Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Palvannanathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Vedanayaki|
|Deity:||Siva||Historical name:||Tirukkazhipaalai, Karaimedu|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||6 to 11 & 5 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Tirukazhipalai||District:||Cuddalore|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (40 km)||Cuddalore (52 km)|
|Kumbakonam (73 km)||Tiruvarur (83 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the days of yore, this place was a forest of vilvam trees. However, strangely, the entire land was white in colour. Sage Kapilar, who came by this place as part of his pilgrimage to various Siva temples, was puzzled by this. Nonetheless, using the white sand, he crafted a Lingam and consecrated it for worship in the middle of the forest. A few days later, Sadakal Raja – the king of this region – came riding and his horse unknowingly tripped on the Lingam, making a mark on the Lingam with its hoof.
Later, the sage came back here to worship and found the hoof mark on the Lingam. Believing it to be unfit for worship, the sage started crafting another Lingam, when Siva and Parvati appeared in front of him and told him not to. They also explained that the place was filled with white sand because Kamadhenu – the celestial cow – had poured milk from her udders on the entire place, and so the Lingam created earlier was already fully sanctified. A temple was built around this Lingam, and grew in size in later years.
Siva is named Pal-vanna-nathar, as the Lingam was originally white (the colour of milk, and hence pal-vannam in Tamil).
Interestingly, the place of the above incidents is not where this temple is currently located, but at a place that was called Kaaraimedu in ancient days, said to be about 12km from here. Kaaraimedu was located on the banks of the Kollidam river, and the original Chola temple was severely damaged during floods. However, the vigrahams and much of the structure were left behind in situ or strewn about, and were brought here and reinstalled in a separately temple reconstructed by one Palaniappa Mudaliar.
There are several places in Tamil Nadu today called Karaimedu, but none of them are the location of the above incidents. However, as a nod to the temple’s original location, the temple’s Teertham is the Kollidam river, which is located at least 10-12 km away from the temple.
Appar and Sambandar have sung Tevaram pathigams on the deity of this temple. Appar has sung 5 pathigams on this temple, which may suggest that this was no small temple in that time, or that the saint was greatly captivated by the Lord here. Sambandar stayed at nearby Tiruvetkalam and worshipped Siva here and at nearby Sivapuri, every day. Arunagirinathar has sung on Murugan at this temple, in his Tiruppugazh. Sage Agastyar worshipped at this temple, and received the vision of Siva and Parvati in their wedding posture (kalyana kolam). [Note: all of the worship by saints most certainly would have been at the original temple site, and not the present-day site, which came into existence much later.]
Locally the temple is called the Bhairavar temple, as the Kala Bhairavar here is worshipped with great fervour. Interestingly, this is one of the rare places where Bhairavar is depicted without his dog. Bhairavar is also shown adorned with 27 skulls, wearing the sacred yagnopavitam, and with a serpent around his waist, and depicted with a tuft on His head – almost identical to the Bhairavar at Kasi. It is said that this vigraham was sculpted by the same sculptor who crafted the Bhairavar at Kasi. For these reasons, it is believed that worshipping here is equivalent to worshipping at Kasi. Naturally, the theipirai Ashtami (8th day of the waning moon), which is special to Bhairavar, is celebrated with great pomp here.
A welcome arch followed by a long passage brings us to the raja gopuram. In the middle is perhaps one of the best features of this temple – a beautiful Nandi whose face is turned almost 90 degrees to the right! In the raja gopuram, on both sides, Adhikara Nandi is depicted with his consort.
This brings us to the outer prakaram where there is a bali peetham and Nandi. Two beautifully crafted dwarapalakas flank the entrance to the ardha mandapam. Inside are a Nandi facing the garbhagriham, and the Amman shrine on the right. Between the two is an open Natarajar sabhai. A beautiful bas relief of Vinayakar is on the left of the garbhagriham entrance.
In the garbhagriham, the moolavar Lingam rather small, and set in a square avudai. The dent on the top of it (caused by the horse accidentally tripping and marking its hoof on the Lingam) collects milk when abhishekam is performed. Behind the Lingam is a very rarely found bas relief of Siva and Parvati in kalyana kolam, as they appeared to sage Agastyar.
In the koshtam are a beautiful Nardhana Vinayakar around whom a separate shrine is constructed, Dakshinamurti, Lingodhbhavar, Brahma and Durga (who, unusually, is named Sundara Durgai!). Not to be missed is a south-facing bas relief of Dakshinamurti above the koshtam Dakshinamurti, as part of the grivam (below the vimanam). In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Murugan with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, Gajalakshmi, Vishnu, Chandikeswarar, Siva as Aghoramurti, Chandran, Suryan, Bhuvaneswari Amman, Chatur-Durga and the Tevaram Nayanmars.
Years of repeated renovations means we will never see the original (or relocated) architecture of the ardha mandapam walls. However, some part of this is visible on the outer wall of the garbhagriham. There is also a gorgeous line of yali sculptures going around the garbhagriham outer wall, on the south, west and north; and this line is interrupted by sculptures of other celestials.
There are several inscriptions in the temple, but because of the loss of the temple during the floods, and subsequent shifting of the temple’s location from Kaaraimedu to this place, many of these inscriptions are incomplete. Some of these inscriptions also refer to grants made by Raja Raja Chola I to both the temple and some local individuals for their services to the temple.
Other information for your visit
The same priest officiates between this temple and the nearby Uchinathar temple at Sivapuri.