Thiru Nedunkala Nathar Shiva temple, Tamil Nadu

Front tower, Nedunkala Nathar Shiva temple, near Trichy,TN navrang India
The southern state of Tamil Nadu has the unique distinction of having thousands of old temples built more than 1000 years ago by the then local rulers or rulers of well-known dynasties such as Cholas and Pandiyas.Tthe Delta districts such as Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapatnam have innumerable old Hindu temples of grandeur and artistiic beauty. The district of Tiruchirapalli  has numerous  historical temples and one such a temple is Thiru Nedungala Nathar Shiva temple.

This temple, which is believed to be 1000 to 2000 years old is near Thuvakudi (near Tiruchrapalli city), about 3  kilometers  in Thiru Nedunkulam, a nondescript hamlet. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva-Nitya Sundareswarar in Suyambhu form ( Suyamby Moorthy: appeared on his own) and his consort is Mangalambika (in Tamil Oppili Nayagi). Sthala Viruksham – main temple tree: Kasthuri and Arali.  Great Tamil Saint Thiru Gnana Sambandar  sang  the glory of Lord of this temple in his devotional  hymns called Thevaram.  This is the 8th Shiva temple on the southern bank of Cauvery  praised in hymns by four saivite saints. On Aadi Fridays in July-August special pujas are performed.

Nandhi (bull) and small flag staff.Nedunkala Nathar Shiva temple,  Tamil Nadu credit: navrang India

This west facing temple has two two Prakaras (corridor around the temple) and the temple tank is called Agasthya, Sundara Theerthams. The front gopuram - tower was recently built  and painted. The inner small gopuram was built in the ancient time and underwent modification through centuries under different dynasties. Upon inquiry I found out that this temple had been in existence even before the period of the Chola dynasty. However, regarding the builder of this temple, information is vague. Some people say this temple is about 1500 years old. 

In the inner corridor/Prakara  there are shrines dedicated to Lord Somaskanda and Chandrasekhara. The other shrines are Lord Dakshinamurthi and Aiyanar in the southern   Prakara.  Lord Valampuri Vinayaka, Lord Muruga with His consorts Valli and Deivanai  in the west prakara. An interesting feature is the Shrine of Lord Varadaraja Perumal with His consort thayyar on the southern side. The Nandi (bull: Shiva's mount / Vahana) at this temple is a small one so is the flag staff – Dwajasthanbam made of pure copper. An impressive features are  the fierce looking huge  pairs of Dwarapalaka (God's sentinels) on either sides of the towers. Visitors can not miss them. The main shrine is built in such a way the sun's rays  fall on the presiding deity from Aadi 7th to 12th –July-August.

 Flagstaff and and inner tower.Nedunkala Nathar  temple,TN credit: navrang India

There are  stone idols  of Appar, Sundarar, Manicka Vachagar and Thrunavukarasar, the four Saivite saints who sang the glory of this temple and special puja is conducted on their respective birth days.  Otherwise a quiet temple with serene rustic surrounding, it is crowded on monthly  Pradosha days (thirteenth day of new moon or full moon days), festival days and on the week ends. Since the devotees' prayers are answered promptly, this temple is gaining popularity. According to several elderly  villagers, visiting this temple is equal to going on a pilgrimage to Varanasi (Kasi) in Uttar Pradesh. 

According to the Center for Historical Research, there are  30 inscriptions in the temple  recorded in the past. However scholars recently came across  new and interesting  inscriptions  that throw light on the history of this temple, etc. Numerous large  stone slabs, etc  were discovered during   recent temple  renovation. The new   findings relate to Dandivarma, a Pallava king of the 8th century. The inscriptions  were  engraved during his second reignal year ie. in 789 A.D. They mention a gift of 13 kalanju of gold by individuals and goldsmiths  to meet  the cost of burning a lamp in the temple.

Among the early inscriptions, two of them belong to the period of Komaran Chadaiyan, a Pandya king of the 9th century. There are inscriptions on the pillars carrying the name  of  Rajendra Chola and that of Parantaka Chola 1 dated 926 A.D. From the recent inscriptions we have information  that several individuals made valid contributions to the temple for upkeep, staging of  dance drama  in the temple during  annual Chitrai festival  and existence of Jain Mutt in the vicinity.