June 30, 2013

Thirupachur

Site Name: Vacheeswaran Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thirupachur, adjacent to Tiruvallur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; Local train facility is available till Tiruvallur
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

Thirupachur is a small village located adjacent to Tiruvallur near Chennai city in South India. The village has an important Shiva temple called as Vacheeswaran Temple. It is considered as the 16th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Tondai region. 

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar and Appar have revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • Ramalinga Vallalar has also revered the temple in his verses.
  • It is believed that Karikala Chola built this temple.
  • Eleven idols of Ganesha are found in one place - Ekadasa Vinayaka.
  • 'Paasu' means bamboo; the place is named after the sthala vruksha and called as 'Pasoor'; later it became 'Thiru Pachur'.
  • God - Vacheeswarar aka Pasupateeswarar aka Pasoornathar 
  • Goddess Than Kadhali aka Mohanambal aka Pasupati Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Soma Teerth aka Mangala Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksham (Holy tree) - Bamboo

Legend:

As per the legend, the Chola king Karikala was fighting Kurumbars (the local tribals); the Jains used their magical power and created a snake to attack the Chola king. Lord Shiva helped the king by killing the snake.

There is another legend which states that Kali helped the Kurumbars. Upon the request from Karikala, Lord Shiva enticed her with a golden necklace. There is a shrine for Swarna Kali located near the flag post in this temple.

There are two versions related to the origin of this temple. As per one version, a cow was regularly showering milk in a particular place. On digging the place, a Shiva Linga idol was found; the king Karikala built the temple for this idol. The another version states that Shiva killed the snake to help the king; when his men was digging to bury the snake, they hit the head of Shiva Linga idol. As the axe hit, he got the name 'Vacheeswara' (Vachee means 'axe' in Tamil language.)

Temple Layout:

The temple has the south facing main entrance with a tower. There is another entrance and tower facing the eastern direction.

Facing the main shrine, the flag post, bali peetha and Nandi idol are located. Also, the sub-shrine of Swarna Kali is also located here. The legend related to her is already discussed in the previous section.

The entrance to the main shrine is unusual in this temple. Usually, the entrance to the main portion of the temple would be either in the eastern direction opposite to flag post or in the southern direction. However, in this temple, one can reach the main shrine only after passing the long passage and few sub-shrines and idols; the entrance of this passage is located right opposite to the main entrance of the temple, facing southern direction.

The sanctum sanctorum has the big Shiv Linga idol named as 'Vacheeswarar' with the mark of axe on his head. The bas-relief of Somaskanda panel is found on the wall. 'Sree Chakra' which is believed to be installed by Adi Shankara is found in the Ardha Mandapa; it is usually found only in the Goddess temples. The Dwarapala idols are found to be large. A small Nandi idol is found facing the main shrine. The vimana is in Gajaprshtha style; the idol  is 'Theenda Tirumeni' - who should not be touched even by the priest.

The inner prakara around the sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Chidambareswarar (big Shiv Linga), Surya, Nava Kanyas, Shiv Linga, Naga, Bhairava, Veerabhadra with eight arms, Ayyappa and Pancha Lingas.

The wall around the sanctorum has the following koshta idols - Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Annamalaiyar (Lingodbhava), Brahma and Durga. Chandikeshwara is found near Durga. All these niche idols except Durga and Chandikeshwara are very attractive.

In the maha mandapam, there is a sub-shrine for Nataraja and Sivakami; the idols are large. Adjacent to that, the utsava idols of Shiva and Amman are located; both of them are very beautiful.

To the right side of the sanctorum, the eleven idols of Ganesha called as Ekadasa Vinayaka and a big Shiv Linga named as 'Perumal Vinai Theertha Lingam'. It is believed that Lord Vishnu worshiped 11 Vinayakas and Shiv Linga to get rid of his sin in killing two Asuras, Madhu and Kaidabha; another legend states that he pleaded to Shiva and Ganesha to retain his wealth as he lost most of his wealth to Kubera.

To the right side of Ekadasa Vinayaka, the sub shrines of Subramanya-Valli-Devasena and Navagraha are located.

Next comes the shrine of the Goddess which is unusually found to the right side of the presiding deity facing the east direction. The name of the Goddess is 'Than Kadhali' a beautiful Tamil name.

There is a big outer prakara that surrounds all these sections of the temple.

Happy travelling.









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