Ammainathar temple, Cheran Mahadevi TN, ''2nd Kailasam'' - the sanctum built by two women!!

Ammainathar temple, Cheran Mahadevi, TN
Tirunelveli Distt. map, Tamil Nadu.

Cheran Mahadevi (Chandran) Ammainathar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a popular one in Tirunelveli district of south Tamil Nadu.  Here, God Shiva goes by the name of  “Kailaayathu Azhwar”, “Kailayaa Mudaiyar”(Lord of Kailash).  Here, his consort is Aavudai Amman (Parvati).  Among the Navakailayams, this temple ranks second.

 Believed to have been built by  sage Uromasa Maharishi, temple's expansion took place  at the sustained efforts of  two sisters who selflessly dedicated themselves to  the services of the lord here. 
As to the location of this temple town Chermahadevi (Cher+Ma+Devi), the inference made here to the confluence of river goddesses. Yet another version is  the town is named after  the daughter of the Chera ruler who gifted the town to her.

As I mentioned in many of my  posts on Hindu temples, almost every temple has a legend that is relevant to its location, purpose  and attributes of divinity. Legend has it sage Uromasa Maharishi, upon the advice of well-known sage  Agasthiyar,  had let  nine lotus  flowers float on the waters of Thamirabarani.  In the place where the second flower got stuck on the banks of the river, the sage accidentally found a  Shiva Lingam under a banyan tree. That place is Cheranmahadevi. This is the reason why the Sthala Viruksha  (sacred tree) of this temple is banyan tree (in Tamil Aala Maram). This temple is close to the  Thamirabharani river, one of the sacred rivers of India. The sage built a temple for Shiva and installed the lingam there.  The two sisters, as mentioned earlier, took upon themselves the task of expanding the temple.

To raise the money for temple expansion, they toiled by way of hand-pounding rice grains almost daily and one day they realized it was a tough task to save money from meagre income for temple expansion. Having on other recourse, they, with sincere devotion,  prayed to God Shiva to help them complete their endeavor. 
Ammainathar temple, Cheran Mahadevi, TN
Very much impressed by the sisters' dedication and commitments to finish the job undertaken by them, the benevolent Lord Shiva took the guise of a poor  Brahmin and came to their dwelling  for 'Biksha' (requesting food). They fed him to his heart's content and the Brahmin asked them to express their wish. They requested the guest to  contribute money  for temple expansion. In appreciation of their selfless efforts, despite their being poor, lord Shiva  granted the sisters  their wish. As the wheels of fortune change, so was the life of the two sisters who, over a period of time, became wealthy enough  to build an impressive  temple for the Lord. Here, the motto is ''sustained efforts and faith in you  will bear fruits, till such a time you need patience'. Unique feature is here the sanctum - garbagriha or srikovil was built by these two women, indeed a rate thing in Hindu temple history. There is monolithic stone image of God Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. In this temple  demigod Bhairavar does not have his vahana - dog.
Ammainathar temple, Cheran Mahadevi, TN
In this  pretty old temple that has
stone inscriptions from the period of Rajaraja Chozhan, Rajendra Chozhan and Kochadaiyavarmar Sundara Chozhan, there is an   image of  two  sisters on the pillar,  depicting pounding rice grains. There is also a stone image of sage  Uromasa Maharishi in this temple.

The belief has been that the three holy  rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati mingle here, hence Thamirabarani river is revered here. The confluence of rivers occurs in the early morning Sapthami, during the waxing phase of the moon. This place is referred to as
“Vyasartheertha Kattam” and the festival  associated with this holy confluence of three rivers is called “Maha Viyathi Paatham”. It takes place in the month of  Marghazhi and on this auspicious day lots of Hindus take a holy dip in the river to be blessed by the lord for peace of mind and prosperity.  

Yet another interesting aspect is there is a bathing ghat called 'Vyasa Theertam''  and between it and the temple lies “Rana Vimosana Paarai”, a  rock-outcrop. The  conventional belief has been that if a devotee takes a holy dip for 41 days without a break and, at the same time, taking meal once a day, his  wishes will be granted by the lord. Religious austerity is an  important part of this special prayer, besides trust in God and faith in oneself. the devotees  will be relieved from  chronic diseases, etc., it is said.  

The major temple festivals are  Thirukalyanam in (Tamil  month of Aippasi), Thiruvathirai, Shiva Rathri. As this place is Chandran sthalam (moon), worshipping here means devotees will be blessed with happy and peaceful life, a relief for Chandra thosha.  Likewise, lots of farmers visit this temple as they will be blessed with good crop production in the paddy seasons, etc.

Dhinamalar - Bhaktimalar dated 18 August, 2019.