February 24, 2017

Anbil Aalanthurai Satyavageeswarar Temple

Site Name: Aalanthurai temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Anbil, 8 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
Nearest Airport: Trichy
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

Anbil is a village near Lalgudi town in Tamil Nadu state of India. It is located at a distance of around 8 kms from Lalgudi. In this village, the locality called Keezh Anbil has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The name of the temple is AalanthuraiIt is considered as the 57th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Chola region north of Cauvery river.


Highlights:

  • Appar and Sambandhar have revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • God Satyavageeswarar a.k.a. Brahmapureeswarar a.k.a. Aalanthuraiyar 
  • Goddess Soundara Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Chandra Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Banyan
  • Considered as one of the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams.
  • Shiva Linga has square Aavudai (base).
  • Ganesh has his ear leaned forward as if he is hearing something.

Legend:

As per the legend, Brahma worshiped Shiva Linga in this temple. Hence, Shiva is called as Brahmapureeswarar.

Additionally, the saint Vageesar also prayed to Shiva in this site. Hence, Shiva in this site is also named as Satyavageeswarar.

When Sambandhar came to this site, he could not cross the flooded Kollidam river. Hence, he got the darshan of the tower from the other side of the river and sang hymns on the deity of Anbil temple. The idol of Ganesh that is located in the temple leaned forward his ear so that he could clearly hear the songs sung by Sambandhar. Hence, Ganesh in this temple is found with the ear leaned forward and he is named as "Chevi Saiththa Vinayakar". This name in Tamil language relates the legend to his name.

History:

It is believed that the temple was originally a Maada Kovil (a temple built in a raised platform). It was rebuilt by the Chola King Parantaka I in the 10th century CE. It is believed that he had migrated Jaimini Brahmins of Sama Veda into this village. It should be noted that Chevi Saiththa Vinayakar idol of this temple is also named as Sama Veda Vinayak. 

The inscriptions from the Cholas and the Hoysalas are found in this temple.

Aniruddha Brahmarayar, the famous and powerful prime minister of Sundara Chola (10th century CE). The same king's copper plates are very popular among the historians. Anbil copper plates are one of the major sources for the Chola history.


Temple Layout:

Entrance:

The east facing temple has five tiered tower. The entrance has two moderately big sized and well sculpted stone idols of Nandi in both sides. The tower has many interesting stucco images.

There is another interior entrance. This entrance has an arch with many stucco images related to Shiva and his family. The area between both these entrances is open space with many trees and plants.

Presiding Deity:

The east facing sanctum has big Shiv Linga called as Satyavaageeswarar. He has square base (Aavudai) and not the usual circular one. Linga is a Swayambhu Linga (self mainfested).

The Goddess of the temple is Soundara Nayaki. She is also found in an adjacent east facing shrine.

Both Shiva and Ambal have separate Nandi in front of them. The entrance of Ardha Mandap has a small idol of Ganesh.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi idol are found facing towards the direction of the sanctum. Dwarapalas are big and attractive.

Koshta Murtis:

Dakshinamurti, Vishnu and Brahma are found as the Koshta idols. There is no Ganesh or Durga found as the niche images. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location near Brahma. All these four Murtis belong to the Chola period.

Prakara:

The temple has two prakaras. The second prakara is an open space with trees and plants.

In the inner prakara, the sub-shrines of Chevi Saiththa Vinayak and Arumugam-Valli-Devasena seated on peacock are found. The idols of Vishwanatha Linga-Vishalakshi, Lingodbhava and Bhikshatanar are also found in this prakara. It should be noted that Lingodbhava is not found as the Koshta Murti but as a separate Murti in the prakara. Both Lingodbhava and Bhikshatanar appear to be ancient idols.

Other Features:

The pillars in the front side mandap has many interesting sculptures of various mystic animals, two coiled serpents worshiping Linga, Subramanya praying Linga, the snake with head on one side of the pillar and tail on the other side of the pillar and so on. Unfortunately, in the name of renovation, they are all painted and do not look very attractive anymore.

The exterior walls of the main shrine in the first prakara have few relief images depicting many sub-deities worshiping Shiv Linga. This include Vishnu, Brahma, Parvati, Agni, Surya, Chandra and few saints.

An old idol of Bhairav, Saneeswara, Navagraha with Surya in the middle and the other planets facing towards him and few neglected ancient idols are also found in this temple.

Happy travelling.