Dharmapureeswarar, Pazhayarai, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:DharmapureeswararAmbal / Thayar:Vimalanayaki
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Pazhaiyarai Vada Thali
Vriksham:NelliTeertham:
Agamam:

Age (years):

Timing:7 to 12 & 4 to 8Parikaram:

Temple group:Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)
Sung by:

Appar

Temple set:

Pazhayarai Vadathali

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:PazhayaraiDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Kumbakonam (6 km)Thanjavur (36 km)

Tiruvarur (42 km)Mayiladuthurai (44 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

South of Patteeswaram runs the TR Patnam (Tirumalai Rajan Pattinam) river and Mudikondan river (which joins the TR Patnam river near Mudikondan, a little further east). The Mudikondan river used to be called Pazhaiyaru, and the town took the name Pazhaiyarai after it. Two of the temples located north of the Mudikondan river are the Someswarar temple at Pazhaiyarai (which is south of the TR Patnam river), and the Dharmapureeswarar temple (north of the TR Patnam river).

Appar’s pathigam refers to both of the above temples, and so both are called Vadathali (with reference to the Pazhaiyar / Mudikondan river). This is the cause of much confusion. However, this temple is generally regarded as the Vadathali temple proper, while the Someswarar temple is called Keezh Thali. What’s even more confusing is that this temple is locally called the Muzhaiyur temple, though there is a separate Parasunathar temple at Muzhayur nearby, which is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam. If that wasn’t enough, this temple is also locally referred to as Vallalar Koil!

According to the sthala puranam here, this temple had been hidden by Jains, who had covered the temple with mud, effectively burying it. Appar came looking for this temple but was informed by the locals of what the Jains had done. Upset at the events, Appar undertook fasting until the temple was unearthed. It is said that Siva appeared in the dreams of Manimudi Chola, the then Chola feudatory of the Pallavas, and ordered him to unearth the temple. The king did so, and the temple was then duly consecrated for proper worship.

When the Cholas were feudatories of the Pallavas, they lived in Pazhaiyarai. Later, it became one of the Chola capital cities. The nearby village of Cholan Maligai, which is just a collection of private houses and farmlands today, is believed to be where the Cholas’ palace existed (and hence, Cholan Maligai). In Chola times, Muzhayur, Patteeswaram, Sakti Mutram and Cholan Maligai were the four places where armies were stationed.

This town has had various names. In the 7th century, it was called Pazhaiyarai due to the Pazhaiyar river flowing nearby. In the 8th century, it was called Nandipuram (refer the story of Nandipura Vinnagaram / Nathan Koil Divya Desam temple, which is located nearby). In the 9th century, it was called Mudikonda Cholapuram, since by this time the Pazhaiyar river had come to be called the Mudikondan river. Then in the 12th century, it came to be called Rajapuram, after Rajaraja Chola II who grew up here under the care of Kundavai, the elder sister of Rajaraja Chola I.

Kamadhenu, the celestial cow, had four daughters. One of them – Vimali – worshipped Siva here, and so Amman here is named Vimala Nayaki.

Pazhaiyarai is the avatara sthalam of two of the 63 Nayanmars in Saivism – Mangayarkarasi (one of only 2 women amongst the Nayanmars, and the one who became the queen of Koon Pandian / Kubja Pandian / later, Sundara Pandian of Madurai, who also became a Nayanmar later), and Amaraneethi Nayanar.

Mangayarkarasi is believed to have been the daughter of Manimudi Chola, the king who unearthed this temple at Appar’s request. Her murti is in the inner prakaram of this temple, facing south. She attained mukti in Madurai, and Guru Puja for her is observed on the day of Rohini nakshatram in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May). Manimudi Chola is also the king who attempted to straighten the Lingam at Tirupanandal, but was unsuccessful, until Kunkiliya Kalaya Nayanar came along.

Amaraneethi Nayanar, whose Guru Puja is observed on the day of Pooram nakshatram in the Tamil month of Aani (June-July), was also born in Pazhaiyarai, and attained mukti at nearby Nallur. A bas relief of the Nayanar and his wife is carved on the wall next to the steps as one walks up to the main temple.

Arunagirinathar has sung about Murugan at this temple, in his Tiruppugazh.

This is clearly a maadakoil, one of the 78 such elevated temples said to have been built by Kochchenga Chola. The main maha mandapam, ardha mandapam and garbhagriham are at an elevated level. The present-day structural temple is from the later medieval Chola period, from the 10th century. The entire temple is faces west.

The moolavar Lingam is hexa-decagonal, ie, 16-sided, which is absolutely unique in the Chola region. Amman has a separate south-facing shrine in the maha-mandapam. In addition to the sculptures of Mangayarkarasi Nayanar and Amaraneethi Nayanar as stated above, the usual koshtam deities – Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga are present. There is also a murti of Rishabhantikar (Rishabharoodar). In the prakaram, there are sub-shrines for Vinayakar and Murugan, and to the right of the main entrance is a shed with several Lingam murtis. There are also several other fascinating sculptures, which clearly attest to the Chola expertise in temple building and craftsmanship.

Inscriptions in the temple include one from the time of the Vijayanagara dynasty in the 15th century, which refers to the renovation of the steps leading up to the main shrines. These were the contribution of one Poruvanur Vanatharayan Narasinga Devan, and are referred to as his gift to the temple.

Other Information for your visit

Contact

Phone: 98945 69543; 99948 47404

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