Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Marundeeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Tripurasundari, Sokka Nayaki, Sundaranayaki|
|Vriksham:||Vanni||Teertham:||Janma Nashini, Kama Nashini, Papa Nashini, Jnana Daayini, Moksha Nashini|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 4.30 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Tondai Nadu)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tiruvanmiyur||District:||Chennai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Chennai (13 km)||Tiruvallur (53 km)|
|Kanchipuram (78 km)||Vellore (153 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This is one of the three coastal temples – all of which are Paadal Petra Sthalams – in Chennai; the other two are the Adipureeswarar (Thyagarajar) temple at Tiruvotriyur, and the Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore.
Siddha medicine that is practised today is said to have its origins from Sage Agastyar, who was regarded as an expert – among other things – in natural medicine. The sthala puranam of this temple is that Agastyar worshipped Siva here, and received the complete knowledge of the science of herbal medicine, from Siva (himself regarded in the Sri Rudram, as Bheshaji – the curer of the world). As a result of this, Siva here is called Marundeeswarar (in Tamil, Marundu = medicine), and the Sanskrit name of the Lord here is Oushadheswarar (having the same meaning). Naturally, this place is a prarthana sthalam for curing illnesses of all kinds.
Indra sent Kamadhenu as a gift to Sage Vasishta, as a token of his appreciation of the sage’s penance on Lord Siva. Kamadhenu faithfully served the sage, but on one occasion, caused a delay in providing milk for worship. This angered the sage, who cursed the cow to lose its divinity; but he also recommended that Kamadhenu worship Siva at this temple, to regain its status. Kamadhenu came here and worshipped Siva, by pouring milk from its udders directly on the Siva Lingam, and was restored to its former glory. Kamadhenu found this place by accident, when her hoof hit the buried Lingam, and it is said that the hoof mark can be seen on the Lingam even today.
Inside the temple are other Lingams, each with their own puranams, including the Lingam worshipped by Hanuman, the Lingam of Sundareswarar that cured Indra’s curse, and the Lingam that was worshipped by Sage Bharadwaja.
The main temple faces east, where the raja gopuram is located. There is also an inner gopuram. However, the moolavar faces west. The gopuram on the western side of the temple is a much later addition.
According to the sthala puranam, the temple once faced east. Later, Appayya Dikshitar came to worship here and arrived from the western direction. Hut due to floods, he could not enter the temple’s eastern gate. He prayed to Siva to give him darsanam, and moved by this, the Lingam turned 180 degrees, and has stayed that way ever since, facing west, while the other shrines in the temple face their normal directions (had the garbhagriham been facing east).
The moolavar is also known by various names. He is called Palvannanathar, due to the white colour the Lingam took on, after Kamadhenu poured milk over the Lingam; and Vedapureeswarar, as He is said to have been worshipped by the Vedas here. Another name is Vanmikanathar, due to the puranam of the poet Valmiki having worshipped here, after which Siva is said to have danced a tandavam for the sage, here. (As we understand it today, Vanmikam would typically refer to an anthill, in Tamil); however, it is understood that ancient Tamil allowed the use of “na” in place of “la”, and so Valmiki could also be referred to as Vanmiki.) There is a separate shrine for sage Valmiki in the western part of the temple.
The moolavar faces west, and it is regarded that Suryan and Chandran (Sun and Moon) worship Siva every evening at sunset. Because of this, there is no separate Navagraham shrine at this temple (this is also possible because this is a very old temple, built prior to the practice of Navagraham worship, which came about in the 10th or 11th century).
Siva is also said to have given his vision to Sage Markandeyar, under the temple’s sthala vriksham, the Vanni tree.
The main structural temple is Pallava, dated to the 8th century, while the core temple / shrine would have existed prior to that, since Appar and Sambandar have sung pathigams on Siva here. In the 11th century, significant expansion was undertaken by the Cholas, who ruled the region at the time.
The Siva Lingam here is a theenda-tirumeni, that is, untouched by human hands. Murugan here is extolled by Arunagirinathar in his Tiruppugazh. Inside the temple is a shrine for 3 Vinayakars, each said to be the controller of one aspect of time: past, present and future.
One of the mandapams of the temple is called the Tirumurai mandapam, where the Tirumurai is recited every day. The temple also has five Teerthams – Janma Nashini, Kama Nashini, Papa Nashini, Moksha Nashini, Jnana Daayini – all of which are believed to have descended from Siva’s locks.
Inscriptions in the temple make references to Rajendra Chola having worshipped at this temple. The temple is also referred to in the inscriptions of other temples in the region, such as the Kapaleeswarar temple and the Tiruvidanthai Nitya Kalyana Perumal temple. The temple also houses a replica of the Thyagaraja murti, associated with the Sapta Vitanga Sthalams in southern Tamil Nadu.
Other information for your visit
During Chola times, Tiruvanmiyur was an important stop on Vadakku Peruvazhi – the road from Thanjavur to various parts in northern Tamilakam (modern day Andhra Pradesh). There are several places and structures with Chola influence that one can see on either side of this road – today called the East Coast Road – including Sholinganallur. Interestingly, Sholinganallur is a modern day corruption of Chozhanga-nallur, clearly indicating Chola presence in these parts.
Interestingly, Tiruvanmiyur itself gets its name from the story, that Sage Valmiki worshipped Siva here, and the place was therefore called Tiru Valmikiyur. Over time, this has become Tiruvanmiyur. A remnant of this story is the presence of Valmiki Nagar inside the suburb of Tiruvanmiyur.