June 12, 2010

Jwarahareswarar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Kanchipuram, which is called as the city of thousand temples, has around 250 temples at present in and around the city. Even though most of the temples are very ancient, historically significant or having interesting structures and sculptures, only few temples are popular and are being visited by the devotees. Jwarahareswarar temple is one in such category, which is an architectural wonder, but remains lesser known.

This temple, currently under the control of archaeological department of India, is located in Ekambaranathar Sannadhi Street near the popular Ekambaranathar temple.

This temple is indeed a marvel and gives us artistic delight. Out of three inscriptions found in this temple, the oldest one belongs to the period of Vikrama Chola. Hence, it is generally believed that the temple was constructed during his period in the 12th century CE. However, as per Kanchipuram Sri Sankaranarayanan, a scholar on multiple subjects, few fragments of inscriptions are found in the prakara of the temple, which belong to the 10th century CE. Hence, I presume that this temple could have been constructed much before the period of Vikrama Chola. However, it is undoubtedly the work of the Cholas.

Jwarahareswarar, who is also called as Jura Devar or Sura Devar, is one of the manifestations of Lord Shiva. He has three legs. Although the presiding deity of the temple is named as Jwarahareswarar, he is found in the form of Shiv Linga. The Chola inscription calls the deity as Suravattaramudaiya Nayanar.

Although the original structure was built by the Cholas, few additions such as the three tiered Raja Gopuram were done in the later period. In terms of stone inscriptions too, we find the inscription from the Telugu Chola Vijayakanda Bhoopati (13th century CE) and the Vijayanagara King Kampanna (14th century CE).

Kanchi Puranam talks about this temple. As per one version of the legend, Juraha, a Rakshasa, was killed by Shiva in this site and hence he is called as Jwarahareswara. However, the popular belief is that he cures fever (Jwara) and heat related ailment. Due to this reason, he is also called as Veppu Erinathar in Tamil, which means the deity who would cure heat related illness.

The east facing sanctum as well as the artistic Mukha Mandap are situated atop a high raised platform. The vimana is Vesara Vimana;  the sanctum is in circular shape which is rare. It is often mistaken as Gajaprshtha.

Facing towards the sanctum, there is a small but beautiful Nandi Mandap and bali peetha behind that.

There are floral designs found on the pillars in the Mukha Mandap. The entrance has the relief images of Sankha Nidhi and Padma Nidhi. Also, the images of Brahma and Vishnu are found. In the torana area, the bas-relief images of Shiva, Uma and Ganesh are found. In addition, there are a lot of miniature icons found on the top portion of the wall such as Bhuta Ganas, sages, dancers and those who play musical instruments.

Although the temple is artistically beautiful, there are not bigger size sculptures found. The highlight of the temple is the extraordinary miniature sculptures that are found all over the temple. The bottom portion of the walls have many figures such as lions, Yazhis, elephants and the depiction of various deities and humans in different styles.

The stone windows in different designs enhance the elegance of the structure. There are niches found, but without the icons. In one niche, we could find the small images of sages, lion and deer, which clearly indicate that this niche is meant for Dakshinamurti. Similarly, there is another niche that has Dwarapalikas on either sides. It indicates that this niche is meant for Durga.

The Nasikoodams of Upa peetham have few of the best icons of the entire temple such as Nisumbha Sudini and Jwara Deva.

The vimana has some fine stucco images such as Sadasiva Murti and Sarbeswara, but they are all partly damaged.

The temple  has a tank named 'Vepperi Kulam' or 'Upperi Kulam'. It is located outside the temple complex.

Happy travelling.


  1. Commendable job. i was told abt this temple but i don't know its location in KPM. Your article provided a detailed insight with rote map and other info. Thank you sir . Pls keep up your work as it helps people like me. I definitely benefited from your article.