Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Chakravakeeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Devanayaki|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||TiruchakkarappaLLi, Rajagiri Ayyampettai|
|Vriksham:||Vilvam||Teertham:||Kaveri river, Kaka Teertham|
|Timing:||8 to 9 & 5 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Then Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Chakrapalli||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Thanjavur (19 km)||Kumbakonam (27 km)|
|Ariyalur (36 km)||Tiruvarur (61 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In addition to being a Paadal Petra Sthalam that Sambandar sang a pathigam upon, the temple is also one of the Chakrapalli Sapta Sthanam temples, which are about the sapta matrikas worshipping Siva at seven different places. At this temple, Brahmi (or Abhirami) worshipped Siva’s third eye (netra darsanam), and this is celebrated on the 1st day of Navratri.
There are two sthala puranams here, both of which explain the etymology of the place and the moolavar.
One is about Vishnu, and is similar to some extent, to the sthala puranam of the Veezhinathar temple at Tiruveezhimizhalai. Vishnu worshipped Siva here, and was granted the Chakram (discus), and so the place is called Chakrapalli. Since Siva declared to Vishnu that He (Vishnu) would have the Chakrayudham, He is called Chakra-vak-easwarar (the one who promised the chakram). This puranam is also sung about in Sambandar’s pathigam on this temple. However, according to another version, Vishnu worshipped not Siva, but Parvati at this temple, to receive the chakram!
The other is about a chakravaka bird which is said to have performed penance and worshipped here, giving Siva the name Chakravak-easwarar. On one of the walls, there is a depiction in bas relief of a chakravaka bird worshipping Siva. A variant of this puranam is that Brahma worshipped here, for having lied about finding the top of the pillar of fire, when he had taken the form of a swan (which is loosely called the chakravaka bird). Indra’s son Jayanta have also worshipped at this temple.
Because the temple is mentioned in Sambandar’s pathigam, the temple should have been in existence in some form, the late 6th or early 7th century CE. The temple was likely originally built in the time of Aditya Chola I, in the early 10th century, but significant renovation and expansion seems to have been in the 11th century. As was common at the time, there are inscriptions from the time of Sundara Chola (Parantaka II), Raja Raja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I, in the temple. The use of the suffix “palli” is also regarded by some researchers as indicative of the presence of a learning centre – possibly with Jaina roots – in this place.
The entire temple layout is a bit different from most other temples. There is no raja gopuram; instead there is a welcome arch, which leads to an open area housing the dhwajasthambam. Beyond this is an open area, with the Amman shrine on the right. The Amman shrine extends (later construction) to the Nandi mandapam in front of the dhwajasthambam, so one cannot directly see the maha mandapam from here.
Straight ahead is the maha mandapam and garbhagriham, but these seem to be below normal ground level – this is likely due to increasing the ground level in the rest of the temple area. As is the case with several old Chola temples in this area, the lower part of the temple is made of granite while the upper portion is made of brick, mud and plaster.
The entire outer wall of the maha mandapam has only empty koshtams, and even the architecture here is very rudimentary, yet ancient. Therefore, this seems to provide further evidence of the time of original construction of this temple. The whole of the vimanam is made of stone, but being an early period medieval Chola temple, does not have significant imagery and sculptural work on it. On the outer wall of the garbhagriham there is a beautiful bas relief of Sembian Madevi worshipping Siva.
In the koshtam are a seated Vinayakar (and not Nardhana Vinayakar), Dakshinamurti, in a separate and enclosed shrine (with a beautiful, though not original, vigraham of Dakshinamurti), Lingodhbhavar, Brahma, and Durga. Of these, Durga in the koshtam is portrayed quite similar to the one at nearby Tirupullamangai, though the attendant deities are absent. In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, and Chandikeswarar. There is no Navagraham shrine at this temple.
In the inscriptions found in the temple, the name of the place is noted as Kulothunga Chola Valanaadu, and Rajendra Chola Chaturvedi Mangalam. This indicates that the temple existed in the time of Rajendra Chola, but was likely built earlier. There is another inscription from the time of Kulothunga Chola III, which refers to the rules of proceedings at the village elders’ committee (sabhai). This is an interesting one, as it not only states that those in the sabhai should be at least 40 years of age, but also that they should not have been members of the sabhai for 10 years previously – an indicator of the governance standards followed by the Cholas.
The temple comes under the control and administration of the Swamimalai Murugan temple.
Other information for your visit
The temple is open for very short periods of time in the morning and evening, as the priest manages other temples. However, usually there is a caretaker inside, who can open the gates (but not the garbhagriham) for visitors.
Ganesh Gurukkal: 97914 82102
Sathaiyan (Mekiavalar): 98653 10835