Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Neelakanteswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Anupamasudani, Bhaktabeesh Pradayini|
|Vriksham:||Panchavilvam||Teertham:||Devi Teertham, Bharadwaja Teertham, Markandeay Teertham, Brahma Ksheerakundam Teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|City / town:||Tiruneelakudi||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (13 km)||Mayiladuthurai (25 km)|
|Tiruvarur (35 km)||Thanjavur (55 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
The name Neelakatha translates into “the Blue Necked One”, referring to the poison consumed by Siva that was stuck in his throat. During the churning of the ocean, the first among several things that came out was the dreaded Halahala poison (also called Kaalakutam, literally, a black mass). To protect the entire universe, Siva had Nandi bring it over to Him, and drank it. The commonly known puranam at this point is that, fearing for the future of the world, Parvati put her hands around the Lord’s neck, to stop the poison from spreading. The poison stuck in His throat, giving it a dark blue colour, and Him the name Neelakantar. In addition, to negate the effects of the poison consumed, Parvati anointed Siva with oil, which was absorbed by the Lord.
The practice of anointing oil to soothe the Lord continues in this temple, and miraculously, whatever quantity of oil is poured, is absorbed by the Siva Lingam. The belief is that the oil continues to assuage the poison’s effects on the lord, even today.
At Tirukadaiyur, Siva overcame Yama in favour of His devotee, Sage Markandeyar. After further penance, Siva blessed Markandeyar with eternal life here at Tiruneelakudi. The Lingam used for worship by Markandeyar is in the temple, called Markandeya Lingam. The temple’s festival in the Tamil month of Chitirai (April-May) celebrates this puranam.
One puranam related to this temple is that of Daksha’s yagna, although the ending is a bit different. According to this temple’s puranam, after Dakshayini was insulted at Daksha’s yagna, she came here to worship Siva and was reunited with him at this place.
Appar, the Saivite saint, was subject to various tortures by the Jains of the time, due to the enmity between the Jains and Saivites. One of these tortures was to be tied to a rock and thrown into the sea. Appar’s pathigam called “Kallinodu Avan Kayar” (when tied to a rock) is related to this episode, is exclusively about the grace of Siva as Neelakantar of Tiruneelakudi.
Brahma is believed to have worshipped Siva here as penance for his relationship with Urvasi (the celestial), and the Lingam that he installed is in the prakaram. In addition, various devas and sages have worshipped here, including Varuna, Sapta Kannikas, Sage Romaharshana, Sage Vasishta, Kamadhenu and others.
While it is not the sthala vriksham here, there is an interesting aspect to the jackfruit tree at this temple. The fruit of this tree is first offered to the Lord as prasadam, only after which it can be taken out of the temple. Any fruit that is not offered to Siva first, gets spoiled once it is taken out of the temple!
In the yoga marga of Saiva Siddhantam, there are six adharas in the human boday – Mooladhara, Swadishtana, Manipuraka, Anagatha, Vishuddhi and Ajna. This temple is considered the starting point of this marga, as it is the Mooladhara sthalam.
Given the association with Appar, this temple can be dated back to at least the 7th century. The structural temple is from the early Chola period with later additions by the Pandyas and the Vijayanagara dynasty.
Other information for your visit
Phone: 94428 61634