Sri Jambukeswarar temple, Thiruvanaikaval, TN - pillared mandapam in the 4th Prakara - an architecture marvel

Pillared hall,Sri Jambukeswarar Thiruvanaikaval, TN.

Pillars,Sri Jambukeswarar Thiruvanaikaval,

Among the 1000 pillar halls (mandapams) in the Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu,  the historical Sri Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari temple  in Thiruvanaikaval of Trichy city, TN,  has exquisitely carved tall ornate pillars. They are so awe-inspiring and massive no visitors will leave this huge  Shiva temple, without taking a second look at them.  Built by Kochengot Cholan, one of the Early Cholas mentioned in the Sangam literature, it is a massive temple with five enclosures- Prakaras or precincts. There are five enclosures in the temple, the last one  has a  massive outer wall covering, known as the Vibudi Prakara, which stretches over a mile and is two feet thick and over 25 feet high. This was built to retard raids by enemies. The fourth enclosure has hundreds of  well carved pillars. The sanctum the innermost sanctuary is in the first prkara. The temple is one of the Padal Petra Sthalam patronized by many Nayanmars.

Sri Jambukeswarar Thiruvanaikaval, TN

Giving due importance to the artistic and workmanship of stone work in the past era, the Union Ministry of Tourism for the development in 2021  granted funds to renovate  the 1000 pillar mantap. The work was done between November 2021 to 2022.  The reason why importance was given to the temple was, it is a popular pilgrimage cater along with nearby Srirangam Ranganathar temple, first among the 108 Divyadesam shines. As for the Shiva temple dedicated to  Sri Jambukeswarar, it is a Pancha Bootha sthalam representing water, one of the five elements of nature. The Jambukeswarar karuvarai/ sanctum or sree kovil  is filled with water all the time and is pumped out frequently. The place  goes by the name of Appu Sthalam and the Lingam  called  Appu Lingam. Here God Shiva's consort is Akilandeswari.

The hall is a vast expansive structure made of granitic rocks of Archaean group - oldest rocks in the world just like the rocks at malaikottai Pillayar temple roughly 4 billion years old .The rocks were mined from the local quarries centuries ago. Though it is often referred to as 1000 pillar hall which is in the fourth enclosure, it actually  contains about 796 pillars and has a dimension of 2436 feet by 1493. The mantap has  impressive  engravings of deities. Both high ceilings and tall stone pillars were given water wash using water jets to clear the hardened dirts, stains, etc, followed by stone varnish. The work included damaged flooring in some parts as lots of devotees come to the temple daily.  According to the temple officials out of the Rs. 3.58 crore, Rs. 36.22 lakh was set aside for mandapam facelift. Union Tourism department  under the Destination Development Scheme allocated the needed funds.
Besides pillars, the temple tank called ‘Adi Theertha Teppakulam’ (temple tank)  in front of the big  mandapam  and  ‘maiya mandapam  were  also renovated  and  provided with ornamental lightings around the mandapam, etc.   The renovation took place in 2018 after a long gap of 18 long years. The highlight was electrification was redone all over the temple  including pillared mandapam which had been in the dark for decades.

10000 pillar Shiva temple, Warangal,

Among the temples with 1000 pillar hall or mandapam the most popular one is in Warangal  located at the base of Hanamkonda hill. This  12th century temple  built in 1163 AD in the style of later Chalukyan and early Kakatiya Architecture,  by the Kakatiya King Rudra Deva is a Shiva temple, and the main deity goes by the name of  Sri Rudreshwara Swamy Temple. It is a star- structure with three shrines(Trikutalaya).  It was added to the tentative list of World Heritage sites recognised by UNESCO and has exactly 1000 ornate pillars