Mahakalanathar, Tirumakalam, Tiruvarur

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:MahakalanatharAmbal / Thayar:Pachaiambikai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:TiruambarmaakaaLam
Vriksham:KarunkaaliTeertham:MaakaaLa Teertham

Age (years):

Timing: to & to Parikaram:

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


Temple set:



City / town:TirumakalamDistrict:Tiruvarur
Maps from (click): Current location Thiruvarur (21 km)Mayiladuthurai (25 km)

Nagapattinam (33 km)Kumbakonam (38 km)


Sthala puranam and temple information

There are three temples regarded as Mahakalams (or Makalams), which are located at Ujjain, Irumbai (near Pondicherry) and Ampal (also known as Tirumakalam). All three temples are associated with Siva and Kali.

Sage Durvasa sired two sons named Ampan and Ampasuran, with his servant. The sons were asuras who took pleasure in troubling the sages. At Siva’s request, Parvati deputed Kali, who took the form of a maid and came here. Both asuras desired her and fought amongst themselves over her. In the fight, Aampara (the elder) was killed, and Kali vanquished Ampara at what is known today as Ampakarathur. The names of these brothers give the place its name as Ampal (or Ambar). Since Siva blessed Kali (or Mahakali), He is called Mahakalanathar here.

The story of Somasi Maran Nayanar

Ampal is the avatara sthalam of Somasi Maran Nayanar, one of the 63 Saivite Nayanmars. Once, he wanted to conduct a yagam, along with his wife Suseela, and wished to have Siva receive the havis from the yagam. The Nayanmar believed that only Sundarar was capable of bringing the Lord here, but Sundarar was unable to speak due to an illness.

Somasi Mara Nayanar sent him medicinal herbs and greens, to help with the recovery. After recovering, Sundarar came to know who sent these, and pleased with Somasi Mara Nayanar, obtained Siva’s consent for the Lord to be present for the yagam. As a result, various sages and Vedic scholars also assembled for the grand event.

As the event got underway, Siva appeared but in disguise – as an undertaker, carrying a dead calf on his shoulders and surrounded by four dogs, and sounding the beat of a thaarai (percussion instrument played for the dead). With him was Parvati, also in disguise, carrying a pot of liquor, with two children (Vinayakar and Murugan) on her shoulders.

All those present ran away, considering this to be highly inauspicious, except for the Nayanar and his wife. However, the couple realised that the four dogs were the four Vedas, and the thaarai to be the Devas. As a result, he also realised that the undertaker and the woman were none other than Siva and Parvati. Any remaining doubts were cleared when Vinayakar showed his true form to Somasi Maran, and so Somasi Maran took the havis and handed it to the hunter couple. As soon as the Lord received it, Siva and Parvati appeared seated on Rishabha Vahanam. As a result of this incident, Somasi Maran was elevated to the status of a Nayanmar.

The above incident is re-enacted every year as part of the temple’s festival, on the day of Ayilyam nakshatram in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June). Thyagarajar from Tiruvarur comes here, representing Siva as the undertaker who attended Somasi Maran Nayanar’s yagam. The place the yagam was conducted is between this temple and the nearby Brahmapureeswaarar temple.

Indra was defeated by Samsaraseelan, a descendant of Pulastya – one of Brahma’s 10 mind-born sons. In order to regain Devalokam, Indra worshipped Siva at this temple. Siva took the form of Bhairavar, vanquished Samsaraseelan, and arose as Sattanathar. Indra was able to regain his lordship of the Devas. There is a separate temple for Siva as Sattanathar, nearby.

Sage Mathanga was blessed with a girl child, who he named Rajamathangi, who wished to marry only Siva. When the girl was ready for marriage, Siva appeared before her and married her. When He asked her if she had any specific wishes, she replied that she wanted the Lord to be with her at this place, in their wedding form (kalyana kolam). Because of this, this temple is a prarthana sthalam for those wanting to get married.

Vimalan was a brahmin living in Kasi. He had no children, despite his prayers for a child at various temples. He therefore set out on a pilgrimage to the south. One day, Siva appeared in the guise of an old man, and upon being told by Vimalan as to what he wanted, suggested that Vimalan go to Ampal Makalam, with the indication that at this temple, Vinayakar is seen along with Murugan, as children. The old man also laid a condition that Vimalan’s child should be named Mahadevan. All of these events happened in due course. This temple is therefore a prarthana sthalam for childbirth.

This Chola temple was originally built by Kulothunga Chola I in the late 11th / early 12th century, and there are a number of inscriptions from that time in this temple. Later additions were made by other Chola kings including Vikrama Chola. Vinayakar and Murugan are present in this temple as Aadi Vinayakar (with a human face, as with Aadi Vinayakar at Koothanur) and Aadi Skanda.

Other information for your visit

This temple is not to be confused with Ampal Brahmapureeswarar temple which is located nearby. Also close by is the Sattanathar temple, where Siva appeared in Bhairavar form, for Indra.


Thyaga Sivacharyar: 94866 01401; 94427 66818

Please do leave a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s