Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Soundareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Brihannayaki|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 4.30 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirupanaiyur||District:||Tiruvarur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Tiruvarur (13 km)||Nagapattinam (29 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (32 km)||Kumbakonam (39 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
There is limited sthala puranam for this temple, except that the moolavar Lingam is a Swambhu murti who was installed by Sage Parasarar, who worshipped at this temple. However, this limited puranam is more than made up for, by the legends of on palm trees and Karikala Chola.
The place gets it name from panai, which is Tamil for the palm tree. Only 5 Siva temples have the palm tree as their sthala vriksham (called Panchatala Kshetrams), and this is one of them. The legend is that there are two palm trees at this temple – one male and one female. But it is believed that these trees grew on their own, without seeds. And not just that, every palm tree that has grown in and near the temple has grown without seeds, in place of older ones.
When Karikala Chola was 5 years old, his father Ilamcetcenni was defeated and killed by adversaries. Irumbidai Thalaiyar, Karikala’s maternal uncle, helped the child and his mother escape and situated them here, while he plotted against their enemies who had taken over the kingdom. Karikala lived in hiding inside this temple for 8 years. When the ruler was toppled, an elephant was sent to identify the new king, and it came here and took Karikala on its back, indicating he was the next king. During their period of hiding here, Karikala and his mother worshipped Vinayakar here every day, to be protected. Because Vinakayar kept them company, He is called Thunai Irundha Vinayakar.
The temple does not have a rajagopuram; instead, there is a very small and simple entrance arch to the premises. Interestingly, the Amman shrine of this temple is outside the main temple premises, immediately to the right of the entrance arch. During his worship, sage Parasarar dropped a portion of the celestial nectar – Amritam – into the temple pond, and so it is named Amrita Teertham. The sage also has a separate shrine at this temple. There are seven Lingams in the prakaram, which are said to have been worshipped by the sapta rishis.
Sundarar reached here after attending the Panguni Uttiram festival at Tiruvarur. Here, Siva showed him His cosmic dance. Sundarar met the Lord near a pool of water, which is called Sandiththa Teertham (Teertham where the meeting happened), in the village.
The historical name of the deity is Thalavaneswarar, and the name of the place was Thalavanam (deriving from thalam, meaning palm tree in Tamil). The name Soundayeswarar was given to the Lord after Sundarar exclaimed and called Him Arankadavallar Azhagiyar (the handsome dancer of the forest), after witnessing Siva’s cosmic dance. In the temple inscriptions, the Lord’s name also appears as Panaiyadiappan and Panangattiravan. Sundarar also named the Vinayakar here as Matruraitha Vinayakar, as He is in Tiruvarur.
The structural temple is Chola, from the 11th century, and inscriptions here refer to the Chola kings Kulothunga Chola I, Rajadhiraja I and Raja Raja Chola II, as well as the Pandya kings Sundara Pandyan and Parakrama Pandyan. Rajendra Chola‘s contributions to this temple seem to have been quite significant, since the village here also has the name Rajendra Chola Panaiyur, as per the inscriptions at the temple. There are paintings and sculptures in the temple depicting the story of Karikala’s stay here, as well as Siva granting darsanam to Sundarar and the sapta rishis, and also a bas relief of Siva as Karkateswarar, shown being worshipped by a crab. The temple also features a vavvaal-nethi mandapam (mandapam’s design like the forehead of a bat).
Other information for your visit
Interestingly, there are very few Siva temples where the palm tree (panamaram in Tamil) is the sthala vriksham. This is one of them, and forms part of the group called Panchatala (or Panchapana) Kshetram. The five panchatala kshetrams are: Soundareswarar, Tirupanaiyur, Tiruvarur, Aruna Jadeswarar, Tirupanandal, Thanjavur, Panangaateeswarar, Panaiyapuram, Viluppuram, Vedapureeswarar, Cheyyar, Tiruvannamalai, and Thalapureeswarar, Tirupanangadu, Kanchipuram. Sometimes, Tirumazhapadi is also added to this list.
Kalyanasundara Gurukkal: 99659 81574 / 99422 81758