Tirukoteeswarar, Tirukodikkaa, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:TirukoteeswararAmbal / Thayar:Tripurasundari, Vadivambigai
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Tirukkodikkaa
Vriksham:PirambuTeertham:Sirungothbava Teertham, Kaveri river, Mukkodi Teertham
Agamam:

Age (years):

Timing:7 to 12 & 5 to 8Parikaram:

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

Sambandar, Appar

Temple set:

Pancha Ka Kshetram, Kanjanoor Sapta Sthanam

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:TirukodikkaaDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Mayiladuthurai (17 km)Kumbakonam (21 km)

Tiruvarur (41 km)Nagapattinam (60 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

There are five temples – called Pancha Ka Kshetrams – whose names end in “kaa” (short for “kaavu”, but often wrongly stated as “kaval”; kavu means forest). These are: Tiruvanaikkaa, Tirunellikka, Tirukolakka, Tirukurakkaa and Tirukodikkaa (this temple).

Initially this place was called Vetravanam, as it was a forest of Vetram, a type of bamboo, and Siva was called Vetravaneswarar.

Sage Durvasa once cursed the three crore Devas for having uttered mantras with the wrong intonations. The Devas made several attempts to remove their curse, but Durvasa told them that only Siva could help them. Yet, they refused to listen to him. Even when Srinivasa Perumal at Tirumala told them to worship Siva, they initially refused. Later, they went to Kasi, but could not get mantra siddhi. They again prayed to Durvasa for a way out, and so the sage installed a Bhairavar (called Apathoktharana Bhairavar), for this purpose. At Bhairavar’s request, Vishnu Himself came to this place and performed pujas, and was followed by the Devas, who finally were relieved of their curse after worshipping Siva here. It is said that they were granted relief on new moon day (amavasai) in the Tamil month of Masi (February-March).

Because Siva redeemed these three crore Devas, he is called Tri-Koti-easwarar, which has come to be Tirukoteeswarar. The same goes for the name of the place.

Some Vaishnavite Azhvars and sages went to worship Vishnu at Tirumala. A celestial voice there told them to go to Vetravanam (this place) instead, to get darsanam of Tripurasundari Amman. So they came here, but the Kaveri river was in spate, so they prayed to Agastyar for a solution. Agastyar got ahold of Vinayakar who they worshipped Him, and Vinayakar got them across to safety. Once they reached here, Tripurasundari Amman here appeared to them in the form of Vishnu.

Vinayakar in the prakaram (established by Agastyar) is called Karaiyetriya Vinayakar (karai=riverbank, etriya=helped climb / get across). This Vinayakar is made of mud, and only oil (thaila kaapu) is applied to the murti, and no abhishekam is done to it.

Lokakanta killed her husband and was leading a sinful life. However, good sense prevailed over her in later days, and she came and settled down here. When her time on earth was up, Yama and Chitragupta came to take her, but Siva’s ganas prevented them from doing so. Yama complained to Siva but was told that Yama could not take the life of anyone in Tirukotikkaa. Furthermore, Siva placed a curse on Yama and Chitragupta, for this affront. After much penance, Yama and Chitragupta bathed in the temple’s Sringodhbhava Teertham on the day of Chitra Pournami, and Siva relieved them of their curse. Eternally grateful, they remained in this place, blessing devotees and removing the fear of death from them. As if to support this, there is no cremation ground in the village of Tirukodikkaa. The dead are taken across the river to the neighbouring village for performing final rites.

The temple tank is called Sringodhbhava Teertham, as it was created by the horns (sringa in Sanskrit means horns of an animal, Nandi in this case).

Bhaskararayar (or Bhaskararaja) wrote the Sowbhagya Bhaskaram, a bhashyam (commentary) on the Lalita Sahasranamam. The bhashyam was first recited at Amman’s shrine at this temple.

Brahma here is called Surya Mandala Brahma, and dates back to the time of pralayam. During the pralayam, there were only five places that remained untouched by the floods – this temple, Adi Kumbeswarar, Tiruppurambayam, Srivanchiyam and Vedaranyam. According to the sthala puranam, Brahma stayed here during the pralayam, so as to be able to resume creation once things settled down.

The story of Hara Datta – a devout Vaishnavite, but was also a Siva worshipper – is usually mentioned in the context of this temple as well as the other Kanjanoor sapta sthanam temples in the area, comprising Aduthurai, Kanjanoor, Tiruvalangadu, Tiruvavaduthurai, Tirumangalakudi, Tirumandurai and Tirukodikkaa (this temple), but sometimes with slightly different versions. In the case of this temple, Hara Datta was returning from this temple one evening, when it started to rain heavily and got so dark that he could not see. He prayed to Siva, and then saw an old man with came up to him and asked Hara Datta to follow him. Once Hara Datta reached home, he gave the old man some prasadam from the temple, to eat. The following morning, he saw the prasadam in the shrines of Siva, Amman, Vinayakar, Murugan, and Nandi, and then realized that the old man was none other than Lord Siva.

There is another story, according to which Durvasa came to worship Siva. Fearing that the sage may ignore her, Parvati ensured she went in front of Siva, such that Durvasa had no choice but to worship her!

Kaveri river here is called Uttara-vahini, because it turns to a northward direction near the temple.

It is believed that performing any japam at this temple gets the devotee, the merit of having performed it ten times.

The temple does not have a Navagraham shrine, but instead, Sani has a separate shrine, opposite Yama. Every planet has an adhidevata and pratrirdevata, and Sani’s adhidevata is Yama. But it is extremely rare to see the two so close to each other. Sani here is called Bala Sani, and is seen holding a Siva Lingam on his head, and has a bird/eagle as his mount (instead of the crow).

The earliest inscriptions in the temple dates back to the 7th century, to the time of Narasimha Pallava. However, the structural temple is said to have been built by Uttama Chola in the late 10th century, under instructions from his mother Sembian Madevi, who had several temples constructed or renovated during her time, using granite and the reddish stones that are typical of the Chola period. This is the first temple where her efforts of that nature began. Subsequent additions were made by Uttama Chola, Raja Raja Chola I, Kulothunga Chola I, and as well as the Pallavas and the Nayaks of Thanjavur.

Given the significant Chola influence on this temple, it is no wonder that there is some exemplary architecture in this temple. Among others, the murti of Jyeshta Devi along with Mandi and Manda (her son and daughter), can be seen carved in a single stone. There are also beautiful sculptures of Krishna, Kamadhenu and the Kalpaka Vriksham, as well as bas reliefs of events and scenes from the puranas.

Other information for your visit

Contact

Shanmugananda Gurukkal: 94866 70043

Gallery

Author: TN Temples Project

A personal project to catalogue information on temples (both mainstream and off-the-beaten-track), so that people can learn about them and visit those temples more regularly.

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