Thyagaraja Swamy temple, Thiruvarur - some fascinating facts!!

Thruvarur Thyagaraja Swamy temple, TN

Thygaraja Swamy temple, Thruvarur, TN,

Occupying a huge land  with the largest temple tank in India  ''Kamalalayam tank'' (covering 16 acres)  to its west,  Sri Thygaraja Swamy (Shiva) temple (total area more than 33 acres)  is not only a  popular one in the delta district but also a massive one with countless sub shrines.  The  shrine  in the middle of the vast tank is dedicated to  Naganathar.

Location Thruvarur, TN

This temple has the rare distinction of  having maximum number of shrines (called sannithis 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.  Aananthiswarar, Neelothmbal, Asaleswarar, Adageswarar, Varuneswarar, Annamalieswarar and Kamalambal (goddess - Parvati) are some of the major shrines here. The most prominent  shrines, are those with  Veedhi Vidangar (Thiyagarajar) and goddess  Alliyankothai (Neelothbalambal) being the most prominent.

 In the midst of heavy rains  on 8 November 2015 the  Mahasamprokshanam (Kumbhabhishekam/ consecration) of the temple was held; countless devotees turned up despite heavy downpour. 

The present ''masonry structure'' was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE) made additions in the later periods. 

Temple tank Kamalayam, Thiruvarur, TN.

The entire temple complex  is in the prime area of Thiruvarur town, the district HQ of Thiruvarur. With nine gateway gopurams, 80 vimanas, twelve temple walls, 13 halls, fifteen large temple water bodies, three gardens, and three large precincts no doubt the builder of this temple and the architect would have spent lots of time before its final execution,  Some  parts of the temple  are made of granite rock, the rocks had to be transported either from Thiruchrapalli or Pudukotta districts as there are no hard rock out-crops in the delta region of Tamil Nadu. There are many masonry structures as well.  The Raja gopuram - main tower that is 118 ft tall and is a 7-story structure. 

The two main shrines are dedicated to God Shiva - one is called  Vanmikinathar  and the other one is Thyagarajar.  Vanmikinathar shrine is older than the other and the deity in the form of a linga  swayambumurthi/ self-manifested) is believed to have grown from an ancient anthill (molehill; in Tamil Puttru). Hence no abhishekam is done to him.  

The primary idol of  worship is Lord Veedhi Vidangar (Thiyagarajar), depicted as a Somaskanda form. Here lord's  Parvathi is depicted as Kondi with her child  Subramanim (Khander/Muruga). 

The glory of this  temple complex is sung in more number of  devotional hymns  from Thiruvachgam  (353) written by  a number of Nayanmars - Tamil  Shiva  saints of 7th century  and later periods

Emerald Lingam, Thygaraja temple, Thiruvarur.

The main deity of the temple is Vanmika Nathar   with his consort Kamalambikai.  As no  Abhishekam is   performed to Valmika Natharand instead it  is done to the Marakatha Lingam (Emerald lingam)  kept in this temple.  As part of puja ritual   Maragatha Linga  (known as Veedhi Vidanga Linga) believed to have been worshipped earlier by Indira)  worship  takes place at 8.30 a.m., 11.00 a.m. and at 7.00 p.m. each day. After  abishekam  the  precious Linga will be kept  in a silver box with flowers and covered by a silver vessel. This will be then locked in the presence of officials and placed under lock and key on the right side of Lord Thiyagaraja. For security reason, the authorities might follow different tradition now.  This Maragatha  linga was stolen a decade ago and later it war recovered by the state police.  

Thygaraja Swamy & his consort,

 A rare  feature of the Kamalambal temple is the presence of a stone called Akshara Peetam   where the formless Akshara Devi is supposed to reside. Goddess  Kamalambal   is seen sitting in a  stylish posture  (see the image above) with a crossed leg - unusual among the Amman/ Thaayar shrines. The deity is seen wearing a crescent moon jewel  and symbolic of   goddesses   Saraswathi, Parvathi and  Lakshmi. 

A unique feature of this temple is the location of  two nine Navagraha idols   (planetary deities)  one toward the south  in straight line  and also in northwest corner of 1st prakaram- prathakshana path. Legend has it here all planetary deities   are  free from curses and they came here to worship him. 

There are 84 Vinayaka  images  within this great temple and one of them is Vatapi Ganapathi . Budding musicians worship him.

Lord Dakshinamurthy in this temple has six  disciples   instead of the usual  four as in  other temples.

The temple has a lot of mantaps - halls, among them  six  halls assume importance. Bhaktha Katchi hall: Here  the processional deity (utchavar)  Thyagaraja is brought to  this hall after the Panguni Uthiram festival;  Oonjal hall: During the Thiruvadhirai festival  the utchava moorthies of Chandrasekarar and Sekari Amman are kept  here.   Thulapara hall: According to the legend  king Mucundaka  Cholan placed the image of  God Thyagaraja on one side of the balance and on the other side he placed the stuff he  received from demigod Indra (the king of celestial deities). Purana hall is  in the northern part of the temple. Rajanarayana hall is a public hall;  Rajendra Chola hall (also known as Sababathi hall): It  houses the museum of the temple. displaying various features of this temple, chariots drawn by elephants, horses, etc.  

The main deity Sri Thyagaraja Swamy is  enshrined in the sanctum - garbagriha. An unusual part of puja protocol of this temple is  the devotees can not see the entire image of the God.. Lord's foot is shown (Padha Darsan) only  twice a year and  rest of the year it is  covered with flowers.  The right leg of the deity and left leg of the goddess named Kondi are  shown  during "panguniuthram" festival and "thiruvathirai"

Unlike  other Shiva temples in which his mount Nandi (bull0  is seen in the sitting posture, in this temple Nandi is in a standing posture facing the sanctum..  

Yet another feature is the  a sculptural representation of a stone chariot, Manuneethi Chozan (legendary king), the cow and the calf  under the chariot in Vittavasal, - northeast direction of the gopuram The legendary king's capital was Thiruvarur. 

Once this temple conducted  countless temple functions.   Being great builders of Hindu temple a descendant of Chola ruler  Kulothunga Chola II (1133–50 CE)  was the one who  expanded the number of temple festivals to as many as whooping  fifty six festivals.  It is said some of them are being followed even today. 

Here, Lord Shiva (Thyagaraja) whose cosmic dance is popular  at Chidambaram temple is famous for  the ajapa thanam (dance without chanting); god himself executes this move. When the  deity  is  taken in a procession  the bearers do the dancing which comes in 7 different styles, each depicting a particular movement. This dance is unique to this temple. 

The inscriptions from Rajaraja Chola  suggest this temple's association with  a large group of dancers who were dedicated to the temple. 

This temple is the only place where   panchamuga vadyam, a rare musical instrument with each of its five ends with different ornamentation is used in the temple. Yet another unique  musical instrument nadaswaram (wind  instrument) called Barinayanam is also found only in Thiruvarur

Largest Thygaraja Swamy temple chariot,

The annual chariot festival April – May (Tamil month of Chithirai) of this temple is  a popular one. It is the largest  temple car (Azhi Ther) of its kind in  India  weighing as much as 300 plus tons,  height  96 ft (29 m). It is provided with special Hydraulic breaks to stop it and is pulled by lots of devotees and pushed forward  from the back by heavy-duty bulldozer. The chariot comes round the four main streets surrounding the temple during the festival. You need a whole day to take a look around the vast  temple complex.,_Tiruvarur