25. Sri Karpaganathar Temple, Thiruvalanchuzhi, Kumbakonam (Chola Nadu - South of Kaveri):Names of God : Thiru Karpakanathar, Sri Karpakanatheswarar, Sri Valamchuzhinatha
Name of Goddess : Sri Periya Nayaki, Sri Bruhath Nayaki
Holy water (Theertham) : Jada Theertham, Cauvery Theertham, Arasalaru Theertham
Sacred Tree (Sthala Vriksham) : Vilvam
Thevaram : Thirunavukkarasar ; Thiru Gnana Sambandhar
District : Thanjavur.
Location : Kumbakonam.
Timings : 06:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 04:00 p.m. to 08:00 p.m
For Complete List of 275 Shiva Temples : Click HereThis is the 25th sthalam on the southern side of river Cauvery. Thiruganasambandar and Appar has sung hymns in praise of Lord Shiva of this temple. This Shivastalam in the vicinity of Swamimalai (Skandastalam - Aaru Padai Veedu) near Kumbhakonam is a vast temple in a state of neglect, and is known more for the shrine to Valanchuzhi Vinayakar or Sweta Vinayakar. Tiruvalanchuzhi is considered to be the 25th in the series of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom located south of the river Kaveri.
- It is considered as one of 275 Paadal Petral Stalams.
- There is White Pillayar temple in front of the east side Rajagopuram. People mainly come for worshiping white Pillayar. There is single stone slab jolly work to be watched in front of sannadhi.
- Sani Bhagavan in a separate sannadhi.
- Ambal in a separate temple facing east.
- In Koshta Natarajar, Pitchadanar, Narthana Vinayagar, Thakshinamoorthy, Lingothbavar, Naanmugan, Arthanaareeswarar, Durgai.
- There are about 54 lingams in the outer prakaram.
- Karuvarai in agali amaipu.
There are several interesting sculptural features in this vast temple, now in a state of neglect. Images of celestial nymphs display enormous amounts of detail. Inscriptions reveal that Raja Raja Cholan had made several endowments here. There are inscriptions here from the period of Parantaka Chola I.
There are as many as 5 mandapams with intricately carved pillars and stucco images. Murals from the Nayaka period, now in a state of disrepair are also seen here; these images depict the dance of Shiva during the Pradosha worship. The sculptural work in the Valanchuzhi Vinayakar shrine here are of great merit. Mentioned must be made of the lavishly decorated pillars and the niche deities. Ambal's shrine is located to the right of Shiva's shrine here.
Festivals: Vinayaka Chaturthi, and a festival on the 6th day of the bright half of Margazhi (Sagittarius) are celebrated here. This temple is managed as a sub temple of the famed Swaminathar Temple (Subramanya) nearby.
Festivities surround this temple in the Tamil month of Pankuni, when an image of Subramanya is taken in procession from Swamimalai to Tiruvalanchuzhi, when episodes from Vallikalyanam (in which Ganapati the elder brother of Skanda is said to have come to his aid, while the latter attempted to gain Valli's hand in marriage).
History / Legend:Most of us are aware of the 'Amrit manthan' story in which Lord Indra forgot to worship Lord Ganesha before undertaking the task of churning the ocean, for those who are not aware, there is a an architectural marvel of a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha at Thiruvalanchuzhi in Kumbakonam, the temple town in South Tamilnadu. A Legend has it that here Lord Indra made Ganesh from the froth of the ocean waves, so here Pillaiyar(Ganeshji) is white in color.
Here the river takes a gentle curve by the side of the temple hence the name Thiruvalanchuzhi( thiru is sacred, valanchuzhi is curve by the right).
When Durvasa Muni came to visit Indra, he brought with him a garland obtained from Lakshmi. Seeing Indra riding on his Airavatha, he offered the garland as a fitting gift to the king of Devas. Indra, who was in one of his proud moods, carelessly took the garland and placed it on Airavatha’s head. The elephant in its playful mood dragged it down and stamped on the holy garland. Anger burst through Durvasa who cursed Indra “Oh foolish proud King, You have just shown disrespect to Lakshmi herself. May all your prosperity melt away. May your strength disappear and may you rot in disrespect”. Cursing thus he left the place, the Devas all shivering in fear.
Later they rush to Maha Vishnu and seek his help. “Divine Protector,” they pleaded, “please show us a way out”. The ever benevolent Vishnu cast his eyes on them and said “Oh Devas, you have but one way left. Churn the Milk Ocean to obtain Amrutha. Intake of this divine nectar will free you from all the curse and restore you back to power”. The Devas prostrated before him and left. The churning would require a huge churn support and a humongous long rope. Vasuki, the king of snakes offered himself as the rope and the Devas decided to use the Meru mountain as the churn. All preparations done they still couldn't begin, their strength all gone with the curse. Having been weakened by the curse, they alone couldn't churn the ocean.
After prolonged consideration, Indra sent a missive to his step brothers, the Asuras, asking them to join in this effort, promising a portion of the nectar. With the assent of the Asuras, the churning was to begin.
According to the legend, when the Devas and Asuras were churning the ocean, they forgot to worship Ganesha. They realized their error when the poison came out, and Indra immediately made an image of Ganesha out of the sea foam which had collected as a result of the churning of the ocean. Ganesha was pleased, and the Devas were able to obtain nectar. This is the Ganesha present in the temple. Swetha Vinayakar, a Ganesha made of Sea Foam.
Indra continued to worship the cream idol and took it with him when he went on a pilgrimage to absolve his sins. When he reached the banks of the Kaveri, he placed the idol down to take a bath and perform the ritual Poojas. Returning back, he saw that the idol had firmly attached itself to the ground and refused to budge. Understanding the divine will of the lord he prostrated in front of the idol. “Who am I to take you around when your desire is to stay here. All I ask is one boon. May I be allowed to perform Pooja to you everyday?”, he asked. Vinayagar gave his approval, and happy with this Indra returns back to Amaravathi leaving the cream white idol to be worshiped by generations of devotees in what is now Thiruvalanchuzhi.
The cream idol, adored as Vella Pillayar, Swetha vinayagar or Nurai Pillayar (made of ocean's froth), in the sanctum is pure white and is protected very fiercely by silver and gold frames. No abhisheka or pushpa are offered to the deity, lest the cream is washed away. Every decoration and splendor is for the surrounding frames alone. The only offering is Pacha-Karpooram (a fine edible form of camphor), which is finely crushed and sprinkled over the image on a basis. This alone is the main offering by the devotees to the temple. Even the Darba grass we took were offered to the feet of the lord.
On the other hand, just outside the main sanctum one would find a Mandapa that is made up of unpolished uncut stones carelessly fitted together as though in a hurry. Legends report that once the King of the land stopped by the temple to offer his worship. Offering a plate full of Abhisheka materials to the priest, he ordered “Bathe the lord in these fragrant powders and anointed waters. Let him be cooled”. The priest was caught in a dilemma. The temple required that no Abhisheka be done while the king had just ordered for one. Either way he was doomed. Silently invoking Ganesha he begged for help. In answer to his prayers a voice reached from the sanctum, “Oh King, I am made of cream and bubbles. Would you want me to be dissolved in the fragrant waters that you just gave?”. The king is stunned and realizing his mistake he begged for forgiveness. “Then build a Mandapam in front of the sanctum by sunset today to atone for your mistakes. May it remind people of the mistakes that they make in life and make them pray for forgiveness”. The king obliged and built the Mandapam in the given time period, putting together rough stones into an approximate hall. The Mandapam stands even today and is called the Mannippu mandapam or the hall of forgiving. People who visit the temple meditate in this Mandapam and ask Ganesha to forgive their sins and grant them eternal bliss.
Beyond the Aparadha mandapa is the Gayathri Mandapa, built to signify the 24 alphabets of the Gayathri mantra. It is a beautiful structure with meticulous details carved in stone. Its most wondrous feature is the Karungal Palagani or stone window that is carved with 16 viewing portals through which one can worship Ganesha. The 16 portals are said to signify the 16 names of Gajanana as mentioned in the Ganapathi Shodasa Nama Shloka in the Ganesha Purana.
Similarly there is a stone door made with symmetrically carved stone cross like in grills called as 'Karungal Palagani" which speaks of the quality of olden day architectural skill. There are 16 symmetrical crosses which was built to let light and air inside. The door is such a super human feat that when ancient architects signed their contracts, they agreed to build the best except five exceptional pieces of architecture that could never be replicated at all. The Karungal palagani is one of them. (the other four are the main temple tower of Thanjavur, the huge hall in Thiru Veezhi Malai, Kodungai in Aavudaiyar Koil, the outer wall known as Madil in Kadaarankondaan and of course the fifth is the stone grill mentioned above - these 5 were super human efforts of ancient architecture)
The Utsava Moorthis are housed in a separate chamber. Ganesha, surprisingly gives darshan as a Grihastha with Vani and Kamalambikai as his consorts. They are believed to have been born from the tongue of Brahma and the eye of Vishnu respectively. Interestingly, the trio is flanked by Indra and Mahavishnu, both of whom have their hands folded in prayer. The story of Indra has been seen already, but why is Vishnu here in this meditative pose?
Once, when Shiva and Parvathi were playing dice, Maha Vishnu consented to be the judge. At the end, when Parvathi won, Vishnu jokingly declared Shiva to be the winner. Fuming at his unethical behaviour, Parvathi at once cursed her brother to be born as a blind python on earth. Stunned by her harsh curse, Vishnu took birth as a python and meditated on Ganesha for delivering him from the curse. It is believed that when Ganesha returned from his war with Gajamukaasuran, he liberated Vishnu from the curse at Thiruvalanchuzhi. Hence, Vishnu too is seen to be worshiping Gajanana here. On the other hand, utterly perplexed by the relation between Shiva and Vishnu and the unnecessary lie that Vishnu had uttered, Parvathi performed tapas at this kshetra and was blessed a vision of Shankaranarayanar (Shiva with half his body occupied by Narayana). Since Shiva and Parvathi were reunited at this kshetra, the place is believed to offer relief to couples whose marriage has been a bumpy ride.
Beyond the Ganapathi shrine is the main temple dedicated to Brihadnayaki (Periyanayaki) sametha Kapartheesar (Jataimudinathar). The temple legends celebrate the marriage of Parvathi, the daughter of Yayava Munivar, to Shiva. Yayava had obtained Parvathi as his daughter through a boon from Shiva. However, when Parvathi had reached a marriageable age, Yayava had simply refused to let her marry Maheshwara, claiming that he was an ugly ascetic who wore animal skins and rode on a bull. Shiva finally appeared before Yayava, removed the Maya that was clouding his intellect and gave him moksha. Parvathi married Parameshwara amidst much celebrations, thus setting an outstanding example to all womenfolk that the outer appearance of the husband doesn’t matter and one should always be devoted to him regardless of his beauty or the lack of it.
The temple myths also tell us an interesting tale of the time when the thousand-headed Adisesha came out from the netherworlds at Thiruvalanchuzhi. However, the gigantic snake had to drill a large hole to make his way from the nether worlds to the earth's surface. So large was the hole that the river Kaveri flowed right into it, up to the very last drop. With the Kaveri gone, the dwellers of Chozha desha struggled a lot with their everyday lives. Neither was there enough water to drink nor was there sufficient moisture in the ground to sustain the crops. Extremely saddened by the plight of his subjects, the Chozha king rushed to the Thiruvalanchuzhi temple and begged the Lord to restore the Kaveri. Deeply touched by the king's love for his subjects, Shiva spoke through an oracle and ordered the king to sacrifice a Rishi at the site of the abyss. On hearing these words of relief, the king at once traveled to Kottaiyur, where he narrated the entire story to Heyranda Maharishi. Heyranda, the enlightened soul that he was, was only too happy to sacrifice himself for the well-being of a kingdom, and without a second word, he jumped into the deep abyss. At once, the Kaveri bubbled up from the hole again, after which the abyss closed itself and totally disappeared. Even today, Heyranda Maharishi is worshiped at the temple for his selfless sacrifice. It is also believed that Adisesha visits the temple to worship Shiva on every Shivaratri day in the year.
The Shiva temple also houses uniquely positioned Navagrahas, where Surya and Shani are seen to be facing each other as Mitra-Grahas. Also of special interest is the shrine dedicated to Ashtabhuja MahaKali, a shrine like no other. Thirugnanasambandhar has sung a beautiful pathigam on the lord of the temple as well as on Swetha Vinayagar, thus adding this temple to the list of 274 Paadal Petra Shiva Thalangal.
There is a custom in vogue amongst the devotees according to which the entire Chozha Desha is considered to be a Shivaalaya, with the main deity enshrined at the Thiruvidaimaruthur Mahalinga Swamy temple. The various other Parivara devathas are worshiped at individual temples around Chozha Desha. In this arrangement, Thiruvalanchuzhi is the Vinayagar shrine in the Shivaalaya and is the first to be visited in the series. In due order, the other shrines are - Swamimalai for Karthikeya, Chidambaram for Nataraja, Aaduthurai for the Navagrahas, Alangudi for Guru, Sirkazhi for Bhairavar, Thiruvavaduthurai for Nandi, Thiruvarur for Somaskandar, and Thiruvaypaadi for Chandikeshwarar.
Location: This temple is located 06 Kms from Kumbakonam near Swamimalai (one of the 6 abodes of Lord Murugan). It is about 01 Km from Swamimalai. One can also reach Tiruvalanchuzhi via Dharasuram.
Temple Address & Contact Details:Sri Tiru Valanchuzhi Nathar Temple,
Pin code: 612 703.
Phone: +91 435 2454421 and +91 435 2454026.