Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Saranatha Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Sara Nayaki|
|Deity:||Perumal||Historical name:||Pancha Saara Kshetram, Tirucherai|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Divya Desam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirucherai||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (13.6 km)||Tiruvarur (26.9 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (38.1 km)||Thanjavur (45.1 km)|
Tirucherai is located about 15 km from Kumbakonam and about 4 km from Nachiyar Koil.
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is referred to in the Brahmanda Puranam, and considered to be in existence since the dwapara yugam. At the time of dissolution of the world prior to the commencement of kali yugam, Brahma appealed to Lord Vishnu to protect the Vedas and the various inputs necessary to recommence life on earth. Since no pot could hold these, Lord Vishnu suggested the use of clay and mud from this place. In Tamil, seru or cheru means mud, which gives the place its name. Since Vishnu enabled the essence (saram) of life to continue, he is worshipped here as Saranatha Perumal. The continuation of this legend is breaking of the pot by Lord Siva as the archer, which gives us the story of Kumbakonam.
Another legend is that the celestial pot made by Brahma to continue life in kali yugam, reached Kumbakonam. One end or corner of the pot (and hence kumbha-konam) was in Kumbakonam, and its mouth was in Kudavasal (literally, pot’s mouth; kudam = pot, vasal = entrance), and the content inside the pot was in Saram (which is today, Tirucherai, and also gives Lord Vishnu his name here).
This kshetram is referred to as a pancha sara kshetram, as there are 5 aspects of saram or essence here – Saranatha Perumal, Sara Nayaki, Sara Vimanam, Sara Teertham, and Saram (name of the place). There are also 5 thayars at this temple – Mahalakshmi, Saranayaki, Neeladevi, Bhoomadevi and Sridevi.
Connected with the puranam of Srirangam, Vibheeshana placed the Ranga vimana on the ground, during his return to Lanka. Lord Vishnu appeared to him and mentioned that He wished to stay at Srirangam. He also told Vibheeshana that he wished to watch the Brahmotsavam at Tirucherai. For this reason, it is believed that Lord Vishnu Himself is present at all the festivals of this temple.
To settle a dispute amongst the rivers as to which was the holiest of them all, Brahma reckoned that it was the river Ganga, since Vishnu’s foot was in it during the Vamana Avataram. This upset river Kaveri], who wanted equal status, and performed penance to Lord Vishnu. The Lord appeared to her as a small child, and Kaveri showered motherly love on the infant. Much pleased, Vishnu told Kaveri to take a dip at the Sara Pushkarini at Tirucherai, to get the same status as river Ganga. In response, Kaveri asked for three wishes: That Lord Vishnu should stay in Tirucherai for ever, all living beings in Tirucherai should attain Paramapadam, and she should have equal status as the Ganga. Vishnu agreed to all three. The temple celebrates this story with a murti of Vishnu as a child on river Kaveri’s lap. This is one of the very few places with a separate shrine for the river Kaveri.
Azhagiya Manavala Nayakar, a Thanjavur king, wanted to build a temple for Rajagopalar in Mannargudi, and appointed his minister Narasa Bhoopalan to execute his orders. Keen to build a Perumal temple in Tirucherai, the minister took one stone from each cart going to Mannargudi, and built this temple. When the king came to hear of this, he was initially annoyed. When he came to Tirucherai, he saw the nearly completed temple with a shrine for Rajagopalar who appeared to the king as He was in Mannargudi. Pleased, the king ordered for proper completion of the construction including additional funds.
Unlike in most other places where Perumal blesses with the abhaya hastam, this is a rare kshetram where He blesses with Padma hastam (Katkaraiappan temple in Trikakarai near Ernakulam has this feature as well). The murti of Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana, depicts their appearance after 14 years in the forest – an unusual portrayal!
The superstructure of the temple dates back to the 9th century (and therefore a Chola temple), with additions made by the Vijayanagara dynasty and Thanjavur Nayaks (refer legend above). The temple tank (Sara Pushkarini) to the east of the temple has an area as large as the temple itself.
Other information for your visit
Very close to this temple is the Tirucherai Sara Parameswarar temple – a Paadal Petra Sthalam – which is especially famous as a rna vimochana sthalam for those seeking relief from the burden of financial problems.
Ramudu Bhattar: 94440 04374