December 4, 2013

Tirukkandiyur Brahma Shira Kandeesar Temple

Site Name: Brahma Shira Kandeesar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Kandiyur, 11 kms from Tiruvaiyaru, near 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 Tiruvaiyaru or 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 Tiruvaiyaru or Tanjore

Kandiyur aka Tirukkandiyur is a small village near Tanjore town in South India. There are two important Hindu temples located in this village. Brahma Shira Kandeesar Temple is one among those two main temples. It is considered as the 12th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola region south of Cauvery river.

  • Sambandhar and Appar have revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • It is considered as the 5th of Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthana temples.
  • It is considered as the 7th of Veeratta Sthalams.
  • The Sun's rays illuminate the sanctum on the 13th, 14th and 15th days in the Masi month of Tamil Year (Aquarius)
  • A separate shrine for big idols of Brahma and Saraswati; it is unique
  • God Brahma Shira Kandeesar aka Veeratteswarar aka Brahmanathar aka Aadivilvanathar
  • Goddess Mangalanayaki 
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Nandi Teerth, Daksha Teerth, Brahma Teerth, Kudamurutti river
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Vilvam


As per the legend, Lord Brahma had five heads similar to Lord Shiva. He developed proud due to this and started claiming that he was equivalent to Shiva. Once, Shiva got furious and plucked his central head. 'Kandanam' means plucking; as Shiva plucked Brahma's head, the site is called as Kandiyur and Shiva is called as Brahma Shira Kandeesar meaning 'one who plucked the head of Brahma'. Brahma realized his mistake and prayed to Lord Shiva. Shiva ensured that Brahma got his charm back just with his four heads. 

A seer named Satatapa used to go to Kalahasti for every Pradosham. Once, he couldn't go there. Lord Shiva gave darshan similar to Kalahasti to this seer in this site. It is said that the holy tree vilvam was brought from Mount Kailash for this seer. Hence, the site is also called as 'Aadi Vilvaranyam'.

Temple Layout:

The temple with five-tiered tower (Raja Gopuram) facing the western direction and having two prakaras (corridors) occupies an area of about one acre.

The passage to the sanctum sanctorum is long. The main shrine is divided into three sections - Moola Sthan (sanctum santorum), Ardha Mandapa (middle area) and the outer Maha Mandapa. Inside the sanctum, the main deity Brahma Shira Kandeesar is found in the form of Shiva Linga.

The entrance of Ardha Mandapa has the idols of Ganesha at one side and Subramanya-Valli on the other side. Near the entrance of Maha Mandapa, adjacent to Dwarapalas the idols of Ganesha, Shiva Linga and Surya are found.

In the open space facing the sanctum, the tall flag staff, bali peetha, big Nandi and a small Ganesha idol are found.

The inner prakara has a big shrine dedicated to Lord Brahma along with Saraswati. It is unique to find such a large size Brahma and Saraswati in a separate shrine. Brahma is found with two folded hands and a flower and Japa mala (beads) in his other two arms.

The wall surrounding the sanctum has Ardha Nareeswarar, Lingodbhavar and Durga as the Koshta deities. Chandikeshwara is found in a separate sub-shrine at the backside of the sanctum.

The idols of Sapta Ganapati (seven Ganesha) and few Shiva Linga are located in the inner prakara. The idol of Satatapa Rishi related to the legend of the temple is also found here.

Navagraha is found with all the eight planets facing towards Surya, a unique feature of the temples of Tanjore region. Surya alone is found with his two consorts.

The Goddess Mangala Nayaki is found in a separate shrine facing the northern direction in the outer prakara.

The outer prakara has the holy tree with a small Ganesha idol installed under the tree. There is another sub-shrine dedicated to the Goddess Ilan Kali Amman.

Happy travelling.

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