March 5, 2013

Uraiyur Tirumukkecharam Panchavarneswarar Temple

Site Name: Panchavarneswarar Temple aka Tirumukkecharam
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Uraiyur, near Trichy city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
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; few options are available in Uraiyur itself

Uraiyur is the ancient capital of the great Chola kings. It is located near Trichy city in South India. It has an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is considered as the fifth among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola country south of Kaveri river. 

  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • The temple was built by Kochchenganan Chola.
  • It is the birth place of Pugal Chola Nayanar and Kochenganan Chola.
  • Lord Shiva appeared in five different colors in five different periods to the saint Utanga; hence, the Lord is named as Panchavarneswarar which means 'the Lord of five colors'.
  • God Panchavarneswarar
  • Goddess Kantimathi (The Goddess of Tirunelveli Nellaiyappar temple is also named as Kantimathi.)
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vilvam
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Shiva Teerth, Naga Teerth


As per the legend, Lord Shiva appeared in five different colors, as Ratna Linga in the morning, Spatika Linga at noon, Golden Linga in the afternoon, Diamond Linga at night and Chitra Linga at midnight to Lord Brahma (in terms of colors, they are golden yellow, white, red, black and smoke ash). It is said that even today the color of Shiv Linga idol changes slightly as above. As the idol is of five different colors, he is named as Panchavarneswarar.

As per another legend, the serpent Karkodaga and his arch rival Garuda worshiped the Lord in this site.

Another legend states that the Chola king Karikalan was passing this place by his elephant. A valiant cock struck the elephant on its forehead. The elephant began to retreat. The king made this city as his headquarters.

There is another interesting legend associated with this site. A Chola king saw the five daughters of Nagaraja (the serpent king) worshiping five Shiv Linga idols. He married the youngest daughter. As per his request, his father in law gave half of Shiv Linga idol to him. The youngest daughter collected the other five Shiv Linga idols from her sisters and merged all the six idols into one Shiv Linga. It is believed that it is the site where that merged idol was installed.

Temple Layout:

As you enter the temple, a small mandapa with Ganesha and Karthikeya idols on its either side is the first structure found. After that a moderately big idol of Nandi is found facing the three tier temple tower. 

The temple is built based on maada kovil architectural style (raised platform). On either side there are thinnai (raised platforms) with pillars; all the pillars are found to be carved with sculptures.

The east facing sanctum sanctorum has a small Shiv Linga idol - Panchavarneswarar. The entrance to the shrine has small idols of Ganesha and Skanda as well as two big relief images of Dwarapalakas.

Nataraja-Sivakami alone with a lot of bronze idols are placed in a small shrine located in the maha mandapa.

Kantimathi is found in a separate south facing shrine.

The inner prakara has a lot of idols of sub-shrines. Pugal Chola, saint Utanga, Nalvar, 63 Nayanmars, Ganesha, few Lingas and Amman idols are located here.

The koshta idols around the main shrine are notably beautiful. Dakshinamurti idol is found with a serpent on his head and a cow with four saints at his foot. It appears to be a rare sculpture. The idols of Brahma, Vishnu and Durga are also found as the other Koshta idols. Chandikeshwara is found near Durga.

The sub shrines of Ganesha, Subramanya with two consorts, Lakshmi and Saraswati are too located in the inner prakara. 

The temple tank is located in the area outside the tower.

Happy travelling.

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  1. Is there an carving on a pillar of man ridge ng acycle? If so what is the news behind it? When carved?

  2. Heard there is carving of a man riding a cycle in one of the pillars. Is it right? When carved? Any details?