February 20, 2013

Thiruverumbur Temple

Site Name: Thiruverumbur Shiva Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thiruverumbur, 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

Thiruverumbur is a village located near Trichy city in Tamil Nadu state of South India. It has an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is considered as the seventh among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola country south of Kaveri river. 


Highlights:
  • Appar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • Manickavasagar has revered the Lord in Thiruvasakam.
  • Ramalinga Swamigal has also revered the temple in Thiruvarutpa.
  • The current form of the temple was built by Aditya Chola in the 9th century CE. To commemorate his victory in Tirupurambiyam battle, he built a series of temples including this along the banks of the river Kaveri.
  • The temple has a lot of inscriptions of Chola period.
  • It is a declared monument of the Archaeological Survey of India.
  • It acted as an infantry for the French troop when they were fighting with the British in 1752 CE.
  • The main deity is in the form of ant hill (mud mound).
  • God - Erumbeeswarar, Pippilikeshwarar, Erumbeesar, Madhuvaneswarar, Manikoodachalapati or Manickanathar
  • Goddess - Soundara Nayaki, Madhuvaneswari, Narunkuzhal Nayaki, Sugandha Kuzhaleswari or Ratnambal
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vilvam
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Brahma Teerth

Legend:

As per the legend, the demon named Tarukasura defeated the Devas. As per the advice from Lord Brahma, the Devas along with their leader Indira came to this site to worship the Lord. In order to  escape from the attack of the demons, they took the form of ants and came over here. As the surface of Shiv Linga was slippery, the ants could not climb. Hence, the Lord took the form of ant hill and also slightly slanted his head to enable the ants to climb. Erumbu means ant in Tamil language; the Lord is thus called as Erumbeeswarar.

Temple Layout:

Erumbeeswarar temple is located atop the hill at a height of around 60 feet which can be reached by a fleet of steep steps. As the temple is located on top of the hill, it is also called as 'Malai Kovil' (malai=hill). 

The temple has a small two tiered tower. As usual, the flag post, bali peeth and Nandi mandapa are found.

The main shrine has the idol of Lord Shiva in the form of ant hill with its head slightly slanting on its left side. The Lord is named as Erumbeeswarar temple. The marks made by ants can still be seen in this idol.

The Goddess Narunkuzhal Nayaki bearing a very beautiful Tamil name is found in a separate shrine outside the main shrine. 

The temple has two prakaras. The entire complex is surrounded by thick fortress walls.

The first prakara has the idols of Ganesha, Bana Linga, Kailasanathar Linga, Bhairava and Kasi Vishwanatha Linga.

The small shrines such as Ganesha, Subramanya with his consorts, Nataraja-Sivakami, Navagraha and Gaja Lakshmi are also found in this temple.

The idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Shankara Narayana, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeshwara are found as Koshta idols in the wall surrounding the main shrine. The images of Shankara Narayana and Brahma are artistically beautiful.

There is a shrine for a slightly bigger idol of Ganesha at the foothill. The holy tank is also found opposite to the temple entrance.

On top of the hill, one can get an aerial view of the entire village, the river Cauvery and the holy tank.

A historically important site with artistically beautiful idols - don't miss!

Happy travelling.




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February 17, 2013

Thirunedunkalam Temple

Site Name: Thirunedunkalam Shiva Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Thirunedunkalam, 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

Thirunedungalam is a village located near Trichy city in Tamil Nadu state of South India. It has an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This lesser known temple is considered as the eighth among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Chola country south of Kaveri river. The nearest popular site is Thiruverumbur.

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar has sung the hymn of the Lord in this site.
  • The sanctum sanctorum has two vimanas which is rare.
  • Yoga Dakshinamurti idol in this temple is a rare one.
  • A Chola period temple - might be 1000 years old.
  • God - Nedunkalanathar aka Nithya Sundareshwarar
  • Goddess - Oppila Nayaki aka Mangalambigai
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vilvam
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Agastya and Sundara Teerth
Legend:

As per the legend, Lord Shiva took the form of a burglar and playfully scared the Goddess who was doing penance in this site.

Temple Layout:

The little known temple of Nedunkulanathar has two towers, one at the main entrance and another at the inner entrance. The area between both the towers has the flag post, Nandi mandapa and a wide bali peetha.

The sanctum santorum has a small Shiv Linga named as Nedunkulanathar. It is believed that the Goddess Parvati is also present in the same shrine but in invisible form. Hence, this shrine has two vimanas. It is said that apart from Kasi, this is the only site having two vimanas.

The west facing temple has two prakaras. The Goddess Oppila Nayaki is very beautiful as per her name. She is found with four arms and in the standing posture in a separate shrine with a pillared mandapa on the front side. The shrine is found on the left side of Nandi mandapa.

The wall surrounding the main shrine has an interesting koshta idol of Yoga Dakshinamurti - a rare form of Dakshinamurti found in Padmasana. The other koshta idols include Ardha Nareeswarar, Durga and Chandikeshwarar. 

The prakara has a lot of idols and few sub shrines. Some of the idols found are Surya, Chandra, Bhairava, 2-3 Shiv Lingas, two Sapta mata idols, two Chandikeshwara idols, Nalvar and Varadaraja with his consorts. 

Some of the sub-shrines in the temple include Ganesha, Subramanya with his consorts, Varadaraja with his consorts, Bhairava and Nataraja-Sivakami.

Happy travelling.




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February 10, 2013

Cholamadevi - A little know temple built by Rajaraja Chola

Site Name: Cholamadevi
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Cholamadevi, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A temple built by Rajaraja Chola; believed to be older than Tanjore Big Temple
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

Cholamadevi is a tiny village located in the middle of lush paddy fields near Trichy city in South India. The nearest well known site is Tiruverumbur. The village has a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The highlight of the temple is that it was built by Rajaraja Chola I, who also built the internationally famous Big Temple of Tanjore. It is believed that this temple is older than the Big Temple.

This 11th century CE temple has inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola I, Rajendra Chola and Veera Rajendra Chola. As per the inscriptions, the village was once called as 'Tenkarai Brahmadeyam Sri Cholamadevi Chadurvedi Mangalam'. This village was an important site during those times.

Excavated idols
The main deity (Shiva) is called as Kailayamudaiyar. The Goddess is named as Karpagambal. The temple is in dilapidated state today. As the shrine of Goddess is not in good condition, the idol of Goddess is also placed near the main deity. The main shrine has the big relief images of dwarapalaks. They look somewhat similar to the images of Tanjore Big Temple.

The small bali peeth and Nandi idol are found facing the temple under the open space.

A lot of idols that are excavated in and around the site are placed inside the temple - Ayyanar with two consorts, Koumari, Murugan and Valli, Chandikeshwarar, Surya, Vishnu Durgai and another Goddess.

Dwarapalak
Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatanaar, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as koshta idol surrounding the temple wall. The image of Dakshinamurti is completely destroyed. The other idols look very attractive.

In the temple wall, there is a small hole with the relief image of snake; it is the hole which was left for the snakes to enter inside the temple, it is believed.

It is said that Cholamadevi (referred in this place) was the 13th wife of Rajaraja Chola; he built this temple and a palace nearby for his queen. As per one of the inscriptions found in this temple, a huge flower garden measuring around 7 acres was there adjoining the temple; the flowers were used to be sent til the far off Kanchipuram city.

As per the inscriptions, it is the site where a scholar named Sidhanandi Padarar wrote commentary for Adi Shankaracharya's 'Sareeka Bashyam'. It is rare to find such an old historical reference about Adi Shankaracharya.

Go and visit this historically important temple.

Happy travelling.
Hole for snakes




Excavated idols





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February 9, 2013

Uthamar Koil - A temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva

Site Name: Uthamar Koil
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Uthamar Koil, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A temple for Tri murtis - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; one of 108 Divya Desam Temples
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

Uthamar Koil is a small village located near Trichy city in South India. The place is famous for its temple dedicated to Holy Trinity (Trimurtis of Hinduism) - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Technically, the structure has two temples - one dedicated to Vishnu and another dedicated to Shiva. As there is a separate shrine for Brahma also, it is generally considered as a temple of all the three deities. The temple is named as Uthamar Koil (correct pronunciation - Uttamar Koil) and Bhikshatanar temple. Another significance of the temple is that it is the third Divya Desam temple in Chola country. Tirumangai Alwar has praised the Lord in his hymns. It is also believed that he had lived in this village and supervised the renovation of Srirangam temple. 


Highlights:
  • A unique temple where all the three supreme Gods along with their respective consorts are found in separate shrines
  • Considered to be a temple of Trimurtis
  • One of Divya Desam temples - mangalasasanam done by Tirumangai Alwar
  • Seven Gurus are found in the temple - Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Subramanya,  Brahaspati and Sukracharya
  • God - Purusothama and Bhikshatana
  • Goddess - Poornavalli and Soundarya Parvati
  • Holy tree - Kadamba (a plantain variety)


Legend:

    As per the legend, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva had five heads. Once Brahma visited Kailash, Shiva's residence. Parvati, the consort of Shiva, mistook Brahma for her husband and washed his feet. Brahma was proud of himself and hence he didn't stop her from doing so. Shiva saw this and got angry. He cut down the fifth head of Brahma. However, he could not get rid of this sin; the fifth head of Brahma stuck to his finger. He started begging (in the form of Bhikshatanar) with the skull as the bowl; whenever someone put food into the bowl, it automatically disappeared. Ultimately, Shiva got rid of his hunger when Lakshmi filled his bowl with food. 

    As per another legend, the king Janaka (father-in-law of Lord Rama of Ramayana, the great epic of India) performed a yagna in this site. The sanctity of yagna got spoiled by a dog and even the seers forgot how to continue with the ritual. As per the advice by a seer who disappeared later, Janaka worshiped a kadamba tree. He got darshan of all three Gods in the tree. He accordingly built this temple with all the three deities.

    It is also believed that the childless king Dasarath (Rama's father) visited this temple and prayed to the Lord.

    Temple Layout:

    Although the temple is supposed to be ancient, the current structure is renovated one in the recent times. The antique sign can be felt only in the idols and sculpture and not in the building. 
    There is no tower for this temple. A small flag post and bali peeth are found facing the main shrine. 

    The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Lord Vishnu called as Purushothama in the reclining posture. He is found lying on Adi Sesha with Brahma on the lotus flower emerging from his navel. The idol is slightly longer. There are two large dwarapalak idols at the entrance of the sanctum. A small Garuda idol is facing the sanctum. Poornavalli, the consort of Purushothama, is found in a separate shrine in the prakara.

    From the first prakara, there is a separate entrance to get inside the Shiva temple. It is located on the back side of Purushothama's sanctum. This section of the temple has idols related to Saiva sect. The sanctum has a small Shiv Linga called as Bhikshatanar; a utsava (processional) idol of Bhikshata form (beggar form) of Shiva is also found here. Soundarya Parvati, the consort of Bhikshatanar, is found in a separate shrine in this section. It is a small idol; the Goddess has four hands. A separate flag post and bali peeth along with Nandi idol are found in this temple.

    A separate shrine for big idol of Brahma in the sitting posture and the shrine of Gnana Saraswati in the sitting posture nearby are located in the prakara.

    Apart from the above three main Gods and Goddesses, there are other small shrines and idols found in this temple. Let us explore those details too.

    There are other idols such as Surya, Chandra, Bhairav, Nalvar, Vinayaka, Bana Linga, Vayu Linga, Dandayudapani and Adi Brahma are found within the Shiva temple.

    To the right side of the sanctum of Purushothama, the Goddess Lakshmi is found in a separate shrine. A small shrine for Hanuman is found to the left side of Purushothama shrine.

    A separate shrine for Venu Gopala along with his two consorts is located in the prakara.

    Dakshinamurti, Bhikshatana, Bala Vinayak, Durga and Chandikeswara are found as koshta idols surrounding the wall of Shiva temple.

    Twin Ganeshas, Navagraha, a big Linga called Dasaratha Linga along with Nandi, Alwars, Ramanuja and Manavala Muni, Varadaraja Perumal are some of the small shrines found within the temple complex.

    Happy travelling.


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    February 3, 2013

    Oottathur Suddharatneswarar Temple - (Built by Rajaraja Chola)

    Site Name: Suddharatneswarar Temple
    Site Type: Hindu temple
    Location:  Oottathur, near Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
    Highlights: It is believed to have been built by Raja Raja Chola I (the one who built the popular Brahadishwara Temple of Tanjore); a Devara Vaippu Sthalam
    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

    Oottathur is a small village near Trichy city in South India. Uttamar Koil is the nearest popular site of this village. The village has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This is one of Devara Vaippu Sthalams. The 63 Nayanmars (devotees of Shiva) had travelled to various Shiva temples and sang the hymns - those sites are considered as 'Paadal Petra Sthalams'. Apart from that, there are several Shiva temples about which there are references found in the hymns (although not the entire song (padhigam) is dedicated); those temples are considered as 'Devara Vaippu Sthalam). This temple is one such Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.

    Highlights:
    • A Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.
    • The original temple should be there at least from 7th century AD (probably a brick temple). The stone temple was built by Raja Raja Chola.
    • Various kings - Cholas including Rajendra Chola, Pandya kings, Vijayanagara kings, Bosala kings, etc. have either renovated or constructed some portions of the temple.
    • Nayaka kings built the gigantic wall surrounding the temple complex.
    • The Goddess' shrine was built by a dancer girl during the reign of Kulothunga Chola III.
    • God - Sudharatneswarar aka Thooyamaniswarar aka Masilamani
    • Goddess - Akilandeswari
    • Teerth - Brahma Teerth

    Legend:

    As per the legend, Lord Brahma brought the holy water from all over the world and poured in the Brahma Teerth - the holy well in this temple. He got rid of his sin and curse in this temple.

    As per another legend, the great Chola king Raja Raja was travelling through this village once. His servants were paving the path by cutting down the plants and removing the grass. In one particular place, they were shocked to find blood oozing out from the ground. It was brought to the king's notice. As per his order, the land was dug and a Shiv Linga idol was discovered; it had a cut on its head. The king built this temple with this Shiv Linga idol as the main deity.

    Temple Layout:

    The temple is large with a five tiered tower. The sanctum sanctorum has a big Shiv Linga idol with a small Nandi in the maha mandapa. There is another Nandi idol at a corner in the same mandapa facing the opposite direction; it is believed that the river Nandi originated from the mouth of this idol. There is another Nandi idol which is a beautiful sculpture located near the Brahma Teerth - the holy well. It is rare to find a well in front of the main shrine. The outer area also has a huge Nandi idol near the long dhwajastambha and bali peetha.

    The temple is full of antique pillars and the pillars have beautiful sculptures. Few pillars even have carvings which are erotic.

    The inner prakara has a lot of idols such as 63 Nayanmars, Kailasanathar Shiv Linga, Brahma, Samba Parameswara Shiv Linga, Saraswati, Katyayini, Vishwanathar-Vishalakshi, Gaja Lakshmi, Adikara Nandi and Surya. The sub shrines such as Somaskandar, Chandrasekhar, Murugan (utsava), Subramanya with his consorts and Veerabhadra are located in the same prakara.

    The big and beautiful sculptures of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeswara are found as koshta idols surrounding the main shrine wall. Two small shrines - Vinayaka and Bala Murugan are located at the entrance of the maha mandapa. The dwarapalaks sculptures are big and beautiful as usual in the other Chola temples.

    There is a separate shrine for a big stone idol of Nataraja and Sivakami; it is rare to find.

    The Goddess Akilandeswari's idol is big and found in the standing posture. The idol is located in a separate big shrine in the outer prakara of the temple. This shrine has its own Nandi mandapa and bali peetha. There is a small prakara around the shrine. Iccha, Gnana, Kriya, Chamundi, Brahmi and Varahi sculptures are carved in the wall surrounding the shrine. Ganesha and Subramanya idols are found at the entrance of the shrine. The shrine appears like a separate small temple; it is also facing the east direction similar to the sanctum sanctorum. 

    In addition, the temple has a shrine for a beautiful idol of Nataraja and Sivakami. A small four pillared mandapa and the adjoining Navagraha shrine are also located in this temple. 

    Visit this little known temple of Cholas and make it popular.

    Happy travelling.


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