Keerthivaageeswarar, Soolamangai, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:KeerthivaageeswararAmbal / Thayar:Alankaravalli Ambal
Deity:SivaHistorical name:
Vriksham:VilvamTeertham:Soola Teertham
Agamam:

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:6 to 11 & 4 to 8.30Parikaram:

Temple group:Vaippu sthalam
Sung by:

Appar

Temple set:

Chakrapalli sapta sthanam

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:SoolamangaiDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Thanjavur (16 km)Kumbakonam (29 km)

Ariyalur (38 km)Tiruvarur (60 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

The temple is one of the Chakrapalli Sapta Sthanam temples, which are about the sapta matrikas worshipping Siva at seven different places. At this temple, Kaumari – the sakti of Murugan – worshipped Siva’s trident (Trisula darsanam), and this is celebrated on the 3rd day of Navratri.

The story of the sapta matrikas is also often told with the story of Nada Sanma and his wife Anavita, a devoted couple who also visited these temples, where Parvati showed them Her form in different stages of life. Here, She presented Herself to them as an adolescent girl.

In addition, this temple is also a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, finding mention in one of Appar’s pathigams.

The term Keerthivasar or Keerthivageeswarar is a later day version of Krittivasar or Krittivageeswarar. Kritti here refers to skin. In the case of Siva, this refers to the skin of the elephant that the sages of Darukavanam unleashed on Bhikshatanar. Siva rent open the elephant, tearing its skin, and wearing it as a garment. This is also the sthala puranam of the Vazhuvur Veeratteswarar temple. The Tamil name of the Lord here is Kari Uritha Nathar, translated as the Lord who stripped the elephant of its skin!

The trident is the weapon that Siva wields, due to which Siva gets the name Sulapani. Astra Devar, the celestial deity, is regarded as the weapons make of the devas. Therefore, rather appropriately, this temple has a shrine for Astra Devar, who worshipped Siva at this temple. Worshipping Astra Devar is said to help devotees overcome enmity over others, and also resolve disputes. The shrine of Astra Devar is located on the left at the entrance to the maha mandapam.

According to another sthala puranam here, Hiranyaksha – the demon who was killed by Vishnu in the Varaha Avataram – had two sons: Andhaka and Kalanemi. Andhakasura was killed by Siva at Tirukovilur, while Vishnu overcame Kalanemi. Before proceeding to kill Kalanemi, Vishnu is said to have worshipped at this temple.

The temple’s Teertham – the Soola Teertham – is said to have been created by Siva when He placed the tip of His trident here. The place also gets is name from this story.

The structural temple here is originally from the early Chola period, but very little evidence remains of this timeline. A large number of inscriptions are found here, which relate to the time of Kulothunga Chola III, and later dynasties including the Pandyas and Hoysalas.

From the entrance, a long corridor that has the bali peetham and Nandi, brings us to the mukha mandapam. There is no dhwajasthambam here. At the end of the corridor on the left, is the vigraham of Astra Devar.

The Nandi in front of the garbhagriham, as well as the bas relief images of the dwarapalakas clearly indicate that the temple is quite old. The mukha mandapam – which is a much later addition – has a vavvaal-nethi mandapam. The Lingam in the garbhagriham is always covered with an upturned container.

As one comes around the temple, the brilliance of Chola architecture is instantly visible. While much of the depictions and architectural work is later Chola, the finesse is immediately recognisable. In the koshtam are Nardhana Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti (with a separate, recently constructed mandapam), Lingodhbhavar, and Durga. Brahma is not seen in the koshtam, and this is suggestive of the possibility that all the koshtams were originally empty.

Uniquely, Dakshinamurti in the koshtam is depicted without the customary banyan tree, but also sporting matted locks of hair (jata-makutam).

In the prakaram are shrines for Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Gajalakshmi, Chandikeswarar, Bhairavar and Sani. There is a separate Navagraham shrine. There are several beautiful carvings and bas relief images, as well as inscriptions, on the outer walls of the garbhagriham and ardha mandapam.

In terms of worship procedure, the unique aspect of this temple is that Astra Devar gets first worship here, as ordained by Siva Himself, since Astra Devar is also manifest in Siva’s trident.

Other information for your visit

The temple’s priest lives in a house in the street right across from the temple, and is more than willing to open the temple for devotees who wish to visit.

Contact

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