May 16, 2013

Thakkolam - The Historical Town

Site Name: Jalanatheswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thakkolam, 30 kms north of Kanchipuram and 12 kms south of Arakkonam, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva); Thakkolam was a famous battlefield where the Cholas fought with the Rashtrakutas
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; public transport is difficult
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

Thakkolam is a small town located close to Arakkonam near Chennai city in South India. The town which is also called as Tiruvooral has historical significance. It is the site where the great Chola prince Aditya Chola was killed in the battle. The town has an important Shiva temple called as Jalanatheswarar Temple. It is considered as the 12th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Tondai country. 

  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • Arunagirinathar has revered Lord Murugan in this temple in his verses in Tiruppugazh.
  • In the olden days, water used to come out of a Nandi idol near this temple and it would flow around the Shiva Linga. Then, it would reach another place and designed in such a way that it would come out of another Nandi idol; ultimately, it would reach the river 'Kallaru'. The place is also called as 'Tiruvooral' due to this reason.
  • The God is in the form of sand (Pritvi Linga) - cannot be touched even by the priest - called as 'Theendaa Thirumeni'.
  • It is believed that the Goddess Parvati hugged the Shiva Linga and the marks (slight hollow) are still found in the idol.
  • The Shiva Linga idol appears white during the drought period and it turns into red color during the fertile period. It changes its color automatically as per the season.
  • An ancient battlefield and historically important site.
  • Dakshinamurti in a rare posture; the temple is considered as an important Guru sthalam.
  • God Jalanatheswarar aka Umapatheeswarar aka Gangadheeswarar
  • Goddess Giriraja Kanni aka Mohanavalli
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Nandi Teerth

    The history of Thakkolam is more interesting than the temple located in this town. Rajaditya Chola was an army general and son of the Chola king Parantaka Chola I. There were multiple invasions from Rashtrakutas under Krishna III between 940 CE and 950 CE. To ward off such attacks, Rajaditya stationed himself in Thakkolam. In 949 CE, the Cholas and the Rashtrakutas met in Thakkolam battlefield. The Cheras supported the Cholas whereas the Rashtrakutas got the support of the Ganga king Butuga II. In the battle, the Chola prince was killed by Butuga. It ultimately resulted in the defeat of the Chola army in the battle.


    As per the legend, Kamadhenu, the divine cow, worshiped the Lord in this temple. Hence, the prayers offered here bring 100 fold benefits to the devotees.

    It is believed that Kamadhenu, Chandra, Indira, Yama, Sapta Kannikas and the sage Uttandi offered prayers in this temple.

    At the behest of sage Uttandi, Nandi brought the river Ganges to this place. In the olden days, it was designed in a way that water would come out of Nandi idol and flow around the Shiva Linga idol; it would reach another Nandi idol and come out of its mouth to ultimately reach the river 'Kallaru'. 

    Temple Layout:

    The temple has a small three tiered tower facing the western direction. Two small shrines, dedicated to Ganesha and Murugan are located at the entrance of the tower. As the main shrine is facing the eastern direction, the tower is actually located at the back side of the temple.

    The main shrine has the slightly big Shiva Linga named as Jalanatheswarar. It is made up of sand. It changes its color to white or red depending upon the season. As the Goddess Parvati embraced the idol, a small hollow is still found. Even the priest cannot touch the idol - it's 'theenda thirumeni'. 

    As usual, the flag post, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing the main shrine.

    The big relief images of dwarapalas are attractive. Few idols are found in the ardha mandapa. Maha mandapa has the modern day stone images of Nataraja and Sivakami. Navagraha is also found nearby. Three small shrines - Ganesha, Murugan and Shasta are located in this area.

    The Goddess Giriraja Kanni is found in a separate shrine with a mandapa at its front side. The shrine is facing the north direction and located in the outer prakara.

    The temple has two prakaras. The outer prakara is huge. Apart from the Goddess shrine, two shrines - one dedicated to Ganesha and another (big one) dedicated to Skanda with his consorts are found. This idol of Skanda was revered by Arunagirinathar.

    The inner prakara has five Shiva Lingas, Sapta matas, Bhairava, Surya and Chandra.

    The koshta idols are the highlights of this temple. All the koshta idols - Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga and even the Chandikeshwarar are very attractive and big idols. Especially the idol of Dakshinamurti is different. Dakshinamurti has an ear ring on just one ear; he has a deer and serpent at his foot step. He has Japa mala in his one arm and seated under the banyan tree. He is found slightly slanting his head towards left side. It's a unique and rare posture. It is considered as the third Guru sthalam.

    Happy travelling.

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