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 random vigrahams. But this temple is really old, as evidenced by the unique depiction of Murugan here.… Read More Kasi Viswanathar, Cholapuram, 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

Vedapureeswarar, Tirukazhithattai, Thanjavur


Said to have been built by Kodumbalur Velir, the army general of Sundara Chola, during the 10th century, this temple has several inscriptions about him, and various other important members of Chola royalty of the time. Suryan worships Siva here with his rays, twice a year, for 10 days at a time. But what is the etymology of the names of Siva and Parvati at this place?… Read More Vedapureeswarar, Tirukazhithattai, Thanjavur

Sundareswarar, Koranattu Karuppur, Thanjavur


This temple for Siva as the handsome Sundareswarar is located very close to Kumbakonam. Several celestials are said to have to worshipped here and received many boons and blessings. This Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam finds mention in one of Sundarar’s pathigams. But why is this place called Koranattu Karuppur, and why is this temple more famous as the Petti Kali Amman temple?… Read More Sundareswarar, Koranattu Karuppur, 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

Dharmapureeswarar, Pazhayarai, Thanjavur


Often confused with the Someswarar temple (also located in Pazhaiyarai), this temple is popularly referred to as the Pazhaiyarai Vada Thali, Muzhaiyur temple and Vallalar Koil. Pazhaiyarai was once the centre-point of the Chola empire, and one of its capitals. One can see several important and exquisite Chola temples in the immediate vicinity. Amman is named for Vimali – one of Kamadhenu’s 4 daughters – who worshipped here. But how did Appar find this temple, and how was it brought out of oblivion? … Read More Dharmapureeswarar, Pazhayarai, 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

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 his end?… Read More Kailasanathar, Udaiyalur, Thanjavur

Brahma Gnana Pureeswarar, Keezha Korkkai, Thanjavur


The sthala puranam of this temple is about Brahma losing the Vedas to the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, and regaining them with Vishnu’s help, and also regaining his wisdom after worshipping Siva here. This Chola temple from the time of Kulothunga Chola III has some excellent examples of Chola sculptures, including Adhikara Nandi and Siva as Kirata Murti. But how is this temple connected to the annual ritual of Avani Avittam?… Read More Brahma Gnana Pureeswarar, Keezha Korkkai, Thanjavur

Sundareswarar, Ariyathidal, Thanjavur


Located just south of the Mahamaham tank in Kumbakonam, his temple for Siva and Parvati as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi is believed to have existed for almost 2000 years, but was rebuilt in the early 20th century, after it was found in ruins. The temple is connected to one Sri Ramaswamy of Thepperumanallur (also near Kumbakonam), but is also locally known as the Annadana Sivan temple. What’s the connection?… Read More Sundareswarar, Ariyathidal, Thanjavur

Oppiliappan, Tirunageswaram, Thanjavur


This Divya Desam and the Vaishnava Navagraham temple for Sani is where Tirumangaiazhvar was able to view Perumal in 5 forms, and so the Lord here is worshipped in each of those forms. The temple’s sthala puranam is the reason for the Tulasi leaves being used as the customary form of offering for Vishnu. It is also generally known that the temple prasadam is prepared without salt, but why is that so? … Read More Oppiliappan, Tirunageswaram, Thanjavur

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

Gnanaparameswarar, Tirumeignanam, Thanjavur


Generally, four temples (Kanchipuram, Tirukadaiyur, Sirkazhi and this temple) are regarded as Mayana Koils, referring to cremation grounds where Siva is believed to reside with His ganas. But the spiritual meaning is connected to the burning (ridding oneself) of one’s ego, just as Siva did to Brahma’s fifth head. The four Vedas got their knowledge from Siva here, giving the place its ancient name. But what does this temple have with Sage Apasthamba and how he got that name?… Read More Gnanaparameswarar, Tirumeignanam, Thanjavur

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

Yoganandheeswarar, Tiruvisanallur, Thanjavur


This Tevaram Paadal Petra Sthalam, associated with Rohini Nakshatram and Rishabha Rasi, is believed to have existed in all four yugams. Devotees are blessed by Bhairavar, with knowledge, prosperity, health and eventual salvation. The sthala puranam of the temple also talks about a sinner who was given salvation by Siva, despite Nandi’s remonstrances! The temple and the village are also connected with the philosopher-saint Sridhara Ayyaval. But why are seven strands of hair said to be visible on the rear of the Siva Lingam of this temple? … Read More Yoganandheeswarar, Tiruvisanallur, 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