December 12, 2013

Pasupati Koil

Site Name: Aalanthurainathar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Pasupati Koil, 14 kms from Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tanjore; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Tanjore
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Tanjore

Pasupati Koil is a small village near Tanjore town in South India. The village is also called as Tiruppullamangai. The temple has an important temple for Lord Shiva - Aalanthurainathar temple. It is considered as the 16th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region south of Cauvery river.

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • It is considered as the fifth Tiruchakrapalli Sapta Sthana temples.
  • Unique Durga sculpture.
  • Navagraha with Nandi in the middle.
  • God - Aalanthurainathar aka Pasupateeswarar aka Brahmapureeswarar aka Pasupatinathar
  • Goddess - Alliyankothai aka Soundara Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Cauvery, Kudamurutti, Kamadhenu Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Banyan tree

Legend:

As the site is located on the banks of Kudamurutti river with the banyan tree as the sthala vruksha, it was called as 'Aalanthurai' in the olden days. 'Aalam' means banyan and 'thurai' means 'river banks'.

It is believed that Parvati worshiped Lord Shiva in the form of Chakravaha bird. 

As per the legend, Lord Shiva converted the poison that came out of milky ocean into nectar (amrita) in this site.

Brahma got rid of his curse in this temple; hence, Lord Shiva is also called as 'Brahmapureeswarar' here.

History:

The Chola period inscriptions are found in this temple. The sanctum sanctorum and Ardha Mandapa of the current structure of the temple were built by Parantaka Chola I of 10th century CE. Many of the sculptures and few idols in the temple are also of the Chola period. The temple was later renovated by the Naickar ruler Veera Sumbanna Udayar. He also built the current temple tower. Later it was renovated by the Maratha king Pratapa Simhan. It is said that many of the beautiful sculptures and other treasures of the temple were robbed off or destroyed by the foreign invaders multiple times.

This is the fifth of seven Tiruchakrapalli Sapta Sthana temples. These seven temples were worshiped by Sapta Matas - Aria Mangai, Chakra Mangai, Shoola Mangai, Nandi Mangai, Pasu Mangai, Thazha Mangai and Pulla Mangai. This particular temple was worshiped by Pasu Mangai.

As per a legend, Kamadhenu, the divine cow also worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.

Temple Layout:

The temple occupies small area. The temple has tall tower (Raja gopuram) facing east direction. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines Shiva Linga (named as Aalanthurainathar). Bali peetha and Nandi statue are located facing the main shrine. There is no flag staff.

The Goddess Alliyankothai is found in a separate shrine adjacent to the main shrine.

One of the specialties of the temple is that Nandi statue is located at the center of Navagraha idols.

The vimana and the external wall of the main shrine are beautiful with a lot of attractive sculptures. Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta deities. Lingodbhava has Brahma and Vishnu on his either sides. The idol of Durga is an unique feature of this temple. The Goddess is found standing on the buffalo head and an umbrella above her head. She has eight arms and holds various weapons such as sword, bow, arrow, mace, conch, discus, etc. The sculptures of two soldiers are found on either sides of the Goddess; they appear to do self sacrifice by cutting down their own heads. It is believed that the same sculptor sculpted Durga sculptures in Nageswaram, Patteeswaram and this place. All three sculptures are considered powerful.

The temple has just one prakara (corridor). The sub shrines of Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are found in the prakara.

The idols of Bhairava, Surya, Nalvar, Ganesha (at Maha mandapa entrance), Chandikeshwara etc. are also found in this temple.

It's an important temple with rich heritage and historic value.

Happy travelling.












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