Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tribhuvana Chakravartheeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soundaranayaki|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||7 to 10 & 5.30 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Unjanai||District:||Sivaganga|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Karaikudi (9 km)||Pudukkottai (48 km)|
|Ramanathapuram (92 km)||Madurai (98 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
We visited this temple by chance, since it was not part of our original plan. We had intended to visit the nearby Kali temple, but a concatenation of circumstances brought us here. It was also the day of Tiruvadhirai (December 2021), which made this visit even more special, as we were treated to excellent prasadam made by the locals.
This temple is said to be a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, finding mention in the pathigams of both Sambandar and Appar. The original temple is said to be over 3000 years old.
There is no sthala puranam available for this temple. One story which the locals told us was that a sage called Madhupriya worshipped here, and so Siva is named Tribhuvana Chakravarteeswarar. is This story is also said of the Kovilur Kotravaleeswarar temple. In the absence of a coherent connection in this story, it may well be disregarded. That said, the temple is clearly old, possibly over 1000 years.
The name of the moolavar here – Tribhuvana Chakravarteeswarar – is extremely unusual in this region. Also, there are several elements of architecture here that seem to be more medieval Chola than Pandya, despite the geography. The temple also does not appear to have any Nagarathar influence. The chief Pandya influence here seems to be the elaborate extended mandapam for Dakshinamurti in the koshtam.
The name of the place – Unjanai (sometimes also called Ulsenai) – is a corruption of Ujjain or Ujjaini. The kali temple here (which we could not visit) is said to be the more famous one, and a representation of the Ujjain Mahakali temple in the north of India. The name of the place therefore derives from that Ujjain.
The temple has a flat (mottai) gopuram, to the left of which, on the outside, is a separate shrine for Vinayakar as Maha Ganapati. There is no dhwajasthambam; only a bali peetham and a Nandi mandapam that faces the moolavar. There is no separate maha mandapam, and we directly enter the long ardha mandapam, beyond which is the garbhagriham. In the koshtam are Valampuri Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Annamalaiyar, Brahma and Durga. Interestingly, unlike most other temples in the region, the vigraham of Dakshinamurti here is actually in the koshtam and not on the extended mandapam that has been built for Him.
In the prakaram are Vinayakar (on an open-to-air pedestal, flanked by Nagars on either side), Perumal (opposite Annamalaiyar in the koshtam), Senthur Murugan (which is unusual) and Chandikeswarar. There is a separate shrine for Bhairavar which appears to be a much later addition, as well as a separate Navagraham shrine. Amman’s shrine is outside the ardha mandapam, on the right.
There are also several inscriptions in the temple, particularly around the adishthanam (base) part of the temple on the southern side. The architecture here is a also refined and nuanced. In addition, there are several murtis – perhaps older ones belonging to the temple – that are strewn about, including those of Vinayakar, Vishnu, and possibly Chandikeswarar and Jyeshta Devi.
To the immediate east of the main entrance is a large tank, which is the temple’s Teertham. Beyond this is a burning ghat, and this combination – of a temple, Teertham and mayanam – is regarded as ideal for a Siva temple, particularly with a Kali temple in the immediate vicinity.
Other information for your visit
Muthuswamy Gurukkal: 75989 65904