Dharmapureeswarar, Pazhayarai, Thanjavur


Often confused with the Someswarar temple (also located in Pazhaiyarai), this temple is popularly referred to as the Pazhaiyarai Vada Thali, Muzhaiyur temple and Vallalar Koil. Pazhaiyarai was once the centre-point of the Chola empire, and one of its capitals, as also the birthplace of two of the 63 Saiva Nayanmars. One can see several important and exquisite Chola temples in the immediate vicinity. Amman is named for Vimali – one of Kamadhenu’s 4 daughters – who worshipped here. But how did Appar find this temple, and how was it brought out of oblivion? … Read More Dharmapureeswarar, Pazhayarai, Thanjavur

Sakalabuvaneswarar, Tirumeyachur, Tiruvarur


Even the celestial world is filled with complex stories of intrigue, desire and passions. This temple shares its sthala puranam with that of the Tirumeyachur Meghanathar (Lalithambigai) temple, and is about how all of these led to the birth of Vali and Sugreeva, and Surya then being forgiven by Siva. This Paadal Petra Sthalam was built as a balalayam (Ilankoil in Tamil) and so is older than the Meghanathar temple that it is part of. But why was this temple retained, which is unusual for balalayams? … Read More Sakalabuvaneswarar, Tirumeyachur, Tiruvarur

Vilvaranyeswarar, Tirukollampudur, Tiruvarur


The sthala puranam here is about Sambandar, the child saint, who arrived at the riverbank but could not cross it to reach the temple, due to the river being in spate. Finding an empty boat, the saint made it move through the power of his devotion! The nearby Abhimukteeswarar temple at Abivirutheeswaram and the Koneswarar temple at Kudavasal are also associated with the legend of this temple. But why is it recommended to follow a specific order to worship this temple and the other four Pancha-Aranya kshetrams (temples located in forests) in this region? … Read More Vilvaranyeswarar, Tirukollampudur, Tiruvarur

Nageswarar, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


Located in the heart of Kumbakonam, this Paadal Petra Sthalam is referred to as Kudanthai Keezhkottam, with fort-like outer walls. One sthala puranam of this temple is about Adiseshan worshipping at this temple on Maha Sivaratri day. The horse-drawn chariot representation of the Nataraja Mandapam – called the Perabalam – is one of several splendid architectural elements of this temple. But how is this temple connected to the Mahamaham festival that Kumbakonam is famous for, and why is Siva at this temple also called Vilvaranyeswarar? … Read More Nageswarar, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Vaaimoornaathar, Tiruvaaimoor, Nagapattinam


One of the 7 sapta-vitangam temples, this temple was established by Muchukunda Chakravarti after his victory over Indra, and is considered to be the site of the original Maragatha Lingam. A Paadal Petra Sthalam with various unusual facets, there are 8 Kala Bhairavars (just like at Kasi), a standing Rishabha in front of Thyagarajar, and in a unique arrangement, all Navagrahams face the same direction. But what is absolutely unique about the iconographic depiction of Dakshinamurti at this temple? … Read More Vaaimoornaathar, Tiruvaaimoor, Nagapattinam

Jagadeeswarar, Ogai Perayur, Tiruvarur


Despite its prominence as Perayil, the location of a massive fort during the Chola period, very little is known about the sthala puranam of this Paadal Petra Sthalam located near Tiruvarur. Siva gets His name here, for having blessed all the Devas at this place. The temple is also famed for its architecture, particularly that of Sabhapati Natarajar. But how is this temple and the place connected with Sangam literature? … Read More Jagadeeswarar, Ogai Perayur, Tiruvarur

Sundareswarar, Tiruvettakudi, Karaikal


This temple is connected to the Mahabharatam episode where Arjuna fought a hunter over an argument as to who killed the wild boar. Later, it transpired that the hunter was Siva in disguise. This incident is said to have taken place at this location, and the Tamil word “Vettai” refers to hunting. Murugan depicted with a bow instead of a vel (spear) at this temple, as he accompanied the hunter that was Siva! But why does the annual temple procession involve Siva taking a ritual bath in the sea nearby, dressed as a hunter? … Read More Sundareswarar, Tiruvettakudi, Karaikal

Sankaaranyeswarar, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam


This is one of a collective of 5 temples called pancha-aranya kshetrams (temples built in five places that were forests), along with Sayavanam, Pallavaneswaram (Poompuhar), Tiruvenkadu, Keezh Tirukattupalli, all of which are in the vicinity. This maadakoil’s layout itself represents the concept of Somaskandar. But how is this temple connected with Vishnu? … Read More Sankaaranyeswarar, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam

Kannayira Nathar, Tirukaravasal, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is connected with the legend of Muchukunda Chakravarti and the maragatha Lingam that he was given by Indra. Despite the popular name of Siva as Kailasanathar in several temples, Amman’s name – Kailasa Nayaki – is rather unique here.but this place also has a story featuring Vinayakar, which has a familiar ring to all of us – fear of the tax man! What is this story? … Read More Kannayira Nathar, Tirukaravasal, Tiruvarur

Mandirapureeswarar, Kovilur, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam temple has several Ramayanam connections, including Rama praying here, asking for guidance on building the bridge to Lanka. This puranam is also the source of the Tamil name of this place – Usathanam. Another sthala puranam here relates to Garuda, and why as a consequence, the Lingam here is said to be white in colour. But what is the very interesting reason for this place being called Kovilur, and even Aadi Chidambaram? … Read More Mandirapureeswarar, Kovilur, Tiruvarur

Karpaganathar, Karpaganathar Kulam, Tiruvarur


Paadal Petra Sthalam where Siva got his name for handing out boons generously, as the Karpaga Vriksham does, and is regarded as a pitru puja sthalam. This is considered one of the places in the Ramayanam, where Rama worshipped Siva before proceeding to Lanka. But this temple is very closely connected to a very popular story we have all heard – Vinayakar going around his parents and collecting the mango as reward! How so? … Read More Karpaganathar, Karpaganathar Kulam, Tiruvarur

Satchinathar, Avalivanallur, Tiruvarur


Being One of the 5 Pancha-Aranya kshetrams (temples located in forests) in this region, there is a specific order to worship these temples; this temple should ideally be visited in the mid-morning. The sthala puranam here is about a temple priest who could not recognise his wife after her illness when he was at Kasi, and so refused to accept her as his wife, and how Siva stood as witness (hence the Lord’s name here) to the wife’s testimony. But how is this temple connected to Vishnu and the nearby Haridwaramangalam temple? … Read More Satchinathar, Avalivanallur, Tiruvarur

Brahmapureeswarar, Karaveeram, Tiruvarur


When celestial women prayed to Parvati that they get married soon, She looked at Siva, who told them to come to this place on earth and worship him. The Lingam they were to worship was guarded by Sage Gautama, who sought to remain here after his mortal life, and so he merged into the sthala vriksham of this temple. But why is a donkey the reason for there being no tall structure between this temple and the sea at Nagore, 30km away?… Read More Brahmapureeswarar, Karaveeram, Tiruvarur

Nardana Pureeswarar, Thalayalangadu, Tiruvarur


Of all the located in Alangadu (banyan forests), this place is regarded as the foremost. But in addition, this place was the location of a turning point in the political history of Tamil Nadu, where a Pandya king defeated the Chola and Chera kings. Sage Kapilar walked on his head to reach this place, in order to obtain the Chintamani gem. But how is this temple closely connected to the story of Siva as Bhikshatanar? … Read More Nardana Pureeswarar, Thalayalangadu, Tiruvarur

Koneswarar, Kudavasal, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of the 12 temples that are connected to the origins of Kumbakonam, where the mouth of the celestial pot fell, when broken open by Siva’s arrow. This is one of the 70 maadakoil temples built by Kochchenga Chola, but because the entrance to the upper level is on the southern side, one has to perform an entire pradakshinam (circumambulation) of the temple, before worshipping the deities. But why is this place also called Garudadri and Vanmeekachalam?… Read More Koneswarar, Kudavasal, Tiruvarur

Gnanaparameswarar, Tirumeignanam, Thanjavur


Generally, four temples (Kanchipuram, Tirukadaiyur, Sirkazhi and this temple) are regarded as Mayana Koils, referring to cremation grounds where Siva is believed to reside with His ganas. But the spiritual meaning is connected to the burning (ridding oneself) of one’s ego, just as Siva did to Brahma’s fifth head. The four Vedas got their knowledge from Siva here, giving the place its ancient name. But what does this temple have with Sage Apasthamba and how he got that name?… Read More Gnanaparameswarar, Tirumeignanam, Thanjavur

Kalyana Sundareswarar, Nallur, Thanjavur


One of the 70 maadakoil temples built by Kochchenga Chola, this temple has a Mahabharatam connection, whereby Kunti worshipped here and bathed in the temple tank as it had the power of the seven seas. The Siva Lingam here is believed to change colour five times every day, and even sweats on the day of the Mahamaham festival in nearby Kumbakonam! But what tradition – virtually unique for Siva temples, though the norm at Vishnu temples – is practiced here, and why? … Read More Kalyana Sundareswarar, Nallur, Thanjavur

Pasupateeswarar, Avoor, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam (and also a maadakoil) is connected with Kamadhenu and her daughter Patti (after whom Patteeswaram is named for). The temple is one of the pancha krosham temples associated with Pazhaiyarai, the old Chola capital. The temple also has an important Ramayanam connection. But why is Siva here also known as Kapardeeswarar, and what is unique about Murugan at this temple?… Read More Pasupateeswarar, Avoor, Thanjavur

Chaturanga Vallabha Nathar, Poovanur, Tiruvarur


The childless King Vasudevan was worshipping at Tirunelveli, when Siva took pity on him and asked Parvati to be born as his daughter, promising to reunite with Her in due course. Over time, the girl became very talented in the game of chess, and insisted on marrying only the person who could defeat Her at the game. The rest of the sthala puranam is about how Siva defeated her at the sport, which also earns Him His name here! … Read More Chaturanga Vallabha Nathar, Poovanur, Tiruvarur

Darbaranyeswarar, Tirunallar, Karaikal


One of the Kumbakonam Navagraham temples, this Paadal Petra Siva Sthalam is dedicated to Sani, and is therefore also a Sani-dosha parikara sthalam. The temple is also connected to the legend of Muchukunda Chakravarti and is a Sapta Vitanga Sthalam. Tirunallaru is also connected with the story of King Nala, and his separation from and reunion with his wife Damayanti. But how is Sambandar’s pathigam on this temple connected with the saint’s spiritual exploits at Madurai? … Read More Darbaranyeswarar, Tirunallar, Karaikal

Odhanavaneswarar, Tiruchottruthurai, Thanjavur


Located on the banks of the Kudamurutti river, this is one of the 7 temples that form part of the Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthanam festival, which is connected to Nandi’s wedding. The puranam of this Paadal Petra Sthalam near Tiruvaiyaru resonates with the saying சோழ வளநாடு சோறுடைத்து (Cholavalanadu Sorudaiththu). But does the word சோறு (soru) here refer to just food and grains, or something much more than that? … Read More Odhanavaneswarar, Tiruchottruthurai, Thanjavur