Posts Tagged ‘chola temples’

Sri Aananda valli Sametha Agatheeswarar Temple – Pozhichalur

June 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Thiruvanai Kovil, Thiruchirapalli

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Thiruvanai Kovil

Thiruvanaikoil is a beautiful small urban village at Tiruchirappalli district (‘Trichy’, ‘Thiruchirapalli’, ‘Tiruchinopoly’, ‘Tiruchi’) in Tamil Nadu of Southern India. Thiruvanaikoil is also familiarly known as Tiruvanaikoil, Tiruvanaikaval, Thiruvanaikaval, Thiruvanaika, Thiruanaikaa..

Thiruvanaikoil is around 3 Kms away from the heart of Trichy city and adjacent to Srirangam another small historic town and one of the holy places in India. Thiruvanaikoil and Srirangam are in the banks of river Cauvery. Literally these two places form an island, surrounded by river Cauvery and river Coleroon.

Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple of Thiruvanaikoil

Thiruvanaikoil temple is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams (signifying the 5 natural elements) and represents water (‘Neer’). The other four temples are Kalahasti for wind (‘Kaatru’), Tiruvannamalai for fire (‘Neruppu’), Kanchipuram for earth (‘Mann’, ‘Bhoomi’) and Chidambaram for space (‘Aagayam’). As this temple represents water this is also called as ‘Appu sthalam’ and the Shivalinga (‘Swami’) here is called as ‘Appu Linga’.

Even today you can see water oozing out near the Shivalinga idol in the temple. The goddess of this temple is ‘Akilandeswari’ (‘Amman’). The Amman is also called as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as ‘Akilam – Aanda – Eswari’ (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess).

History of the Temple

The Formation of ‘Appu Lingam’ (Parvathi’s Penance):

Legend of the temple in a Sculpture in a Pillar in the temple

Legend of the temple in a Sculpture in a Pillar in the temple

Once Devi Parvati mocked at Lord Shiva’s penance for betterment of the World. Lord Shiva wanted to condemn her act and directed her to go to the earth from ‘Kailayam’ and do penance. Devi Parvathi (Akilandeswari) as per Shiva’s wish found ‘Jambu’ forest (Thiruvanaikoil) to conduct her penance. Devi made a Lingam out of water of river Cauvery (also called as river ‘Ponni’) under the ‘Venn Naaval’ tree (the Venn Naaval tree on top of the saint Jambu) and commenced her worship. So, the Lingam is known as ‘Appu Lingam’ (Water Lingam).

Lord Siva at last gave darshan to Akilandeswari and taught her Siva Gnana. Devi Parvati took ‘Upadesa’ (lessons) facing East from Shiva, who stood facing West. So as the temples idols are also installed in the same direction. Such places are known as ‘Upadesa Sthalams’. As the Devi was like a student and the Lord like a Guru in this temple, there is no ‘Thiru Kalyanam’ (marriage) conducted in this temple for Lord & the Devi, unlike the other Shiva temples.
[Temple Archakar dressed like Devi Akilandeswari is going in procession to perform Shiva Pooja] As Akilandeswari worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple, even today at noon the ‘Archakar’ (priest) dresses like a female and does Pooja to Lord Shiva and ‘Ko Maatha’ (Cow). This noon pooja is very famous and pilgrims wait for this pooja every day. For the purpose of this pooja the temple is growing a ‘Karam Pasu’ (complete black color cow). Annabhishekam to Lingam (Abishekam with cooked rice) is a daily ritual at Thiruvanaikoil.

The Legend of the Name – ‘Thiru Aanai Kaa’

There were two Siva Ganas (Siva’s disciples who live in Kailash) by name ‘Malyavan’ and ‘Pushpadanta’. Though they are Shiva Ganas they always quarrel with each other and fight for one thing or other. On top of all in one fight ‘Malyavan’ cursed ‘Pushpadanta’ to become an elephant in earth and the latter cursed the former to become a spider in earth.

Both the elephant and the spider came to Jambukeshwaram and continued their Shiva worship. The elephant collected water from river Cauvery and conducted Abhishekam to the lingam under the Jambu tree daily. The spider constructed his web over the lingam to prevent dry leaves from dropping on it and prevent Sunlight directly felling on Shiva.

When the elephant saw the web and thought that as dust on Lord Shiva and tore them and cleaned the Linga by pouring water. This happened daily. The spider became angry one day and crawled into the trunk of the elephant and bit the elephant to death killing itself. Lord Siva, moved by the deep devotion of the two relieved them from one other curse.

As an elephant worshipped the Lord here, this place came to be known as ‘Thiru Aanai Kaa’ (Thiru – Holy, Aanai – Elephant, Kaa (Kaadu) – Forest). Later the actual name ‘Thiruaanaikaa’ become ‘Thiruvanaikaval’ and ‘Thiruvanaikoil’.

In the next birth the Spider was born as the King Ko Chengot Chola and built 70 temples and Thiruvanaikoil is the one among them. Remembering his enmity with the elephant in his previous birth, he built the Lord Shiva ‘Sannathi'(Sanctorum) such that not even a small elephant can enter. The entrance on the sanctorum of Lord Shiva is only 4 foot high and 2.5 foot wide.


The Vimanam of Lord Shiva Sanctorum and the 'Venn Naaval' tree (which is thousands of years old)

The Vimanam of Lord Shiva Sanctorum and the 'Venn Naaval' tree (which is thousands of years old)

Thiruvanaikoil is also called as ‘Jambukeswaram’ and the Lord as Jambukeswara, Jambunathan and Jambulingam. The myth behind this is, there was a Sage by name ‘Jambu Munivar’ (munivar – sage). He once got a rare and sacred ‘Venn Naaval’ (Venn – White, White variety if Naaval fruit) fruit and he offered that fruit to Lord Siva. The Lord after eating the fruit spitted the seed. Jambu Munivar took and swallowed the seed, as it is sacred as the seed came from the Lord’s mouth. Immediately a ‘Naaval’ tree began to grow in the Saint’s head. The Saint prayed to Lord Siva that He should take his abode under that tree. Lord accepted and asked him to continue his penance in the forest on the banks of river Cauvery and said that he will one day come there and abode under that tree. After many years Devi Akilandeswari worshiped Lord Shiva under that tree during her penance. Thus as he took adobe under the tree on Jambu Munivar he was called as ‘Jambukeshwara’ and the place is called as ‘Jambukeshwaram’. Also thus the ‘Venn Naaval’ became the ‘Sthala Vriksham’ (Temple’s Sacred tree). The Shiva Lingam is placed under the Venn naaval tree in this temple. Even today you can see that Venn Naaval tree at the temple, which is said to be many hundred years old.

Contruction – The Temple

Chola King “Ko Chengot Cholan” (He is also called as Chenkannan) constructed this temple in 1st Century B.C. Ko Chengot Chola had built 70 other Shiva temples all over Tamil Nadu and he is one among the 63 “Nayannmars” (Holy Saivite saints). Thiruvanaikoil temple was built according to ‘Saiva Aagama Sasthra’. According to Saiva Agamam, the temple reflects the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva is considered as the soul. Many other kings like Pandiyas and Nayakars of Madurai later renovated this temple.

The 2nd and 3rd praharams were built in 13th century A.D. and the 4th Praharam was constructed in the late 13th century A.D.

There is eight other “Kodi Maram” (flag masts) in this temple in the 3rd praharam. Apart from the main huge “Kodi Maram” in front of the Lord and one in front of Devi Akilandeswari. Thiruvanaikoil temple was built in an area close to 18 acres and measures 2500 feet by 1500 feet. The temple has five “Praharams”. All the temple “Madhils” (wall) are 35 ft. high and 6 ft. thick and measures 2436 feet by 1493 feet. The “Swami” (Shivalinga) is installed facing West and “Ambaal” (Akilandeswari) facing East.

There are many mandapams in the temple, a 1000 Pillar (This Mandapam is on the North West corner of the 3rd praharam. To be precise its on your left when you enter the temple) and a 100 Pillar Mandapam (this is on the North East corner of the 3rd Praharam), Vasanta mandapam (The mandapam is surrounded by pool of water where Lord Shiva and Goddess Akilandeswari are worshipped on summer evenings), Somaskandha mandapam, Nataraja mandapam, Trimurthi mandapam, etc. The thousand-pillared mandapam looks like a chariot.

View of the 3rd praharam in the temple, an example for Thiruvanaikoil temples architectural marvel

View of the 3rd praharam in the temple, an example for Thiruvanaikoil temples architectural marvel

Gopurams Raja Gopuram:

This is the Gopuram in the West 5th Praharam (the main entrance). The other 3 entrances of 5th praharam have no Gopurams.

Sundarapandiyan Gopuram:

The East Gopuram on the 4th praharam. Pandiya King Jadavarman Sundarapandian constructed this.

Mallappan Gopuram:

This is the West Gopuram in the 4th Praharam. King Sandhirabendiran son of King AdhithayDevan built this in 1435 A.D.

Karthigai Gopuram:

Karthikai Gopuram

Karthikai Gopuram

This Gopuram is the West Gopuram after Mallapan Gopuram. This was constructed in the early 13th century (at the period of Third KulothungaChola)
Vibhoothi Praharam:

There are many interesting legends in this temple. When the king “Thirruneetru Sundara Pandiyan” was constructing the 5th Praharam wall on the East Side, he was running out of money to pay to the laborers for the next day of work. On that night in the Kings dream Lord Shiva asked him to continue the work. As per the Lords wish the King continued the construction and at the end of that day a Sanyasi (saint) came there and he gave the laborers pinches of sacred ash. That sacred ash turned into gold equivalent to the work done by them. Then only the King and others came to know that the Sanyasi is none other than the Lord himself. Because of this instance the East Side praharam is known as “Vibhoothi” (sacred ash) praharam.


There are nine Theerthams in this temple, all of which held very sacred.

Brahma Theertham: This is in the South side of 4th Praharam (South Car Street)

Indhira Theertham: This is in the 3rd Praharam opposite to Kasi Viswanatha Swami sannathi.

Jambu Theertham: This is in the South West 3rd Praharam near the old Jambukeshwara temple (Opposite to Sangareshwarar temple and opposite to Kubera Linga)

Rama Theertham: This is outside the temple. Just directly opposite to the temple across the G.S.T Road. You can see this on the way to the Srirangam. This is where the “Thai Poosam theppam” festival is celebrated. This Theertham is full of beautiful Lotus flower plants.

Srimath Theertham: This is nothing but the water spring oozing inside the Sanctorum of Lord Shiva.

Agni Theertham: This is the well in the South East corner of 3rd Praharam. Just opposite on the side of Vasantha Mandapam and temple Nandhavanam.

Agathiya Theertham: This is the small well opposite to Amman sannadhi and close the “Palli Arai”

Soma Theertham: Its believed that this the “Chandra Pushkarni” in the Srirangam Sri Ranganathasami temple (adjacent to Sri Rama sannadhi)

Soorya Theertham: This is in the South West corner of the 4th praharam. Just opposite to the 1000 pillar mandapam. This Tank is architecturally beautifully built with two stories of Mandapams around the tank. Each mandapam built with 100 pillars. “Theppam” festival is celebrated in this tank in the Tamil month “Aadi” on “Pooram” day (the day when the star is Pooram, which is the star of Akilandeswari).


At Thiruvanaikoil temple daily Pooja is conducted in five different times in any normal day
Usha Kalam (Early Morning Pooja) – 06:45 AM – 07:15 AM
Kala Sandhi (Morning Pooja) – 08:00 AM – 08:45 AM
Uchchi Kalam (Noon Pooja) – 11:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Sayaratchai (Evening Pooja) – 05:00 PM – 05:45 PM
Artha Jamam (Night Pooja) – 09:00 PM
During Uchchi Kalam the ‘Archakar’ (Priest) dresses like a lady and conducts pooja at Jambukeshwara Sannadhi and also perform ‘Ko Pooja’ (Cow Pooja). This Pooja is conducted to represent Devi Akilandeswari’s Pooja to Lord Jambukeshwara . This particular pooja draws hundreds of pilgrim and devotees daily.

Photo of Nagalingam Flower (looks like a Nagarajan covering Shivalings) is very auspicious offering for Lord Jambukeshwarar


Thaadanga Pradhishtaa / Adhi Shankara

Once Goddess Akilandeswari was fierce like ‘Ugra Devatha’. Sri Adhi Shankara transferred her ferocity into ‘Thadangas'(ear rings) and the adorned her with the ‘Thadangas’. He also installed ‘Prasanna Vinayaga’ (Lord Ganesh), opposite to her shrine so that She might look on with a beneficent eye. The Thadanga Pratishtha is done even today (once in few years) by the Sankaracharyars (successors of Adhi Shankara) of the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham.

The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is also running a ‘Vedha Padasala’ (religious school where the Vedas are taught) on the North Car street at its Mutt.

Kalamega Pulavar

Once a learned Saivite started to penance to Akilandeswari to achieve wisdom in all arts. Devi Akilandeswari came before him in an ordinary women disguise wearing a white saree and asked him to open the saivites mouth to spit the petal leaves she was chewing. The saivite out of much dislike insulted Devi.

At that time ‘Kalamegam’ was sleeping within the temple premises, Devi Akilandeswari appeared before him and spat into his mouth the betel that she was munching. “Kalamegam” immediately obtained wisdom and went into poetic raptures. He became a very great Tamil poet then was called as “Kavi Kalamegam”. He then sung ‘Thiruaanaika Ula’ praising Devi Akilandeswari.

Kalamega Pulavar sung the ‘Saraswathi Maalai’ on Akilandeswari, envisaged her as Goddess Saraswathi (Goddess of Wisdom). One song from the ‘Saraswathi Maalai’ is..

Other Saints Visited this Temple

Many saints visited this temple and sung songs on Jambukeshwara and Akilandeswari. To name few are the four famous Nayannmars Appar, Sundarar, Thirugnansambandar (these four Nayannmars are also called as ‘Saiva Naalvar’) and the famous Muruga devotee Arunagirinathar and the legendary Carnatic composer Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar, who is one among the ‘Sangeetha Mummorthigal’.


The saivite saint ‘Thirunavukarasar’ who is also popularly known as ‘Appar’ sung ‘Thiruvanaikaa Thirukkurunthogai’ to praise the Lord and Devi of Thiruvanaikoil. One such song, which explains the way how to pray the Lord at Thiruvanaikoil is..


Sundarar sung songs mentioning the Lord at Thiruvanaikoil is the form of the four ‘Vedhas’.

Thiru Gnanasambandar (Sambandar)

The child prodigy and one of the famous ‘Nayannmar’ Thirugnasambandar sung many songs (‘Padhigam’) praising the Lord and Devi of Thiruvanaikoil. One such is..


Arunagirinathar sung many songs in his master piece ‘Thirupugazh'(Thirupugazh was sung in praise of Lord Muruga). One such song is..

This song tells the story of the construction of ‘Thiruneetran Madhil’ i.e. the ‘Vibhoothi Praharam’.

MeenakshiSundaram Pillai

‘Mahavithvan’ Thirusirapuram (Olden days name of Trichy) MeenakshiSundaram Pillai has written ‘Thiruvaanaikaa Akilandanayaki Maalai’. praising Devi Akilandeswari and Lord Jambulinga of Thiruvanaikoil. An example from his extraordinary poetic work is…

Kachchiyappa Munivar

Kacchiyappa Munivar lived in late 18th Century. He was also known as ‘KaviRatchasan’. He was one of the ‘Adhinams’ (Saint) of ‘Thiruvavaduthurai Mutt’. Kachchiyappa Munivar is the one to come up with the history of the Thiruvanaikoil temple through his master piece ‘Thiruvanaika Puranam’.

Muthuswamy Dikshithar

This shrine has been immortalised by one of the Trinity of Carnatic music Muthuswami Dikshitar, with two unusual compositions in Sanskrit, one titled ‘Jambupate’ in ‘Yamunakalyani’ ‘Raga’ and the other ‘Akilandeswari’ in ‘Dvijavanti’ raga. Both compositions are in ragas that are not indigenous to the south but borrowed from the music of the north (resembling Hindustani music).

The Dikshitar song, however, is a masterpiece of classical Carnatic traditions, layered, slow and restrained, and yet magnificent and joyous; an outpouring to Shiva in His manifestation as water, “Ambudhi Ganga Cauvery Yamuna kambu-kantya Akhilandeswari ramana”, Lord of the oceans, and of the Ganga, Cauvery and Yamuna, and of Akhilandeswari, She of the throat as smooth as a conch . . .

Ko Chengot Chola

King Ko Chengot Chola  (Ko Chenkkannan) is the spider, which worshiped the Lord Shiva. He was born to King Subhadeva and Queen Kamalavati. There is a legend behind the name of Chenkannan. As the King Subhadeva had no male successor to rule his kingdom, he worshipped to Lord Shiva with the queen. Later the queen conceived and before Chenkannans birth the astrologer specified the queen a time for the birth for the child and also told her that if she gives birth at that time then the kid will bring fame to the Chola dynasty. But the Queen thought that she might give birth earlier than the time specified by the astrologer.  As the Queen was so keen on the hour of birth she asked her maids to tie her legs and hang her upside down to delay the birth of the child. Then she gave birth to the child in the right time. As the child stayed more time on mother’s womb, the child born with reddened eyes. So he is name as Chenkannan meaning Chen – Red, Kannan – Eyed.

This painting of Ko Chengot Chola is installed at the Swami temple. This painting reminds us the earlier birth of the King (as a spider), which worshipped Lord of Thiruvanaikoil

A small separate ‘sannadhi’ (Sanctorum) was built to Ko Chengot Chola in 1980’s at the Swami temple (near the “Urchava Moorthy” mandapam), where his idol has been installed and worshipped.


Pancha Praharam (Brahmotsavam)

A number of festivals take place in this temple throughout the year The Mandala ‘Brahmotsavam’, celebrated in the Tamil months of Panguni and Chithirai (March- April), lasts for 40 days and attracts thousands of devotees from surrounding places.

The myth behind this is, once Lord Brahma (the Creator) became very proud on himself as a creator and he fell in love with one of the beautiful girl he has created and because of this he began to lose his powers and people created by him turned vicious and died an early age. Then Brahma realizing his mistake prayed to Shiva to wash out his sin. He came to this “Jambu Vanam” and started to do penance on Lord Siva.

He created a “Theertham” (Spring) and took a dip every day before pooja. His Shiva pooja lasted for One “Mandalam” (40 days). The Theertham created by him is called “Brahma Theertham” (which you can see at the 4th Praharam South Car Street).

Shiva wanted to test him whether he could be distracted again from his duty as a creator. Siva and Parvathi exchanged their dresses and appeared before Brahma. Brahma recognized Siva and prayed to him to forgive his sins and so did Shiva.

That Brahmotsavam is still celebrated in the month of ‘Panguni’. On the 37th day of the Brahmotsavam the Pancha-Prakara (5 Praharams) festival is conducted. In this festival Shiva is dressed like a Parvathi and Parvathi as Shiva were taken out in procession in all the five praharams (enclosures) of the temple. This procession lasts for one night and one day. This is the only day Lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi were taken in procession on the 5th praharam.

Aadi Pooram

“Aadi Pooram” is another sacred festival in this temple. It’s a ten days festival. The tenth day will fall on the star “Pooram” which is the star of Annai “Akilandeswari”. On all these ten days Akilandeswari will be taken out as procession in the 4th praharam. Each day Akilandeswari will come in different “Vahanams” (like Rishabha, Pushpa Pallakku, Annapakshi, etc.,). Aadi pooram is celebrated for 12 days.

Aadi Velli

Tamil month “Aadi” is a auspicious and only in this month you will come across five Fridays. All these Fridays are very auspicious for Annai Akilandeswari. Hundreds of thousands of devotees will visit and pray to Akilandeswari on those Fridays. You can see non-stop crowd from the dawn to the dusk in the temple.

Thai Poosam

Like “Pancha Praharam” another important festival is “Thai Poosam”. On the day when the star is “Poosam” in the Tamil month of “Thai” (January – February); The Lord and Devi are taken as a procession to the “Poosa Mandapam” on banks of river “Cooleron” for “Theerthawari” [Cooleron is a river branched from river Cauvery at Mukkombu just few kilometers West of Srirangam-Thiruvanaikoil island and again merges and splits at “Grand anaicut” (Kallannai)]. Thai Poosam is the only day when the Lord and Devi leave away from 5th Praharam.

Vasantha Urchavam

Vasantha Urchavam (Autumn festival) is celebrated for 10 Days in the month of ‘Vaikasi’ (May – June).


Navarathri is celebrated for 10 days in the month ‘Purattasi’.

Thai Theppam

Theppa Urchavam (Float Festival) is celebrated for 12 days in the month of ‘Thai’ (January-February).

Pidari Amman festival

‘Pidari’ Amman Thiruvizha is celebrated for 7 days in the month of ‘Maasi’ (February-March).

Panguni Ther – Car Festival