Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Saptarisheeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Gnanambigai|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Bairavapuram, Sakkuvambalpuram|
|Timing:||7 to 11 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Ammachatram||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (6 km)||Mayiladuthurai (33 km)|
|Tiruvarur (40 km)||Thanjavur (47 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is more popular locally as the Kala Bhairavar temple. The original temple must have been really ancient, while still including the Bhairavar shrine here, since the place finds mention as Bhairavapuram, in the Bhavishya Puranam (one of the 18 principal puranams). Later, it was also called Sakkuvambalapuram and then Ammani Ammal Chattiram, and this latter name has become Ammachatram in recent years.
The temples of the region associated with Siva and Parvati’s wedding on earth, are located largely in and around Kuttalam (on the way from Kumbakonam to Mayiladuthurai). However, this temple, located even before Tiruvidaimaruthur, is also connected to that celestial wedding. The seven sages of ancient times – Atri, Pualsthya, Marichi, Bhrigu, Vasishta Angiras, and Bhardwaja – are said to have met here to make arrangements for the Siva-Parvati wedding. This is also why Siva here is called Saptarisheeswarar.
As mentioned earlier, this temple is more famous for the Kala Bhairavar here, who is regarded as extremely powerful. Devotees worship Bhairavar with all sorts of requests – typically, these are for getting married, safe childbirth, victory over enemies, material prosperity, growth in professional attainments, etc. Bhairavar gets special pujas and worship on the day of Ashtami (8th day) during the waning phase of the moon. The Bhairavar here is regarded as the equivalent (in terms of power and status) as Kala Bhairavar at Kasi. For this reason, worshipping here is believed to help one purge themselves of their sins.
According to another puranam, Ravana (from the epic, Ramayanam) once went to Kailasam to worship Siva, after which he made an unsuccessful attempt to take Kailasam back with him to Lanka. On his way back to Lanka eventually, he is said to have stopped here, and installed a Siva Lingam, which is regarded as the moolavar Lingam of this temple.
The temple can be dated to the late 10th or early 11th century, making it a Chola temple. If more evidence was needed, one needs to only look at the architecture here. The temple features classic Chola architecture and craftsmanship. In more recent times, it was also maintained by the Nayaks, who made some minor renovations to the temple. Today, the temple is administered to by the Thanjavur Palace.
There is also an unsubstantiated rumour that there is a tunnel from underneath the temple. However, nobody knows where the tunnel leads to!
While the temple is east-facing, the main entrance is from the south, which leads directly into the maha mandapam. There is a dhwajasthambam and bali peetham to the east, and in the garbhagriham koshtams, the usual deities – Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga – are present. The same is the case with the shrines in the prakaram, which features Vinayakar, Murugan, Gajalakshmi, Vayu Lingam, the Tevaram four (Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar), and Navagraham. There are five separate Lingams (including the moolavar) in the temple. Finally, on the east is the separate west-facing shrine of Kala Bhairavar. In the maha mandapam, there is a rasi-mandalam on the ceiling, featuring the 12 rasis (moon-signs).