Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Aatkondanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Sivapuramdevi|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 5 to 7.30||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Iraniyur||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (25 km)||Pudukkottai (36 km)|
|Madurai (79 km)||Sivaganga (84 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the Narasimha avataram, Vishnu took the form of Narasimhar and overcame Hiranyakashipu, who did not believe the omnipotence of Vishnu as extolled by the demon’s virtuous son Prahlada. As a result of these, He was afflicted with the dosham of killing, and so He worshipped Siva here to be rid of this. The name of the place – Iraniyur – comes from Hiranya, the first part of Hiranyakashipu’s name. Siva here is also called Narasimheswarar, as He was worshipped by Narasimhar.
The anger of Narasimhar at the time of dealing with the demon, also resulted in His sister – Parvati – getting angry. As a result, She split herself into 9 separate Kali devis. These nine Kalis later surrounded Siva and prayed to Him, and Parvati got back Her original form. For this reason, She is named Sivapuramdevi here, which is a rather unusual name for the Goddess.
This is regarded as one of the eight places where the ashta-Bhairavar arose from. For this reason, Kala Bhairavar is worshipped here with special reverence. According to other puranams here, Kubera and Vayu have worshipped at this temple as well.
According to the records relating to this temple, the place was given to the Nagarathar community in the year 714 CE (recorded as Kali Yugam year 3815). The core temple is believed to have existed well prior to that date. The Pandya king Sundara Pandyan, under whose rule the Nagarathar community was granted various lands and permissions to maintain and administer temples (including the 9 Nagarathar temples) has worshipped at this temple.
The original temple is regarded to be over 2000 years old; however, the temple was completely refurbished about 500 years back, and has had regular updates and maintenance since then. Within the region, the temple is popularly known as sirpa koil, or the temple of sculptures – not without reason. The number of sculptures on the walls and pillars here, and the detailing in those sculptures, is virtually unmatched.
An interesting and rare representation of deities here is that of Murugan and his consorts. Typically, when represented as Subrahmanyar with Valli and Deivanai, Murugan’s consorts are with him in the same shrine. Here, the three of them have separate shrines, each with a separate peacock (Murugan’s vehicle) in front of the shrine.
The nine Kali devis that Parvati’s form split into, are depicted on the pillars near the Amman shrine. Sivapuramdevi Amman here is depicted with only two arms, and not the usual four.
In addition, one can find the usual koshtam murtis and prakaram shrines for parivara deities. As mentioned earlier, the pillars at this temple are replete with sculptures of various deities, of which the ones of Vishnu giving His sister Parvati away in marriage to Siva, and Ardhanareeswarar, are spectacular. Another unusual iconographic representation here is Bhairavar, whose dog is to His left instead of the usual right.
It is believed that in blessing Vishnu and removing His curse, Siva absorbed much of the anger of Narasimhar. As a result, Siva Himself started to feel severe heat, and so every year, in the Tamil month of Purattasi (September-October), the Lingam here is cooled down using sandal and punugu (civet oil) for a period of six days.
The popularity of Sarabeswarar worship in this region could be linked to this temple, since according to some retellings, it was Siva in the form of Sarabha, who quelled Narasimhar’s anger.
Other information for your visit
Please do read this Overview on Nagarathar heritage and temples, in connection with temples in the Chettinadu region.