March 30, 2018

Piravadeeswarar Temple, Kanchipuram

Go to Kanchipuram and ask for this temple. Else, Google its name and try to locate the GPS coordinates. You would hardly locate it. Piravasthanam - it's a best kept secret of Kanchipuram, the city of temples. Piravasthanam temple is one of the eight Pallava period temples that still remain in the city.

This architecturally beautiful temple is located at Kamaraj Nagar 2nd Street. Iravadeeswarar temple and Pachaivannar temple are comparatively better known sites that are located near this temple.

Kanchi Puranam mentions about this temple. It is also called as Piravadeeswarar Temple or Apunarbhaveswarar Temple. The word "Pirava" in Tamil language indicates preventing rebirth. Similarly, there is Iravadeeswarar temple nearby, which indicates something related to the death (Irava).

As per the legend, the sage Vamadeva prayed to Lord Shiva to bless him not to have rebirth. The sage was in the wombs of his mother while praying. Shiva advised him to visit this site so that his wish would be fulfilled. Accordingly, after the sage was born and after he grew up as an adult, he came to Kanchipuram, installed Shiv Linga in this site and performed poojas. To relate this legend with this site, it is called as Piravasthanam.

Although the temple does not have any stone inscription, as per the architectural style, the scholars believe that it was built by Rajasimha Pallava in the beginning of the 8th century CE. Also, it is believed that it was the first temple by him in this city.

The west facing temple is small and has just the sanctum and a small Ardha Mandap. Shiv Linga, who is named as Privadeeswarar is found in the sanctum. The vimana looks artistic and has two tiers. The griva portion of the vimana has 16 bars and its shikara has 8 bars. Nasi koshta have attractive miniature sculptures. The miniature icons of Bhoota Ganas in different forms are also found in the top portion of the vimana.

The walls around the temple have very beautiful sculptures. Six standing horned lions (Vyalas) are found at the corners around the temple.

On the northern side wall, the images of Durga and Jalandhara Samhara Murti are found. Durga is typical Pallava Durga sculptural style. She has her left leg rested on lion; she has four arms holds bow in her left arm. Shiva is found in yogic posture with his discus slaying the head of Asura Jalandhara. He is flanked by Brahma and Vishnu and then by two Dwarapalas.

The eastern side wall has Shiva in the dancing form. This form of dance is called as Vrschikam karana. The sculpture is partially destroyed and is not very clear. He is flanked by two figures, probably Brahma and Vishnu.

The southern side wall has Dakshinamurti and Gaja Lakshmi. These sculptures are also partially destroyed and not very clear. The icons around Dakshinamurti are not clearly visible except for a lion and two sages.

In the open ground where this temple is located, there is also a new shrine for Shiva of later period. The walls of the shrine has some old paintings of Ganesh and Kartikeya.

Happy travelling.

P.S. Thanks to Kanchipuram Dr. Sankara Narayanan, a great scholar. I have used some information shared by him in this blog post.

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