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

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

Nagareeswarar, Kadambar Malai, Pudukkottai


Part of the Narthamalai temples, this place – Kadambar Malai – is in fact home to three separate shrines – two for Siva (one of them a full-fledged temple) and one for Amman; in addition, there is a massive 20×6 foot rock cut inscription from the Chola period. The contributors to this temple come from the Pallavas, Cholas and Pandyas, as also the Mutharaiyars. But what is one of the sthala puranams here that is said to give the place its name?… Read More Nagareeswarar, Kadambar Malai, Pudukkottai

Jagadeeswarar, Manamelkudi, Pudukkottai


This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam is also the birthplace of Kulachirai Nayanar, one of the 63 Saiva Nayanmars, and minister of Koon Pandyan of Madurai. The place finds mention in the Ramayanam, and gets its name from how the Siva Lingam was originally found here. The temple is located close to the border of what used to traditionally be the Chola and Pandya country. But why is this of significance to the temple’s history?… Read More Jagadeeswarar, Manamelkudi, 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

Ekambareswarar, Tiruvegampattu, Ramanathapuram


Also referred to as Dakshina Kanchipuram, this is one of the rare Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam temples in the Chettinadu region. Built in the Pandya period about 800 years ago, this temple features splendid architecture from that period, particularly of karanas (dance poses from the Bharatanatyam) and several bas-relief images of Vinayakar. But what is the Ramayanam connection to this temple, where the moolavar is an aasura-Lingam?… Read More Ekambareswarar, Tiruvegampattu, 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

Kutram Poruthavar, S. Aduthurai, Perambalur


This beautiful temple with its imposing raja gopuram stands out in this otherwise flat land on the banks of the Vellar river. One sthala puranam here is connected to the Daksha Yagam, and how the sapta-rishis got back their status. But the other (and main) sthala puranam of this temple is also the reason for some of the etymology of the name of this place. What is so interesting about this, which has a Ramayanam connection?… Read More Kutram Poruthavar, S. Aduthurai, Perambalur

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

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

Veerabhadrar, Darasuram, Thanjavur


This temple is presided over by Veerabhadrar, the fierce aspect of Siva, who also destroyed Daksha’s yagam, after Sati immolated herself at the sacrificial fire for her father’s disrespect towards her husband Siva. The temple also has a significant connection to the poet Ottakoothar, the author of Thakkayaga Parani, who was gifted the village of Koothanur (famous for the Saraswati temple there). But how did the Parani work come to be written?… Read More Veerabhadrar, Darasuram, Thanjavur

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

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

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

Madanagopala Swami, Madurai, Madurai


At Siva’s coronation as the ruler of Madurai, the celestials in attendance found the heat and effulgence unbearable, and requested Vishnu for help. In turn, Vishnu took the form of the cowherd Gopala, and played the flute, mesmerising everyone present and cooling them down. Periyazhvar and his daughter Andal visited here, on their way from Srivilliputhur to Srirangam, for Andal’s marriage to Ranganathar there. The temple has some very unusual architectural aspects, as far as Perumal temples go. But in what infuriating way is this temple in Madurai connected to the Philadelphia Museum of Art?… Read More Madanagopala Swami, Madurai, Madurai

Parthasarathy Perumal, Tirunangur (Parthanpalli), Nagapattinam


Parthanpalli is one of the 11 in the list of Nangur Divya Desam temples. Vishnu here is said to have come from Kurukshetra, and the temple has some really unusual idols – 4-armed Vishnu as Parthasarathy, with a dagger; Dasaratha witnessing Vishnu come out of the sacrificial fire, and even Kolavilli Ramar in the sanctum. But Partha means Arjuna. So what does this place have to do with him? … Read More Parthasarathy Perumal, Tirunangur (Parthanpalli), Nagapattinam

Perarulalan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam is also one of the 11 temples in Tirunagur, regarded as the Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam, all of which are connected with the 11 Rudra Peethams representing the fierce aspect of Lord Siva. The sthala puranam here is connected with the Ramayanam, and the ritual purification of Rama from the sin of having killed Ravana, a brahmin. This also gives the place its name. But how is this temple very closely connected with the Azhagiya Manavalar Divya Desam temple at Uraiyur in Trichy? … Read More Perarulalan, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Purushottama Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam


This Divya Desam is one of the 11 temples in Nangur near Mayiladuthurai – commonly referred to as the Nangur Ekadasa Divya Desam – which are connected with the quelling of Rudra’s anger by Vishnu. The sthala puranam here is connected with Vyaghrapada, the tiger-footed sage, who along with his son, worshipped Vishnu here. The hungry son was fed directly by Lakshmi Herself, reminiscent of the story of Sambandar, the Saivite saint, being fed by Parvati. But what is the connection this temple has with Ayodhya, which also reflects in the name of Vishnu at this temple?… Read More Purushottama Perumal, Tirunangur, Nagapattinam

Sivakozhundeeswarar, Teerthanagari, Cuddalore


At this Paadal Petra Sthalam, the sthala puranam is about an couple who would feed at least one devotee every day, feeding an old man millets, and he helping the couple cultivate their land in exchange. The temple also has a Ramayanam connection, associated with Jambavan! Among other interesting stories here is one as to why the Apasmara Purusha is not at Dakshinamurti’s feet. But why is this place called Teerthanagari? … Read More Sivakozhundeeswarar, Teerthanagari, Cuddalore

Nellivananathar, Tirunellikkaa, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is also one of the 5 Pancha-ka kshetrams (temples in forests, and therefore whose names end with -ka or -kavu) in Tamil Nadu. The temple has a quaint connection with the Ramayanam, and also a close connection with the Cholas, as part of its sthala puranams. But possibly the most important aspect of this place is that the forever-angry sage Durvasa was blessed to overcome his anger, here! How did this happen? … Read More Nellivananathar, Tirunellikkaa, Tiruvarur

Kutram Poruttha Naathar, Thalaignaayiru, Nagapattinam


This puranam of this Kulothunga Chola III era temple is closely linked to that of the nearby Kundala Karneswarar temple, and also a Ramayanam connection. As it is at Sirkazhi, there is a separate shrine for Siva as Sattanathar here. Siva here is believed to have forgiven Indra, but what bad deed (kutram / aparatham) did Hanuman commit, for him to be forgiven here by Aparatha-Kshameswarar? … Read More Kutram Poruttha Naathar, Thalaignaayiru, 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

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

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

Kundala Karneswarar, Tirukurakkaa, Nagapattinam


This temple and the nearby Kutram Porutha Nathar temple at Thalaignayiru are both connected to the Ramayanam. At Thalaignayiru, Siva pardoned Anjaneyar after the latter attempted (unsuccessfully) to move with his tail, the Lingam that Sita had made out of sand. As penance, Anjaneyar was told to install a Lingam here at Tirukurakka and worship it. This temple is one of the 5 pancha-kaa kshetrams. But what is extremely interesting about the location of the Navagraham shrine of this temple? … Read More Kundala Karneswarar, Tirukurakkaa, Nagapattinam

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

Valvil Raman, Tiruppulaboothangudi, Thanjavur


Referred to in the Brahmanda puranam and Padma puranam, this Divya Desam is connected with the Ramayanam. Thayar arose from the temple tank to be beside Rama, who performed the last rites for Jatayu, who breathed his last at the nearby town of Thyagasamudram. Tirumangai Azhvar realised he was in the presence of a very unique representation of Vishnu, which is how the moolavar here is depicted even today. What is so unique about this? … Read More Valvil Raman, Tiruppulaboothangudi, 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

Tiru Vazh Marban, Tirupatisaram, Kanyakumari


Vishnu appeared here at the request of the sages who were staying and meditating at Suchindram. The pleasant countenance of Vishnu who appeared then, is perhaps linked to Prahlada’s request to see the Lord in a pleasing form, as a change from the ferocity displayed during the Narasimhavataram. This Divya Desam is also the birthplace of Nammazhvar. But how is this temple connected to both the Ramayanam and Mahabharatam? … Read More Tiru Vazh Marban, Tirupatisaram, Kanyakumari

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