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

Aatkondanathar, Iraniyur, Sivaganga


One of the 9 main Nagarathar temples of the Chettinadu region, this temple’s sthala puranam could perhaps explain the reason for the popularity of Sarabeswarar worship in this region. The temple is popularly referred to as the temple of sculpture (sirpa koil), for obvious reasons as can be seen in the pictures of the temple interiors. But how is this temple, and indeed the name of the place, connected to one of Vishnu’s avatarams? … Read More Aatkondanathar, Iraniyur, Sivaganga

Shanmuganathar, Kunnakudi, Sivaganga


This early-Pandya temple from around the 8th century is a classic example of a hill temple for Murugan. Stories of the curative power of this temple range from the time of epics, to as recent as the 18th century. Interestingly, the temple has seen contributions from the Cholas as well, despite its location. But what connection does Murugan’s vehicle, the peacock, have with this temple?… Read More Shanmuganathar, Kunnakudi, Sivaganga

Maruthanandeeswarar, Pennakonam, Cuddalore


Located south of the Vellar river, this Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam has no known sthala puranam as we know it. The few devotees who worship here, seek knowledge, wealth and relief from illnesses. Sambandar, one of the 63 Saiva Nayanmars, has sung about this temple in another pathigam. But the most interesting aspect of this late Chola temple is the unusual Murugan shrine here. Why is this so different?… Read More Maruthanandeeswarar, Pennakonam, Cuddalore

Abatsahayeswarar, Sendamangalam, Viluppuram


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

Kasi Viswanathar, Cholapuram, Thanjavur


Here is yet another temple virtually in ruins, thanks to the lax attitude of authorities who do not permit even willing sponsors to help renovate and rebuild this temple. Their blind eye has resulted in there being virtually nothing other than a Siva Lingam and a few assorted vigrahams. But this temple is really old, as evidenced by the unique depiction of Murugan here. How so, and how is that connected with Airavata, the celestial elephant? … Read More Kasi Viswanathar, Cholapuram, Thanjavur

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

Kailasanathar, Udaiyalur, Thanjavur


Murugan was punished for having intruded on a private conversation between Siva and Parvati, and performed penance here. Later, a king affected by leprosy bathed in the tank created by Murugan, and after it was filled with milk by Kamadhenu, his disease was cured. But the most interesting aspects of this place are almost entirely attributable to Rajaraja Chola, who also built this temple. What are these fascinating aspects, including a heavily disputed theory about the great king’s end?… Read More Kailasanathar, Udaiyalur, Thanjavur

Sivalokanathar, Keeranur, Tiruvarur


When the king’s horse trod on an object which started bleeding, the shocked king and his entourage saw a cow come over and pour its milk on the wounded object, which later turned out to be a Siva Lingam. Parvati had Herself come in the form of a cow, and because of her action, She is called Ksheerambigai here. But how is this temple’s other sthala puranam connected to one of ashta Veerattanam temples?… Read More Sivalokanathar, Keeranur, Tiruvarur

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

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

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

Vyaghrapureeswarar, Tiruvengaivasal, Pudukkottai


When Kamadhenu was delayed in reaching the celestial court, Indra cursed her to be born on Bhulokam. Once here, she started worshipping Siva by bringing water in her ears. On one occasion, a tiger accosted her but she wanted to finish her worship and begged the tiger for permission. She was allowed, and when she came back to offer herself to the tiger, it turned out to be Siva and Parvati, who were testing her! The temple has several sculptural masterpieces, but what is so unique and fascinating about Dakshinamurti at this temple?… Read More Vyaghrapureeswarar, Tiruvengaivasal, Pudukkottai

Kadambanathar, Kadambar, Kanchipuram


The demons Malayan and Makaran were harassing Sage Kashyapa, amongst others, and so the sage worshipped Siva, who deputed Murugan to deal with the demons. After they were decimated, Murugan came here to worship Siva. Though not a Tevaram temple, the child-saint Sambandar has sung here. But what is the reason for this place being regarded as holier than Kasi? … Read More Kadambanathar, Kadambar, Kanchipuram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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