Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Vanchinathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Mangalambikai, Vazhavantha Nayaki, Sugandha Kundalaambikai|
|Vriksham:||Sandanam||Teertham:||Gupta Ganga, Yama Teertham, Anandha Teertham, Deva Teertham, Lakshmi Teertham, Naga Teertham and Chakra Teertham|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Srivanchiyam||District:||Tiruvarur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Tiruvarur (15 km)||Kumbakonam (28 km)|
|Mayiladuthurai (32 km)||Nagapattinam (40 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
It is said that one can visit Srivanchiyam only if they are destined to, by the grace of the Lord.
Author’s edit: There may well be some merit to this because personally, I had planned to visit this temple on 3 or 4 occasions, but none of those plans worked. When I did visit, it was completely unplanned.
Due to some conflicts with Bhudevi, Sridevi (Lakshmi) left Vaikuntam. Lord Vishnu undertook penance at this place in order to marry Lakshmi, as a result of which the place gets its name (Vanchi or Vanchiyam means wish). There is a Varadaraja Perumal temple to the west of the Vanchinathar temple, and a visit to Srivanchiyam is incomplete unless one visits the Perumal temple as well.
This is one of those rare Siva temples where devotees’ priorities are on another deity within the temple – Yama in this case. Upon entering the temple premises, there is a shrine for Yama and Chitragupta on the left (agni moolai of the temple).
Yama, the final judge on the destination of souls, was very upset that he was being blamed for all the deaths in the human race. Also, due to the nature of his function, he was loaded with Brahmahathi dosham. He prayed to Thyagarajar at Tiruvarur to help him, when he was guided to go to Srivanchiyam and pray there. Yama did as advised and undertook severe penance. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Siva appeared blessed him saying that no more would he (Yama) blamed for death, and that humans would only say that one has passed away because of illness or accident. He also blessed Yama that only those who have done some good in their life would be allowed to visit this place. He asked Yama to ensure that such devotees were assured of salvation, and that he should remain the guardian of the town. It is said that the fear of death is removed from devotees who worship at this temple. Devotees offer payasam made of cow and buffalo milk to Yama and Chitragupta.
There is a specific order of visit at this temple. There is a separate shrine for Yama and Chitragupta on the left (south-east corner / agni moolai of the temple), after entering the temple premises. Since Yama asked to be worshipped first, his wish is fulfilled, and devotees must first pray to Yama and Chitragupta. Then, one must take a dip at the Gupta Gangai Teertham before proceeding to the main temple. The full order is listed out at various places at the entrance to the temple.
It is believed that if a person passes away in Srivanchiyam, Lord Siva himself utters the panchaksharam in their ears, and so they are not capable of being punished by Yama!
Ganga river once prayed to Lord Siva to help her get rid of all the sins she had collected from those bathing in her waters. Lord Siva advised her to go to Srivanchiyam, where Yama was relieved of his sins too. Ganga came here with 999 of her powers leaving just one in Kasi, and stayed in the temple Teertham, which is called Gupta Gangai (hidden Ganga). Bathing at this Teertham is considered equivalent to, if not better, than bathing at Kasi. This is one of 6 sthalams that are considered equal to Kasi.
It is said that this Teertham – created by Lord Siva Himself – has been present in all four yugas, and has been variously called Punya Teertham, Atri Teertham, Parasara Teertham and Muni Teertham.
Suryan started losing his power and brightness after being punished by Veerabhadra, for attending Daksha’s yagam. He sought Siva’s benevolence and bathed in the Gupta Gangai for the entire month of Karthigai and undertook severe penance, after which he was pardoned and his powers restored. The Gupta Gangai is said to have been created by Siva’s trident.
Ambal / Durga does not have a shrine here as she is a part of Mahishasuramardhini. Both Yama and Bhairavar are in meditation state, and Bhairavar is without his weapons – they are powerless here as the Lord is all-powerful.
There are some uncommon deities’ shrines in the temple, including the Pancha Bootha Lingams and Jyeshta Devi (Moodevi).
This temple was initially constructed during the Chola period, and there are inscriptions from the Chola, Pandya and Nayak times. One of these inscriptions calls this place Raja Gambheera Chaturvedi Mangalam.
Other information for your visit
While this is a very popular temple among devotees, there is no accommodation infrastructure in this town. Fortunately, Tiruvarur, Kumbakonam and Mayiladuthurai are only between 20 and 40km away, and have adequate accommodation options.
Rajaraja Gurukkal: 94424 03926 / 97887 59330