Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sundareswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Soundara Nayaki|
|Agamam:||Age (years):||Timing:||to & to||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Maaligaithidal||District:||Thanjavur|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kumbakonam (19 km)||Thanjavur (23 km)|
|Ariyalur (45 km)||Tiruvarur (49 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Most of us have heard of the Garbharakshambigai temple (Mullaivana Nathar temple) at Tirukarukavur, near Kumbakonam. That temple – which teems with devotees – is located on the southern bank of the Vettaru River. Quite a stark contrast to this, is the temple we are now at – the Meenakshi Amman sametha Sundareswarar temple – located on the northern bank of the same Vettaru river.
The temple does not have a sthala puranam associated with it. However, it is one of the very few temples outside Thanjavur, that are dated to the Thanjavur Marathas’ period, sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries. That is to say, it was significantly renovated by the Marathas, although it is likely to have originally been constructed in the later part of the medieval Chola period.
This east-facing temple is almost entirely made of brick from the Maratha period, except for the maha mandapam where one can see classic Chola pillars and architecture, and the base levels of the garbhagriham and Amman shrine.
Beyond the raja gopuram is a wide maha mandapam at an elevation of 3 steps, fronted by a bali peetham and a lone Nandi. There is no dhwajasthambam here. Straight ahead is the garbhagriham for the moolavar, and on the right is the Amman shrine. To the left is a room – presumably the madappali of the temple in the days of yore.
In the koshtams are only Dakshinamurti and Durga, and even those vigrahams are uncared for, under a structure that is crumbling bit by bit, every day. In the prakaram are Vinayakar, a Lingam together with Amman, and Chandikeswarar. The Murugan shrine is empty, and the vahana mandapam is littered with the remnants of what must have been beautiful processional chariots. In the eastern part, along the north-eastern wall of the temple, are niches for what would have housed the Navagraham shrine as well as possibly Bhairavar, Suryan and Chandran, but they are all empty now. There are some older vigrahams strewn about the temple premises. However, the one redeeming factor here is the vimanam above the garbhagriham, which though unkempt, is absolutely gorgeous to look at.
This temple is one of the 7 temples that comprise the Nallur sapta Sthanam, the others being Nallur Kalyana Sundareswarar, Govindakudi Gomukteeswarar, Avoor Pasupateeswarar, Mattiyanthidal Kailasanathar, Papanasam Palaivananathar and Papanasam Ramalingaswami.
During the Tirukalyanam festival of the Nallur temple in the Tamil month of Vaikasi (May-June), specifically on the 12th day of the festival, the vigraham of Sundarar in a glass palanquin is taken on a trip to the above-mentioned 7 temples, as well as several others in the vicinity, including Ranganathapuram, Kiliyur, Panathidal, Eri, and Utthani. Sage Agastyar’s vigraham is also taken along for this procession.
Other information for your visit
The temple has virtually no visitors, and so is kept closed all day. However, the locals living across the road have access to the temple’s keys, and also worship here every day, lighting lamps and doing their bit for the temple. It is understood that a priest performs the pujas here occasionally. They are eager to open the temple up for visitors during reasonable times of the day.