November 1, 2014

Tirukkarugavur Garbarakshambikai Temple

Site Name: Garbarakshambikai Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tirukkarugavur, near Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Stalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva); Womb is protected by the Goddess
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore 
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Tanjore
Restaurants: Very few options; it is better to go to Tanjore

Tirukkarugavur is a village near Tanjore town in South India. The village has a prominent temple called as Garbarakshambikai temple. It is considered as the 18th among the Tevara Paadal Petra Stalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region north of Cauvery river.

Highlights:
  • Sambandar and Appar have revered the temple in their verses in Tevaram.
  • God Garbapureeswarar aka Mullaivananathar aka Madavivaneswarar
  • Goddess Garbarakshambikai aka Karu Kaththa Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Brahma Teerth, Ksheera Kund
  • Stala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Jasmine
  • It is believed that the childless couple are blessed with child and fetus of the pregnant women are protected in this site.
  • It is one of five Aranya Stalams located at south of Cauvery river. (Karugavur - Mullai vanam; Avalivanallur - Padiri vanam; Aradaipperumpazhi - Vanni vanam; Irumpoolai - Poolai vanam; Kollampudhur - Vilva vanam).

Legend:

It is believed that Brahma, Gautama Rishi and Chandra worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.

Gautama and Gargeya were doing penance in this site which was a jasmine forest (Mullai Vanam in Tamil) in those days. A couple by name Nidhruva and Vedikai were rendering service to these sages in their ashram. The childless couple were advised by the sages to worship Garbarakshambikai. Their prayers were answered by the Goddess. Vedikai got conceived.

During Vedikai's later stage of pregnancy and while Nidhruva was not at home, Urdhuvapada rishi came to her abode and asked for alms. She felt weak and did not acknowledge the presence of the sage. The sage got angered due to this and cursed her. Due to the curse, her fetus got disintegrated. She prayed to Goddess Garbarakshambikai to protect her fetus. The Goddess appeared and preserved the fetus in a sacred pot until it developed into a male child. The parents named him as Naidhuruvan.

Vedikai requested the Goddess to stay at this site. Thus the Goddess stayed in this village and started protecting the fetus of the pregnant women. Hence, she was named as 'Garbarakshambikai' meaning 'the Goddess who protects fetus'. The place was also called as Tirukkarugavur which means the place which protects the fetus.

Later when Vedikai did not have mother's milk to feed her child, the Goddess sent the divine cow Kamadhenu. The cow scratched the ground in front of the temple with her hoof and milk oozed out from the ground thus forming a 'Milk Tank' called as 'Ksheera Kund'.

Temple Layout:

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. However, as devotees give more importance to the Goddess of the temple than Shiva, people started calling this temple as Garbarakshambikai temple instead of Mullaivananathar temple.

The east facing temple has a five-tiered tower (Raja Gopuram). The sacred tank 'Ksheera Kund' is located opposite to the tower. There is another entrance at the southern side and one more tower is also found.

The sancum sanctorum has Lord Shiva called as Mullaivananathar in the form of Shiva Linga. He is Swayambhu (self manifested) idol and is believed to be made up of ant hole mud. Hence, abhishek is not performed to this deity. As there was a jasmine creeper around the deity in those days when it was a jasmine forest, there is a scar seen even today on the deity.  

Inside the east facing sanctum sanctorum the idols of Swayambhu Ganesha and another Ganesha are also located. In addition, the utsava (processional) idols are also found withing the sanctum sanctorum. 

The Nataraja-Sivakami shrine is located in the maha mandapa. 

Nandi which is facing Lord Shiva is also a swayambhu idol. There is another Nandi idol near the bali peetha and flag staff.

The southern side of the temple has a garden. The northern side has Vasanta mandapa.

In the prakara of the gigantic temple, there are many sub-shrines and idols which include Nirudi Ganapati, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Somaskanda, Navagraha, 63 Nayanmars and Nalvar. Navagraha is unique with all the eight planets facing towards Surya who is in the middle.

The shrine of the Goddess Garbarakshambikai is located adjacent to the main shrine and it also faces the east direction. It is equally big in size and more number of devotees can be seen in this shrine. 

Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Ardhanareeswarar, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta (niche) idols on the walls around the sanctum sanctorum. There is a small sub-shrine of Chandikeshwara also found in the prakara.

A mandapa in the form of a chariot with a Shiva Linga on it is found in this temple. It was worshiped by Nidhruva (refer the legend section above).

The temple is believed to be built by the Cholas and it has inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola, Rajendra Chola, Kulotunga Chola and Madurai Konda Kopparakesarivarman.

Brahma Teerth is another sacred tank located outside the temple complex.

The sacred tree is located between the sanctum sanctorum and the shrine of Chandikeshwara. 

Belief:

It is believed that the Goddess of the site, Garbarakshambikai, blesses the childless couple with child and she also protects the fetus of women. Thousands of childless couples and pregnant women throng to this temple mainly for these reasons.

Happy travelling.

October 31, 2014

Tirukkattuppalli Agneeswarar Temple

Site Name: Agneeswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tirukkattuppalli, located near Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Stalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore and Tiruvaiyaru; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Tanjore
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Tanjore

Tirukkattuppalli is a village near Tiruvaiyaru, which in turn is located near Tanjore town in South India. The village has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva called as Agneeswarar temple. It is considered as the 9th among the Tevara Paadal Petra Stalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region south of Cauvery river.

Highlights:
  • Appar and Sambandar have revered the temple in their verses in Tevaram.
  • God - Agneswarar aka Theeyaadiyappar
  • Goddess Soundara Nayaki aka Azhagammai
  • Stala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Bilva and Vanni
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Agni Teerth and Cauvery
  • Considered as one of the Tevara Paadal Petra Stalams

Legend:

As Agni worshiped Lord Shiva in this site, he is named as Agneeswarar. 

Brahma, Surya and Bhageerata also worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.

It is believed that the temple was renovated during the reign of Uttama Chola.

As per the legend, someone gave two Chevvandi flowers to the King of Uraiyur. The flowers were meant for Shiva pooja. The king in turn gave those flowers to his two wives. The first wife offered the flower to Shiva and she lived with fame. The second wife wore the flower on her head and she faced a lot of difficulties in her life. Also, Uraiyur where the second wife of the King lived, was covered with sand dung whereas Tirukkattuppalli where the first queen lived was not affected by the natural calamity.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has five tiered tower (Raja gopuram).

The sanctum sanctorum has the main deity in the form of Shiva Linga named as Agneeswarar. The sanctum sanctorum is located slightly underground which is unique. Two big dwarapalas are found at the entrance. Ganesha idol is also located here.

The ardha mandapa and maha mandapa are very long. In maha mandapa, there are sub shrines and idols of Nataraja-Sivakami, Bhairava, Nalvar, Surya, Nava graha, utsava idols and Somakskanda. All the eight planets are facing towards Surya who is at the center; this depictions is unique.

In the innermost prakara, the niche (Koshta) idols of Yoga Guru, Ardhanareeswarar and Brahma are found.

In the middle prakara the Koshta (niche) idols of Dakshnimurti and Durga are found. The sub shrine of Chandikeshwara is also located here. Some of the other deities found here include Saaraswati, Gaja Lakshmi, Annamalai-Unnamalai, Srinivasa-Sri Devi - Bhoo Devi, Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena.

The outermost prakara has the sub-shrine of Nardana Vinayaka.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are situated facing towards the sanctum sanctorum. There is a small Ganesha idol near the flag staff.

The Goddess of the temple is Soundara Nayaki. She is found in an equally big separate south facing shrine. Her idol is very attractive and she has four arms and is found in the standing posture. There is a Ganesha idol at the entrance of this shrine.

Happy travelling.



October 30, 2014

Tirukkaanur Karumbeswarar Temple

Site Name: Karumbeswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tirukkaanur, located near Tiruvaiyaru, near Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Stalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore and Tiruvaiyaru; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Tanjore
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Tanjore

Tirukkaanur is a village near Tanjore town in South India. Currently, the place is called as Manal Medu. It is located near Tirukkandiyur and Tirukkattuppalli, which in turn is located near Tiruvaiyaru. The village has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is considered as the 56th among the Tevara Paadal Petra Stalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region north of Cauvery river.

Highlights:
  • Appar and Sambandar have revered the temple in their verses in Tevaram.
  • God Karumbeswarar aka Semmeninathar
  • Goddess - Shiva Loka Nayaki aka Soundara Nayaki
  • Stala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Bilva
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Kollidam
  • Considered as one of the Tevara Paadal Petra Stalams
  • The idol of Goddess is made up of Salagrama stone
  • The sun's rays fall on the main deity on April 2, 3 and 4 every year

Legend:

It is believed that Agni worshiped the main deity of this temple.

The Goddess, Parvati, was once separated from Lord Shiva. She performed penance towards Lord Shiva in Tirukkaanur. As Shiva appeared in the form of fire (red color), he is called as Semmeninathar (Semmeni means "red colored body" in Tamil language.

After the demise of Karikala Chola's father, his mother was hiding along with him in this village due to fear of his enemies. The royal elephant came to this place and put garland around the neck of Karikala and hence he was selected as the Chola King.

As Parasurama killed 21 generations of kings, he got affected by sin. In order to get rid of his sin, he came here and took bath in the sacred spring.

In the 1920s, the temple was completely covered with sand and a sugarcane was growing on top of the sand heap. After removing the sand heap, the temple was discovered. Hence, the main deity is called as Karumbeswarar (Karumbu means sugar cane in Tamil language).

When the Cholas conquered this village which was under the rule of the Pandyas, the local chieftain was caught; however, his pregnant wife let out. The people were not allowed to help her. Due to fear of the Chola army, no one helped the pregnant lady. She cursed the villagers and hence the village was piled up with sand.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has three tiered tower (Raja Gopuram). It is believed that the original temple was built by the Pandyas and later was renovated by the Cholas.

The sanctum sanctorum has the main deity in the form of Shiva Linga named as Karumbeswarar. There is a separate shrine facing
the south direction dedicated to the Mother Goddess Soundara Nayaki.

The sub-shrines of Ganesha and Skanda-Valli-Devasena, Chandikeshwara, Nagas, Ayyanar, Surya, Chandra and Nalvar are found in the prakara.

Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatana, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche (koshta) idols around the sanctum sanctorum.

Happy travelling.