Maha Shivaratri - Famous Shiva temples devotees visit on that day -03

Please refer to my previous two posts on Maha Shivaratri and Shive temples that people visit;  At the following temples Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with great enthusiasm, particularly in the temples of Tamil nadu, the  puja rituals are held till following morning and the devotees keep coming and worship. 

01. Mahakaleshwar Temple   of Ujjain, MP

 Mahakaleshwar Temple  Ujjain

Mahakaleshwar Temple  (5th century CE) of Ujjain on the banks of the river Shipra Madhya Pradesh is a sacred  Jyotirlinga shrine and visitors from other places to this ancient city never return home without visiting the temple. The unique feature of this temple is the idol in the sanctum is facing south, hence the deity is also known as dakshinamukhi, meaning  facing the south. This is a rare unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition is noticeable only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas.

The temple's present structure came up in the 18th century  during the reign  of Maratha ruler, Ranoji Shinde  and prior to that it underwent many restorations.  Enshrined in the sanctum is a  swayambhu lingam- self manifested. It is said the abisheka is done to the processional idol made of metal alloy as the water will damage the original deity. There are idols of  Ganesh, Parvati, and Kartikeya.  

The temple is believed to have been built in the 5th century CE, but it has undergone several renovations over the years. The current structure is believed to have been built in the 18th century by the 

A unique part of the puja ritual called bhasm aarti is quite well-known.  Ash is used to worship the deity as it is common in some temples of Tamil nadu dedicated to Karthikeya (Muruga). This aarti taken  in the morning is an auspicious one likewise  the  elaborate evening aarti for the presiding god, is a spectacular one attended by a a large number of devotees. The temple is known for its grand architecture and rich cultural heritage and is visited by millions of devotees every year, especially on Mahashivratri and Shivratri. On the day of Maha Shivaratri, a  big fair is held to honor god Shiva and the venue near the temple is well decorated. During the festivity  worship goes on all  night.


02. Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli,TN:

Nellaiappar temple, Tirunelveli,
Nellaiappar temple, Tirunelveli, TN. Musical pillars

The Nellaiappar temple complex in the prime area of the city on the banks of the Thamirabarani river  is an amazing place for the lovers of stone sculptures of exceptional beauty. This  temple is one of the few in south India famous for Musical Pillars and they are one of the main attractions here. Set on a land  covering   fourteen and a half acres,  there are many shrines within the walled enclosure.  Here, God's  consort is  Kanthimathi Amman (Parvati).   Tamil saint poets -  Nayanmars glorified the deity in the  the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram,; hence it is a  classified  Paadal Petra Sthalam.

pillars with carving of Yali.Nellaiappar temple, Tirunelveli, TN

Various dynasties  such as Cholas, Cheras and Nayaks of Madurai built masonry structures in the the temple at different periods, but the original builder was the Pandya dynasty  of Madurai. The original  while the present masonry structure was added by Cholas, Pallavas, Cheras, and Madurai Nayaks. Sangili Mandapam built on 1647 by Vadamalaiyappa pillayan connects the Ganthimathi Amman and Nellaiappar, earlier they were independent structures. The square Vasantha mandapam in the center of the Flower garden , close to  Sangili Mandapam (Chain mandapam) with  100 well ornate pillars is an interesting one

Brahmotsavam festival during the Tamil month of Aani (June–July) is the most popular festival here. The puja rituals are conducted whole day on the  night of Maha Shivaratri and devotees from the city and nearby places attend in large number.


03.Thiruvarur  Thiyagaraja temple,TN:

Thiyagaraja temple, Thiruvarur

Thiruvarur  Thiyagaraja temple  in the capital city of Thiruvarur is a sprawling one, one of the largest in India  covering 30 acres of land with 9 towers/ gopuram. I is the  foremost Shiva temple in this part of the Cauvery  delta area of Tamil Nadu. 

Somaskanda Thiruvarur temple.

Above image: Somaskanda:  Featuring Shiva, Uma and Skanda; symbol of fertility; Somaskanda is a manifestation of Shiva featuring Shiva, Uma and Skanda; Shiva in a seated posture, with Parvati to his left and with Skanda his son, seated in between the two.....................

Shiva is worshiped as Puttridankondar Self manifested) and is represented by the lingam. Daily pooja rituals are done to the valuable  Maragatha lingam idol . The main idol of worship Lord veedhi Vidangar (processional icon) (Thiagarajar) is in a Somaskanda form. His consort being  Kondai (Parvathi).  The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram, written in Tamil by saint poets known as the nayanars and Classified as the Paadal Petra Sthalam in the 7th century Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram there are numerous devotional hymns written by Tamil saints Nayanmars, glorifying the main deities.

Initially  the Chola dynasty in the 9th century,  built the present masonry structure and subsequently many dynasties made contribution to this temple, notable being  Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE).

Adorned with 9  richly ornamental towers   80 vimanas, twelve temple walls, 13 halls, fifteen  three gardens, and three large precincts. This temple has the rare distinction of  having maximum number of shrines (called sannidhis in Tamil) in the whole of India, not even the largest functional temple in the world - Sri Ranganathar temple at Srirangam  does not possess that  many shrines. Besides, the temple tank is the largest in India called Kamalayam covering 16 acres.   Yet another interesting fact is the annual chariot festival of the Thyagaraja swamy temple is celebrated during April – May (Tamil month of Chitrai). The chariot is the largest of its kind in Asia and India weighing more than 300 tonne with a height of 96 ft (29 m). The chariot is taken around the four main streets surrounding the temple during the festival.

There are two shrines dedicated to God Shiva, in one shrine is enshrined self-manifested lingam grown from puttru - anthill. No abhiseka is done on it. The other shrine is  for Thyagaraja. The  main idol Lord veedhi Vidangar (processional icon) (Thiagarajar) is depicted as a Somaskanda form.  The god's patham-holy foot of Thyagaraja is shown twice a year and rest of the period it is covered with flowers. A unique ritual here is only the right leg of the deity and left leg of the goddess named Kondi is displayed during "panguni uthiram" festival and "thiruvathirai."  That the left foot of god Thiyagaraja and right foot of Parvati is never shown is a mystery