Dayanidheeswarar, Vadakurangaduthurai, Thanjavur


The history of this Paadal Petra Sthalam is embellished with three different sthala puranams – all equally engaging, and all demonstrating Lord Siva as Daya Nidhi – the font of all grace! This includes a little-known story associated with, but not found in, the Ramayanam. The place gets its name from the fact that Siva was worshipped by a monkey here, just as He was at Then Kurangaduthurai near Kumbakonam. But what are some of the unique iconographical aspects at this temple?… Read More Dayanidheeswarar, Vadakurangaduthurai, Thanjavur

Chakravakeeswarar, Chakrapalli, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of the Chakrapalli Sapta Sthanam temples, this one being connected to Brahmi, who worshipped Siva’s third eye. The etymology of the place and the deity are quite interesting, with two different sthala puranams converging to the same conclusion. Being from the early Chola period, this temple does not have the detailed architecture of some of the later ones. But what interesting inscription here brings out the evolved nature of of Chola governance?… Read More Chakravakeeswarar, Chakrapalli, Thanjavur

Alanthurainathar, Tiruppullamangai, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of the Chakrapalli Sapta Sthanam temples, this one being connected to Chamundi, who worshipped the snake around Siva’s neck. The etymology of the place and the deity are quite interesting. This temple is a hidden treasure trove of superlative Chola period architecture, and is therefore often quoted as the high-point of the skill of that period. But what is special about both the Dakshinamurti and the Durga depictions in the koshtam at this temple?… Read More Alanthurainathar, Tiruppullamangai, Thanjavur

Vriddhapureeswarar, Tirupunavasal, Pudukkottai


One of 14 Paadal Petra Sthalams in the Pandya region, this temple has existed in all four yugams., and worshipping the 14 Lingams here is regarded as equal to having visited all 14 such temples. The multitude of stories about this temple speaks to its age and hoary past, chiefly about Brahma repenting for his lack of knowledge about the Pranava Mantram. But why is Kali here not viewed directly, but only through the reflection in a mirror?… Read More Vriddhapureeswarar, Tirupunavasal, Pudukkottai

Aadi Ratneswarar, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram


Having existed in all four yugams, the temple also has a Mahabharatam connection. The place is today a prarthana sthalam for those seeking relief from the ill effects of their misdeeds committed both knowingly and otherwise. In turn, these are connected to Suryan’s pride and Vaaruni’s playfulness. What are these fascinating stories, which also explain the cover image, about this place with 12 names, and where Siva has 4 names of His own, and is both a Paadal Petra Sthalam and a Tiruppugazh temple?… Read More Aadi Ratneswarar, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram

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

Adipureeswarar, Tiruvottriyur, Chennai


More popular as the Thyagarajar temple, this temple for Siva as Adi Pureeswarar has several puranams associated with it. Siva came to Brahma’s aid to keep the pralayam waters away, during the creation of the earth. Vattaparai Amman’s shrine here is connected to Kannagi from the Silappathikaram. The temple is also famously associated with Sundarar’s marriage to Sangili Nachiyar. But what are the various dualities at this temple, and the multiple connections it has with the Thyagarajar temple at Tiruvarur?… Read More Adipureeswarar, Tiruvottriyur, Chennai

Satya Gireeswarar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai


Murugan overheard Lord Siva teaching the Pranava mantram to Parvati. Murugan sought pardon from his father for learning the Pranavam mantram by deceit, and so Lord Siva appeared to him on the day of Thai poosam and formally taught him the meaning of Pranava mantram, removing Murugan’s guilt. But how does is the garbhagriham of this temple also accommodate one of the six Arupadai Veedu temples of Murugan? … Read More Satya Gireeswarar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai

Vaidyanathar, Tirumazhapadi, Ariyalur


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam, Sundaramurti Nayanar didn’t realise there was a temple here, and so he walked past without stopping to worship. At that point, Siva commented that perhaps the Nayanar had forgotten Him! Overcome by the events, Sundarar composed his famous “Ponnar Meniyane” pathigam. Mazhapadi – where four Vedas visited and are depicted in stone – is also the birthplace of Nandi, but did you know that he has a story similar to that of Markandeya’s? … Read More Vaidyanathar, Tirumazhapadi, Ariyalur

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

Sukshma Pureeswarar, Cherugudi, Tiruvarur


This temple and village are connected with Sambandar’s Kolaru Pathigam, inspiring the idea that malevolent forces have no effect on those who have placed their faith in Lord Siva. The sthala puranam here is about Siva and Parvati playing chokkattan, and Siva suddenly disappearing. But why is the Linga Swaroopam of Lord Siva here called a Santosha Lingam, and how is that connected to the sthala puranam a happy marriage? … Read More Sukshma Pureeswarar, Cherugudi, Tiruvarur

Seshapureeswarar, Tirupampuram, Tiruvarur


This is one of 4 temples where Nagaraja, lord of the Nagas, is said to have worshipped Lord Siva on Mahasivaratri. Being associated with nagas, nobody in this village is recorded to have died of snakebite! Rahu and Ketu are enshrined together, and depicted as worshipping Lord Siva here. But what is the story due to which devotees worship at this temple to recover lost valuables? … Read More Seshapureeswarar, Tirupampuram, Tiruvarur

Pranava Vyaghrapureeswar, Omampuliyur, Cuddalore


There are 5 places with the suffix “puliyur” where Sage Vyaghrapada was able to witness Siva’s cosmic dance, and this Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of them. The temple is a Guru sthalam, partly the result of Parvati’s inattentiveness, and hence there are 2 Dakshinamurti shrines present here. How did this all come about? … Read More Pranava Vyaghrapureeswar, Omampuliyur, Cuddalore

பிரணவ வியாக்ரபுரீஸ்வர், ஓமாம்புலியூர், கடலூர்


There are 5 places with the suffix “puliyur” where Sage Vyaghrapada was able to witness Siva’s cosmic dance, and this Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of them. The temple is a Guru sthalam, partly the result of Parvati’s inattentiveness, and hence there are 2 Dakshinamurti shrines present here. How did this all come about? … Read More பிரணவ வியாக்ரபுரீஸ்வர், ஓமாம்புலியூர், கடலூர்

Veeratteswarar, Keelaparasalur, Nagapattinam


This is one of the 8 Ashta-Veerattanam temples – places where Siva is said to have danced a valorous dance celebrating victory over a different evil force at each of the places. At Daksha’s yagam, due to the insults meted out to Her husband Lord Siva, Dakshayini immolated Herself on the sacrificial fire. A furious Siva deputed Veerabhadrar, who sliced off Daksha’s head. This, as well as another related story, are also considered as the reason for the name of the place. But what is the very close connection this temple has with the Chamakam, the mantram that follows the Sri Rudram? … Read More Veeratteswarar, Keelaparasalur, Nagapattinam

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

Vanduthurainathar, Tiruvanduthurai, Tiruvarur


The sthala puranam here is about Sage Bringhi who wanted to worship Siva, to the exclusion of all other gods…even Parvati. To this end, he took the form of a bee to bore through the fused form of Siva and Parvati – Ardhanareeswarar – and that gives Siva here His name. The architecture and sculptures here bring this whole story to life. But why does Nandi face north at this temple? … Read More Vanduthurainathar, Tiruvanduthurai, Tiruvarur

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

Marundeeswarar, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai


This is one of 3 Paadal Petra Sthalams on the coastal side of Chennai, one of whose sthala puranams give the nearby locality of Valmiki Nagar, its name. This is where Siva is said to have imparted the science of herbal medicine to Sage Agastyar, and the five Teerthams of the temple are believed to have descended from Siva’s matted locks. The many Lingams in the temple each have their own sthala puranam. The moolavar at this temple used to face east, but why did He turn west (and remain so)? … Read More Marundeeswarar, Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai

Pasupateeswarar, Tiruvetkalam, Cuddalore


Located inside the Annamalai University campus at Chidambaram, this Paadal Petra Sthalam’s puranam is connected to the Mahabharatam. After Arjuna was defeated by a hunter (Siva in disguise), this is where he received the Lord’s blessings and also the Pasupatastram. The depiction of Parvati – with Her hair unbound – is stunning! But how are the some of the places nearby connected with the Mahabharatam story? … Read More Pasupateeswarar, Tiruvetkalam, Cuddalore

Sivakozhundeeswarar, Teerthanagari, Cuddalore


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam, the sthala puranam is about an couple who would feed at least one devotee every day, feeding an old man millets, and he helping the couple cultivate their land in exchange. The temple also has a Ramayanam connection, associated with Jambavan! Among other interesting stories here is one as to why the Apasmara Purusha is not at Dakshinamurti’s feet. But why is this place called Teerthanagari? … Read More Sivakozhundeeswarar, Teerthanagari, Cuddalore

Vellimalai Nathar, Tiruthengur, Tiruvarur


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam, Sukracharya worshipped to regain the sight he had lost in one eye as a result of the events of Vamana Avataram. The name of the place comes from the story that Lakshmi came here to worship Lord Siva, as this place was dry during the deluge / pralayam. But how are the Navagrahams represented twice at this temple?… Read More Vellimalai Nathar, Tiruthengur, Tiruvarur

Nellivananathar, Tirunellikkaa, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is also one of the 5 Pancha-ka kshetrams (temples in forests, and therefore whose names end with -ka or -kavu) in Tamil Nadu. The temple has a quaint connection with the Ramayanam, and also a close connection with the Cholas, as part of its sthala puranams. But possibly the most important aspect of this place is that the forever-angry sage Durvasa was blessed to overcome his anger, here! How did this happen? … Read More Nellivananathar, Tirunellikkaa, Tiruvarur

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

ஜெகதீஸ்வரர், ஓகை பேரையூர், திருவாரூர்


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 ஜெகதீஸ்வரர், ஓகை பேரையூர், திருவாரூர்

Thanthondreeswarar, Aakkoor, Nagapattinam


When he was unwell, Kochchenga Chola was advised to worship Siva at a place that had three sthala vrikshams, and was aided by Vinayakar in being cured here. The temple is one of the maadakoils built by the king. Aakkoor – which has its own story of how the name came about – is also the birthplace of Sirappuli Nayanar. The Tamil phrase “Aayirathil Oruvan”, meaning one in a thousand, signifies something very rare. But how is that phrase quite literally connected to the sthala puranam of this temple?… Read More Thanthondreeswarar, Aakkoor, Nagapattinam

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

Ratnagireeswarar, Marugal, Nagapattinam


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one where Siva gets his name for showering precious stones to help people at a time of famine. This is one of the 78 maadakoils built by Kochchenga Chola. Here, a boy died of snakebite, leaving his bride-to-be helpless. Sambandar, the child saint, revived the boy through his pathigam. But what larger story is this part of, and how is it connected to the Tiruvilaiyadal puranam?… Read More Ratnagireeswarar, Marugal, Nagapattinam

Kutram Poruttha Naathar, Thalaignaayiru, Nagapattinam


This puranam of this Kulothunga Chola III era temple is closely linked to that of the nearby Kundala Karneswarar temple, and also a Ramayanam connection. As it is at Sirkazhi, there is a separate shrine for Siva as Sattanathar here. Siva here is believed to have forgiven Indra, but what bad deed (kutram / aparatham) did Hanuman commit, for him to be forgiven here by Aparatha-Kshameswarar? … Read More Kutram Poruttha Naathar, Thalaignaayiru, Nagapattinam

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 Petra Sthalam is built as a Maadakoil, and arranged in the concept of Somaskandar, where the order of deities in the sanctum is Siva, Murugan and Parvati. But what is the connection between this this temple, the name of the place, and Vishnu? … Read More Sankaaranyeswarar, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam

Valampura Nathar, Melaperumpallam, Nagapattinam


This temple shares a part of its puranam with the Tiruvalanchuzhi Kapardeeswarar temple, where Sage Herandar entered the earth, and emerged from this temple, to bring the Kaveri river back to earth. This place is regarded in puranams as the birthplace of Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, and Vishnu received some of His accoutrements here. One of the maadakoils built by Kochchenga Chola, the temple’s main puranam is about Pattinathar who came here seeking food, which helped a king be cured of his curse. How did this come about?… Read More Valampura Nathar, Melaperumpallam, Nagapattinam

Pallavaneswarar, Poompuhar, Nagapattinam


Belonging to one of two sets of Pancha Aranya Kshetrams in this region of Nagapattinam, this Paadal Petra Sthalam is steeped in history. Madhavi and Manimekalai – leading women characters in Sangam epics Silappatikaram and Manimekalai – are described as having worshipped Sabhapati Amman of this temple. It is also one of those extremely rare cases where the annual temple festival is in celebration of a devotee (Adiyar Utsavam) rather than the deity! Who is this devotee – regarded as an avataram of Kubera – and why is this the case? … Read More Pallavaneswarar, Poompuhar, Nagapattinam

Kannayiram Udayar, Kurumanakkudi, Nagapattinam


For having desired Ahalya, wife of Sage Gautama, through deceit, the sage cursed Indra to sprout 1000 pustules on his body. This is one of the 3 temples connected with Indra’s curse and his redemption, this Paadal petra sthalam is where the 1000 pustules on his body became 1000 beautiful eyes. This gives Siva his name of Kann-Aayiram-Udaiyar. Ahalya herself was redeemed during the Rama avataram of Vishnu, but how is the name of this place connected with another of Vishnu’s avatarams? … Read More Kannayiram Udayar, Kurumanakkudi, 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

கைச்சின்னேஸ்வரர், கச்சனம், திருவாரூர்


The place gets is name from Indra’s Kai-chinnam or handprint that is said to be found on the Siva lingam here. Indra’s deceitful behaviour towards Ahalya resulted in his punishment, penance and eventual expiation. There are three temples associated with this incident, and this is the first of them. But what exactly transpired? … Read More கைச்சின்னேஸ்வரர், கச்சனம், திருவாரூர்

Ponvaithanathar, Sitthaimur, Nagapattinam


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is favoured by devotees for ensuring a safe pregnancy and childbirth, just like at Tirukarugavur, due to the sthala puranam of this temple. Siva left a gold coin every day for his staunch devotee, who was pregnant but her husband was traveling. Upon his return, the husband believed that his wife had been unchaste, and asked for 4 impossible things, all of which happened with the grace of Siva. How did all this come to happen?… Read More Ponvaithanathar, Sitthaimur, Nagapattinam

Neelneri Nathar, Thandalacherry, Tiruvarur


This Paadal petra sthalam’s sthala puranam speak of Nandi, who is said to have taken away and eaten the grass brought for worship by a devotee! This temple is regarded as one of the 78 maadakoils built by Kochchenga Chola. This temple is also connected with Arivatta Nayanar, as his birthplace is located very close to the temple. But why does the neivedyam here consist of cooked rice, greens/spinach, and mango pickle? … Read More Neelneri Nathar, Thandalacherry, 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

சற்குண நாதர், இடும்பவனம், திருவாரூர்


Originally called Vilvaranyam, this is where Brahma worshipped Siva in order to regain lost gunas and powers. This story also explains the etymology of Lord Siva here. The temple is also connected with the Ramayanam, and Rama is said to have worshipped here before proceeding to Lanka. But what is the unusual iconography inside the sanctum, which is also connected with Sage Agastyar?… Read More சற்குண நாதர், இடும்பவனம், திருவாரூர்

Sarguna Nathar, Idumbavanam, Tiruvarur


Originally called Vilvaranyam, this is where Brahma worshipped Siva in order to regain lost gunas and powers. This story also explains the etymology of Lord Siva here. The temple is also connected with the Ramayanam, and Rama is said to have worshipped here before proceeding to Lanka. But what is the unusual iconography inside the sanctum, which is also connected with Sage Agastyar?… Read More Sarguna Nathar, Idumbavanam, 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

அகஸ்தியன் பள்ளி அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர், நாகப்பட்டினம்


அகஸ்தியரால் பிரதிஷ்டை செய்யப்பட்ட பல கோவில்களில் ஒன்று. இங்கு, அவருக்கு சிவன் மற்றும் பார்வதியின் தெய்வீக திருமணத்தின் தரிசனம் வழங்கப்பட்டது… Read More அகஸ்தியன் பள்ளி அகஸ்தீஸ்வரர், நாகப்பட்டினம்

Paaluganthanathar, Tiruvaaippaadi, Thanjavur


Located close to Senganur (which itself is famous for several religious and spiritual reasons), this Paadal Petra Sthalam’s puranam is virtually a continuation of the one at Senganur. This is also regarded as the mukti sthalam of Chandesa Nayanar. But what are some of the very interesting aspects relating to the Nayanar – both in terms of installation and worship – who is enshrined at this temple as Chandikeswarar, the guardian of Lord Siva’s property? … Read More Paaluganthanathar, Tiruvaaippaadi, Thanjavur

Neelakanteswarar, Iluppaipattu, Nagapattinam


When Siva consumed the deadly halahala poison which emerged from the churning of the ocean, Parvati stopped the poison from doing further harm by holding Siva’s neck, which turned the Lord’s neck blue. For this reason, the temple is a prarthana sthalam for women worshipping for longevity of their husbands. This also gives both Siva and Parvati their names here. But why are there 4 more Siva Lingams here, and what is the Mahabharatam connection with the 2 Vinayakars, at this temple? … Read More Neelakanteswarar, Iluppaipattu, Nagapattinam

நீலகண்டேஸ்வரர், இலுப்பைப்பட்டு , நாகப்பட்டினம்


When Siva consumed the deadly halahala poison which emerged from the churning of the ocean, Parvati stopped the poison from doing further harm by holding Siva’s neck, which turned the Lord’s neck blue. For this reason, the temple is a prarthana sthalam for women worshipping for longevity of their husbands. This also gives both Siva and Parvati their names here. But why are there 4 more Siva Lingams here, and what is the Mahabharatam connection with the 2 Vinayakars, at this temple? … Read More நீலகண்டேஸ்வரர், இலுப்பைப்பட்டு , நாகப்பட்டினம்

Kundala Karneswarar, Tirukurakkaa, Nagapattinam


This temple and the nearby Kutram Porutha Nathar temple at Thalaignayiru are both connected to the Ramayanam. At Thalaignayiru, Siva pardoned Anjaneyar after the latter attempted (unsuccessfully) to move with his tail, the Lingam that Sita had made out of sand. As penance, Anjaneyar was told to install a Lingam here at Tirukurakka and worship it. This temple is one of the 5 pancha-kaa kshetrams. But what is extremely interesting about the location of the Navagraham shrine of this temple? … Read More Kundala Karneswarar, Tirukurakkaa, Nagapattinam

Kalyana Sundareswarar, Velvikudi, Nagapattinam


This is one of the temples connected with Siva’s marriage to Parvati, on earth. The temple’s sthala puranam is also connected to a prince and princess, whose wedding had to be cancelled as the princess suddenly died before the date fixed for the wedding. The prince prayed at this temple, upon which Lord Siva instructed his ganas to revive the princess and get her ready for the wedding. But what is unusual, indeed almost unique, about Ardhanareeswarar at this temple?… Read More Kalyana Sundareswarar, Velvikudi, Nagapattinam

Vyaghrapureeswarar, Perumpuliyur, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam near Tiruvaiyaru is considered to be one of the 5 places where Sage Vyaghrapada worshipped Siva. The temple has some unusual depictions and iconography, including Ardhanareeswarar in the rear koshtam of the grabhagriham, and a rather unique Navagraham depiction. But how did the sage Vyaghrapada come to have tiger’s feet? … Read More Vyaghrapureeswarar, Perumpuliyur, Thanjavur

பிரம்மபுரீஸ்வரர், அம்பர், திருவாரூர்


இந்த பாதல் பெட்ரா ஸ்தலத்தில், பிரம்மா தனது அசல் வடிவத்தை மீண்டும் பெற்றார். கோச்செங்க சோழன் கட்டிய 78 மாடக்கோயில்களில் இதுவே கடைசி… Read More பிரம்மபுரீஸ்வரர், அம்பர், திருவாரூர்

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

சாட்சிநாதர், அவளிவநல்லூர் , திருவாரூர்


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 சாட்சிநாதர், அவளிவநல்லூர் , திருவாரூர்

Pathaaleeswarar, Haridwaramangalam, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam and Pancha Aranya Kshetram (a set of five temples located in what used to be forests) is located near Kumbakonam, and has two very interesting sthala puranams connected with it. One is about Siva emerging as a pillar of fire, with Vishnu and Brahma taking the form of a boar and a swan, to find the ends of the pillar. The other has to do with Siva’s marriage to Parvati, but it wasn’t so simple! What was this all about?… Read More Pathaaleeswarar, Haridwaramangalam, Tiruvarur

Swarnapureeswarar, Andankoil, Tiruvarur


Kandadeva – a minister of Muchukunda Chakravarti – was such a staunch devotee of Siva that he would not eat before performing Siva Puja. This practice of his led to him building this temple without the king’s knowledge, after the Lord appeared in his dream. But how he built the temple, and what was the king’s response, is what the puranam of this temple is all about. But why is Siva here called Swarnapureeswarar? … Read More Swarnapureeswarar, Andankoil, Tiruvarur

Kadaimudi Nathar, Keelayur, Nagapattinam


Brahma appears to be the most penitent character in Hindu mythology, and this is yet another place he worshipped Siva…this time, to guard the world till its end – this gives the moolavar His name at this temple. This Paadal Petra Sthalam is a rather simple temple built in the time of Parantaka Chola, but features some very unique iconography and architecture. Read about those in detail, here.… Read More Kadaimudi Nathar, Keelayur, Nagapattinam

Udhvaganathar, Tirumanancheri, Nagapattinam


Of the many temples in the region, this is regarded as the place where Siva and Parvati were married, on earth. As a nitya kalyana kshetram, Tirukalyanam is performed every day here, and there are so many interesting aspects to the murtis of Siva and Parvati. There are also other stories connected to Kama dahanam, and how a boy born with the head of a tortoise got married after worshipping at this temple. But why is there no Navagraham shrine at this temple?… Read More Udhvaganathar, Tirumanancheri, Nagapattinam

Uktavedeeswarar, Kuttalam, Nagapattinam


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is one of the many Chola period temples near Kumbakonam, connected with the celestial wedding of Siva and Parvati. It is also a pancha-krosha sthalam, and is the centre point of the temples belonging to this group. The sthala puranam here is about a devotee who wanted to visit Kasi, but Lord Siva showed him that this place was equal to Kasi in every way. But why is the sthala vriksham (sacred tree) of this temple so important in Saiva lore? … Read More Uktavedeeswarar, Kuttalam, Nagapattinam

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

Sivanandeswarar, Tirupandurai, Thanjavur


Many of us are familiar with the story of Swamimalai, where Siva received the meaning of the Pranava mantram from His son Murugan. That story starts with the sthala puranam of this temple. As a child, Murugan imprisoned Brahma for not knowing the meaning of the Pranava mantram. In response to Siva’s questioning, Murugan informed his father that he indeed knew the meaning himself. This pride of Murugan annoyed Siva, and slowly, Murugan lost the ability to speak. But why is Siva also called Thagappan Swami at this temple? … Read More Sivanandeswarar, Tirupandurai, Thanjavur

Siddha Natheswarar, Tirunaraiyur, Thanjavur


The sthala puranam of this temple is about Gorakka Siddhar skin disease – itself the result of a curse – being cured by applying the oil used for the deity’s abhishekam at this temple. The place is also called Narapuram, after Naran who was cursed by Sage Durvasa, came and worshipped here. But why is there a shrine for Lakshmi in this Siva temple, and how is this temple very interestingly connected to the nearby Nachiyar Koil Srinivasa Perumal temple?… Read More Siddha Natheswarar, Tirunaraiyur, Thanjavur

Prananatheswarar, Tirumangalakudi, Thanjavur


An auspicious temple (or “mangala” sthalam) in many aspects, this temple’s puranam is connected to the resurrection of Kulothunga Chola’s minister, after he had been decapitated. A Paadal Petra Sthalam, this temple also has a story of Brahma cursing the Navagrahams for obliging Sage Galva, and how Siva helped the 9 celestial deities. But despite their close involvement in the sthala puranam, why is there no Navagraham shrine at this temple? … Read More Prananatheswarar, Tirumangalakudi, Thanjavur

Yoganandheeswarar, Tiruvisanallur, Thanjavur


This Tevaram Paadal Petra Sthalam, associated with Rohini Nakshatram and Rishabha Rasi, is believed to have existed in all four yugams. Devotees are blessed by Bhairavar, with knowledge, prosperity, health and eventual salvation. The sthala puranam of the temple also talks about a sinner who was given salvation by Siva, despite Nandi’s remonstrances! The temple and the village are also connected with the philosopher-saint Sridhara Ayyaval. But why are seven strands of hair said to be visible on the rear of the Siva Lingam of this temple? … Read More Yoganandheeswarar, Tiruvisanallur, Thanjavur

Karkadeswarar, Tirundudevankudi, Thanjavur


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam near Kumbakonam, a gash on the lingam has to do with the legend of a crab stealing one lotus out of 1008 that Indra had collected for worship, every single day! A favoured place of worship for those under the Kataka rasi, this temple located close to Tiruvisanallur (another Paadal Petra Sthalam) which is special for those under the Rishabha rasi. But what is the story behind there being two Ammans at this temple? … Read More Karkadeswarar, Tirundudevankudi, 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

ஆவூர் பசுபதீஸ்வரர், தஞ்சாவூர்


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 ஆவூர் பசுபதீஸ்வரர், தஞ்சாவூர்

Aruna Jadeswarar, Tirupanandal, Thanjavur


Paadal Petra Sthalam near Kumbakonam, this Chola temple is the home of two stories of devotion where Siva Himself is said to have come to the rescue of his devotees. Though a sarpa dosha nivritti sthalam, this is where a female naga worshipped, as opposed to the male nagas at most other such places. But how is the concept of Shodashopacharam (worship with 16 different offerings) connected to this temple?… Read More Aruna Jadeswarar, Tirupanandal, Thanjavur

Pasupatheeswarar, Pandanallur, Thanjavur


Once a forest of kondrai trees (whose flowers are highly suitable for Siva worship), Chola period temple was built before, but significantly renovated, in the time of Raja Raja Chola I. The sthala puranam here is about Parvati’s desire to play and Siva fulfilling that desire by providing Her with four balls, made of the four Vedas! But what came of this, and its implications on various things in the puranams, concluding with Siva’s earthly marriage to Parvati, is the rest of the sthala puranam here. But why is the place called Pandanallur?… Read More Pasupatheeswarar, Pandanallur, Thanjavur

Sivakozhundeeswarar, Tirusakthi Muttram, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is located very close to Patteeswaram near Kumbakonam, and is where Appar was told by Siva Himself, to go to nearby Nallur to receive deeksha from the Lord. The puranam here is about Parvati standing on one leg and worshipping Siva here, and the Lord arriving in the form of a powerful beam of effulgence. But What is the iconographic significance of the Uchishtha Ganapati shrine outside the main gopuram?… Read More Sivakozhundeeswarar, Tirusakthi Muttram, Thanjavur

Sivagurunathaswami, Sivapuram, Thanjavur


Deepavali is associated with various stories. In the north, it celebrates the return of Rama to Ayodhya, while in the south, it is the overcoming of Narakasura by Krishna. However, there is a third story, which celebrates Deepavali as a day of worship for wealth, and that happens here at Sivapuram near Kumbakonam, where the entire ground is said to be full of Siva Lingams. In addition to the unique icongraphic depictions, the story here is about Kubera being cursed by Nandi for having spoken favourably of his brother Ravana. Kubera’s penitent worship here and the special Kubera puja on Deepavali day what this temple is about.… Read More Sivagurunathaswami, Sivapuram, Thanjavur

அரசலீஸ்வரர், ஒழிந்தியம்பட்டு, விழுப்புரம்


Sage Vamadeva sat Arasu tree here, hoping Siva would appear and bless him. Understanding his plight, the Lord appeared to him as a Swayambhu murti. Siva here gets His name from the connection with the arasu tree. King Satyavardhan, observing no fresh flowers in his garden, set out to find the thief when he stumbled on the Lingam here. But what is different about Dakshinamurti at this temple? … Read More அரசலீஸ்வரர், ஒழிந்தியம்பட்டு, விழுப்புரம்

Arasaleeswarar, Ozhindhiampattu, Viluppuram


Sage Vamadeva sat Arasu tree here, hoping Siva would appear and bless him. Understanding his plight, the Lord appeared to him as a Swayambhu murti. Siva here gets His name from the connection with the arasu tree. King Satyavardhan, observing no fresh flowers in his garden, set out to find the thief when he stumbled on the Lingam here. But what is different about Dakshinamurti at this temple? … Read More Arasaleeswarar, Ozhindhiampattu, Viluppuram

மகா காளேஸ்வரர், இரும்பை, விழுப்புரம்


Located near Pondicherry, this is one of 3 Makalam temples of Siva (the others being at Ujjain and Ampal/Tirumakalam). Two demons, armed with a boon from Siva himself, sought to marry Parvati. She killed them and was relieved of her sins here. The temple’s legend is associated with Kaduveli Siddhar whose curse resulted in this becoming an arid land. But why is the lingam here missing a piece, and how is the relief from the Siddhar’s curse related to the inhabitants of the region today? … Read More மகா காளேஸ்வரர், இரும்பை, விழுப்புரம்

Maha Kaleswarar, Irumbai, Viluppuram


Located near Pondicherry, this is one of 3 Makalam temples of Siva (the others being at Ujjain and Ampal/Tirumakalam). Two demons, armed with a boon from Siva himself, sought to marry Parvati. She killed them and was relieved of her sins here. The temple’s legend is associated with Kaduveli Siddhar whose curse resulted in this becoming an arid land. But why is the lingam here missing a piece, and how is the relief from the Siddhar’s curse related to the inhabitants of the region today? … Read More Maha Kaleswarar, Irumbai, Viluppuram

Vacheeswarar, Tirupachur, Tiruvallur


This ancient temple, originally built during the time of Karikala Chola, has a Lingam with a scar – the mark made by an axe that was used to dig up the place; this also gives the moolavar His name. Nandi, at the Lord’s instructions, defeated Kali who is in a separate shrine, with her legs bound by chains! Another puranam says Vishnu installed 11 Vinayakars here to overcome a curse. Yet another puranam is about Amman here also being known as Thankadali Amman. What interesting story is behind this name? … Read More Vacheeswarar, Tirupachur, Tiruvallur

Vataranyeswarar, Tiruvalangadu, Tiruvallur


This is one of the Pancha Sabhai – the five dance halls –where Lord Siva danced different Tandavams. In a dance-off, He danced the Urdhva Tandavam here to defeat Kali (Parvati). The temple is closely connected with Karaikal Ammaiyar – one of only two women Nayanmars – who walked on her head to reach this place…and for that reason, Sambandar refused to step on such hallowed ground. But why did 70 elders of the village commit ritual suicide at the nearby Sakshi Bootheswarar temple, and how is that part of this temple’s puranam?… Read More Vataranyeswarar, Tiruvalangadu, Tiruvallur

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

Pushpavaneswarar, Mela Tirupoonthuruthi, Thanjavur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam near Thanjavur is one of the 7 temples forming part of the Tiruvaiyaru Sapta Sthanam, and flowers go from here for the Tiruvaiyaru annual Nandi Kalyanam festival. The temple is said to have been created by Indra, and is also the place where the elderly saint Appar carried the child saint Sambandar on the latter’s palanquin. But despite this, why did Sambandar not enter this temple, but only sing from outside? … Read More Pushpavaneswarar, Mela Tirupoonthuruthi, Thanjavur

Kalyana Pasupateeswarar, Karur, Karur


One of the 7 Paadal Petra Sthalams in Kongu Nadu, this temple today is the result of the influence of several kings, from the early Cholas to the Vijayanagara dynasty. The two Ammans here represent Ichcha Sakti and Kriya Sakti. When Brahma’s ego grew beyond bounds (for having been entrusted with the job of creation), he was de-recognised, and Kamadhenu was handed the responsibility instead. What happened after that, and how is that connected with the puranam of this temple? … Read More Kalyana Pasupateeswarar, Karur, Karur

Magudeswarar, Kodumudi, Erode


Vayu and Adiseshan contested a show of strength, using Mount Meru as a pillar. In this struggle the top of Mount Meru broke in to five pieces (some say seven) and fell in various places as gems, including at Tiruvannamalai, Ratnagiri (Tiruvatpokki), Eengoimalai, and Pothigaimalai. A diamond fell here, and became a swayambhu lingam. Given Adiseshan’s connection, this temple is also well known for clearing nagadosham, and since snakes are tamed with a magudi, Siva here is called Magudeswarar. But what is unique about Vinayakar’s depiction at this temple? … Read More Magudeswarar, Kodumudi, Erode