Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Abatsahayeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Periya Nayaki|
|Timing:||9 to 12 & 4 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Sendamangalam||District:||Viluppuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Viluppuram (32 km)||Cuddalore (52 km)|
|Tiruvannamalai (81 km)||Ariyalur (93 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Sendhamangalam is important in Tamil history and heritage. During the final years of Kulothunga Chola III’s reign, Maravarman Sundara Pandyan defeated his son Raja Raja Chola III in 1231 CE, in what was effectively the last battle fought by the Cholas, here in Sendamangalam. Kopperunjinga, the Kadava king (and one of the later Pallavas) was related to the Cholas by marriage and an officer in the Chola administration. But taking advantage of the political turmoil, he consolidated his personal position by converting Sendamangalam into a military stronghold and garrison, where he imprisoned Raja Raja Chola III and his ministers.
He later made Sendamangalam his capital also (previously, it was ruled by his father Ezhisai Mohana Manavala Perumal, till the early 13th century). In later periods, this place was ruled by the Vijayanagara dynasty, and also the Nayaks.
According to historical records, this place was called Jananatha Chaturvedi Mangalam, in addition to Sendamangalam. The suffix Chaturvedi Mangalam indicates that this place was occupied by brahmins, ie, the ones who were well-versed in the four Vedas.
The temple has a Mahabharatam connection. According to the sthala puranam here, the Pandavas worshipped Siva here during their period of exile.
The temple is currently managed by the ASI, who have been engaged in a slow process of reconstructing the previously damaged and dilapidated temple. Even today, one can see several vigrahams, pillars and construction stones from the original temple, lying around here.
This temple’s premises was once part of Kopperunjinga’s fort. Perhaps because of this reason, the temple and many of its shrines and vigrahams are huge. It also has some unusual features, which we will explore below.
Located south of the Gadilam river, this temple boasts of some truly unique sculptural aspects. These include Dakshinamurti seated on a rishabham (whose shrine has been constructed as an integral part of the main temple), and Murugan having six faces (which is normal) but also only six arms, and not the usual 12. Across from the temple, by the temple tank, is an abandoned stone horse which resounds with different musical notes when struck on different parts.
Corresponding to Kopperunjinga’s reign, this temple dates back to the 13th century. The east facing temple has a large main shrine for Siva, replete with its own prakaram, large Nandi at the entrance, and stunning architecture, particularly given its size. There is a separate east-facing shrine for Periya Nayaki Amman (whose formal name is Tiru Kamakottamudaiya Periya Nachiyar) to the north, within the temple complex.
The entrance to the mukha mandapam is from the southern side, and even as one enters, one can see several beautiful bas-relief sculptures on the pillars. The late-Chola, early-Kadava (later Pallava) architecture is evident in the pillar designs. In front of the Siva Lingam is a brass Nandi, both of which were nicely lit by the sun during our visit. There is a smaller south-facing shrine for Amman in the north-east part of the corridor. In the northeast part of the main Siva temple is a 100-pillared mandapam that was traditionally used for coronations, festivals, and Veda-parayanams and upanyasams.
The koshtams are empty, but were once occupied by Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Ashtabhuja Bhairavar, and Ashtabhuja Durga, whose vigrahams are kept in the mukha mandapam.
Inscriptions in the temple refer to Kopperunjinga, grants of land and gold to various individuals who sacrificed their lives for the functioning of the temple during wartime. There are also inscriptions from the time of the Vijayanagara dynasty, and later Pandyas. It is quite possible that both these dynasties also made improvements to the temple. Another inscription clearly states that this place, Sendamangalam, was a cantonment in the time of Manavala Perumal.
Other information for your visit
While temple timings have been indicated, these are the normal times for most ASI temples. It is best to contact the priest before coming. Alternatively, one will normally find a caretaker who is willing to open the temple to visitors.
Mohana Sundaram Gurukkal: 9442774505