April 25, 2017

Pettavaithalai Madhyarjuneshwar Temple

Site Name: Madhyarjuneshwar temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Pettavaithalai, 33 kms from Trichy, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Lesser known Chola period temple
Nearest Railway Station: Trichy
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road from Karur and Trichy; public transport facility is available from Trichy and Karur
Hotel: Mid-range hotels; better to stay in Trichy or Karur
Restaurants: Few options; it is better to go to Trichy or Karur

Pettavaithalai is a small town located at a distance of around 33 kms from Trichy city in Tamil Nadu state of India. It is located between Trichy and Karur and is accessible from both these cities. This town has an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name of the temple is Madhyarjuneshwar. This ancient Chola period temple is architecturally beautiful and has many wonderful sculptures. It is sad that this temple remains lesser known. Let us discuss about this temple in this article.

Highlights:

  • God Madhyarjuneshwar 
  • Goddess Balambika
  • The sculpture of Brahma hatya.
  • The Jeeva Samadhi of a Siddha.
  • Dakshinamurti in Abhaya Mudra.

Legend:

It is believed that Pottralam Poovai Siddhar attained Jeeva Samadhi in this temple. He was one of the Siddhas, whose specialty was in producing herbs and medicines for women specific ailments. 

Historically, the temple was built by Kulotunga Chola III. As per the legend, he got Brahma hatya dosh. (Brahma hatya dosh is the sin caused due to killing Brahmins). To get absolved from the sin, he built many temples for Lord Shiva. This is one among those temples.

History:

The temple is believed to have been built by Kulotunga Chola III in the beginning of the 13th century CE. The stone inscription dated 1205-1206 CE from this king is found in this temple. 

Another inscription from Rani Mangammal of Nayaka dynasty dated 1685 CE is also found in the temple complex.

Temple Layout:

Entrance:

The east facing temple has five tiered tower. 

The idol of Ganesh and Vishnu-Sri Devi-Bhoo Devi along with Garud are located at the temple entrance. These ancient idols were excavated from a field in this town. They do not belong to this temple. Along with these idols, an idol of a Jain deity (probably Adinath?) was also excavated. However, that idol is currently not found here. It is said that the idol was moved to some other temple or museum.

Madhyarjuneshwar:

The east facing sanctum with a beautiful Vimana enshrines a big Shiv Linga named as Madhyarjuneshwar.

The entrance of the sanctum has two medium sized beautiful sculptures of Dwarapalas.

In the Maha Manda, Nandi is found facing towards Shiva.

Balambika:

The Goddess of the temple, Balambika, is found in a separate south facing shrine.

Koshta Murtis:

Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta Murtis on the outer walls of the sanctum.

Nardana Ganapati has his head turned towards his true right side, which is not usual.

Dakshinamurti's right arm is in Abhaya mudra, which is unique.

The idols of Lingodbhava and Brahma do not appear to be original. They must have been sculpted very recently. Brahma is found in the sitting posture, which is again a unusual posture for a Koshta Brahma.

Other Shrines and Idols:

In the prakara, the sub-shrines of Ganesh, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Gaja Lakshmi, Chandikeshwara and Navagraha are found.

An ancient Bhikshatana idol (probably Chola period?) is found along with the idols of Linga and Saraswati.

A six feet tall ancient idol of Vishnu is located at the entrance of the shrine of Gaja Lakshmi. It does not belong originally to the temple. It is also excavated from somewhere in this town.

The tall wooden flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are found in the courtyard. Surya and Chandra are found on either sides of Nandi and they face towards the sanctum.

In a sub-shrine in Ardha mandap, all bronze idols of the temple such as Ganesh, Subramanya with his consorts, Uma and Chandrashekhar and others are located.

In the Maha Mandap, the sub-shrine enshrining the small bronze idols of Nataraja and Sivakami is located.

In the front-side mandap, there are many sculptures found in the pillars. Two sculptures among them are notable. One is the sculpture of Brahma hatya dosh. Another is the sculpture of Pottralam Poovai Siddhar. The devotees believe that worshiping this Siddhar would cure the women specific problems.

On the way to this temple from the High Way, a local temple with a tall stucco idol of Hanuman is found. 

Happy travelling. 





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