Vedapureeswarar, Tirukazhithattai, Thanjavur


Said to have been built by Kodumbalur Velir, the army general of Sundara Chola, during the 10th century, this temple has several inscriptions about him, and various other important members of Chola royalty of the time. Suryan worships Siva here with his rays, twice a year, for 10 days at a time. But what is the etymology of the names of Siva and Parvati at this place?… Read More Vedapureeswarar, Tirukazhithattai, Thanjavur

Brahma Gnana Pureeswarar, Keezha Korkkai, Thanjavur


The sthala puranam of this temple is about Brahma losing the Vedas to the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, and regaining them with Vishnu’s help, and also regaining his wisdom after worshipping Siva here. This Chola temple from the time of Kulothunga Chola III has some excellent examples of Chola sculptures, including Adhikara Nandi and Siva as Kirata Murti. But how is this temple connected to the annual ritual of Avani Avittam?… Read More Brahma Gnana Pureeswarar, Keezha Korkkai, Thanjavur

Tirumarainathar, Tiruvathavur, Madurai


This is where Vishnu worshipped after visiting Madurai for the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar wedding, and Siva explained the meaning of the Vedas to Him. The temple is also connected to another son of the soil, and one of the most influential of the Saivite bhakti saints – Manikkavasagar – who was born here and received Siva’s deeksha as well. This beautiful Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam has stunning Pandya architecture, but how is it connected with a Tamil retelling of the Mahabharatam?… Read More Tirumarainathar, Tiruvathavur, Madurai

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

Koneswarar, Kudavasal, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam – one of the maadakoils built by Kochchenga Chola – is connected to the origins of Kumbakonam, and is considered the place where the mouth of the celestial pot fell, when broken open by Siva’s arrow. The temple’s puranam is about Garuda retrieving amritam, to redeem his mother from slavery. But why does one have to do an entire pradakshinam BEFORE even worshipping the Lord, at this temple? … 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

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