Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Neiyyaadiappar||Ambal / Thayar:||Balambigai, Piraisoodiamman|
|Timing:||10 to 11 & 5 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Thillaisthanam||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Thanjavur (15 km)||Ariyalur (36 km)|
|Kumbakonam (43 km)||Tiruchirappalli (56 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Once, a cow used to pour its milk at a particular spot every day. Due to the sun’s heat in the daytime and the relatively cooler night-time weather, the milk would turn into ghee (nei in Tamil). The following day, the ghee would disappear. A villager who noticed this phenomenon brought it to the attention of the king, who arranged to dig under the spot, and unearthed a Swambhu murti Lingam. Since then, it is believed that the Lord was the one consuming the ghee, and is therefore called Neiyadiappar (the Lord who loves Nei). Daily abhishekam here is carried out with nei (ghee), followed by hot water). Today, the place is called Thillaisthanam, which is a corruption of Tiru-nei-sthanam.
An old lady used to take the spinach (keerai in Tamil) from the temple and sell it, to earn a living. After many years, she prayed to Siva for a better level of income, but was admonished, saying that her wages were paid in keerai. There is another variant of this legend, reminding devotees not to take things away from the temple. A devotee was in the habit of worshipping the Lord by lighting lamps at the temple, and then plucking some spinach from the temple grounds on his way home. As he aged, he prayed to Siva for better health, for which the reply was that he had got his returns / remuneration in the form of the spinach he had taken, and so he could not be given mukti / salvation. It is possibly this puranam that has given rise to the general saying “Sivan soththu, sarva naasam” (meaning taking away Siva’s property will result in downfall), and the practice of showing one’s empty palms to Chandikeswarar, the protector of Siva’s temples.
Interestingly, Dakshinamurti here is shown in a standing posture. It is believed that Saraswati has worshipped Siva at this temple, as did Kamadhenu with an offering of ghee. Arunagirinathar has sung about Murugan in his Tiruppugazh, at this temple.
The Neiyyadiappar temple is also unique, in that Aiyarappar from Tiruvaiyaru comes to this temple three times every year, for different festivals, including the Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthanam festival (see section below).
The core structural part of this Chola temple is regarded as having been built by Aditya Chola I during the 9th century, with significant additions by later (medieval) Chola kings, as well as the Nayaks of Thanjavur. There are also records of contributions from other Chola kings (such as Parantaka Chola), as well as the Cheras, Pallavas (Nandivarman III) and Pandyas (including a late 9th century inscription referring to Marajadaya Pandyan, who is considered to be Varaguna Pandyan II). According to inscriptions, this temple was the family deity (kula deivam) for a Lankan king named Kayabahu.
This temple’s dvitala vimanam (ie, having two-levels) has a pyramidal roof with niches. The age and antiquity of the temple is evident from the circular shafts on the four sides of the vimanam (which is called Vritta Sphutika in the Silparatnam, the treaties on architecture and iconography). Very few temples have this design – notably, Moovar Kovil at Kodumbalur, Vijayalaya Choleeswaram at Narthamalai, Kampahareswarar temple at Tribhuvanam, and Tiruthalinathar temple at Tiruputtur.
Other information for your visit
This is one of the temples forming part of Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthanam festival, which celebrates Nandi’s wedding. Read our separate feature on the festival, here. All seven temples are located relatively close by, and except for Tiruvaiyaru (which is a large temple) they could be covered in about 6 hours. Alternatively, an entire day can be spent leisurely visiting all seven temples, including Tiruvaiyaru.
The temple’s opening times are very limited, so it is recommended to call in advance to ascertain if the temple is open. Unlike many other temples, there is no mei-kavalar with keys to the temple.
Near this temple is the Srinivasa Perumal temple (where the sadaari of the Appakudathan temple at Koviladi is kept), and the Ilankovai Amman temple, who is said to be an extremely powerful deity. A visit to Thillaisthanam is said to be complete only after these two temples are also visited.
Sankara Gurukal: 94893 60553