January 13, 2013

Thirupparaithurai Temple

Site Name: Thirupparaithurai Shiva Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thirupparaithurai, near Trichy and Karur, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Elamanur
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Trichy and Karur
Hotel: Go to Trichy or Karur where there are a lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Trichy or Karur where there are a lot of options

Thirupparaithurai is a village located near Trichy and Karur cities in Tamil Nadu state of South India. It has an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is considered as the third among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola country south of Kaveri river. 

  • The site is also called as Daruka vanam in Sanskrit language. During the period of Raja Raja Chola II, it was called as Rajagambhiranallur.
  • It is located on the banks of the river Akanda Kaveri (the widest point in the course of the river Cauvery)
  • It is one of the seven Sapta Sthanam temples in this region.
  • The sun's rays illuminate the sanctum on the 18th day of the Tamil month of Purattasi.
  • Appar and Sambandhar have sung Devaram hymns about the presiding deity.
  • Arunagirinathar has sung hymns on Subramanya of this temple.
  • As the site had the forest full of Parai (Daruka) trees, it got the name Paraithurai or Darukavanam.
  • It is believed that the temple was rebuilt during the reign of Parantaka Chola I in the 10th century CE .
  • God : Paraithurai Nathar or Darukavananathar
  • Goddess : Pasumpon Mayilambikai or  Hema Varnambika
  • Sthala Vrukhsa (the divine tree of the temple): Parai (Daruka tree)

As per the legend, the sages of Darukavanam became extremely proud. Lord Shiva felt that the sages should not became proud. He wanted to teach a lesson to them. He took the form of Bhikshatana. The wives of those sages fell in love with him and started following him. 

On seeing their own wives following another male, the sages turned furious. They performed a yagna and produced an elephant, a tiger, serpent, deer and a dwarf. They ordered all of them to attack Shiva. Shiva overpowered all of them. He killed the tiger and wore tiger's skin. He held deer in his arm and started dancing on top of the dwarf. Ultimately, the sages realized their mistakes and sought his blessing. 

As per the legend, this village is the original Darukavanam, where the above mentioned incident took place. This story of Darukavanam and Bhikshatana are found as part of various Puranas and various Sthala Puranas, each has its own variation.


The original temple must have been a brick temple. In the 10th century CE, Parantaka Chola I rebuilt the temple as a stone temple.

Temple Layout:


Paraithurai Nathar temple is huge surrounding an area of around five acres. The east facing temple has two towers. The outer tower has seven tiers and the inner tower has five tiers.

In the vast space before entering into the outer tower, the temple tank is located in the true right side of the tower. On the true left side of the tower, the hundred pillared mandap and Vasanta Mandap are located. A school is functioning in the Vasanta Mandap nowadays. An idol of Ganesh in the standing posture is found at the entrance of the outer tower.

In the area located between the two towers, the flag staff, bali peeth and Nandi Mandap are located and they face towards the inner tower. The sculptures of Appar, Sambandhar, Manickavasagar and the Chettiar who renovated the temple are found in the pillars of Nandi Mandap.

Paraithurai Nathar and Pasumpon Mayilambikai:

The east facing sanctum enshrines small Shiv Linga called as Paraithurai Nathar.

At the entrance of the sanctum, two big and beautiful images of Dwarapalas are found. The Dwarapala on the true right side of the sanctum has his index finger of right arm raised upwards and leaned toward his head, as if he is saluting. The other Dwarapala has all the five fingers of his left arm spread apart. A small Ganesh idol is also located at this entrance.

In the Ardha Mandap, an extremely beautiful bronze idol of Bhikshatana is located. In the Maha Mandap, there is sub-shrine that enshrines Nataraja-Sivakami and nd a collection of various bronze idols.

Nandi is found in Maha Mandap and it faces the sanctum.

Outside the Maha Mandap area, the south facing shrine enshrines the Goddess. She is found in the standing posture. She has a beautiful name, Pasumpon Mayilambikai. Nandi faces the Goddess in this shrine.

Both the shrines are located on a high raised platform (Mada Koil architecture).

Inner Prakara:

The inner prakara has raised pillared platform (thinnai) on either sides. There are number of idols and sub-shrines located in this prakara.

The idols of Valampuri Vinayak, Pidari, Sapta Matas, Nagas, Nalvar, Vigneshwara, 63 Nayanmars, Ayyanar, two idols of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Nardana Ganapati, Shiv Linga and Amman, Sona Linga, Appu Lingam, Vayu Lingam, Teyu Lingam, Subramanya with his consorts, Vishnu, Maha Lakshmi, Durga Lakshmi, Kankalanathar, Bhairav, Surya and Chandra.

Among the above mentioned idols, Sapta Matas are outstandingly beautiful sculptures. Vishnu, Lakshmi and Durga Lakshmi idols appear to be of Chola period. Durga Lakshmi is found with her head leaned slightly towards her shoulder. I am not sure why this Goddess is named as Durga Lakshmi. Vishnu is found holding a pot in his arms.

Kankalanathar is also a very beautiful sculpture. It too appears to be of Chola period. The iconography of Bhikshatana and Kankalanathar are different. If there is any doubt on this, please visit this temple where both these Murtis are found.

The sub-shrines of Ganesh, Somaskanda, Gaja Lakshmi, Shanmukha, Navagraha, Durga and Chandikeshwara are also located in this prakara. Shanmukha has six heads and twelve arms. His idol is very attractive. He holds bow and arrow in two of his arms, which is not very usual. His consorts are found on his either sides. Durga in the shrine is also an ancient sculpture. Among Navagraha, only Shaneeswara is found along with his vahan.

Koshta Deities:

Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Ardhanareeswar, Brahma and Durga are found as Koshta deities.

Dakshinamurti is found in a beautiful ornamental mandap which is guarded by two lions. Ardhanareeswar is an extraordinary sculpture. Durga and Brahma appear to be of later period sculptures. 

Outer Prakara:

The outer prakara is an open space with a lot of trees. Two shrines are found here - Kanni Vinayak and Dandayudhapani. The holy tree of the temple is also found here with a small Shiv Linga idol. It is believed that this tree cures cancer disease. 

Happy travelling.

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