Thanjapureeswarar, Thanjavur, Thanjavur


Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:ThanjapureeswararAmbal / Thayar:Anandavalli
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Alagapuri
Vriksham:VilvamTeertham:Vennar river; Sivaganagai theetham
Agamam:

Age (years):

1000-2000

Timing:6 to 11 & 4 to 8Parikaram:

Temple group:Vaippu sthalam
Sung by:

Sundarar

Temple set:

Navagraham:

Nakshatram:

City / town:ThanjavurDistrict:Thanjavur
Maps from (click): Current location Thanjavur (5 km)Kumbakonam (39 km)

Ariyalur (45 km)Tiruchirappalli (62 km)

Location

Sthala puranam and temple information

This temple is located very close to the Thanjai Mamani Koil set of 3 temples that constitute one Divya Desam. It is right across the road from the Narasimhar temple that is one of the 3 Thanjai Mamani temples, and is located almost on the banks of the Vennaru river, which is also one of the Teerthams of the temple.

The name Thanjapureeswarar suggests that this temple somehow connected with Thanjakan, one of the three asuras Vishnu overcame (which is the puranam of the Thanjai Mamani Koil temples). However, according to the sthala puranam of this temple, the word “Thanja” or “Thanjai” refers to the succour or support that is sought by a devotee by surrendering to the Lord.

This temple finds mention in one of Sundarar’s Tirumurai pathigams, and is therefore a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam. Historically, this place was also called Alkapuri (Alagapuri in Tamil), due to reasons that follow in the sthala puranam below.

Kubera, the god of wealth, was always devoted to Siva, and was therefore made responsible for the northern part of the world, while Ravana – another great devotee of Siva – was given Lankapuri to rule. Due to a fight with Ravana, Kubera lost all his wealth. In order to regain these, he started visiting and worshipping at various Siva temples. During the course of his pilgrimage, he reached this place, and after worshipping here, he was blessed with a return of all his wealth.

Mahalakshmi – the consort of Vishnu and goddess of all wealth – acquired several powers, and entrusted these to Sanganidhi and Padmanidhi who are often portrayed as consorts of Kubera. They lived in Alkapuri, a city constructed especially for them, by Mayan the celestial architect. The temple’s name Alkapuri derives from this.

Since Kubera surrendered to Siva and was rewarded here, Siva is named Thanjapureeswarar, and the place gets is name Thanjavur. And because he rewarded Kubera here, He is also named Kuberapureeswarar. There is a vigraham of Kubera inside the maha mandapam of the temple, depicted worshipping a Siva lingam. Mahalakshmi is seen next to Kubera, in Her form as Dhanalakshmi.

Kubera received his wealth back on the new moon day in the Tamil month of Aipasi (October-November), and so a Kubera Yagam is performed here every year on that day.

Kubera is the great-grandson of Brahma, through Pulastya (Brahma’s mind-born son) and his son Vishrava. Kubera was born to Vishrava and his wife Ilavila. Later, Vishrava married an asura woman named Kaikesi, and they had four children – Ravana, Vibheeshana, Kumbhakarna and Surpanakha. This makes Kubera the half-brother of Ravana and his siblings.

According to another puranam, Kubera – a great devotee of Siva – took birth in Thanjavur in a trader’s family, and plied his trade in order to maintain Siva temples in the region.

According to the sthala puranam of the Thanjai Mamani Koil, the demon Tharakasuran was slayed by Mahakali / Durga, for having harassed the rishis who were performing peance here. After his killing, Durga appeared to the rishis present here, along with Siva.

This temple is often regarded as the earliest / oldest temple in Thanjavur, and the reason for the name of the city, as above. According to some tellings, key people involved in the planning and building of the Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple came and worshipped at this Thanjapureeswarar temple. This is often stated to demonstrate the age of this temple, as being older than the Brihadeeswarar temple. This may well be so, as regards the core temple, though the structural temple we see today has developed over the centuries, and displays mainly medieval Chola characteristics.

The temple is west-facing, and one can get a clear glimpse of the moolavar Lingam from the entrance itself, where a yali has also been placed. Two large dwarapalakas guard the entrance to the maha mandapam, inside which are the shrines for the moolavar and Amman. Amman’s shrine also has a separate south-facing entrance, along with a separate Nandi. This suggests Pandya influence, perhaps in later periods. The corridor from the Nandi to the maha mandapam is where the Kubera vigraham is located.

Since this temple faces west, the order of koshtam deities is different, so we have Durga and Brahma on the north, and Dakshinamurti on the south. On the walls of the koshtam are also various bas relief images, notably that of Natarajar in tandavam, since Natarajar is almost never depicted on koshtams. Another interesting bas relief here is of Murugan, depicted with 6 faces (3 visible on the bas relief) and 12 arms, accompanied by Valli and Deivanai. All these are rather small and exceedingly well crafted.

In the prakaram, clockwise from the northwest (entrance being from the west) are: a shed with some older Lingams and deities, a shrine for Pancha Mukha Anjaneyar (with faces of Hanuman, a horse, an elephant, Narasimhar and Varaha), Chandikeswarar, Vinayakar, Ayyappa, and a separate Navagraham shrine.

There are also several interesting sculptures on the pillars in the maha mandapam. On the front pillars of the main corridor from the temple entrance, there are various inscriptions. Many of these are Marathi inscriptions, and likely the result of some Maratha rulers having performed renovation work or provided grants.

The temple comes under the management and administration of the Thanjavur Palace Management Committee, which oversees 88 temples in the region.

Other information for your visit

Contact

Duraiswamy Gurukkal: 96778 18114

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