 8 PM everyday. However, this one is not one of the original lingams; The original Lingam is said to have been stolen ages ago, and recently replaced by a Gomedakam lingam.
There is another temple located nearby which is dedicated to Sri Soundararaja Perumal. This is one of the 108 Tirupathi's. His consort is Sundaravalli Thayar.

02 November 2009

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples - Thiruvarur [Thanjavur]

Thiruvarur is located at a distance of 55 Km from Thanjavur. The principal deity in this temple is Sri Vanmikanathar, a Swayambu Lingam, enshrined in an ant-hill. His consort is Somakulambigai. She is never taken out of the temple precincts. To the right of the sanctum is the shrine of Sri Thyagaraja.
The Thyagaraja idol [Veedhi Vidangar] and that of His consort Kondi, sitting on an artisitc Ratna Simhasanam is very impressive. The Processional Deity is known to perform "Asaba Natanam". The Saptha Lingam is kept in a golden box inside the shrine. The Nandhi is in standing posture.
One can also find the images of Saint Sundarar, His wife Paravai Nachiyar and Cheraman Peruman installed in this temple.
Navagrahas are placed in a row, opposite to the sanctum, in a shrine. The Rudra Durga shrine, in the second prakaram, attracts a large number of devotees, for the Rahukala Puja, in particular.
The Sthala Vinayaka in the innermost prakaram is called Vathapi Ganapathi, which has been brought from Vathapi.
The image of Goddess Nilothpalambika, in a standing posture, is in a separate shrine. She is depicted as Blessing the child,Muruga , with Her left hand. There is an inscription and sculptural representation of the story of King Manu Neethi Chola who ordered his son to be crushed under the wheels of a Ratha or Chariot because he killed a calf by driving his carriage negligently over it. Lord Shiva is said to have intervened and revived the boy and the calf.
Kamalalayam, the much celebrated Tank, is on the western side of the temple and in the middle, is the shrine of Sri Naganathaswamy. Here is a rare musical instrument called "Panchamukha Vadhyam" [with five faces of Shiva], and also a Shiva Lingam made of Sapphire, known as "Maragatha Lingam".
Thiruvarur is the birth place of the Great Musical Trinity, Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Shyama Sastri and Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar. During the festival, the idol of Sri Thyagaraja, is taken round the streets in a magnificient Ratha called "Azhi Ther"
This is the most important of the Vidangar Temple, and one should not miss to watch the abhishekam to this beautiful lingam. As the milk flows over the translucent green stone, amid the chanting of mantras, even the atheist will feel some kind of attraction which might actually be devotion and faith. The Vidangar abhishekam timings is at 8:30AM and 5:30PM everyday. One can go there an hour earlier and engage a priest. You can see the other deities in the temple and stay for the abhishekam, which takes a few minutes only. This is a unique event and devotees should go early, and, see to it that they do not miss this rare abhishekam.
This is the only temple celebrating ‘Nithya Pradosham’. In all Shiva temples, the Pradosha puja on the specific days during the evening is a special puja, when the lingam is bathed with various materials. Here, this abhishekam takes place everyday at evening during the Pradosham time.
Opposite the temple is a lake with a temple in the centre. Every day, after 5:30PM, the lingam in the temple is worshipped to. From 5PM, a boat service is available to take devotees to this temple.
This is a beautiful temple, worth the money spent and also the efforts taken.

Saptha Vidanga Sthalams / Temples [Thanjavur]

It is time now to go to the next set of Temples/Sthalams. In the following posts of mine, I will be writing on the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams/ Temples which are mainly in Thanjavur, Tamilnadu.

A brief note of the Vidanga Murtis':

Vidanga Murti's are worshipped in seven temples, known as Saptha Vidanga Sthalams, located in and around Thanjavur, Tamilnadu. The main deity for worship in these temples is "Thyagaraja or Somaskanda Murti". Each of these Murti's has a special name attached to it and is known to perform a unique "dance" during processions.

Lengend says that the Chola King by name Muchukunda Chakravarthi was a great and valorous king. He was once approached by Indra for help during the war between Devas and Asuras. Muchukunda gladly agreed to help the lord of the Devas, and joined in the war. Finally, with Muchukunda’s aid, the Devas succeeded in routing the Asuras, and Indra was extremely grateful to the king. He offered the king a gift of his choice, and Muchukunda, a devout man, asked for the lingam worshipped by Indra. Indra was stunned. He did not want to part with his precious lingam, but the king wouldn’t accept anything else. He finally decided on a deception, and showed Muchukunda seven lingams and asked him to choose the one he wanted. Muchukunda was a smart king, and prayed to Shiva to identify the correct lingam. Shiva was pleased and helped him identify the original lingam prayed to by Indra. Indra was so impressed by this that he gifted all the seven lingams to the king. Muchukunda returned to earth with the seven lingams and installed them at various places in his kingdom. The original one he kept at the temple at Thiruvarur, and the others at Thirunallar, Vedaranyam, Thiruvaimur, Thrirukaravasal, Thirukkuvalai and Nagapattinam. These seven temples are collectively known as Saptha Vidanga Sthalams.

Vidanga means something that has not been chiseled out. These seven lingams are believed to be divine – not made by chisels. Normally, it is the top portion of the lingam – the ellipse which is believed to be swayambhu. The base – avudayar- is made by hand. In all these seven lingams, the whole lingam – the base as well as the top portion – form a single piece, and are believed to have appeared just the same way, without being made, and hence the name. All the seven lingams are of different sizes, though they are made of the same material called maragatham or emerald. However, it looks more like Jade than emerald, as it is translucent. The biggest one is at Thirunallar, while the one at Thiruvarur is of medium size. However, it must be mentioned that these two are the only two of the original lingams left. One is not too sure of the originality of the 5 other lingams, because at 2 temples, it is said that the originals had been stolen ages ago, and the lingams presently there had been installed by saints in their place. At one temple, the new lingam was to be installed the next month. The two lingams at Thiruvarur and Thirunallar are however worth a trip.

An interesting thing about all these temples is that the Vidangar is believed to rule over all the planets, and the Navagrahas are seen in a single file facing the lingam.

The first of the Saptha Vidanga Sthalams/Temples will be on "Thiruvarur in Tanjavur District,TN.....

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