Karkodeswarar temple, Tamil Nadu and Manmatha (demi god of lust)

Sri Balambika-Karkodeswarar temple. ariyalur dist., Explore My Trip
Sri Balambika-Karkodeswarar temple. near thrumanur. Yatrastotemples.com
Among the historical Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu, a majority of them were built to serve some purpose. Sri Balambika - Karkodeswarar in Ariyar district  is unique because of its association with the demi god Kama (lust) and how his lustful overtures and indulgence were subdued by lord Shiva, a symbol of eternity.

Sri Balambika-Karkodeswarar  Hindu temple is an historical temple rougly1500 years old located in Kamarasavalli,  about 20 km from  Thirumanur in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu. The presiding deity is Karkodeswarar (Lord Shiva) and his consort is Balambika (Parvati). At this temple in 1950, Kumabishkam was done in the presence  of Sr. Kanchi Pontiff Sanakaracharyar (Periyavar). It is the place where lord Shiva burned the demi god of lust (Cupid) - Manmatha and later restored him back to life.

According to one inscription, the temple was built in the year AD 962) by Sundara Chola also known as Raja Kesari Varma (AD 957-974), who was the grand father of Rajaraja Chola, builder of  the Thanjavur big temple. This temple has the unique distinction of having been taken care of by various kings of Chola, Pandya  dynasties, etc.  Among the Cholas, mention may be made of  Sundara Chola,  Raja Rajan I, Rajendran I, Kulothungan I, II and III, et al.,  who, according to inscriptions, supervised this temple. These inscriptions  here cover  various aspects such as festivals -  Margazhi Tiruvadhirai festival, scholarly debate by Vedic Scholars, Chakkai Koothu, a folklore etc.

The temple has a  stone sculpture.  depicting the  story of Karkodaga performing Shiva Puja with Lord Vinayaka and Nandi. There are small sub-shrines in the prakaram for various deities - lord Vinayaka and lord Muruga with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, goddess Durga, Chandikeswara and Navagrahas. Lord Nataraja, the cosmic dancer, is beautifully adorned in the mantapam. As in many temples, there are many stone images of serpents where  devotees pray for relief from the adverse effects of serpent planets  (ragu and Kettu - Serpa Dosha).    

According to the sthala purana (temple legend): There once lived a group of nasty people who used brutality  as a way of life mainly to quench their lust and indulge in amoral pleasures. Very much dismayed and disappointed, the affected people, including holy men and their families,  prayed to Lord Shiva to put an end to this disgusting menace. Upon which lord Shiva, in extreme rage opened his third eye and burned Manmatha (Cupid), who was the leader of the group, to ashes. Rathi, Manmatha's wife, was distreseed and was unable to control her pangs of separation from Manmatha. After her prolonged intense penance (tapas), Lord became subdued  and restored Manmatha back to life. Since Rathi was  was blessed by Lord Shiva, this place  came to be  called  Rathi Vara Puram and Kama Rathi Valli.  Later the name changed as Kamarasavalli.          

There is a beautiful  metal (Ayempon - an alloy of bronze, copper, etc) idol of Rathi Devi in this temple, in the posture of  begging Lord  Shiva seeking boon to save Her mangal sutra (in local language Taali or Mangalyam)

A unique festival, native to this place,  called  Kaamman is conducted here in memory of this event which marks the planting of a castor plant cut into two. Symbolic of the boon given by Lord Shiva to Rathi for her reunion with her husband Manmatha. Amazingly the  castor plant comes to life after eight days. People, undergoing horrible mental agony as a result of  marital problems such as quarrels, separation, divorce, etc come here for remedy and pray for  reunion, Mangalya bagyam (longevity of husband) besides other family problems.

This place is  also an ideal parikara sthalam for those who have Cancer zodiac sign  with  stars of this sign (Rasi) They do prayers and  seek blessings from  Lord Karkodeswara (Soundareswarar).  Childless couples and those whose marriages are getting delayed  come her  to get rid of the adverse effects of Sarpa Thosa caused by Ragu and Ketu.

The major festivals are   monthly pradoshams Aadi Pooram in July-August; Vinayaka Chaturthi in August-September; Navarathri in September-October; Aipasi Annabishekam in October-November and Margazhi Tiruvadhirai in December-January.