Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Masilamani Easwarar||Ambal / Thayar:||LathamadhyambaL, Kodaiyidainayaki, Kodiyidaiammai|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Vada Tirumullaivayil|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||6.30 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Tondai Nadu)||–|
|City / town:||Tirumullaivoyal||District:||Tiruvallur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Chennai (19 km)||Tiruvallur (31 km)|
|Kanchipuram (71 km)||Vellore (139 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
It is unusual to find a Chola temple in Tondaimandalam, particularly one as traditionally Chola as this one. This is one of two places called Mullai-voyal, and so to differentiate between them, this place is also called Vada Tirumullaivoyal. The other is Then Tirumullaivoyal (or Mullaivasal), located near Sirkazhi, where Siva is present as Mullaivana Nathar.
Tiru-Mullai-Voyal gets is name from the sthala vriksham of this temple, the Mullai (a variety of jasmine), which is also said to have medicinal properties. In ancient times, this place was also called Champakaranyam (or Shenbagaranyam).
In olden times, Onan and Vaanan of the Kurumbar tribe occupied this region, and harassed the people. King Tondaiman wanted to end this, and after many attempts, waged war against them. As the army marched towards this place, they encountered a dense mullai forest. The king’s elephant got trapped in the vines, and the army started hacking away at the growth in order to clear the path. As they did so, they noticed blood gushing out on the ground, and found a Lingam that was cut and bleeding. The king was distraught for being responsible for such a sin, and was able to inflict harm on himself, when Siva and Parvati arrived and stopped him. Siva then asked the king to build a temple at the spot, and promised that He Himself would stay there, cleansed of the wound, as Masilamani – a precious gem (mani) cleaned of (ila) stains (mas). He also promised that Nandi would be ordered to destroy the Kurumbars, and protect the temple.
Connected with the above puranam, the moolavar is always covered in sandal paste to soothe the wound on the Lingam, caused by the army. Every year on the day of Sadayam nakshatram in the Tamil month of Chitirai (April-May), the old covering is removed, and the moolavar is anointed with a fresh coat of sandal paste.
This is also regarded as one of the places where sage Vasishta performed penance, for which he received the celestial cow Kamadhenu, as a reward for his devotion.
A substantial portion of the temple we see today is Chola, from around the 9th century, with further additions by them till around the 11th century. Inscriptions in the temple also reference various Chola rulers and royalty, including Rajendra Chola I (including grants of 44 rubies, 8 sapphires, 32 diamonds, 5 kalanju (a measure) of gold and 21 pearls), Sembian Madevi, and also Kulothunga Chola III and Raja Raja Chola III. Another inscription on the floor of the mandapam is dated 961 CE. Later additions and modifications are from the time of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. While there are no apparent Pandya influences on the temple as such, there are inscriptions from the Pandya period from around the 13th century.
The architecture here is very reminiscent of Chola temples in the Thanjavur district. However, something prevalent more in Tondai Nadu temples than elsewhere in Tamil Nadu (maybe because it is typical of the Pallava style), is the gaja-prishtha (apsidial) vimanam, where the garbhagriham itself and the vimanam over it, are shaped in a semi-circular fashion, much like the back (prishtha) of an elephant (gaja). The pillars on either side of the entrance to the garbhagriham are each made of a single piece of wood from the vellerukku tree. These are said to be spoils of the king’s victory over the Kurumbars.
There is also a shrine for Kusalavapureeswarar, who was worshipped by Lava and Kusa, the sons of Rama from the Ramayanam. The garbhagriham also has a Rasa-Lingam, made of mercury and silver.
Unusually as most south Indian temples go, the raja gopuram of this temple faces south.
Interestingly, there are 2 Nandis here – while once faces the moolavar, the one in the outer prakaram faces away from the garbhagriham. The one facing away is said to be the Nandi ordered by Siva to protect the temple, according to the sthala puranam above.
There is no separate Navagraham shrine at this temple, as the planets worshipped Siva here. Murugan here is extolled by Arunagirinathar in his Tiruppugazh.
Amman here is called Kodiyidai Amman (the one whose waist is as slender as a jasmine vine), whose shrine is to the right of the moolavar. At this temple, She represents the Kriya Sakti. Together with the Vadivudai Amman at the Adipureeswarar temple at Tiruvotriyur (Gnana Sakti) and Tiruvudai Amman at the Minjur Tirumangeeswarar temple (Ichcha Sakti), these three Ammans represent the Tri-Saktis that are of significance in Hinduism, and are said to bless devotees with all their needs and aspirations, particularly if visited on the same day (and more so on full moon days and Fridays).
Onan from the sthala puranam here, along with another Kurumbar named Kanthan, also established the temple for Ona Kantheswarar at Onakanthanthali in Kanchipuram.
According to the Siva puranam, salvation can be attained by being born in Tiruvarur, living in Kanchipuram, worshipping at Chidambaram, thinking of Arunachaleswarar at Tiruvannamalai, or dying at Kasi. But it is believed that just by hearing about this temple at Tirumullaivoyal, one can attain salvation.
Other information for your visit
As is the case with Tiruvanmiyur, some Chola influences can be seen today, though are not readily recognised as such. During the Chola times, this area was a separate town (Oor) called Puzhal Kottam, forming part of Jaymkonda Chola Mandalam. This has given the place Puzhal its name today. The name Ambattur – also a nearby suburb – is also evident in Chola period records of this temple.