Location: Manthurai, 4 kms from Lalgudi, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights:One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station:Lalgudi
How to reach:Well connected by road from Lalgudi and Trichy; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Trichy or Lalgudi
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to go to Lalgudi
Manthurai is a village located at a distance of around 4 kms from Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. This village has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name of the temple is Amravaneswarar. It is considered as the 58th 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.
Arunagirinathar has revered Murugan in this temple in his verses in Tiruppugal.
God - Amravaneeswarar a.k.a. Mrukandeeswarar
Goddess - Balambikai a.k.a. Azhagammai
Teerth (Holy water) - Gayatri Teerth
Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Mango
Considered as one of the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams.
The Sthala Purana of the temple is recorded under the title "Amravaneswara Mahatmya" in Agastya Samhita of Skanda Purana.
It is believed that this village was originally a forest full of mango trees. Hence, Shiva is named as Amravaneswarar in this site. The word "amra" means mango.
Surya and Sanjana:
As per the legend, Sanjana, the wife of Surya, could not bear the heat of her husband. Hence, she made a reflection of herself and left her to Surya. Then, she took the form of a horse and came to Manthurai and did severe penance towards Lord Shiva. Surya, after realizing that it was not Sanjana, but her personified shadow-image called Chhaya with whom he has been living, reduced the intensity of his heat waves. Then, he too came down to this village and worshiped Shiva. With the blessing of Shiva, he returned along with Sanjana.
A Rakshasa couple took the form of deer and they were roaming in this village which was a forest on those days. Due to a curse, a sage was born as cub to those deer. Shiva and Parvati took the form of hunters and killed the Rakshasas. Then, Parvati fed the deer cub and absolved it from its sin committed in the earlier birth. As per the request from that sage, Shiva and Parvati remained forever in this site, it is believed.
Once, as part of his competition on supremacy with Vishnu, Brahma lied that he had seen the head of Lord Shiva (as per the legend connected to Tiruvannamalai). Due to this, he was cursed by Shiva. To absolve his sin, Brahma came to this site. He created the river called Gayatri and worshiped Shiva in this temple. (There is no Gayatri river now; probably a portion of Cauvery in this region is called as Gayatri).
It is said that Mrikundu Rishi did penance towards Shiva Linga found under the mango tree in this site and as a result he begot Markandeya as his son. Hence, Shiva in this temple is also called Mrikandeeswarar.
As per another legend, Indra got sin due to his misbehavior with Ahalya. He got his sin absolved after worshiping Shiva Linga in this site.
Surya and Chandra:
To absolve himself from the sin of attending Daksha yagna, Surya worshiped Shiva in this village.
Chandra prayed to Shiva in this site and as a result he became the master of the night period.
Two stone inscriptions of Rajaraja Chola period are found in this temple. Based on this and the architectural style followed in this temple, we can assume that the original temple must have been expanded or rebuilt in the 11th century CE by the Cholas.
The east facing temple has three tiered tower. The tower has many interesting stucco images. Nandi and bali peetha are located outside the temple complex. They face towards the temple tower.
The east facing sanctum with a very beautiful Vimana enshrines a moderately big sized Shiv Linga named as Amravaneswarar.
Nandi is found in Maha Mandap and it faces Shiva Linga.
The south facing shrine for the Goddess Balambikai is located in the prakara. Nandi is her vaahan. One idol of Nandi at Maha Mandap and another outside the mandap are found facing towards the shrine.
The Chola period and few later period Koshta idols of Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found on the outer walls of the sanctum.
Other Shrines and Idols:
The temples enshrines many other idols and sub-shrines.
Nataraja - Sivakami sub-shrine in the Maha Mandap
Utsav Murtis such as Uma-Maheshwara, Ganesh etc. in a separate shrine in Maha Mandap
Ganesh shrine in the prakara
Bala Dandayudhapani sub-shrine in the prakara
Subramanya-Valli-Devasena sub-shrine in the prakara - sung by ArunagiriNathar in Tirupugal
Gaja Lakshmi in a separate shrine
Navagraha - Surya with his two consorts; all other planets face towards Surya in the middle
Idols of Ganesh and Bala Dandayudhapani at the entrance of Maha Mandap