Palaivananathar, Papanasam, Thanjavur

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:PalaivananatharAmbal / Thayar:ThavaLaveNNakaiyaaL
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Tiruppaalaithurai
Vriksham:PaalaiTeertham:Vasishta Teertham, Indra Teertham, Yama Teertham

Age (years):

Timing:6 to 11 & 4.30 to 8.30Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)
Sung by:


Temple set:



City / town:PapanasamDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Kumbakonam (16.5 km)Thanjavur (27.5 km)

Ariyalur (38.6 km)Tiruvarur (52.5 km)


Sthala puranam and temple information

Papanasam is located a few kms west of Kumbakonam on the old highway to Thanajvur. This place is not to be confused with the Papanasam located near Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli district.

In days past, this place had various names, including Tiruppalaithurai, Paalaivanam, Brahmavanam, Arasavanam, and Punnaagavanam.

Lord Rama made 108 lingams at the nearby Ramalingaswami temple, and prayed to Lord Siva at this temple, to wash off the curse of killing Ravana, a brahmin and Siva devotee. As Rama was relieved of his sin this place is called Papanasam. As this place was once a forest of iron-wood trees (palai in Tamil), the Lord here is called Palaivananathar.

The rishis in Darukavanam were undertaking penance. To test them, Lord Siva and Parvati appeared as Bhikshatanar and Mohini. Angered by looking at them and fearing disturbance, the Rishis created a ferocious tiger to kill them. But the Lord killed the Tiger and appeared wearing the tiger skin. The Rishis understood their folly and pleaded mercy. This incident is said to have taken place here.

An arrogant Pandya King was cursed to become a bear by Kala Rishi.  The queen pleaded with Sage Agastyar, who ordered the King to go Palaithurai. A hunter began chasing the bear. Fearing the hunter, the bear jumped in the Kaveri river and was relieved of the curse. Happy with this, the king built a mandapam here.

During their time in the forest, Arjuna visited here as advised by Sage Dhaumya, and learnt the finer aspects of battle with the bow and arrow. With the blessing of Lord Siva, he went to Nagaloka and eventually married Uloopi.

Sage Vasishta installed a Lingam here and undertook severe penance to become Brahmarishi. Lord Siva, pleased with his efforts, granted his wish and ordered him to create a special temple for Parvati alongside.

It is said that Vinayakar, Somaskandar, Subrahmanyar, Mahalakshmi, Malayadhwaja and Sage Vasishta have worshipped here.

The temple is essentially a Chola temple, and inscriptions here indicate temple building / refurbishment activity by Kulothunga Chola I, Vikrama Chola, Rajaraja Chola II, Rajaraja Chola III and Kuluthunga Chola III.

Other information for your visit

Upon entering the temple complex, on the right, is a huge granary built 400-500 years ago by the Nayaks. It has been calculated that the granary an hold 12,000 kalam of grain. One kalam is calculated to be about 9,000-9,600 cubic inches, so the capacity of this granary is about 1,800 cubic meters!

There are several temples and places of interest nearby. Refer our map for more.



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