April 23, 2017

Tirumangalam Sama Vedeeswarar Temple

Site Name: Sama Vedeeswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tirumangalam, 4 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The only Shiva temple which is named after Ved
Nearest Railway Station: Lalgudi
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Lalgudi and Trichy; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Trichy or Lalgudi
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Lalgudi

Tirumangalam is a village located at a distance of around 4 kms from Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. This village has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name of the temple is Sama Vedeeswarar. This ancient Chola period temple is architecturally beautiful and has many unique sculptures. It is sad that this temple remains lesser known. Let us discuss about this temple which has a lot of unique features in this article.

Highlights:


  • God Sama Vedeeswarar 
  • Goddess - Loka Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Gaya Phalguni or Parasurama Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Jack 
  • The birth place as well as the Mukti Sthalam of Anaya Nayanar.
  • Unique sculpture of Shanmukha with four arms.
  • Unique sculptures of Valli seated on peacock, whereas her co-wife Devaseana in the standing posture.
  • Dakshinamurti with Abhaya mudra.
  • Kala Bhairav and Swarna Bhairav are found together.
  • Chandikeshwara is unusually found in Ardha Mandap.

Legend:

This lesser known temple has so many lesser known but interesting tales.

Sama Ved:

Ved Vyasa divided the ancient Vedic hymns into four categories and named them as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva. He passed on the knowledge of those four Vedas to his four disciples. Jaimini was one of those four disciples who learnt Sama Ved from Vyasa. It is said that Jaimini interpreted Sama Ved and further classified that into multiple verses as per his interpretation in this temple. Hence, the presiding deity of the temple is named as Sama Vedeesswarar. It should be noted that no other Shiva temple is named after a Ved.

Parasuram:

Parasuram had to kill his own mother due to some reasons. He came to this temple to get rid of his Matru hatya sin. Hence, the holy tank of this temple is named as Parsurama Teerth and the village is also called as Parasurameswaram.

Lakshmi:

Lakshmi worshiped Shiva in this temple. Hence, the village is called as Tirumangalam.

Gaya:

Ravikuruva Rishi, a lesser known sage, wanted to attain liberation and came to this village. As he could not find a river nearby, he decided to go to Gaya and Kasi. Lord Shiva stopped him and he created a river in this village. The river that flows in this village is called as Gaya Phalguni river. This site is considered as equivalent to Gaya and Kasi.

Anaya Nayanar:

Anaya Nayanar is considered as one of the 63 Nayanmars. He was born in this village. He was a cowherd and a great devotee of Lord Shiva. 

Anaya Nayanar used to play the Panchakshara Mantra in this flute. He was so good in his music and his devotion to Shiva that even teh animals and birds would listen to his music. The celestials and the sages would gather to listen to him. Ultimately, Shiva along with his consort Uma, pleased by his bhakti and music, appeared to him. The great devotee got absorbed into the supreme deity in this village. 

Chandikeshwara:

Chandikeshwara visited many pilgrim centers to absolve his sin of killing his own father. Ultimately, he came to Tirumangalam and worshiped Sama Vedeeswarar. His sins were absolved in this site.

Ravan:

As per a legend, the presiding deity of the temple was installed by Ravan.

Uthanga Rishi:

Uthanga Rishi did penance towards Shiva and got amrit in this site.

History:

The stone inscriptions of the Chola period are found in this temple. Based on those inscriptions and the architectural style of the temple, we could assume that the temple must have been built or rebuilt in the 11th century CE by the Cholas.

Temple Layout:

Entrance:

The east facing temple has a three tiered tower.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the sanctum in the courtyard. The courtyard is actually a long mandapa with so many pillars containing sculptures.

The idol of Ganesh called as Kodimara Ganapati is installed near the flag staff.

The idols of Adhikara Nandi with his consrt in one side and Agnaya Ganapati on the other side are found in the inner entrance.

Sama Vedeeswarar:

The east facing sanctum enshrines the big Shiv Linga named as Sama Vedeeswarar

Nandi in Maha Mandap faces the sanctum.

In Ardha mandap, the idols of Ganesh and Chandikeshwara are found. It is believed that Chandikeshwara got the blessing of Shiva in this place. It is unusual to find Chandikeshwara in Ardha Mandap.

Loka Nayaki:

Near the flag staff, in a separate south facing shrine, the Goddess Loka Nayaki is found in the standing posture. She has four arms. 

Aadal Vallan:

The shrine of Nataraj is called as Aadal Vallan in this temple. It is located in the first prakara. It is a significant shrine.

Apart the big bronze idols of Nataraja and Sivakami, the bronze idol of Anaya Nayanar is also found in this shrine. Anaya Nayanar is found playing a flute with his crossed legs, similar to the posture of Venu Gopal. He is found under a tree and is surrounded by cattle.

Another unusual idol found in this shrine is the bronze idol of Parasuram.

Near the Nataraj's shrine, the sub-shrine of the village deity is located. It enshrines the utsav idol of Kali with eight arms.

The idols of Shaneeswara, Vishnu Durga, Kala Bhairav, Swarna Bhairav and Navagraha are also located nearby. The specialty is to find Swarna Bhairav and Kala Bhairav together. Shaneeswara's vaahan crow has its head towards the north direction, which is unusual. 

Koshta Murtis:

The Koshta Murtis around the sanctum are very attractive and they appear to be of the Chola period.

Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatana, Shankara Narayana, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta deities. 

Dakshinamurti's right arm is in abhaya mudra, which is very rare. In front of Dakshinamurti, a separate idol of a sage (Jaimini?) is found seated. This is again unusual.

Durga is found resting not on Mahisasura, but on a lion. 


Other shrines and idols:

In the prakara, there are few other sub-shrines located such as:


  • Maha Ganapati
  • Shiv Linga that was worshiped by Parasuram
  • Gaja Lakshmi
  • Amman who granted mukti Anaya Nayanar 
  • Chandikeshwara
Some idols not located within sub-shrines are also found. They include:

  • Anaya Nayanar
  • Shiv Linga who granted mukti to Nayanar along with Nandi
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Baana Linga
  • Appar
  • Sambandhar
Kalyana Subramanya:

Kalyana Subramanya shrine needs special mention. Subramanya is in the Shanmukha form and has six heads. However, he has only four arms instead of 12 arms in this shrine. Another unique feature is that Valli, his consort is found seated on a peacock. Her right arm is in Varada mudra. Subramanya's another consort, Devasena is found holding flower in her right arm. She is in the standing posture. Even Subramanya is in the standing posture and not seated on peacock.

Happy travelling.






April 19, 2017

Manthurai Amravaneswarar Temple

Site Name: Amravaneswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Manthurai, 4 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Lalgudi
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Lalgudi and Trichy; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Trichy or Lalgudi
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Lalgudi

Manthurai is a village located at a distance of around 4 kms from Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. This village has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name of the temple is AmravaneswararIt is considered as the 58th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region north of Cauvery river.

Highlights:

  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • Arunagirinathar has revered Murugan in this temple in his verses in Tiruppugal.
  • God Amravaneeswarar a.k.a. Mrukandeeswarar
  • Goddess Balambikai a.k.a. Azhagammai
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Gayatri Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Mango 
  • Considered as one of the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams.

Legend:

The Sthala Purana of the temple is recorded under the title "Amravaneswara Mahatmya" in Agastya Samhita of Skanda Purana.

Mango Forest:

It is believed that this village was originally a forest full of mango trees. Hence, Shiva is named as Amravaneswarar in this site. The word "amra" means mango. 

Surya and Sanjana:

As per the legend, Sanjana, the wife of Surya, could not bear the heat of her husband. Hence, she made a reflection of herself and left her to Surya. Then, she took the form of a horse and came to Manthurai and did severe penance towards Lord Shiva. Surya, after realizing that it was not Sanjana, but her personified shadow-image called Chhaya with whom he has been living, reduced the intensity of his heat waves. Then, he too came down to this village and worshiped Shiva. With the blessing of Shiva, he returned along with Sanjana.

Deer:

A Rakshasa couple took the form of deer and they were roaming in this village which was a forest on those days. Due to a curse, a sage was born as cub to those deer. Shiva and Parvati took the form of hunters and killed the Rakshasas. Then, Parvati fed the deer cub and absolved it from its sin committed in the earlier birth. As per the request from that sage, Shiva and Parvati remained forever in this site, it is believed.

Brahma:

Once, as part of his competition on supremacy with Vishnu, Brahma lied that he had seen the head of Lord Shiva (as per the legend connected to Tiruvannamalai). Due to this, he was cursed by Shiva. To absolve his sin, Brahma came to this site. He created the river called Gayatri and worshiped Shiva in this temple. (There is no Gayatri river now; probably a portion of Cauvery in this region is called as Gayatri).

Mrikundu:

It is said that Mrikundu Rishi did penance towards Shiva Linga found under the mango tree in this site and as a result he begot Markandeya as his son. Hence, Shiva in this temple is also called Mrikandeeswarar.

Indra:

As per another legend, Indra got sin due to his misbehavior with Ahalya. He got his sin absolved after worshiping Shiva Linga in this site.

Surya and Chandra:

To absolve himself from the sin of attending Daksha yagna, Surya worshiped Shiva in this village.

Chandra prayed to Shiva in this site and as a result he became the master of the night period.

History:

Two stone inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola period are found in this temple. Based on this and the architectural style followed in this temple, we can assume that the original temple must have been expanded or rebuilt in the 11th century CE by the Cholas. 

Temple Layout:

Entrance:

The east facing temple has three tiered tower. The tower has many interesting stucco images. Nandi and bali peetha are located outside the temple complex. They face towards the temple tower.

Amravaneswarar:

The east facing sanctum with a very beautiful Vimana enshrines a moderately big sized Shiv Linga named as Amravaneswarar.

Nandi is found in Maha Mandap and it faces Shiva Linga. 


Balambikai:

The south facing shrine for the Goddess Balambikai is located in the prakara. Nandi is her vaahan. One idol of Nandi at Maha Mandap and another outside the mandap are found facing towards the shrine.

Koshta Idols:

The Chola period  and few later period Koshta idols of Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found on the outer walls of the sanctum.

Other Shrines and Idols:

The temples enshrines many other idols and sub-shrines.

  • Nataraja - Sivakami sub-shrine in the Maha Mandap
  • Utsav Murtis such as Uma-Maheshwara, Ganesh etc. in a separate shrine in Maha Mandap
  • Ganesh shrine in the prakara
  • Bala Dandayudhapani sub-shrine in the prakara
  • Subramanya-Valli-Devasena sub-shrine in the prakara - sung by ArunagiriNathar in Tirupugal
  • Gaja Lakshmi in a separate shrine
  • Navagraha - Surya with his two consorts; all other planets face towards Surya in the middle
  • Bhairav 
  • Surya 
  • Adi Shankara
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Sthala Vruksha
  • Idols of Ganesh and Bala Dandayudhapani at the entrance of Maha Mandap
Happy travelling.

April 15, 2017

Sapta Risheeshwarar Temple - Lalgudi

Site Name: Sapta Risheeshwarar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Lalgudi, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An ancient and important temple of Lord Shiva
Nearest Railway Station: Lalgudi
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Trichy
Hotel: Mid-range hotels in Lalgudi; for better options, go to Trichy 
Restaurants: Few mid-range restaurants in Lalgudi

Lalgudi is a town located at a distance of around 20 kms from Trichy city in Tamil Nadu state of India. In the olden days, the town was called as Tirutavathurai. In this town, an ancient and important temple of Lord Shiva, called as Sapta Risheeshwarar, is located. Let us explore this temple in this article. 


Highlights:


  • God Sapta Risheeshwarar 
  • Goddess Sreemati or Sivakama Sundari or Perunthirup Piraattiyar
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Peepul
  • Refered in Anbil copper plates.
  • Sri Tyagaraja Swamigal composed Pancha Ratna Mala on the Goddess of this temple.

Legend:

Sapta Rishis:

The Devas, who were subdued by the Asuras, wanted Lord Shiva to give birth to a son, who alone could terminate the evil forces under the leadership of Tarakasura. With the help of Kama Deva, they disturbed the penance of Shiva. Shiva produced six sparks, which resulted in the birth of Kartikeya, with six heads. The wives of the seven great sages (Sapta Rishis) were assigned the duty of feeding the divine child. 

Arundhati, the wife of the sage Vashishtha, did not want to feed Kartikeya. Hence, the Rishi Patnis assigned their task to Kritika girls. Hence, the seven sages got furious and they cursed their respective wives. Kartikeya did not like the act of the sages. Hence, he cursed them. To get rid of their curse, the sages went to Tiruvaiyaru. Then, they came down to Lalgudi and worshiped Lord Shiva. They got rid of their problems in this site. Shiva absorbed them by splitting the top portion of Linga. Hence, Shiva in this site, is called as Sapta Risheeshwarar.

Birth place of Amman:

The Goddess of the temple is Sivakama Sundari, who is also called as Sreemati. It is believed that she was born to Mangalya Rishi in this town.

Vishnu and Lakshmi:

Lakshmi did penance towards Shiva and got his darshan in this site. Hence, this place was originally called as "Tiru Tava Thurai". (The word "Tiru" represents Lakshmi).

Vishnu, who had lost his discus, got back the same with the blessing of Lord Shiva in this site.

Malik Kafur:

 It is said that Malik Kafur, during his invasion of South India, visited this town. The temple tower was painted in red color. He apparently asked his generals what was this Lal Gudi, meaning the red temple. Due to this, the town is called as Lalgudi. 




History:

The current structure of the temple belongs to the Chola period. The stone inscriptions of Parantaka Chola I's period (10th century CE) are found in the temple. It appears that two Pallava period inscriptions were copied by Parantaka. Hence, we can assume that the original temple must be much older and Parantaka might have rebuilt the temple.


Anbil copper plates have reference about this temple.

The palm leaves containing Devaram hymns were found in a room near the sanctum.

It is believed that Sambandhar would have sung about this temple. But, the relevant Devaram song is not found. Hence, it is not considered as Paadal Petra Sthalam and not even as a Vaippu Sthalam. 

Sri Tyagaraja Swamigal visited this site. He composed five songs, collectively known as Lalgudi Pancha Ratna Kritis on the Goddess of this temple. 


Temple Layout:

Entrance:

The west  facing entrance of the temple has a four tiered tower and a long mandap in the front side. The ceiling of the mandap blocks the sight of the tower.

In the inner side of the tower, the idols of Ganesh and Surya are located.

Sapta Risheeshwarar:

The west facing sanctum with a beautiful enshrines the big Shiv Linga. Shiv Linga is named as Sapta Risheeshwarar. He is self manifested (swayambhu) Linga. There is a vertical red split on the top of Linga.

Nandi in the Maha Mandap and another Nandi in the outside courtyard face the sanctum. In the courtyard, the flag staff and bali peetha are located.

The Dwarapalas images are very beautiful.

Sreemati:

The Goddess of the temple is called as Sreemati. She is found in a separate east facing shrine, which is located in the outer prakara area. A long front-side mandap is also there. In this temple, Nandi (and not lion) faces the Goddess.

Unique Murtis:

In Maha Mandap area, some unusal Murtis are found. On the true right side, the idols of Vishnu and Krishna are found. The idols of Vishwaksena and Sapta Rishis (the seven great sages) are found on the other side. 

Probably, the legend of Vishnu getting back his discus from Shiva, has something to do with these Vaishnava Murtis in this temple.

Having Sapta Rishis is not a surprise, as Shiva is called as the Lord of Sapta Rishis in this temple.

Koshta Murtis:

The Koshta Murtis that are found on the outer walls of the sanctum are also unique. Bhikshatana, Ardha Nareeswara and Veenadhara Dakshinamurti (in the standing posture) are found as the Koshta (niche) deities. All these Murtis look extremely attractive.

Other Idols:

In the prakara, there are many idols located. Some of them are not usually found in the other Shiva temples.


  • Sapta Matas
  • Sapta Ganapatis (seven Murtis of Ganesh)
  • Few Shiv Lingas
  • 63 Nayanmars
  • Nalvar
  • Few sages
  • Bhairav
  • Navagraha (all eight planets face towards Surya in the middle)
  • Garud
  • Mangalya Rishi (father of the Goddess)
Other Sub-shrines:

In the first prakara, there are many sub-shrines located, such as:


  • Small Utsav Murtis of Nataraja and Shivakami
  • Big idol of Saraswati, which faces the sanctum
  • Dakshinamurti
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Big stucco idol of Gaja Lakshmi
  • Durga
  • Ganesh
  • Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
Similar to the Vimana of the sanctum, the Vimanas of the other sub-shrines are also very attractive. 

Happy travelling.