Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Kayarohaneswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Neelayadakshi|
|Timing:||6 to 12.30 & 5 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Nagapattinam||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Nagapattinam (1 km)||Thiruvarur (30 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (54 km)||Kumbakonam (67 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
According to the sthala puranam of this temple, this place (Nagapattinam) has withstood several deluges and existed for countless eons. For this reason, it is considered one of the first places ever to be in existence, and so it is also called the Adi Puranam and Siva is called Adi Puraneswarar.
Based on advice by Sage Kanva, Sage Pundareeka undertook severe penance to Siva here, in order to attain salvation. Pleased with the sage’s devotion, not only did Siva appear to the sage, but He also embraced the latter. As a result, instead of just the soul attaining salvation, the sage’s body also was able to ascend to Kailasam.
In Sanskrit, kaya means body, and arohanam means ascending, and hence Siva here is celebrated as Kayarohaneswarar (Kaya-Arohana-Eswarar). The deity here is said to have been originally installed by the followers of the Lakulisa Pasupata philosophy. This is interesting, since this branch of Saivites worship with the objective of reaching Siva’s holy feet with their mortal bodies (and hence, Kaya-Arohanam). There are three important places whose names are suffixed with Karonam (a shortening of Kayarohanam), where Siva is worshipped as Kayarohaneswarar – Nagai (this temple), Kudanthai (Someswarar temple at Kumbakonam) and Kachi (Kanchipuram). All of these are temples originally established by the Lakulisa Pasupatas. By extension, experts believe that Sage Pundareeka could have been a Lakulisa Pasupata.
This is one of the sapta vitanga sthalams connected with Muchukunda Chakravarti and the maragatha lingam. Siva here is called Sundara Vitangar, and represents the Villathi Nadanam (dance like the waves of the sea). The Vitanga Lingam is quite small, made of ruby, and housed in the Thyagarajar shrine of this temple.
Nagapattinam gets its name from Naga, ie, Adiseshan the serpent, who worshipped Siva and Vishnu at this place in krita / satya yugam. The Vishnu temple for Soundararaja Perumal is nearby. The puranam of Saleesugan is quoted at both this temple and the Soundararaja Perumal temple, the only difference being that here, the girl that Saleesugan married was the daughter of Nagarajar, the king of the nagas.
Nagapattinam is the avatara sthalam and mukti sthalam of Adipaththa Nayanar, one of the 63 Saiva Nayanmars, and this temple is closely connected with his life. His real name was Atibhaktar, which has been corrupted over time, to Adipaththar. A staunch devotee of Siva, Atibhaktar – a fisherman – would throw his first catch of the day back into the sea, as an offering of gratitude to the Lord. Atibhaktar would also feed and help those in need. In order to make Atibhaktar known to the world, Siva enacted a series of events. First, he ensured that Atibhaktar did not catch enough fish – but Nayanar kept up his custom of offering the first catch to the Lord, even on days when he caught only one fish. Over time, Atibhaktar’s meagre savings depleted, but he was firm in his belief in the Lord. One day, Atibhaktar caught a golden fish as his first catch. His fellow fishermen advised him to keep it and regain his lost wealth, but Atibhaktar did not heed them. In fact, he was grateful that his offering to the Lord that day would be a golden fish and, keeping with his usual practice, threw it back into the sea as offering to Siva. Everyone was amazed at Atibhaktar’s devotion. Then Siva and Parvati appeared to Atibhaktar and blessed him with a place in Kailasam upon attaining mukti. This story of Adibhaktar is re-enacted during the Guru Puja of the Nayanar, celebrated every year in the Tamil month of Avani (August-September).
When a death occurs in a house, temples in the vicinity are generally closed. However, in remembrance of the events connected to Adipaththa Nayanar’s life, when there is a death in the community that he hailed from, the mortal remains are kept at the main entrance of this temple, and garlands and cloth used for Siva are placed on the remains.
This is one of the temples where sage Agastyar was blessed with a vision of the divine marriage of Siva and Parvati. Siva is also said to have appeared from the moolavar Lingam, and provided the sapta rishis a vision of Himself as Somaskandar.
Sundarar worshipped Siva and often sought gold or other valuables from Siva. He would then use those to help and feed people wherever he went. At this temple, he was rewarded with horses, pearls and jewels, silk, etc. Siva also gifted his horse-drawn chariot to Sundarar, and so to mark this, the horse-carriage festival at this temple is dedicated to Sundarar.
An interesting custom at this temple is that Vishnu – in the form of Mohini – accompanies Siva on pradosham days since, during the churning of the ocean, that was the day that Vishnu (in the form of Mohini) came out.
The temple has a unique Navagraham arrangement where all the planets stand in one line, facing Siva. There is a puranam to this. Sani was planning to cause harm to Rohini nakshatram (the star), which would have caused trouble for the people. So, Dasaratha planned to fight Sani, to prevent him. However, Suryan advised the king not to fight Sani. At the same time, Sani realised that Dasaratha was so righteous that he would fight for the cause of his people, irrespective of the consequences, and so Sani gave in to Dasaratha’s demands, without a fight. The Navagrahams are said to be standing in line, in appreciation of the king’s efforts.
Neelayadakshi Amman here is named for her blue eyes, and is considered to be of pubescent age. This temple is one of the Sakti Peethams, and the Amman shrine is designed like a chariot. In the prakaram is the samadhi of Azhuguni Siddhar, who attained salvation (and also received his epithet) by consistently weeping in his prayers to Amman. There are 5 Devi forms of Parvati, representing the five stages of life, who are regarded highly auspicious to worship – these are: Visalakshi (Kasi, as a child), Kamakshi (Kanchipuram, as a young girl), Neelayadakshi (Nagapattinam, as a pubescent girl), Kamalambigai (Tiruvarur, as a young woman), and Meenakshi (Madurai, as a married woman).
At one time, Nagapattinam was one of the capital cities of the Chola empire. The temple has been in existence since at least the 6th century, though the structural temple is from the medieval Chola period. Inscriptions in the temple refer to Raja Raja Chola I and Kulothunga Chola III, as also the Pandyas. Rajadhiraja Chola I installed the Natarajar murti here.
The temple is filled with scintillating architecture and iconography. The raja gopuram, as well as pillars and walls inside the temple, are filled with dazzling and exquisite bas relief architecture, and several miniature carvings. Various murtis here are intricately carved, and some of them are exceptional and unique. The murti of Thyagarajar is made of lapis lazuli, (a deep blue metamorphic rock). Herambha Ganapati, with 5 faces and 10 arms, is seated on a simha vahanam, and blesses devotees with the abhaya hastam. Vinayakar is also present as Nagabharana Vinayakar, with a serpent around his neck. Nandi was sent to protect Parvati, but Nandi himself wanted to protect Siva as well. So, based on Siva’s advice, Nandi is seated such that one eye is on Siva and the other on Parvati. He is named Irattai Paarvai Nandi. Bhairavar is present as Kala Samhara Bhairavar, and has a simha vahanam, instead of the dog that usually accompanies Him. This Bhairavar is said to have emerged along with the Ganga river, when Sage Pundareeka worshipped Siva here.
Other information for your visit
Within and around Nagapattinam are 12 temples, including this temple, which are considered a group or a circuit of temples, and visiting them all on the same day is regarded as special. These temples are:
- Kayarohaneswarar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Agasteeswarar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Amara Nadeeswarar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Naduvatheeswarar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Naganathar, Melakottaivasal, Nagapattinam
- Sattayappar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Malaiyappar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Veerabhadrar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Chokkanathar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Azhagiya Nathar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Kattiyappar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
- Kasi Viswanathar, Nagapattinam, Nagapattinam
Phone: 04365-242844; 98945 01319