Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Uchinathar||Ambal / Thayar:||Kanakambikai|
|Timing:||7 to 11 & 5 to 7||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Kaveri Vada Karai)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Sivapuri||District:||Cuddalore|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Mayiladuthurai (40 km)||Cuddalore (52 km)|
|Kumbakonam (73 km)||Tiruvarur (83 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
This temple is one of two Paadal Petra Sthalam temples located very close to each other, just outside the temple town of Chidambaram, the other being at Tirukazhipalai. Also located nearby (inside the Annamalai University campus) is yet another Paadal Petra Sthalam for Siva as Pasupateeswarar at Tiruvetkalam.
Sirkazhi – located about 20km away – is the birthplace of Sambandar. After the child saint visited various places in the Tamil country and sang pathigams at temples, he was returning to Sirkazhi. He stayed a few days at nearby Tiruvetkalam, and would visit this place and also Tirukazhipalai every day. At the tender age of 16, his marriage was finalised and was to be held at Achalpuram.
The wedding party – comprising Sambandar, his parents, the bride and her parents, and other devotees of Siva and followers of Sambandar (including Neelakanta Yazhpanar and Neelanakka Nayanar) – began their journey to Achalpuram. They reached here before lunchtime, and decided to spend some time worshipping Siva at this temple, and taking rest. After their worship, around noon time, all of them felt hungry, but realised they did not bring food with them as they expected to reach the next town in time for lunch.
Seeing His devotees hungry, the Lord Himself – in the garb of a temple staff – came there and fed them to their heart’s content. Now refreshed, the wedding party started to proceed with their journey, when Sambandar turned back to thank the person who fed them. Instantly he felt that no ordinary person could have fed such a large group at such short notice, and realised realised it was indeed Lord Siva Himself who had fed them. Once again, the saint offered his thanks to the Lord and proceeded with his journey.
Since Siva appeared here at midday to feed His devotees, He is called Uchi Nathar (uchi referring to the zenith of the sun at noon time), and Madhyaneswarar in Sanskrit, meaning the same.
Because of the sthala puranam here relating to feeding of His devotees by the Lord, parents bring their children here for their first feed of solid food (annaprasanam).
The ancient name of this place is Tirunelvayil, as this was an area of paddy (Tamil – nel) fields. In his pathigam on this temple, Sambandar refers to place as Tiru Uchi.
Since the temple is associated with Sambandar, it must have existed in the 7th century and therefore originally been a Pallava temple. The structural temple today is over 1000 years, from the Chola period. The temple tank is located to the east of the main gopuram.
Sage Agastyar, as also Sage Kanva, have worshipped at this temple. Arunagirinathar has sung about Murugan at this temple, in his Tiruppugazh.
After entering through the raja gopuram, a short walk brings us to a flat-roofed mandapam. There is no dhwajasthambam here, but only the bali peetham and Nandi mandapam. The pillars of the mandapam have some intricate and beautiful carvings and bas relief sculptures. Such sculputres are also there on both sides of the entrance to the ardha mandapam. In the ardha mandapam, straight ahead is the garbhagriham while the Amman shrine is to the right, facing south.
In the koshtam are Nardhana Vinayakar, Dakshinamurti (beautifully sculpted), Annamalaiyar, Brahma and Durga. In the prakaram are Vinayakar, Subrahmanyar, Chandikeswarar and a separate Navagraham shrine. In the eastern enclosure are five Lingams (representing the pancha bootha sthalam Lingams), Sani, Suryan and Chandran. The vimanam over the garbhagriham is a one-level (eka-tala) vesara vimanam.
There are inscriptions from the Nayak period inside the temple. Chola period inscriptions are not here. Although the original structural temple is Chola, multiple renovations were made during the Nayak period and by the Vijayanagara dynasty, and even till recent times. Today, the temple has several elements of Nagarathar temple architecture.
Other information for your visit
The same priest officiates between this temple and the nearby Palvannanathar temple at Tirukazhipalai.