Oppiliappan, Tirunageswaram, Thanjavur
Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Oppiliappan||Ambal / Thayar:||Bhoomidevi|
|Timing:||6 to 12.30 & 4 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Divya Desam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirunageswaram||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (5.9 km)||Mayiladuthurai (32.5 km)|
|Tiruvarur (36.5 km)||Thanjavur (47.1 km)|
Tirunageswaram is located just outside and to the east of Kumbakonam, and very close to the Nageswarar temple (Paadal Petra Sthalam).
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the past, this place was known variously as Tiruvinnagaram, Tulasi Vanam, Akasa Nagaram and Markandeya Kshetram, Oppiliappan temple is where Lord Vishnu gave darshan to Tirumangaiazhvar in five forms – Vinnagarappan (in the sanctum sanctorum), Ponnappan (utsavar), Maniappan and Ennappan in the prakarams, and Muthappan (no longer in existence). However, He continues to be worshipped in all five forms at this temple. The deity is referred to as Oppiliappan or Uppiliappan. The temple’s history is mentioned in the Brahmanda Puranam.
Once Tulasi did penance here and asked the Lord for a blessing that Lakshmi should be on her, just as she was on His chest. Lord Vishnu was pleased but told her that Lakshmi was able to hold pride of place on His chest only after extensive penance. However, he also told her that soon, Lakshmi was going to be born as a child on earth, and asked Tulasi to go prior to that and do penance at this place; hence the name Tulasi Vanam. The Lord also offered Tulasi the boon that the Tulasi leaf would have the most importance at this temple, and worshipping Him with a leaf of Tulasi would be considered equivalent to Aswamedha Yagam. He would firs wear the Tulasi garland and only then marry Lakshmi. This garland is the main decoration to the Lord at this temple.
During that time Sage Markandeya worshipped the Lord, desiring that Lakshmi should born as his daughter, and Lord Vishnu should become his son-in-law. Pleased, Vishnu offered him the boon. Markandeya reached this temple and underwent a deep penance for several of years. One day, he found a girl child in Tulasi Vanam, and raised her. One day, an old man approached the sage and wanted to marry his daughter. Markandeya said she was too young and didn’t even know how to cook with the proper amount of salt. But the old man responded that he would marry her even if she made food without salt. Not knowing what to do, Markandeya sought the help of the Lord, and through the power of his penance, understood that the old man was none other than Lord Vishnu himself. Upon opening his eyes, he saw the Lord giving him darshan with the sangu and chakram, as He would in Vaikuntam. The marriage was conducted immediately. As a result, this place is also called Markandeya Kshetram, and neivethyam is offered without salt. For this reason, the Lord is called Uppiliappan (one who is without salt – uppu in Tamil). Even today, the prasadam at this temple is made without salt. Also, as Thayar is still considered a young girl, She has no separate shrine and is instead with Perumal in the main sanctum.
Normally, scriptures dictate that one should not take a bath in a temple tank between sunset and sunrise. However, this temple’s teertham – Ahoratra Pushkarini – is the only one where devotees can take a dip between sunset and sunrise. This is the due to the following legend. Once a king was cursed by a sage to be born as a bird. One day, as the bird was reaching its nest after sunset, it was attached by a hunter and fell down into the temple tank, and immediately transformed into the king it had been earlier; such is the power of the temple tank.
The Lord is also referred to as Oppiliappan, meaning incomparable.
Uppiliappan is considered the elder brother of Srinivasa Perumal / Venkatachalapati at Tirupati, and worship at this temple is considered equivalent to worship at Tirumala Tirupati.
The temple’s vimanam is Sudhanandha Vimanam, meaning complete happiness, while at Tirupati it is the Ananda Vimanam.
The outer prakaram of the temple has beautiful art depicting each of the 108 Divya Desams.
Other information for your visit
Nageswarar temple at Tirunageswaram is close by, and can be combined with a visit to this temple, if desired.