Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Vilvavaneswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||VaLaikkainayaki, Sarvajana Rakshaki|
|Vriksham:||Vilvam||Teertham:||Yama Teertham, Agni Teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tiruvaikaavoor||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (15 km)||Ariyalur (35 km)|
|Thanjavur (36 km)||Mayiladuthurai (49 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Sage Tavanithi was in deep penance, when a hunter came that way, chasing a deer. The deer took refuge in the sage’s hermitage, and so the sage refused to let the hunter capture the deer. When the hunter persisted, the sage took the form of a tiger, to frighten the hunter. The hunter climbed up a tree for safety, but the tiger continued to remain at the foot of the tree. To make sure he didn’t sleep and fall off the branch, the hunter began plucking the leaves of the tree one by one, and dropping them to the ground. What he didn’t know was that it was the night of Maha Sivaratri, he was on a Vilvam tree, and there was a Siva Lingam at the foot of the tree – which meant that the hunter was performing Siva puja all night. What he also didn’t know was that the following day would be his last. The next morning, Yama came to take the hunter, and fearing the sight, the hunter started praying to Siva. Because He was pleased with the hunter’s (inadvertent) worship the previous night, Siva deputed Nandi and the dwarapalakas, who drove Yama away. This puranam is also depicted on a separate mural inside the temple.
There is also an interesting story to the Vilvam tree itself. During the pralayam, the Vedas requested Siva to save them, and He ordered them to become the leaves of the Vilvam tree and pray to Him. As a result, this place became known as Vilvaranyam (a forest of Vilvam trees).
At Siva temples, Maha Sivaratri is one of the main events in the calendar. This particular temple is considered to be the origin of that event. There are two slightly differing accounts of the sthala puranam here.
Another variant of the above puranam is that it was Siva who took the form of the tiger, but ended up being worshipped with Vilvam leaves, and hence protected His devotee from Yama the next day.
In order to ward off any further attempts by Yama, all the Nandi murtis at this temple (including the ones in the sub-shrines, face away from Siva, and towards the entrance of the temple. Since the dwarapalakas were sent to chase away Yama, they are not present outside the garbhagriham.
A thief killed a child who was sleeping, in order to steal the child’s jewellery. The child’s father – a devout Saivite – prayed to Siva, after which the child was resurrected back to life. So Siva here is also named Makavaruleeswarar.
To overcome the curse of the wife of the asura Jalandharan, Vishnu worshipped Siva here. Siva is called Ari-eesar (Lord to Hari) at this temple. Brahma (and Agni) have worshipped here as well. For this reason, Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are said to be together in this place, and hence this place is considered a Mummurti Kshetram, similar to Uttamar Koil in Trichy. Bhudevi is also said to have prayed to Siva here, and hence one of the ancient names of this place is Bhumipuram. The sapta matrikas are also said to have worshipped here.
The shrines of Siva and Parvati are adjacent to each other, which represents their kalyana kolam. Amman’s shrine does not have dwaarapalakis – instead, Vinayakar guards on both sides. Devotees believe that after worshipping Amman here between 6 and 730 in the evening on Tuesdays and Fridays, if they stand near the chakram opposite the shrine, they can hear Her voice.
The temple is located on the south bank of the Kollidam river, and north of the Manniyaru river. While the origins of the core temple are not known, Kulothunga Chola I is believed to have rebuilt the temple using granite, in the late 11th / early 12th century.
The architecture and the carvings at this temple are supremely intricate. Murugan can be seen with clear fingerprints and nails, and his vehicle, the peacock, is looking to the left (instead of right, as is normally seen). Dakshinamurti is depicted standing, holding what appears to be a stick (or could be a Veena).
Other information for your visit
In addition to several other smaller and/or interesting temples, there are 4 Paadal Petra Sthalams and 2 Divya Desam temples in the vicinity, including this temple. These are:
Vilvavaneswarar, Tiruvaikaavoor, Thanjavur
Saatchinathar, Tiruppurambayam, Thanjavur
Vijaya Natheswarar, Tiruvijayamangai, Thanjavur
Ezhuthari Nathar, Innambur, Thanjavur
Andalakkum Aiyan, Adhanoor, Thanjavur
Valvil Raman, Tiruppulaboothangudi, Thanjavur
Hariharan Iyer: 93443 30834