Location: Thenkudi Thittai, 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
How to reach:Well connected by road from Tanjore
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Tanjore
Restaurants: Very few options; it is better to go to Tanjore
Thenkudi Thittai is a village near Tanjore town in South India. The village has a prominent temple called as Vasishteshwarar temple. It is considered as the 15th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region north of Cauvery river.
Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
God - Vasishteshwarar
Goddess - Ulaganayaki
Other names of God - Pasupateeshwarar, Pasupatinathar, Therurnathar, Dhenupureeswarar, Swayambhutheswarar, Anateshwarar, Nageshwarar, Rathapureeswarar
Other names of Goddess - Mangalambikai, Mangaleshwari, Sukundhakundalambikai
Teerth (Holy water) - Chakra Teerth
Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Champak
It is considered as one of 274 Paadal Petral Sthalams
It is a Guru Sthalam
Suryakantha and Chandrakantha stones on top of the sanctum sanctorum in the vimana; water drops naturally fall on Shiva Linga for every 25 minutes
The sun rays fall on the main deity for three days in the month of Mar-Apr and again for three days in the month of Aug-Sep every year.
There are five Shiva Lingas in this temple and hence it is called as Pancha Linga Kshetra
Guru (Jupiter) is found in a separate shrine.
The entire structure of the temple is built in stone.
It is believed that the saint Vasishta worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple and hence he is named as Vasishteshwarar. Apart from Vasishta, it is believed that Bhairava, Brahma, Subramanya, Adi Sesha and Kamadhenu also worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.
The word "Thittu" means mound in Tamil language. As the place is located between the two tributaries of the river Cauvery, Vennaaru and Vettaaru, the place is called as 'Thittai'.
It is believed that during Pralaya (the Great Dissolution), it was the only place in the entire world, which did not get submerged under the water. A self manifested (swayambhu) Shiva Linga appeared on this mount and it is the main deity of the current temple. Hence, he is also called as Swayambhutheswara. It is believed that all deities came to this place for shelter and hence it is also called as 'Kudi Thittai'.
As Renuka worshiped Lord Shiva in this village, the village is also called as Renukapuri. As Kamadhenu, the divine cow worshiped Lord Shiva, he is also called as Dhenupureeswarar.
A devotee named Sugantha Kuntala got her deceased husband back to life after worshiping Goddess Ulaga Nayaki. Hence, the Goddess is also called as Sugantha Kuntalambikai.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu created the holy tank 'Chakra Teerth' by throwing his discus (chakra).
The temple of Vasishteshwarar in Thenkudi Thittai is considered as a Guru Parihara Sthalam (the most famous Guru Sthalam is in Alangudi). The temple has a simple tower and it faces the east direction. Opposite to the temple, the holy tank 'Chakra Teerth' is found.
The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the main deity Vasishteshwarar who is in the form of a Shiva Linga. On top of this shrine, there are two unique stones, Suryakantha and Chandrakantha, found in the vimana. They absorb the moisture from air and let it drip as water drops on Shiva Linga for every 25 minutes. It is very unique architectural feature of this temple.
The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi mandapa are found facing towards the main shrine.
The Goddess Ulaga Nayaki is found in a separate shrine. There is a stone with all zodiac signs on the ceiling in front of this shrine.
Guru Bhagavan is found in a separate shrine between the shrines of God and Goddess.
At the entrance of the main shrine, there is a Ganesha idol. The entrance of Ulagammai shrine has the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya.
The inner prakara has the sub shrines of Siddhi Vinayaka and Subramanya with his two consorts. The idols of Gaja Lakshmi, Bhairava, Shiva Linga, Surya, Chandra, Maha Linga with his consort and Ganesha and Navagraha. The Navagraha is unique with Surya in the middle and all other eight planets facing towards Surya.
The walls around the sanctum sanctorum has Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga as the Koshta (niche) idols. Chandikeshwara sub-shrine is also found as usual. Dakshinamurti is big and looks attractive.
From the structure of the temple, it is very evident that it has been renovated in the recent past.