Abatsahayeswarar, Sendamangalam, Viluppuram


The temple’s sthala puranam is from the Mahabharatam, but that may well be a later interpolation. However, Sendamangalam is of great importance in Tamil history, effectively being the location of the last battle that the Cholas fought, and lost. But that location has defined the temple and its brilliant architecture as it stands today. How so?… Read More Abatsahayeswarar, Sendamangalam, Viluppuram

Kachabeswarar, Eachangudi, Thanjavur


Prior to the churning of the ocean, Siva asked Vishnu to take on the Kurma Avataram. The tortoise is called Kachabam in Sanskrit, which gives Siva His name here. The temple also has a Mahabharatam connection, which is one of four stories of how the place gets is name. But what is the fascinating story of how this temple, as it stands today, came into existence?… Read More Kachabeswarar, Eachangudi, Thanjavur

Pasupateeswarar, Tiruvamur, Cuddalore


Tiruvamur is the avatara sthalam of Appar (Tirunavukkarasar), probably the most prominent of the Saivite bhakti saints. This temple for Pasupateeswarar is where the saint, and his parents, had worshipped. Built in the late 11th or early 12th century in the time of Kulothunga Chola III, this temple’s sthala puranam is about a cow that offered its milk as reparation for an injury it unknowingly caused, to a buried Siva Lingam. The etymology of Tiruvamur is also connected to this puranam. But why is this temple regarded as a possible Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam?… Read More Pasupateeswarar, Tiruvamur, Cuddalore

Ardhanareeswarar, Egmore, Chennai


This little known and even less visited Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam referenced by Appar, holds the key to the etymology of Egmore as a locality in Chennai. Located in a non-descript cul-de-sac just off the main road, this temple’s large Lingam is over 3 feet tall and 3.5 feet in circumference. The temple also houses both celestial couples – Siva-Parvati as Ardhanareeswarar, and Vishnu-Lakshmi as Lakshmi Narayana Perumal – in adjacent shrines. But why is Siva here also called Jalakandeswarar? … Read More Ardhanareeswarar, Egmore, Chennai

Tiruvetteeswarar, Triplicane, Chennai


Possibly a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, the Lingam here is believed to have been worshipped by Arjuna (from the Mahabharatam) when the gash on the Lingam reminded him of his fight with Siva as a hunter; this is also how Siva here gets His name. Lakshmi worshipped Siva here, to fulfil Her wish of marrying Vishnu. But how are the Nawab of Arcot in particular, and the local Islamic community in general, connected with this temple?… Read More Tiruvetteeswarar, Triplicane, Chennai

Veda Narayana Perumal, Kodikulam, Madurai


Brahma’s carelessness led to the demons Madhu & Kaitabha stealing the Vedas from him, which led to all creation coming to a sudden halt. Vishnu had to fight the demons to get back the Vedas. As penitence, Brahma performed penance here in human form, and so is depicted with only one head, instead of his usual four. But how is this temple connected to Srirangam, the Mughal invasion of the south, and the Vaishnavite saint-philosopher Pillai Lokacharyar?… Read More Veda Narayana Perumal, Kodikulam, Madurai

Saranatha Perumal, Tirucherai, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam temple and Vaishnava Navagraha Sthalam (for Sani’s son Mandi) near Kumbakonam, is connected with the Story of how Kumbakonam came into existence. The temple is also known as the pancha sara kshetram, as it covers 5 essences (or Sarams) at one go. The Kaveri river was upset at not being regarded as the holiest of rivers, and so performed penance upon Vishnu, who granted her three wishes. What unique iconographic representation is there at this temple, as a result of this event?… Read More Saranatha Perumal, Tirucherai, Thanjavur