Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Agneeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||MridupAda Nayaki|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirukollikadu||District:||Tiruvarur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Thiruvarur (18 km)||Nagapattinam (37 km)|
|Kumbakonam (52 km)||Mayiladuthurai (62 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the Hindu faith, there is the concept of 7½ years of Sani, four times in one’s life. It is regarded that during this time, Sani has a malefic effect on people (it is said that even Vinayakar’s original human head was lost due to Sani’s effects). Sani was terribly unhappy about this, as he felt that what happened to people was the result of their karma, and not because of him as such. After receiving advise from Sage Vasishtha, Sani undertook penance by worshipping Siva at Keeralathur (the ancient name of this place). Siva appeared in the form of fire or agni, and blessed Sani to be prosperous and to have a positive influence on people. Sani here is named Pongu Sani (prosperous Sani).
Unusually, the Siva Lingam here is reddish in colour, symbolising His presence as agni. The Lord is also called Thee Vanna Nathar (the fire-coloured – or red-coloured – Lord, in Tamil) and Agneeswarar, for this reason. Kolli in Tamil refers to fire, and so the place is called Kollikadu (forest of fire).
Nala – of Tirunallaru fame – had lost all his wealth and was living under desperate conditions. After worshipping at Darbaranyam (Tirunallaru), he is said to have worshipped Siva and Sani here, marking his return to prosperity. Similarly, according to the Markandeya Puranam and Devi Bhagavata Puranam, king Harischandra is said to have worshipped here after having lost all his wealth and possessions which he had to give sage Viswamitra as recompense for having disturbed the sage’s penance.
In the Mahabharatam, because he burnt down the palace of wax in which the Pandavas were staying, Agni was affected with Sani dosham, and consequently lost his powers. According to another puranam, Agni lost his powers for having been present in the sacrificial fire at Daksha’s Yagam. In any event, he worshipped Siva here and his powers were restored. This puranam is cited as well, for Siva being named Agneeswarar here.
Worshipping here is considered especially beneficial for those born under the Ardra nakshatram, which is special to Siva.
The core structural temple is early Chola, and is said to have been built with bricks. It was renovated using granite, in the time of Raja Raja Chola I. Inscriptions in the temple refer to contributions by Raja Raja Chola I, Rajendra Chola I, Rajadhiraja and Kulothunga Chola I. Though this is a relatively small temple, the architectural work is just as it is in any other Chola temple of the times. In particular, Lingodhbhavar is depicted beautifully, and shows Vishnu and Brahma on either side, worshipping Siva as the column of fire (such a depiction is also said to be auspicious, as Siva temples go). Murugan is depicted holding a bow instead of his usual Vel (spear).
Sani is depicted as an anugraha murti, and has a separate shrine. Similar to Tirunallaru, devotees visit this temple more for Sani than for Siva! In fact, this temple is considered more powerful than Tirunallaru with respect to Sani, as this is a west-facing temple. What makes the Sani shrine – which faces east – even more special, is that it is situated adjacent to the Mahalakshmi shrine, which itself is quite unusual, but also because Sani is benevolent and giving, here. Because Sani is important at this temple, that shrine has a separate vimanam as well. The entire sthala puranam (or at least one of them) is painted on the inside of the northern wall, abutting the Sani shrine. Another unique aspect about this temple is that the Navagrahams – which normally do not face one another – are set in a three-sided open-square arrangement, facing inwards – and therefore, each other.
Other information for your visit
In addition to the normal timings as above, the temple is open throughout the day on Saturdays.
We visited this temple on a Saturday, around 12.30 pm, in late-December. While the nearby towns were relatively pleasant in terms of weather, Tirukollikadu alone felt excessively hot – a reminder of Siva as Agneeswarar. We also feared the crowds, it being a Saturday. However, there was virtually nobody at the main garbhagriham, since the crowds were milling around the Sani shrine. Even that was only for a few minutes. This being a rather small temple, our entire visit took no more than 30 minutes, and was leisurely and comprehensive.
Phone: 95853 82152