Chakrapani, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


Vishnu manifests in this temple as the Sudarshana Chakram itself. The main sthala puranam here is about Suryan’s ego and pride being overcome by the effulgence of the Chakram. Built originally by the Cholas and significantly expanded by the Nayaks, this temple is famed for its pillars that overflow with exquisite Nayak craftsmanship. But what are some of the aspects of this temple that are virtually identical to Siva and Siva worship, and how does this connect to the Veeratteswarar temple at Tiruvirkudi?… Read More Chakrapani, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Ramaswami, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


This Nayak period temple was built at the start of the decline of the Vijayanagara dynasty. The irony of this is that worship of Rama gained popularity only during the Vijayanagara dynasty’s rule! The entire temple and its extensive and detailed architecture celebrates only one thing – the Ramayanam. The temple is also one of the five Perumal temples associated with the Mahamaham festival. But what is so interesting and absorbing about the depiction of deities in the garbhagriham?… Read More Ramaswami, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Vaiyam Katha Perumal, Tirukudalur, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam located between Kumbakonam and Tiruvaiyaru is known for many interesting stories that serve as its sthala puranam. The temple is virtually the starting point for Vishnu’s Varaha avataram, which ends in Srimushnam. There are also at least 3 stories as to how the place gets is name. But how did Vishnu protect his devotee – king Ambarisha – from the mercurial sage Durvasa, and how does that connect with this temple?… Read More Vaiyam Katha Perumal, Tirukudalur, Thanjavur

Rajagopala Perumal, Nallicheri, Thanjavur


The ruling Nayak king of the time was unable to proceed to Mannargudi for his daily worship of Rajagopalaswami there, due to cyclonic storms. So he spent the night here, and through various voices and signs, was informed that he needed to build a temple for Krishna as Rajagopalar, here. The place gets its name from one of the 64 varieties of trees, plants, herbs, etc, that Shakhambari Devi created for a special visit here. Whose visit was this, and why did it take place?… Read More Rajagopala Perumal, Nallicheri, Thanjavur

Magizhavaneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai


Located on the fringes of Pudukkottai town, Tirukokaranam is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam that finds mention in one of Appar’s pathigams. The temple actually houses two sets of deities, but is most popular by the name Brahadambal koil. The sthala puranam here is connected to that of the nearby Tiruvengaivasal Vyaghrapureeswarar temple, and involves Kamadhenu’s penance on earth. But why is Brahadambal Amman considered a talking goddess?… Read More Magizhavaneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai

Gokarneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai


Located on the fringes of Pudukkottai town, Tirukokaranam is a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam that finds mention in one of Appar’s pathigams. The temple actually houses two sets of deities, but is most popular by the name Brahadambal koil. The sthala puranam here is connected to that of the nearby Tiruvengaivasal Vyaghrapureeswarar temple, and involves Kamadhenu’s penance on earth. But why is Brahadambal Amman considered a talking goddess?… Read More Gokarneswarar, Tirukokaranam, Pudukkottai

Vijayalaya Chozheeswaram, Narthamalai, Pudukkottai


Possibly a corruption of Nagarathar Malai, Narthamalai is part of a series of hillocks to the north and north-west of Pudukkottai. The temple for Siva as Vijayalaya Chozheeswarar is an architectural masterpiece, and often regarded as the starting point for the now-famed Chola style of architecture, and the place itself is named for the Vijayalaya Chola, who kickstarted the line of imperial Cholas in the mid-9th century. But would it surprise you to know that the origins of this place are not Chola at all? … Read More Vijayalaya Chozheeswaram, Narthamalai, 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

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

Valarolinathar, Vairavanpatti, Sivaganga


The third largest of the 9 Nagarathar temples, this temple filled with exemplary architecture is perhaps the origin of the primacy of Bhairavar worship in the region. Siva deputed Bhairavar to overcome an asura, after which Bhairavar merged back into Siva as a growing light of knowledge, giving Siva the name Tirumeignana Pureeswarar. But how is this temple connected to ridding Brahma of his ego, as well as the Ramayanam?… Read More Valarolinathar, Vairavanpatti, Sivaganga

Saptarisheeswarar, Ammachatram, Thanjavur


Everyone needs sages and priests to conduct weddings, and the gods are no exception to this! This is where the seven sages of yore are said to have met, to plan the wedding of Siva and Parvati on earth! The temple – which is located close to several other temples connected with the Siva-Parvati wedding – is however more famous for the powerful Kala Bhairavar, who is regarded as equivalent to the one at Kasi. But what is the Ramayanam connection of this temple?… Read More Saptarisheeswarar, Ammachatram, 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

Mukteeswarar, Theppakulam, Madurai


This Pancha bootha sthalam in Madurai is associated with the celestial elephant Airavata being relieved of the curse he received from Sage Durvasa. This Nayak period temple features beautiful architecture and iconographic depiction of various deities. But what is the interesting reason that this temple, and the adjacent Theppakulam Mariamman temple, do not have gopurams? … Read More Mukteeswarar, Theppakulam, Madurai

Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, Madurai, Madurai


Tucked away in a bylane near the Madurai Meenaksi Amman and Koodal Azhagar temples, is this fascinating temple run by Saurashtrans, dedicated to both Venkatesa Perumal and Navaneeta Krishnan. In addition to beautiful sculptures and architecture, the temple also has shrines for notable saints and others associated with it, as well as artefacts connected with Thyagaraja Swami of the Carnatic music trinity. But what is so unique about the Maatru Tirukkola Sevai that takes place during the temple’s annual festival in the Tamil month of Aadi? … Read More Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, Madurai, Madurai

Sundara Varadaraja Perumal, Uthiramerur, Kanchipuram


This Pancha Varada Kshetram, which finds mention in the Mahabharatam, is one of the temples the Pandavas visited during their period of exile, and they regained the wisdom they had lost when gambling with the Kauravas. The long list of dynasties who ruled the region, have each left their mark on the temple construction. But what is the connection between this temple and the celestial architect Takshaka, in the depiction of Vishnu on three levels at this temple? … Read More Sundara Varadaraja Perumal, Uthiramerur, Kanchipuram

Vedarajan, Tirunagari, Nagapattinam


This is one of two temples that are reckoned as one Divya Desam together, and is associated with Uparicharavasu, who took births in each of the yugams to finally arrive here as Neelan (later, Tirumangaiazhvar) in Kali Yugam. But what is the beautiful story of Lakshmi leaving Vishnu, and He locating her at this temple, due to which this place is a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to get married?… Read More Vedarajan, Tirunagari, Nagapattinam

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

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

Purushottama Perumal, Uttamar Koil, Tiruchirappalli


In addition to being a Divya Desam – commonly referred to as Uttamar Koil – this temple is also a “Mummurti Kshetram”, having shrines for Vishnu, Siva and Brahma as well as their consorts. Vishnu, wanting to test Brahma, hid inside a Kadamba tree, and revealed Himself only after a worried Brahma searched everywhere and then surrendered to the Lord! This Chola temple is also a Guru kshetram, as all 7 Gurus are enshrined here. Who are these seven, what are the Ramayanam connections here, the link to Bhikshatanar, and who is an Uttamar? … Read More Purushottama Perumal, Uttamar Koil, Tiruchirappalli

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

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

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

அவிநாசியப்பர், அவிநாசி, திருப்பூர்


அவிநாசி கோவைக்கு வடகிழக்கில் ஈரோடு செல்லும் சாலையில் அமைந்துள்ளது. வினாசம் என்றால் அழிவு, அ-வினாசம் என்றால் அழியாதது. சில ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு ஒரு சிறுவன் முதலையால் விழுங்கப்பட்டு, சுந்தரர் பதிகம் பாடியவுடன் உயிர்ப்பிக்கப்பட்ட கதையிலிருந்து டவுன் அதன் பெயரைப் பெற்றது.“காசியில் வாசி அவிநாசி” என்று ஒரு பழமொழி உண்டு, இந்த ஸ்தலம் காசிக்குச் சமமானது என்பதைக் குறிக்கிறது. இங்கும் சிவபெருமானை வழிபடும் பக்தன் இதே போன்ற ஆசீர்வாதங்களைப் பெறுகிறான். இக்கோயிலில் உள்ள அவிநாசியப்பர் மற்றும் பைரவர், காசி… Read More அவிநாசியப்பர், அவிநாசி, திருப்பூர்