Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Aranyeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Akilandanayaki|
|Timing:||8 to 11 & 6 to 7.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Keezh Tirukattupalli||District:||Nagapattinam|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (25 km)||Nagapattinam (57 km)|
|Tiruvarur (60 km)||Kumbakonam (63 km)|
There are two places on the banks of the Kaveri river, called Tirukattupalli. One is Mela Tirukattupalli (as it is upstream of the river), located between Trichy and Thanjavur, which is the location of the Agneeswarar temple. The other is Keezh Tirukattupalli (this temple, located downstream of the Kaveri river), located very close to the Tiruvenkadu Swetaranyeswarar temple.
Sthala puranam and temple information
Viswaroopan, a demon, was killed by Indra for terrorising the devas. So his father performed a yagna and created another demon, Vritrasuran, to avenge Viswaroopan’s death. Indra obtained the vajrayudham from Sage Dhadichi’s spine, and destroyed Vritrarsuran. But due to these killings, he accumulated sins and lost his position as the lord of the Devas. At the advice of Guru, Indra worshipped Lord Siva here and was absolved of his sins, and reinstated as the head of the Devas.
Brahma is said to have created and worshipped 10 Siva Lingams here, of which only seven remain – these are in the prakaram. The seven are Muniyeswarar, Brahmeswarar, Agasteeswarar, Pulstheeswarar, Vyaghrapadeswarar, Sakreswarar and Kapaleeswarar. It is believed that worshipping Brahmeswarar has the same benefit as performing 1000 ashwamedha yagnas.
This entire place used to be a forest, and so the Lord is known as Aranyeswarar. The place is also called Kattupalli (kadu=forest in Tamil) for the same reason. Since Siva is present as the handsome Lord, He is also called Aranya Sundareswarar (in Sanskrit) and Kaattu-azhagar (in Tamil).
A gandharva was cursed to become a crab. He worshipped Vinayakar here, and was restored his original form. Vinayakar here is called Nandu Vinayakar or Karkata Ganapati, and is seen with a crab instead of the mouse as his vehicle.
There are two sets of temples called “Pancha aranya kshetrams” in the region, which are sets of 5 temples each, located in what used to be forests. This temple belongs to one of those sets, which comprises: Thalachangadu, Sayavanam, Pallavaneswaram (Poompuhar), Tiruvenkadu, Keezh Tirukattupalli.
The core temple is believed to be over 1500 years old, and the structural temple is mainly from Chola times. The temple also features some unique architectural and iconographic elements. A west facing temple, the layout is such that from a single place, once can worship both Siva and Parvati. The main Lingam is on a square avudai. The dasa-lingam created by Brahma includes two lingams in the same avudai (base) – called Rettai Lingam.
Dakshinamurti here is called Raja Yoga Dakshinamurti, and is seen on a square peetham, with six (instead of the usual four) sages. Standing at the Dakshinamurti shrine, one can hear the waves of the sea, even though it is physically quite far (more than 5 km) away.
The temple has four Teerthams, which are located in the four corners of the temple. Sages Mahakala and Aranya are depicted on the outer wall of the garbhagriham, blowing a conch and performing Siva puja respectively.
This temple is considered as an Aghora Peetham.
There is no separate Navagraham shrine here.
The belief is that those who have lost wealth, title, power, etc can regain them by worshipping Lord Siva here.
Other information for your visit
The Swetaranyeswarar temple at Tiruvenkadu (Budhan sthalam) is nearby.
I understand that the gurukkal takes care of some other temple(s) in the nearby area, and so may not be available all the time. So, when we visited the temple, it was initially locked, but the priest’s number was available at the house located to the north of the main entrance. After speaking to the gurukkal, the lady in the house used the keys to open the temple and let us in.
Phone: 98425 93244; Rajasundaresa Sivachariar: 94439 85770