February 3, 2013

Oottathur Suddharatneswarar Temple - (Built by Rajaraja Chola)

Site Name: Suddharatneswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Oottathur, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: It is believed to have been built by Raja Raja Chola I (the one who built the popular Brahadishwara Temple of Tanjore); a Devara Vaippu Sthalam
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

Oottathur is a small village near Trichy city in South India. Uttamar Koil is the nearest popular site of this village. The village has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is one of Devara Vaippu Sthalams. The 63 Nayanmars (devotees of Shiva) had travelled to various Shiva temples and sang the hymns - those sites are considered as 'Paadal Petra Sthalams'. Apart from that, there are several Shiva temples about which there are references found in the hymns (although not the entire song (padhigam) is dedicated); those temples are considered as 'Devara Vaippu Sthalam). This temple is one such Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.

  • A Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.
  • The original temple should be there at least from 7th century CE (probably a brick temple). The stone temple was built by Raja Raja Chola.
  • Various kings - Cholas including Rajendra Chola, Pandya kings, Vijayanagara kings, Bosala kings, etc. have either renovated or constructed some portions of the temple.
  • Nayaka kings built the gigantic wall surrounding the temple complex.
  • The Goddess' shrine was built by a dancer girl during the reign of Kulothunga Chola III.
  • God - Sudharatneswarar aka Thooyamaniswarar aka Masilamani
  • Goddess - Akilandeswari
  • Teerth - Brahma Teerth


As per the legend, Lord Brahma brought the holy water from all over the world and poured in the Brahma Teerth - the holy well in this temple. He got rid of his sin and curse in this temple.

As per another legend, the great Chola king Raja Raja was travelling through this village once. His servants were paving the path by cutting down the plants and removing the grass. In one particular place, they were shocked to find blood oozing out from the ground. It was brought to the king's notice. As per his order, the land was dug and a Shiv Linga idol was discovered; it had a cut on its head. The king built this temple with this Shiv Linga idol as the presiding deity.

Temple Layout:

The temple is large with a five tiered tower. The sanctum sanctorum has a big Shiv Linga idol with a small Nandi in the maha mandapa. There is another Nandi idol at a corner in the same mandapa facing the opposite direction; it is believed that the river Nandi originated from the mouth of this idol. There is another Nandi idol which is a beautiful sculpture located near the Brahma Teerth - the holy well. It is rare to find a well in front of the main shrine. The outer area also has a huge Nandi idol near the tall dhwajastambha and bali peetha.

The temple is full of ancient pillars with beautiful sculptures. Few pillars even have carvings which are erotic.

The inner prakara has a lot of idols such as 63 Nayanmars, Kailasanathar Shiv Linga, Brahma, Samba Parameswara Shiv Linga, Saraswati, Katyayini, Vishwanathar-Vishalakshi, Gaja Lakshmi, Adikara Nandi and Surya. The sub shrines such as Somaskandar, Chandrasekhar, Murugan (utsava), Subramanya with his consorts and Veerabhadra are located in the same prakara.

The big and beautiful sculptures of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as koshta idols surrounding the main shrine wall. Chandikeshwara is found as usual near Durga. Two small shrines - Vinayaka and Bala Murugan are located at the entrance of the maha mandapa. The dwarapalas sculptures are big and beautiful as usual in the other Chola temples.

There is a separate shrine for a big stone idol of Nataraja and Sivakami; it is rare to find.

The Goddess Akilandeswari's idol is big and found in the standing posture. The idol is located in a separate  shrine in the outer prakara of the temple. This shrine has its own Nandi mandapa and bali peetha. There is a small prakara around the shrine. Itcha, Gnana, Kriya, Chamundi, Brahmi and Varahi sculptures are carved in the wall surrounding the shrine. Ganesha and Subramanya idols are found at the entrance of the shrine. The shrine appears like a separate small temple; it is also facing the east direction similar to the sanctum sanctorum. 

In addition, the temple has a shrine for a beautiful idol of Nataraja and Sivakami. A small four pillared mandapa and the adjoining Navagraha shrine are also located in this temple. 

Visit this little known temple of Cholas and make it popular.

Happy travelling.

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