Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Ratnapureeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Mangalambikai|
|Vriksham:||Maavilangai||Teertham:||Surya Teertham, Kari Teertham|
|Timing:||7 to 12 & 5 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|City / town:||Tirunattiyathankudi||District:||Tiruvarur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Tiruvarur (10 km)||Nagapattinam (32 km)|
|Kumbakonam (47 km)||Mayiladuthurai (55 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
A Chola king named Ratnendra and his brother were both ardent devotees of Siva. Upon their parents’ death, the brothers inherited a large number of diamonds and gemstones. They wished to share these equally in value, and so they sought the assistance of experts. But none of the assessors was able to divide the gems equally amongst the brothers. Eventually, the two prayed to Siva for a way out. The Lord came to the land in the guise of a diamond merchant, and partitioned the gemstones among the two brothers equally. As a mark of gratitude, Ratnendra built this temple, and Siva here is referred to a Ratnapureeswarar or Manikkavannar. [There is no king in the medieval or later Chola list of kings, named Ratnendra. Perhaps this was an early Chola king, or the puranam has been interpolated with the name of a king – who , curiously enough, has a name that coincides with the puranam!]
Tirunattiyathankudi is the avatara sthalam of Kotpuli Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars, whose name is an epithet referencing his ability to fight his foes with the ferocity of a tiger (puli = tiger in Tamil). His way of serving the Lord was to accumulate paddy and use it for the renovation and maintenance of the temple. Once, he had to go fight in a battle, and so he left instructions with his family, not to use the paddy for any other purpose. However, famine struck when he was away, and the family, who till then respected Kotpuli’s wishes, was forced to dip into the stock of paddy kept for Siva worship. On his return, and finding a shortage in the paddy quantity, Kotpuli made inquiries of his family members. Upon learning what happened, he severed the heads of all his family members (including a young child whose only fault was to drink milk from the breast of the mother who had consumed the paddy). Pleased with his devotion, Siva and Parvati appeared before Kotpuli and explained the chain of events. The family members, in earlier lives, had conspired and killed the head of their family, and this was their punishment. However, being ardent devotees of Siva and Parvati in this life, they were all pardoned and brought back to life, and Kotpuli was granted eventual mukti. Kotpuli Nayanar’s birth under the Kettai nakshatram in the Tamil month of Aadi (July-August) is celebrated with great fervour at this temple. Naturally, there is a shrine for Kotpuli Nayanar inside the temple, and a Chola-period murti of Nayanar was also found relatively recently, in 2003.
Sundarar visited here during the lifetime of Kotpuli Nayanar (who was an ardent admirer of Sundarar, and whom Sundarar references in his Tiruthondar Thogai), and the latter offered his two daughters – Singidi and Vanapagai – as servants of Sundarar, who instead accepted them as his own daughters. Interestingly, in his Tevaram pathigam, Sundarar refers to himself as the foster father of Singidi and Vanapagai.
When Sundarar visited this temple, he could not find Siva and Parvati here. The Vinayakar at the temple’s gopuram (who for this reason is named Kai-Kaatti Vinayakar) pointed to the couple working in the paddy fields, indicating them to be the celestial couple. Sundarar sang, telling them that they had done enough farm work for the day, and asking them to return to the temple for the night, which they acceded to.
An elephant that was roaming the region created a watering hole using its tusks, as a form of worshipping Siva. This later became the temple Teertham and is named Kari Teertham (Kari = elephant in Tamil). For this reason, Siva here is also named Kari Natheswarar.
The core temple is from the Chola period, as also attested to by inscriptions in the temple. However, much of the structural temple (particularly the exteriors) seen today is only about 200 years old, and is the result of the deep involvement of the Nagarathar community who have performed extensive renovations here.
Other information for your visit
In 2003, along with the murti of Kotpuli Nayanar, a Buddha idol was also unearthed here. This idol has all the markings of Chola-period Buddha idols, and so is believed to also be from that time. (Buddhism flourished, and even received the support of kings, during the medieval Chola period).
Phone: 94438 06496