Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Abatsahayeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soundaranayaki|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Pathiri Vanam, Then Tirukalathi|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Thukkachi||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (13 km)||Thiruvarur (28 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (31 km)||Thanjavur (51 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This place used to also be known as Pathiri Vanam, at a time when this was a forest of pathiri trees. All but one of those trees are gone, and the remaining tree is the sthala vriksham of this temple, and is located inside the temple complex.
When Durga was tasked with killing Mahishasuran, she was surprised because from every drop of the asura that touched the earth, emerged another asura. Desperate to accomplish Her task in this time of distress, Durga sought the help of Siva by worshipping Him. In turn, He asked Her to release the Ugra Sakti of Mahakali from Her anger, who drank up every drop of blood before it could touch the earth. As a result, Durga was able to overcome Mahishasuran. However, after drinking the asura’s blood, Mahakali imbibed asuraic qualities. So, once again Durga approached Siva for help. He asked her to install a Lingam on the northern bank of the Arasilar river and worship Him. She did so, and Mahakali was brought under control.
It is believed that from time immemorial, and as a result of the sthala puranam, Durga reigns this land, and so the place was named Durgai Atchi (the rule of Durga). Over time, this has corrupted to Thukkachi. (Another slightly different version indicates the original name of the place as Durga Sakti.) Since Siva came to the rescue of Durga and Mahakali in times of distress, He is named Abatsahayeswarar.
King Vikrama Chola once suffered from leukoderma (ven kushtam, in Tamil). He prayed to Siva at this temple and was relieved of his disease.
This temple is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, and features in one of the hymns of Appar.
The temple is clearly Chola, though in its early state, it may not have been as elaborate, since much of the construction and expansion is dated back only to the time of Vikrama Chola, in the 12th century, after he was cured from his leukoderma. Inscriptions in the temple refer to renovations performed by Raja Raja Chola I, Kulothunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola. In some references, the temple is also called Then Kalahasti (southern Kalahasti). At one time, the temple is said to have seven prakarams, although currently there are only three.
Uniquely, the temple also houses a shrine for Adi Sarabeswarar, which is considered to be the first of three Sarabeswarar temples / shrines in the region. The temple boasts of some excellent and vibrant architecture, despite its dilapidated state. The vimanam above the garbhagriham reminds one of the Great Living Chola Temples, particularly the Airavateswarar temple at Darasuram.
Other information for your visit
The temple is currently undergoing renovation, after several years of neglect (pictures below are from 2016, when the renovation work had just started).
The temple does have a regular puja schedule as far as I’m aware, but the gurukkal can be contacted at the number below.
Phone: 9500717213; 0435-2448138
Below are some more relatively recent (2021) pictures, though nothing really seems to have improved much. (Pics courtesy Sriram of Templepages.com)
Temple video (walk around) and narration in Tamil, by Sriram of templepages.com: