Srivanchiyam Shiva temple,TN and the shrine dedicated to God of death ''Yama'' - 12 interesting facts

Srivanchiyam Shiva temple,

Located in the small ancient village of Srivanchiyam, in Thiruvarur district is a popular  Shiva temple  and the main god goes by the name of  Vanchinatha Swami. and the place is often referred to as  Thapovanam and Bhu Kailasam (Kailasam on earth).

Chithra Gupta shrine, Srivanchiyam temple, TN

Srivanchiyam temple, TN

Vanchinathan swamy temple, Srivanchiyam, TN

//Yama Vahana, Srivanchiyam temple, TN

The following are the interesting facts about this temple:

01. Nestled in a serene wooded area with lots of sweet smelling sandal trees Srivanchiyam was also called Gandharanyam. 

02. Because of Chola ruler Rajaraja Chola II (1146-1173 AD)'s association, the place was also known as  Rajagambhira Chaturvedi mangalam apparently  after one of the titles of the Chola ruler.

03. Chaturvedi mangalam  suggests that it was once home to  Pundits or scholars in the  four Vedas. 

04. The legend has it that  Goddess Ganga worshipped God Shiva here in order to cleanse herself of the sins left  behind by devotees who bathed in her  holy waters.

05. Well-known tamil Saivite saints  like Appar, Sambandar,  Thirugnanasambandar and also  Manikkavacakar composed devotional hymns in praise of God Shiva  who is  enshrined in the main sanctum and  is said to be  Swayambhu (self-manifest). 

Demi God Yama

Demi God

Above images:  The Hindu deity Yama, mostly known – and feared – as the God of Death: Yama, judges the souls at the end of life.  His other name is Dharmaraja, and is called Lord of Justice,  rightly judging souls for their accumulated deeds on Earth. Said to be blue in colour, he rides a he-buffalo, and holds a rope and a stick (danda).  Yama is a Lokapāla and an Aditya. In art, he is depicted with green or red skin, red clothes, and riding a water buffalo. He holds a loop of rope in his left hand with which he pulls the soul from the corpse. He is the son of Surya (Sun) and twin brother of Yami, or Yamuna, traditionally the first human pair in the Vedas.   Worshipped as the brother of Shaneshwara (Saturn) he is one of the Guardians of the directions and represents the south

06. Unlike other Shiva temples where the lord's vahana - mount is Nandi (Rishabam) / bull, a rare and unique feature of this  temple is there is  separate shrine with  sanctum for God Yama  - demigod of death who can not function without his assistant Chitragupta.So his image is also enshrined here. 

07. Yet another mythological fact is one of the mounts of Shiva here is Yama. God Shiva blessed Yama and absolved him of injustice he had done to sage Markandeya.  To express his gratitude, Yama serves as the vahana for God Shiva and his consort Mangalanayagi.

08. The tradition has been that  devotees first visit the shrine of God Yama and then worship the main deity. 

09. Thirthavari Utsavam  is an important festival. God Shiva appeared  before demi God of death Yama  in Kirthaatha kundam  on Tamil  month of Masi -Bharani accepting Yama's fervent desire to be the lord's mount/vahana. The popular annual festival, a great event at this temple celebrated with  intense devotion  is played out at Gandharranya Kshetram (a place full of sandalwood trees) as part of Masi Mahaotsavam .

10. The temple tank is called Gupta Ganga and Yama Kundam. Devotees who take a holy bath and worship the lord here will be blessed with welfare, peace of mind  and  be free from fear!

11. Srikantha and Brahmanda puranas of  Sage  Vyasa mention about the importance of this holy shrine. 

12. Yet other strange traditions here are  a death is  said to be sacred here, unlike other Hindu temples, when a dead body is carried past the temple, it is not closed, rather wide open. Besides, on the day of solar or  lunar eclipse, the temple is open for worship ,