Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Nagareeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Mangalambigai|
|Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Kadambar Malai||District:||Pudukkottai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Pudukkottai (20 km)||Tiruchirappalli (40 km)|
|Karaikudi (60 km)||Thanjavur (63 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Kadambar Malai is located in the Narthamalai area, just a few hundred metres from the base of the Narthamalai Siva temple complex and Vijayala Choleeswaram.
Temples in this region often do not have a sthala puranam, however this temple is not one such temple. In fact, there are two sthala puranams here. One is from the Ramayanam, from the time when Hanuman carried the Sanjivani hill from the north of India to Lanka, to save Lakshmana. It is believed that as he was carrying them, nine pieces of the hill fell on the path, and this place is regarded as one of them.
Locals also tell the story of Sage Narada who stayed here for a while, and so the place came to be known as Naradar Malai, and eventually corrupted to Narthamalai. Narthamalai could also be a corruption of an earlier name – Nagarathar Malai – due to the place being inhabited by members of the Nagarathar community. In the past, the place has also had various other names, including Malai Kadambur, Telungu Kulakala Puram and Kulothunga Chola Puram.
The title of this post notwithstanding, there are actually four temples / monuments here – the main Siva temple, Amman shrine, another single-room Siva temple called Nagareeswaram, and a large rock surface inscription. From the layout of the place, it is possible that at one time, the three shrines were part of a much larger temple complex.
Much of the main shrine for Siva is for Kadambudaiya Nayanar and is dated to the time of Raja Raja Chola I, and is ascribed the year 1007 CE, based on inscriptions in the temple. The moolavar here is also called Malai Kadambur Devar (and alternatively, Tirumalai Kadambur Udaya Nayanar and Tiruvanaikka Udaya Nayanar, in the inscriptions), indicating that the name Kadambur (a variant of Kadambar, possibly also representing Murugan) was already in prevalence at the time. However, the original temple is said to have been built by the Mutharaiyars, the local feudatories of the Pallavas.
This temple faces west and there is a Nandi and bali peetham (as also the remnants of a now-broken dhwajasthambam) outside the main door. The interior here comprises a prakaram, maha mandapam, ardha mandapam and garbhagriham. The hillock on the northern side of the temple serves as the wall of the temple in that direction. There are several vigrahams in the interior, including a beautiful Dakshinamurti in the koshtam.
The Nagareeswaram and the Amman shrine are Pandya, from the time of Maravarman Sundara Pandyan I and are dated to the early part of the 13th century CE.
The Siva temple of Nagareeswaram is comprised of an ardha mandapam and a a square garbhagriham. there are no sculptures here. Opposite the Siva shrine, ie on the west, is the beautiful Amman shrine for Mangalambigai Amman, which is often mistaken for a Murugan shrine, given that the name of the place is associated with Murugan.
North of the Nagareeswaram shrine is a large rectangular area carved into the rock, with several inscriptions. The rectangular area is itself about 20×6 feet in dimension. Both inscriptions here are from the Chola period – the first from the time of Raja Raja Chola recording a grant of land, and the other from the time of Kulothunga Chola III (early 13th century, perhaps 12-14 or 1215 CE) registering sale of land by residents here. For a number of reasons, we did not get to see the rock edict, but you can read about that here.
While the temple is in reasonably active worship, at the time we went (which was quite early – around 7 or 730 am), the temple premises were closed. It is also an ASI maintained site, so regular pujas are not to be expected, and opening hours are as per ASI regulations.