Sivaloka Thyagar, Achalpuram, Nagapattinam


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is of great significance since it is the last temple at which Sambandar sang a Tevaram pathigam. The child saint’s marriage was conducted here, and immediately after that, he, his new bride, their families and all those who attended the wedding, merged into the effulgence that is Siva. But why is no kumkumam prasadam given at this temple – even at the Amman shrine?… Read More Sivaloka Thyagar, Achalpuram, Nagapattinam

Tirumeni Azhagar, Mahendrapalli, Nagapattinam


Indra was cursed to have painful sores all over him, for having lusted after Sage Gautama’s wife Ahalya. He worshipped here, and the place gets its name from him. Several gods and celestials, including Brahma and Surya, have worshipped here, and others have witnessed Siva’s tandavam here. The place also finds mention in the regional retelling of the Mahabharatam. But what is rather unusual about Lord Siva’s name here, and how is that connected to the main reason this temple has become a prarthana sthalam?… Read More Tirumeni Azhagar, Mahendrapalli, Nagapattinam

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

Viswanathar, Devankudi, Thanjavur


This is one of the temples connected to Siva’s walk from Tiruvaiyaru to Swamimalai, which journey He undertook to receive upadesam from His son Murugan, on the meaning of the Pranava Mantram. The temple is also a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, having been sung upon by both Appar and Sambandar. This small village temple is also unusual in its arrangement of shrines.… Read More Viswanathar, Devankudi, Thanjavur

Vajrakandeeswarar, Veeramangudi, Thanjavur


The sthala puranam here is about Vijarasura, a demon, who harassed the devas and sages, but eventually sought mercy from Siva, right before he was overcome. Heeding the asura’s request, Siva is present here as Vajrakandeswarar. Worshipping Amman here is said to help the unmarried get married soon. But why is the Navagraham shrine here unique ,and what spiritual story is it connected to?… Read More Vajrakandeeswarar, Veeramangudi, Thanjavur

Keerthivaageeswarar, Soolamangai, Thanjavur


One of the seven Chakrapalli Saptam Sthanam temples, this is where Kaumari – the sakti of Murugan (Kumaran) – worshipped Siva’s trident, the Trisulam, before joining Chamundi in battle. Astra Devar – the celestial deity who is also the devas’ weapons maker – is worshipped here to remove the fear of enemies and to help devotees resolve disputes. But how is this temple connected with Vishnu and also with two other important Siva temples?… Read More Keerthivaageeswarar, Soolamangai, 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

Baladandayuthapani, Kumaran Malai, Pudukkottai


This Murugan temple on a small hillock, located close to Pudukkottai, is where Murugan came to provide his devotee the opportunity to take his annual Kavadi worship, when the devotee could no longer make the pilgrimage due to old age. The temple was constructed by a Thondaiman king who had the same dream as the devotee, but with a different purpose. But why is the temple built in the overall style of the Palani Murugan temple?… Read More Baladandayuthapani, Kumaran Malai, Pudukkottai

Atmanathar, Avudaiyar Kovil, Pudukkottai


Said to have been built by Manikkavasagar, this temple is very closely connected to the life of the saint. The sthala puranam here is from the life of the saint, who used the king’s treasury to build this temple instead of buying horses as ordered by the king. This temple shares several commonalities with the Chidambaram Natarajar temple, and is famous for its unique and arresting architecture! But why is there no Lingam or murti of Amman in the temple? … Read More Atmanathar, Avudaiyar Kovil, Pudukkottai

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

Subrahmanyar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai


This rock-cut temple is one of the 6 Arupadai Veedu temples dedicated to Murugan, and is located inside the Satya Gireeswarar temple at Tiruparankundram just outside Madurai. In different epics, the temple has a different story associated with it – either as the site of Murugan’s slaying of Soorapadman, or the venue of Murugan’s wedding to Indra’s daughter Devasena. But what is the story of the nine aides of Murugan, who are also enshrined as deities in this temple? … Read More Subrahmanyar, Tiruparankundram, Madurai

Murugan, Alagar Koil, Madurai


One of the six Arupadai Veedu temples of Murugan (and the second near Madurai, the other being at Tiruparankundram), this temple was constructed in the time of the Madurai Nayaks. The handsome Murugan lords over the hills here, where one can find a Divya Desam temple for Vishnu at the base, and one for Rakkayi Amman further up the hill. The place is associated with the episode involving Avvaiyar – the Tamil poet saint – and Murugan.… Read More Murugan, Alagar Koil, Madurai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mukteeswarar, Sethalapathy, Tiruvarur


The sthala puranam of this temple is connected to the Ramayanam, and involves Rama – upon His return from Lanka – performing the last rites for Dasaratha, who had passed away during Rama’s exile. But the offerings turned into snakes, until Rama worshipped Siva. Even today, this temple is preferred for pitru pujas. The temple also abuts the Nara Mukha Vinayakar temple that is right outside. But what is fascinating about the depiction of Vishnu at this temple? … Read More Mukteeswarar, Sethalapathy, Tiruvarur