Famous Jambukeswara temple - embodiment of water-,Tamil nadu

Long corridor (praharam)Jambukeswara temple, Thiruvanaikaval,. www.gettyimages.com
Priest in woman's dress feeding black cow,Jambukeswara temple, Thiruvanaikaval, .ramanan50.wordpress.com
This very ancient Shiva  temple at Thiruvanaikaval in the Srirangam island near Tiruchirappalli city, Tamil Nadu, south India  is a Pancha Bhoota Stalam (five elemets of nature), dedicated to Shiva- Jambukeswara and Parvati (Akhilandeswari) and it is one of the major Saivite shrines in Tamil Nadu. Here  Shiva as Jambukeswara, an embodiment of the element water  is often referred to as ''Appustalam'' - hence one of the Pancha Bhootha Stalams, the other four being Tiruvannamalai (fire), Chidambaram (Space), Kanchipuram (Earth) and Kalahasti (Air),near Thirupathi, AP respectively.

In this temple the sanctum is slightly below the main
Jambukeswara temple, Thiruvanaikaval,S.India.www.hindudevotionalblog.com
ground level and the moolavar - the main deity is always partly immersed in water. Perhaps the water table may be very near the ground. However, it is said that even during the hot summer  the water level in the garbagraha-sanctum does not go down. That, for several centuries, the main deity  has remained partly submerged in water,  regardless of vagaries of seasons is a matter of puzzle and astonishment.
This temple built in the 1st century was  patronized by the Chola Pandya, Hoysala and the Madurai Naik kings. Saivite Saints (7th through 9th century) have sung songs in praise of the Lord. So was Muthuswamy Deekshitar, one of the Karnatic music trinity. 

There is a shrine to Adi Sankara in the temple complex; he is said to have visited the Akhilandeswari shrine long ago and  presented the goddess with ear-rings bearing the symbol of chakram ((wheel).

Located in the Srirangam island this vast temple complex has five praharams (corridors). The inner most enclosure measuring 126 feet by 123, has the sanctum followed by second corridor measuring 306 feet by 197 feet. The third corridor is 745 feet by 197 feet surrounded  by a wall 30 feet high. The fourth corridor measures 2436 feet by 1493 and has  a hall with  stone 796 pillars and a small water tank fed by  springs.The massive outer wall covering the fifth praharam or corridor, known as the Vibudi praharam , stretches over a mile and is two feet thick and over 25 feet high. 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.

Since Sangam period the temple has undergone various  modifications over the last two thousand years. Hosalas and Pandyas made valuable contribution to the construction of this temple.  The temple was built by Kochenga Chola, one of the early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. 

Tit Bits:

 The five elements of nature, essential for sustenance of living and non living things  are believed to be
housed in the five lingams at five different  shiva temples. They  have five different names  based on the elements they represent.

As the Goddess Akilandeswari once worshipped Lord Shiva here, the temple priest or archakar dresses like a woman and conducts  'uchikala pooja' (noon prayer) to the deity and to''ko matha'' (cow) for which cow with black skin or karaam pasu is daily used. This type of conducting pooja (prayer) is rare among Hindu temples. Unlike other Shiva temples, there is no Thiru Kalyanam (celestial mock wedding) ritual conducted in this temple for Shiva and Parvathi, because Devi was like a student and Jambukeswara like a Guru (teacher) in this temple.

Another daily ritual as part of noon payer protocol is Annabhishekam to the lingam (ablution with cooked rice).


Tourist guide to Tamil Nadu (2007). 

Ayyar, P. V. Jagadisa (1991). South Indian shrines: illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.