Location: Tirupulivanam , Near Uthiramerur, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights:One of the Devara Vaippu Sthalam temples
Nearest Railway Station:Kanchipuram
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
Tirupulivanam is a village located at a distance of around 5 kms from Uthiramerur town, which in turn is located near Kanchipuram city in South India. An ancient temple called Vyagrapureeswarar temple is located here. It is considered as one of the Devara Vaippu Sthalam temples.
Appar has referred the temple in his verses in Devaram. Hence it is considered as Devara Vaippu Sthalam temple.
God - Vyagrapureeswarar or Tirupulivana Nathar
Goddess - Amrita Kujambal
Teerth (Holy water) - Vyagra Teerth
The foot prints of tiger are found on the idol of Shiva Linga.
Dakshinamurti sculpture is unique.
Considered as a Guru Sthalam.
There was a saint who got a boon from Lord Shiva and got tiger's legs. He wanted them so that he could leap on the trees to fetch flowers faster even before the honey bees could touch them. Thus, he thought he would ensure to get completely pure and fresh flowers for offering Lord Shiva. Also, he could get the flowers very fast. As he got the legs of tiger, he was called as Vyagrapada. The word 'Vyagra' means tiger and the word 'pada' means leg. As this sage worshiped the Shiva Linga idol in this temple, Lord Shiva is named as Vyagrapureeswarar. There are many Shiva temples which have similar legend and called as Vyagrapureeswarar.
Once, the Chola King Parantaka was suffering from a strange disease. He was advised to visit this temple and get blessing from Lord Shiva. The sage Vyagrapada somehow got possessiveness on seeing the King approaching towards the Shiva Linga idol. He suddenly hugged the idol and as a result, the nail marks are formed on the idol. These four nail marks of tiger's foot can be seen even today on Shiva Linga.
It is said that later Lord Shiva appeared and blessed both the King and the saint in this site.
There is another legend which states that the saint requested Shiva to name the place as well as the deity after his name. Hence, the place is called as Vyagrapuri and the deity is called as Vygarapureeswarar. Pulivanam is a Tamil word which means Vyagrapuri or the tiger's forest.
I am not sure about the records. But, it is widely believed that Kulotunga Chola built this temple in the 11th century CE.
The east facing gigantic temple has a three tiered simple Raja gopuram (tower). The bali peetha, flag staff and Nandi mandapa, which are usually seen inside the temple complex are found outside the complex. They are located near the holy tank. Also, there is a mandapa called as Indra mandapa with a lot of pillars with carvings near the tank.
The temple has seven entrance one after the other. The main shrine is located on a raised platform and the architecture style of the sanctum sanctorum is Gaja prshtha.
Shiva Linga called as Vyagrapureeswarar is the main deity enshrined in the sanctum sanctorum. The idol is tall. The tiger's nail marks are found on the Linga. Also, Linga has matted hair. The Aavudai (base) of Linga is of square shaped instead of usual circular shape that is found in other ancient south Indian temples. Another unique feature is that Aavudai is placed on top of a lotus flower.
At the entrance of the sanctorum, the small idols of Ganesha and Murugan with his two consorts are found.
In Maha mandapa, the shrine of Nataraja and Sivakami is located.
The Goddess Amrita Kujambal is enshrined in a separate south facing shrine located in the outer prakara.
Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche images. All the niche images are bigger in size and are very attractive.
The niche image of Dakshinamurti is unique. He holds lotus and japa mala in his arms. He has his left foot on a lion and his right foot on Muyalakan. Surya and Chandra are found above his head. Kulotunga Chola with his wife and a Kinnar couple are found adjacent to Dakshinamurti. The saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali along with their respective consorts are found near by. Except for Dakshinamurti all other sculptures are relief images. He is called as Rajayoga Simha Dakshinamurti.
Some of the idols that are found in the inner prakara include big Vishnu Durga, Bhairav, Surya and Navagraha. The sub shrines of Maha Ganapati and Murugan-Valli-Devasena are also located here.
There is a notable carving of Narasimha found in a pillar. There are few pillars which have the figures of lions similar to the temples built by Pallava kings.
Apart from Amman shrine, there are two sub-shrines too located in the outer prakara.
It is said that there is a secret underground passage that starts here and ends at the famous Sundara Varadar temple in Uthiramerur.
You may be interested to read about another Vyagrapureeswarar temple. Click here to know about Perumpuliyur Vyagrapureeswarar temple.