Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Soundareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Tripurasundari|
|Vriksham:||Punnai||Teertham:||KaaruNya Teertham, Senkazhuneer Teertham|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||6 to 12 & 4.30 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirunaaraiyur||District:||Cuddalore|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (28 km)||Kumbakonam (55 km)|
|Cuddalore (66 km)||Tiruvarur (72 km)|
Tirunaaraiyur is located about 8km east of Kattumannarkoil, and 20 km southwest of Chidambaram.
Sthala puranam and temple information
Tirunaaraiyur (not to be confused with Tirunaraiyur near Kumbakonam) is the birthplace of Nambiyandar Nambi, the 11th century scholar who compiled and arranged the hymns of Appar, Sambandar and Sundarar, as well as others, into what is today referred to as the Tevaram. Nambiyandar Nambi is also one of the authors of the 11th chapter of the Tevaram. In fiction, Nambi finds a place in Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan.
Sage Durvasa’s penance was once disturbed by a Gandharva, who was cursed by the sage to be born as a crane (naarai = crane in Tamil). The Gandharva appealed to Lord Siva for relief, and was told to perform daily abhishekam to the Lord using water brought from Kasi. The crane did so, carrying water in its beak, and was granted salvation by the Lord. This legend gives the place its name – Tirunaaraiyur.
There is a legend associated with Nambiyandar Nambi and the Vinayakar (Polla Pillaiyar) at this temple. As a child, Nambiyandar Nambi used to watch his father, a priest in the temple, do neivethyam to the gods. He wanted to know if the gods would accept the neivedyam that he himself offered. So he offered this to Pillaiyar, who remained silent, causing Nambi to weep and bang his head against the base of the idol. Pleased with his devotion, Pillaiyar accepted his offering. In later years, Raja Raja Cholan did not believe this miracle, and asked Nambi to offer the king’s own neivedyam. Nambi sang the Irattai Mani Malai hymns, after which Pillaiyar accepted the offering. The Polla Pillaiyar sannidhi has idols of Nambiyandar Nambi as well as Raja Raja Cholan. Even today, Polla Pillaiyar has pride of place at the temple, and the first neivethyam at the temple is given to Him. Pillaiyar is a Swambhu murti.
There are several inscriptions (kalvettu) at the temple, dating back to the 11th century and earlier. Also, paintings depicting the life of Nambiyandar Nambi are inside the main prakaram.