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

Ramar Padam, Idayanvayal, Pudukkottai


Located on the coastal path from Vedaranyam to Rameswaram are several sites connected with the Ramayanam. This is one of them, and happens to also be one of only three places in Tamil Nadu where the footprints of Rama are said to exist (the other two being a small shrine between Vedaranyam and Kodiakkarai, and at Rameswaram). Also nearby is a dilapidated temple from what appears to be the Chola period.… Read More Ramar Padam, Idayanvayal, Pudukkottai

Sarvateertheswarar, Theerthandathanam, Ramanathapuram


This west-facing temple is a pitru sthalam, and Siva and Amman here receive completely fresh clothes every day. In the Ramayanam, Rama was on his way to Rameswaram and Lanka, to defeat Ravana and bring Sita back, and quenched His thirst here. Agastyar advised Him to take the grace of Siva, since Ravana – a great Siva devotee himself – was otherwise under Siva’s protection. But what aspect of Saivism did Rama embrace, to show His devotion to Siva?… Read More Sarvateertheswarar, Theerthandathanam, Ramanathapuram

Veyil Ugantha Vinayakar, Uppur, Ramanathapuram


After being punished at Daksha’s yagam by Veerabhadrar, Suryan lost his effulgence, and worshipped Siva at various places, to no avail. Realising that Vinayakar would be better placed to plead his case to Siva, Suryan came here and worshipped Vinayakar, who helped the former regain his lost powers. The temple also has a strong Ramayanam connection as well. But why does this place have names including Lavanapuram, Suryapuri, Tavasiddhipuri, and Pavavimochana Puram?… Read More Veyil Ugantha Vinayakar, Uppur, Ramanathapuram

Mummudinathar, Iraguseri, Sivaganga


A rare Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam in the heart of the Chettinadu region is a pleasant find. Iraguseri – the name of the place today – is a modern corruption of Iragu Sari, Iravu Seri or Iravaan Serim – is linked to the Ramayanam, as is the nearby temple at Kandadevi. The original Pandya temple was significantly restored in the early 20th century by the Nagarathar community. But what is the reason for Siva’s name at this temple?… Read More Mummudinathar, Iraguseri, Sivaganga

Swarnamurtheeswarar, Kandadevi, Sivaganga


Originally, Siva here was called Siragilinathar. A Pandya king in poor financial state sought to rebuild the temple, and quite literally stumbled at this place. Taking this to be a sign, he dug here to find gold and precious stones, as well as a Lingam which was enshrined by him at the temple built with the new-found wealth, leading to a change in Siva’s name here. But what is the deep Ramayanam connection hat this temple, the place, as well as nearby Iraguseri, share?… Read More Swarnamurtheeswarar, Kandadevi, Sivaganga

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

Rudrakoteeswarar, Chaturveda Mangalam, Sivaganga


When Brahma undertook a pilgrimage to rid himself of a curse by Sage Durvasa, he installed a temple for Siva here, and is said to worship Siva even today, from the nearby Aravan Malai. Siva is also worshipped as Sarabeswara here, and the temple has a Ramayanam connection as well. But why is Siva named Rudra Koteeswarar here, and what interesting aspect of Siva’s family is part of this temple’s sthala puranam?… Read More Rudrakoteeswarar, Chaturveda Mangalam, Sivaganga

Govindaraja Perumal, Veppathur, Thanjavur


Located in the northern part of Veppathur, this temple is today just a gopuram, with the deities being housed in a separate one-room building. The sthala puranam here is connected to two tales from the Ramayanam. But despite its Pallava origins, what makes this nearly 2000-year old (or older) temple fascinating across layers of history and the rule of several dynasties?… Read More Govindaraja Perumal, Veppathur, Thanjavur

Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, Veppathur, Thanjavur


Considered to be over 2000 years old, this temple is located in the heart of Veppathur – once called Ghatika Sthanam and Chaturvedi Mangalam. The all-wish-fulfilling Perumal is attended to by Anjaneyar depicted as a child. Krishna gave mantropadesam to Agastyar here. But how is this temple connected to the Ramayanam, that too in a rather unusual way?… Read More Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal, Veppathur, Thanjavur

Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar, Madurai, Madurai


As against the norm of sins being pardoned only in subsequent births, this is a place where Siva forgives one’s sins in their current birth itself, and hence the name of the moolavar here. Surprisingly, Chandikeswarar is given equal prominence as Siva, as he is said to recommend devotees’ prayers to the Lord. One of the Pancha Bootha Sthalams in and around Madurai, this temple has a fascinating sthala puranam, which involves Siva worshipping Himself as a Siva Lingam that He installed! How is this possible?… Read More Immayilum Nanmai Tharuvar, Madurai, Madurai

Vishwaroopa Lakshmi Narasimhar, Kattavakkam, Kanchipuram


Consecrated as recently as in 2007, this beautiful temple near Wallajabad on the way to Kanchipuram features a 16-foot tall murti of Vishnu as Viswaroopa Lakshmi Narasimhar. The depiction of Perumal is said to be exactly as described in the Brahma Stuti of the Lakshmi Narasimha Dhyana Slokam. What other unusual features do this temple’s architecture and iconography boast of?… Read More Vishwaroopa Lakshmi Narasimhar, Kattavakkam, Kanchipuram

Sowriraja Perumal, Tirukannapuram, Nagapattinam


Considered the Eastern residence of Vishnu, this Divya Desam temple’s puranam is about how the presiding grew hair on His head to uphold a devotee’s word, that the hair on the garland given to the king actually belonged to the Lord! Interestingly, every amavasya day, the deity is taken outside to meet His devotee Vibheeshana. How did this come to be?… Read More Sowriraja Perumal, Tirukannapuram, 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

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

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