Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Chandramouleeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Amriteswari, Vadivambikai|
|Vriksham:||Vilvam||Teertham:||Chandra Teertham, Surya Pushkarini|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 1 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Tondai Naadu)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tiruvakkarai||District:||Viluppuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Viluppuram (24 km)||Cuddalore (41 km)|
|Tiruvannamalai (85 km)||Kanchipuram (111 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This Paadal Petra Sthalam is more popular locally and elsewhere, as the Vakrakali Amman temple, but the principal deity here is Siva as Chandramouleeswarar.
Pleased with his penance, Siva granted the boon of immortality to Vakrasura, who started harassing the Devas. Having given the boon, Siva could not do anything about it, and so asked Vishnu as Varadaraja to overcome the asura. Vishnu, using His Chakrayudham, started fighting Vakrasura, but every drop of the asura’s blood that hit the ground, gave rise to more asuras. So Kali was deputed to drink all the blood so that they would not touch the ground. Finally, Vakrasura was overcome. But his sister, Dunmukhi, who was pregnant, came to avenge his death. Kali took out her foetus to protect it (and killing a child in the womb was regarded as a sin) and wore it as an earring, and then killed Dunmukhi.
After this, Kali retained her ferocity until Adi Sankara visited here, and installed a Sri Chakram to quell Her anger, making her shanta swaroopi. For having killed Vakrasura’s sister, Kali is called Vakra Kali here.
Unlike the pancha mukha Lingams at Kalahasti and Nepal, the moolavar Lingam here is a mummukha Lingam (having three faces), the only one of its type. Facing north is the Vamadeva Lingam, east is Tatpurusha Lingam, and south is Aghora Lingam with sharp teeth (korai-pal) on either side which is visible during some abhishekams. This mummukha Lingam is also called the Thanumalayan Lingam, as it is said to represent Siva, Vishnu and Brahma (Than or Sthan is Siva, mal is Vishnu, and ayan is Brahma, similar to Suchindram).
The temple has a separate west-facing (unusual, but by no means rare) shrine for Vishnu as Varadaraja Perumal. The Lingam worshipped by Vakrasura to obtain his boon, is installed separately as the Vakra Lingam, within the temple premises opposite the Kali shrine.
Vakra in Sanskrit means deviant, and not in an orderly fashion. Therefore several aspects of this temple are contrary to normal convention. Here are a few of them:
- Normally Kali temples are situated on the outskirts of a village, as She is a guardian deity. However, here, the Kali temple is inside the Siva temple, and is in fact, the first shrine upon entering the temple premises. This shrine is modelled on the lines of the Durga shrine at the Patteeswaram temple (near Kumbakonam) and Thillai Kali temple at Chidambaram.
- Even the worship of Kali here is unusual – one needs to perform pradakshinam around the shrine, five times clockwise followed by four times anti-clockwise. This is because the Goddess is considered the adipathi of both Rahu and Ketu.
- Usually the dhwajastambam, bali peetham, and Nandi are in the same axis as the moolavar Lingam. That is not the case here, as they are misaligned on purpose.
- Varadaraja Perumal stands alone, without his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. Also, the positioning of the prayoga chakram in Vishnu’s hand is different from normal depiction.
- Sani here is called Vakra Sani, with his vehicle (the crow) on his left rather than his right (which is the usual depiction).
- Natarajar has His right leg lifted and left leg on the ground. Also, His hair is bound and not matted. This tandavam form is called the Vasanta Tandavam.
- The Vakra Lingam is cool to the touch during summer, and is seen as though sweating (with water droplets on it) during winter.
The structural temple is considered to have been built between the 9th and 10th century, by Aditya Chola I. Sembian Madevi made structural additions as well as cash grants to the temple. The structural shrine for Vishnu was built by built by Rajendra Chola I, and other Chola kings have made various additions and contributions to the temple. All of these are supported by inscriptions in this Chola temple.
There is also one interpretation of a verse by Tirumangaiazhvar, according to which this temple is one of the maadakoils built by Kochchenga Cholan. There are several instances of the original construction at this temple being built over by more recent construction, indicating this temple could have been built on a raised platform, and subsequent additions making it level with the ground. This lends a lot of credence to the belief that this may well be a maadakoil.
Other information for your visit
The temple witnesses massive crowds for Kali’s Jyoti darshanam at midnight on Pournami (full moon) days and at noon on Amavasya (new moon) days.
Tiruvakkarai is also home to the National Fossilized Wood Park, which is maintained by the Geological Survey of India. Even in the village, one can sometimes see fossilized wood trunks (wood which has turned to stone over millions of years).
Phone: 94435 36652