Ilamaiyaakinaar, Chidambaram, Cuddalore

Basic information about the temple

Moolavar:IlamaiyaakinaarAmbal / Thayar:Tripurasundari, Youvanambal
Deity:SivaHistorical name:Tiruppuleeswaram
Vriksham:ThillaiTeertham:Ilamai Teertham, Vyaghrapada Teertham


Age (years):


Timing: to & to Parikaram:

Temple group:Vaippu sthalam
Sung by:

Temple set:



City / town:ChidambaramDistrict:Cuddalore
Maps from (click): Current location Mayiladuthurai (42 km)Cuddalore (49 km)

Kumbakonam (74 km)Viluppuram (79 km)


Sthala puranam and temple information

When sage Vyaghrapada reached Thillai (Chidambaram), he found walking here difficult when he had to pluck flowers to worship Lord Siva in the morning. So, he bathed in the tank here, consecrated a Lingam on its banks and started worshipping the Lord, who blessed the sage with the feet of a tiger so that he could not feel the thorns when going to collect flowers. This is how the sage got the name Vyaghrapada, meaning tiger-footed. Since puli in Tamil refers to tiger, this place is called Tiru Puleeswaram, and Lord Siva also goes by the name Tirupuleeswarar. The Lingam installed by the sage later became the focal point of this temple.

A very staunch Siva devotee from Pullirukkuvelur (today’s Vaitheeswaran Koil) made a living by selling a type of grass called Kanampul (கணம்புல்). With his income, he would buy oil and wicks, and was in the habit of lighting oil lamps in Siva temples in the region. To demonstrate his devotion to the people, Lord Siva made it so that the devotee was unable to sell his products. Despite this, the devotee was steadfast, going to the extreme of burning the grass he would otherwise sell, to light the temple lamps. When he came here and did so, all the grass had burned out, and with nothing else to offer, he started to burn his own hair. Pleased with this devotion, Siva appeared with Parvati, and gave the devotee mukti. Due to these incidents, the devotee was elevated to the status of a Nayanmar, and given the name Kanampulla Nayanar. The day of Krithika nakshatram in the Tamil month of Karthigai (November-December) is celebrated as the day of his Guru puja. Due to this puranam, lighting lamps in this temple is regarded as special.

This temple is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam.

Neelakantar (popularly known as Tiruneelakanta Nayanar or Tiruneelakanta Kuyavanar, to distinguish him from Tiruneelakanta Yazhpanar) was a potter (kuyavanar in Tamil), who was born in Chidambaram. He and his wife were staunch devotees of Lord Siva. Once, Neelakantar visited a prostitute, and this news reached his wife who ordered that he should never ever touch her. Neelakantar agreed, and life carried on as they entered old age. Through this, they behaved as husband and wife to the world outside, but lived like strangers at home. Ashutosha – an epithet of Lord Siva to indicate He who is easily pleased – decided to put an end to the troubles of His devotee, and taking the form of a Siva yogi, left his begging bowl with Neelakantar on the pretext that he was going to Kasi. When the yogi returned and asked for the bowl, it was not to be found (since the Lord made it disappear). When Neelakantar professed his innocence, the yogi asked him to swear by placing his hand on his wife’s head. Neelakantar could not do so due to the promise given to his wife, and at the cost of his public humiliation, explained the situation to all present. Finally, at the suggestion of the locals, he and his wife agreed to take a bath in the temple tank while holding on to the ends of a long stick. They did so, but when they emerged, they had regained all of the years, and came out looking young as they were before Neelakantar made his promise. Siva and Parvati appeared on the Rishabham, blessed them, and took them to Kailasam. This is therefore also the mukti sthalam of the Nayanar.

The day of Visakam nakshatram in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February) is the day of the saint’s Guru puja, and is regarded as the day the couple were made young again and ascended to Kailasam. The celebrations involve a re-enactment of a yogi giving his bowl to a young man, the holy dip by the old couple, and their blessing.

Tamil poet and saint Gopalakrishna Bharati wrote the Tiruneelakanta Nayanar Charitram on the life of the Nayanar. Visveswara Siva Desika – the 12th century spiritual Guru and minister of the Kakatiyas – once wrote that one should live like Sambandar in their childhood, Sundarar in their youth, and Tiruneelakanta Nayanar in old age.

In Tamil, Ilamai means youth, and since the Lord made the aged couple young again, He is called Ilamaiyakkinaar (the one who made them young again), or Youvvaneswarar in Sanskrit! It is believed that couples who worship here will be blessed with marital harmony.

The original structural temple is Chola, from the time of Kulothunga Chola II (early and middle 12th century), but had gone to seed over the years. In the last two centuries, the Nagarathar community has taken up the maintenance of the temple, and so today, the entire temple has been renovated in the Nagarathar style.

Beyond the relatively recently built 5-tier raja gopuram, is an enclosure, and after this is the original temple structure with its high outer walls. The maha mandapam is at an elevation, featuring the dhwajasthambam, bali peetham and Nandi. Further on is the ardha mandapam, where there is another Nandi and Sage Vyaghrapada worshipping Siva directly. On the right is the Amman shrine, while straight ahead is the garbhagriham.

In the koshtam are Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga. In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Siva as Ekambareswarar, Vishnu, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Bhairavar, Suryan, Chandran and Chandikeswarar. There is a separate Navagraham shrine, as well as a shrine for Sage Vyaghrapada at the entrance to the maha mandapam. In the southern prakaram, there is a shrine for Kanampulla Nayanar and also for Tiruneelakanta Nayanar and his wife Rathinasalai. All round the outer wall of the garbhagriham, on the top part of the wall is a line of Siva’s bhuta ganas in various postures, excellently carved.

Other information for your visit

The temple is located just a few hundred meters west of the Thillai Natarajar temple.


Suresh Gurukkal: 93603 74681
Phone: 99944 83460


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