November 28, 2015

Magaral

Site Name: Tirumagaraleeswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Magaral, Near Uthiramerur, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Kanchipuram and Chennai
Hotel: Go to Uthiramerur for mid-range hotels; for better option, go to Kanchi or Chennai
Restaurants:  Limited options in Uthiramerur

Magaral is a village located at a distance of around 10 kms from Uthiramerur town, which in turn is located near Kanchipuram city in South India. A popular temple called Tirumagaraleeswarar temple is located here. It is considered as the 7th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Tondai region.

Highlights:
  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • God Tirumagaraleeswarar 
  • Goddess Tribhuvana Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Agni Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Lemon tree
  • One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams
  • Shiva Linga is in the form of monitor lizard.
  • Other names of Shiva - Adaikkalam Kaththa Nathar, Magam Valviththavar, Udumbeesar, Paaraththalumbar, Puttridam Kondar, Nilaiyitta Nathar, Mangalam Kaththavar, Parindhu Kaththavar, Agasteeswarar (Most of the names are pure Tamil names)
  • Skanda is found seated on elephant.
  • Inscriptions of Kulotunga Chola and Sundara Pandya are found
Legend:

Rajendra Chola and jack fruit

There is another legend associated with this temple. Lord Brahma performed poojas to Shiva in this site and planted a magical jack tree which would yield only one fruit everyday.

The King Rajendra Chola used to get that fruit as the prasad daily. Traditionally, the fruit from Magaral temple complex was taken to Chidambaram temple for naivedya and then it was given to the King as prasad. After some time, the King did not get the prasad as usual. He found out that the people working in the Magaral temple had burnt the tree. He wanted to punish them. As they were working in the Shiva temple, instead of imprisoning them or punish them in any other way, he ordered his soldiers to take those temple staff from Magaral and migrate them to the place where they would reach the other day morning. The place where they migrated is called as Vidi Magaral. It is located near Tiruttani.

Shiva as monitor lizard

A slightly different version of the story states that the King ordered the people of Magaral to carry the jack fruit from Magaral to Chidambaram and then to his palace everyday. Each family of Magaral used to do that in rotation. One day it was a Brahmin boy's turn to take the fruit to the King. The boy thought that the King should ideally assign his men to do this task instead of troubling the public. Hence, he burnt the tree. 

The King got angry and exiled the boy. He was personally taking the boy out of the town. Then, Lord Shiva took the form of monitor lizard and appeared before the King Rajendra Chola. When the King was chasing the lizard, it ran faster and hid inside an ant-hole. The King tried to demolish the anthill. It started to bleed and an asariri voice condemned the act of King. Then, it appeared in the form of Shiva Linga. The King built this temple for Shiva Linga. Hence, Lord Shiva is called as Magaraleeswarar in this temple. The word 'maagaral' means monitor lizard. (Udumbu is another word used in Tamil language for 'maagaral').

Subbaraya Pillai's disease

A person named Salem Subbaraya Pillai was affected by a disease due to which his body parts below his hip stopped functioning. He went to various religious sites and also tried getting treatment from different medical practitioners. However, he was not cured. He ultimately came to this site and worshiped Shiva everyday. He completely got cured from his disease.

Makkiran's story

There is another legend which gives different reason for the name of the deity. A demon named Makkiran was performing poojas to Lord Shiva when Skanda destroyed Surapanma and other demons. Thus, he escaped from Skanda. Lord Shiva was named after this demon as Makkiran. In the later years, the name got changed to Magaraleeswarar.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has five tiered Raja gopuram (tower). The tower is full of beautiful stucco images. The sanctum sanctorum is built as per the Gaja prshtha architecture style. There are two prakarams (corridors) in the temple.

The main shrine is found in a raised platform (mada kovil sytle). In the sanctum sanctorum, the Shiva Linga named Magaraleeswarar is found. It is not in the typical Linga shape. It is slightly tall and thin resembling the monitor lizard.

The Moolasthan, Ardha Mandapa and Maha Mandapa are all big in size. The idols of Ganesha and Murugan are found at the entrance of the sanctorum. Two very big stucco idols of Dwarapalas are found at the entrance of the main shrine. 

The typical elements such as flag staff, bali peetha, Nandi mandapa and Ganesha at the flag staff are all found facing towards the main shrine.

The Goddess Tribhuvana Nayaki is found in a separate south facing shrine.

Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche images around the main shrine.

Some of the idols that are found in the inner prakara include Bhairav, Navagraha, Chandikeshwara and a rare Murugan idol seated on elephant.

The sub-shrines of Nataraja-Sivakami, Valanchuzhi Vinayaka, Shanmukha with his consorts and Murugan with his consorts are all located in the inner prakara.

The outer prakara does not have any idol. The tank is present inside the temple complex.

Happy travelling.

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