January 25, 2013

Tiruppainjeeli Neelivaneswarar Temple - Temple of Yama

Site Name: Neelivaneswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Tiruppainjeeli, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva); a rare temple for Yama; Pallava period cave temple
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Trichy 
Hotel: Go to Trichy where there are a lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Trichy where there are a lot of options

Tiruppainjeeli (pronounced as Tiruppainneeli) is a village located near Trichy in Tamil Nadu of South India. It has an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is considered as the 61st site among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola country north of Kaveri river. 

  • The temple complex contains a cave shrine built by Mahendravarma Pallava in 7th century CE. It is considered as the temple of Yama.
  • Plantain tree is being worshiped here. Even people from the other religions (non-Hindus) participate in the pooja which is popular in this locality.
  • There is no Navagraha in this temple. The steps leading to the main shrine are considered as Navagrahas.
  • The site was sung by Appar, Sambandhar and Sundarar.
  • The site is named after a kind of plantain tree called Neeli.
  • God - Neelakantheswar, Neelivananathar, Kathalivasanthar, Aadavidangar
  • Goddess - Vishalakshi
  • Holy tree of the site (Sthala Vruksha) - Neeli Valai (Plantain tree)
  • Teerth - Appar Teerth

The sage Vashisth got the darshan of Lord Nataraja (Shiva in the dancing posture) in this site. As per another legend, Parvati performed penance towards Shiva in this temple; she turned Sapta Matas as Neeli plantain trees. It is believed that Neeli kind of plantain trees are found only in this site; if any human eats them, he/she will not suffer from disease or fever.

Temple Layout:

The architecturally beautiful unfinished tower is the highlight of the temple. The dwarapalas' statues in the tower entrance are also very attractive. The area behind the tower is an open space with a small four-pillared mandapa and a small shrine of Lord Shiva. The Shiv Linga and the adjoining Nandi idol are located slightly underground. Shiva is named as Chottrudai Eswarar in this shrine. As per the legend, the saint Tirunavukkarasar suffered with hunger; Shiva took the form of a Brahmin and fed him in this place.

There is another three tiered tower with a small shrine for Ganesha in the entrance. The tower is named as 'Ravanan Gopuram'. Outside the tower on the right side, there is a cave temple, which is said to be constructed by the Pallavas (possibly during Mahendravarma Pallava's period in the 7th century CE). There, we can find a beautiful and rare bas-relief image of Somaskanda form. Shiva and Parvati are found in the sitting posture; especially Parvati is sitting stylishly with her left leg hanging down and right leg folded; Lord Skanda as an infant is found between them. Yama - the God of death, is found in the form of infant at the feet of Lord Shiva. People call this as Yama temple as it is rare to find a separate shrine for Yama. Most of the scholars do not agree that this could be Pallava's work. According to them, it must be a later work. I too agree with their views.

As per the legend, Lord Shiva killed Yama in order to protect his devotee Markandeya. Based on the request from the Devas, Shiva gave him re-birth in this site and hence he is found in the form of a infant. 

The temple does not have Navagrahas (nine planets). Instead, the small holes near the Nandi statue and the nine steps at the Ravanan tower represent the nine planets.

The sanctum sanctorum has a very small idol of Shiv Linga named as Neelivananathar. The wall around the sanctum sanctorum has Dakshinamurti, Ardha Nareeswarar and Bhikshatana idols as the koshta idols. Chandikeshwara idol is also found as usual in the first prakara. 

The second prakara has the bas-relief images of Sapta Matas, Ganesha idol and shrine of Shanmukha with his consorts. There are two Goddess shrines in this temple; both are located in the second prakara and both are named as Vishalakshi. The east facing shrine has very tall idol. The other shrine is facing the southern direction. There is also a separate shrine for Viswanathar-Vishalakshi near the tower.

Separate bali peetha, flag post and Nandi idols are found in front of Shiva shrine as well as Goddess shrine.

The site where Nataraja appeared to Vashistha is called as Ratna Sabha which is found inside the main shrine.

An ideal place for art lovers as well as for devotees.

Happy travelling.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing!!! Nice Blog!! Very Informative!