Temple

UthiraPasupateeswarar, Tiruchengattankudi, Tiruvarur

Paadal Petra Sthalam connected with Siruthondar Nayanar and Vatapi Ganapati

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:UthiraPasupateeswararAmbal / Thayar:Vaaitha Tirukuzhal Umai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:TIruchchenkaTTankuDi
Vriksham:KattathiTeertham:Surya Pushkarini, Chandra Pushkarini, Aathi Teertham
Agamam:

Kamika

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:7 to 12 & 5 to 8Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)
Sung by:

Sambandar, Appar

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:TiruchengattankudiDistrict:Tiruvarur
Maps from (click): Current location Tiruvarur (18.5 km)Nagapattinam (22 km)

Mayiladuthurai (34.4 km)Kumbakonam (47.1 km)

Location

Tiruchengattankudi is located 22km from Tiruvarur on the Sannanallur-Nagore route.

Sthala puranam and temple information

Vinayakar had to kill Gajamukhasuran, as a result of which this place was filled with the blood of the dead demon. The whole place therefore looked liked a red coloured forest (chen/sen = red, kaadu = forest). This gives the place its name – Chen-kattan-kudi. Thereafter, Ganapati worshipped Lord Siva here.

This place is also called Ganapateeswaram in literature and in Sambandar’s Tevaram pathigam, and is one of the the earliest such references to Ganapati as a deity, in Tamilakam. This is considered one of the first places in Tamilakam where Vinayakar was worshipped. The Vinayakar in question was brought here from Vatapi (present day Badami) by Paranjothi, the Pallava general, in the 7th century, after the Pallavas defeated Pulikesin. This is the same Vinayakar that Paranjothi worshipped on the battlefield. Later, he became a Saivite monk, calling himself Siruthondar, and is regarded as one of the 63 Nayanars. This is also his avatara sthalam. The Muthuswamy Dikshitar composition “Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje” is sung on this Vinayakar, who has a separate shrine at this temple.

Siruthondar and his wife would feed Siva devotees every day, before eating their meals. One day, a devotee came and asked for human meat to be served – specifically that of the first male child of the family. The devotee couple asked their son Seeralan about this, who readily gave up his life, to feed the guest. When the food was served, the guest said he wouldn’t eat alone, but wanted the hosts’ son to sit with him. Not knowing what to do, the couple mentally prayed to Siva, and then called out their son’s name. To their amazement, Seeralan came along. Then the guest revealed himself as Lord Siva, and with Parvati, blessed the family, and elevated Siruthondar to the status of Nayanmar. This incident of feeding the guest is depicted in a panel in the temple.

There was a king near Tirukannapuram (which is also called Rameswaram), who was childless. During one of his hunts, he found four girls – infants – and brought them up as his daughters. When they grew up, they all wanted to marry Lord Siva, and so the king worshipped Siva for this. The Lord granted his wish, and the four – who were forms of Parvati – merged with Siva and are worshipped at four temples nearby as: Vaitha Thirukuzhal Nayaki (Tiruchengattankudi), Karundar Kuzhali Amman (Tirupugalur), Vandar Kuzhali Amman (Tirumarugal) and Sarivar Kuzhali Amman (Tirukannapuram). The four also helped with the safe childbirth of a pregnant woman, and are called Shoolikambal in the respective temples. Because they came back late in the night after attending to the delivery, the main temple was closed, so their shrines are outside the respective temples.

There is another very interesting story about this temple. Aiyadigal Kadavarkon – the Pallava king and later a Nayanar – heard of Siva’s benediction to Siruthondar, and so came and worshipped here for some time. He wanted to see an image of Lord Siva blessing Siruthondar, but his craftsmen were unable to prepare a good sculpture of this, despite several attempts. A Siva devotee approached the craftsman for some water, but the frustrated sculptor replied that he only had molten metal. The devotee nonetheless asked for it, and as it was being poured out, the devotee disappeared, to be replaced by the perfect idol of Lord Uthira Pasupati. The idol had some extra metal on top of the head. When the people started trying to remove it, blood started oozing out of the idol, which they stopped using local medicines. This idol, with the scar on the head, is worshipped in the temple even today.

The temple features a line of 8 murtis representing the Veeratteswarar deities of the Ashta Veerattanam temples.

This core temple is Pallava, with alter additions during the medieval Chola period.

Other information for your visit

The following Paadal Petra Sthalam and Divya Desam temples (including this temple) are located close by and it is efficient to cover them in a single visit.

Tirupugalur: Agneeswarar (and Vartamaneswarar)
Tirukannapuram: Sowriraja Perumal; Ramanathaswami;
Tiruchengattankudi: UthiraPasupateeswarar;
Marugal: Ratnagireeswarar; and
Seeyathamangai: Ayavantheeswarar.

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