Banapureeswarar, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur


One of 12 temples connected with the origin of Kumbakonam, and one of the oldest temples in Kumbakonam… Read More Banapureeswarar, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur

Jambunathar, Nallicheri, Thanjavur


One of the seven Chakrapalli Saptam Sthanam temples, this is where Vaishnavi – the sakti of Vishnu – worshipped Siva’s feet and anklets, before joining Chamundi in battle. The name Nallicheri is said to derive from the place’s earlier name, Nandicheri, and indeed, the place is known as Nandi Mangai, amongst the 7 temples of the Sapta Sthanam. But what did Nandi accomplish here, which he could not do at even as holy a place as Tiruvaiyaru?… Read More Jambunathar, Nallicheri, Thanjavur

Siva Surya Perumal, Keezhkudi, Ramanathapuram


In this temple, located in a small village that lies back of beyond nowhere, is a rather unique representation of Siva and Vishnu – both separately and together. The temple is said to celebrate the unity and oneness of Siva and Vishnu, despite what the sthala puranam of the Tiruvetriyur temple says, and re-emphasises the primacy of pillar worship. So what makes this temple fascinating, despite a total lack of any history or information available about it?… Read More Siva Surya Perumal, Keezhkudi, Ramanathapuram

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

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

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

Veetrirundha Varadaraja Perumal, Tirukodiyalur, Tiruvarur


This village temple located near Tirumeyachur, close to the Meghanathar-Lalithambigai temple, is poorly visited, but decently maintained. The sthala puranam here is about Vishnu waiting for Lakshmi, while She was worshipping at the Tirumeyachur temple. But what important aspects of Saivism are celebrated at this Perumal temple?… Read More Veetrirundha Varadaraja Perumal, Tirukodiyalur, Tiruvarur

Sakalabuvaneswarar, Tirumeyachur, Tiruvarur


Even the celestial world is filled with complex stories of intrigue, desire and passions. This temple shares its sthala puranam with that of the Tirumeyachur Meghanathar (Lalithambigai) temple, and is about how all of these led to the birth of Vali and Sugreeva, and Surya then being forgiven by Siva. This Paadal Petra Sthalam was built as a balalayam (Ilankoil in Tamil) and so is older than the Meghanathar temple that it is part of. But why was this temple retained, which is unusual for balalayams? … Read More Sakalabuvaneswarar, Tirumeyachur, Tiruvarur

Veerabhadrar, Vazhuvur, Nagapattinam


Vazhuvur is regarded as the birthplace of Ayyappan. This village temple for Veerabhadrar – often regarded as an aspect of Siva Himself – is closely connected with the Vazhuvur Veeratteswarar temple located nearby, and also to Ayyappan. The temple stands in ruins, but has two very unusual aspects to it, on the depiction of the presiding deity. What are these?… Read More Veerabhadrar, Vazhuvur, Nagapattinam

Punugeswarar, Koranad, Mayiladuthurai


This is one of the 7 temples that comprise the Mayiladuthurai Sapta Sthanam set of temples. The sthala puranam here concerns a civet (punugu or musk) cat which worshipped Siva here, and was blessed by the Lord. The temple is also seems to share a connection with the nearby Moovalur temple, with Brahma and Vishnu worshipping Siva. But why is this place called Koranad, and how is it connected to Nesa Nayanar?… Read More Punugeswarar, Koranad, Mayiladuthurai

Vaitheeswaran, Chintamani Nallur, Viluppuram


This 900-year-old temple was built by Vikrama Chola, and the presiding deity named Kulothunga Chozheeswaramudaiya Mahadevar, in honour of Vikrama’s father Kulothunga Chola I. Vikrama Chola’s mother’s names are also the basis for the name of this place and the well-known nearby town of Madhurantakam. But what is unusual about the deities in the koshtam, at this temple?… Read More Vaitheeswaran, Chintamani Nallur, Viluppuram

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

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

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

Sankaaranyeswarar, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam


This is one of a collective of 5 temples called pancha-aranya kshetrams (temples built in five places that were forests), along with Sayavanam, Pallavaneswaram (Poompuhar), Tiruvenkadu, Keezh Tirukattupalli, all of which are in the vicinity. This maadakoil’s layout itself represents the concept of Somaskandar. But how is this temple connected with Vishnu? … Read More Sankaaranyeswarar, Thalachangadu, Nagapattinam

Kannayira Nathar, Tirukaravasal, Tiruvarur


This Paadal Petra Sthalam is connected with the legend of Muchukunda Chakravarti and the maragatha Lingam that he was given by Indra. Despite the popular name of Siva as Kailasanathar in several temples, Amman’s name – Kailasa Nayaki – is rather unique here.but this place also has a story featuring Vinayakar, which has a familiar ring to all of us – fear of the tax man! What is this story? … Read More Kannayira Nathar, Tirukaravasal, Tiruvarur

Kaliyuga Varadaraja Perumal, Kallankurichi, Ariyalur


The pillar is one of the oldest forms of worship, and at this Perumal temple on the outskirts of Ariyalur, it is a 12-foot tall wooden pillar that is the main deity, which is said to have miraculous powers, is regarded and worshipped as Vishnu. As if to compensate for lack of detail in the garbhagriham, the temple’s mandapam pillars display some fabulous architecture! How did this temple come to be? … Read More Kaliyuga Varadaraja Perumal, Kallankurichi, Ariyalur

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

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

Vacheeswarar, Tirupachur, Tiruvallur


This ancient temple, originally built during the time of Karikala Chola, has a Lingam with a scar – the mark made by an axe that was used to dig up the place; this also gives the moolavar His name. Nandi, at the Lord’s instructions, defeated Kali who is in a separate shrine, with her legs bound by chains! Another puranam says Vishnu installed 11 Vinayakars here to overcome a curse. Yet another puranam is about Amman here also being known as Thankadali Amman. What interesting story is behind this name? … Read More Vacheeswarar, Tirupachur, Tiruvallur

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

Thothadri Nathan, Nanguneri, Tirunelveli


Bhoomadevi lost her purity after Madhu and Kaitabha’s slaying by Vishnu caused a world-pervading odour. She worshipped Vishnu here, who blessed her to be cleaned of the impurities. This is a swayam-vyakta kshetram, and eleven of the murtis here are considered to be swayambhu murtis. But how is this temple unique, as regards the Vaishnavite philosophy of Saranagati? … Read More Thothadri Nathan, Nanguneri, Tirunelveli

Darbaranyeswarar, Tirunallar, Karaikal


One of the Kumbakonam Navagraham temples, this Paadal Petra Siva Sthalam is dedicated to Sani, and is therefore also a Sani-dosha parikara sthalam. The temple is also connected to the legend of Muchukunda Chakravarti and is a Sapta Vitanga Sthalam. Tirunallaru is also connected with the story of King Nala, and his separation from and reunion with his wife Damayanti. But how is Sambandar’s pathigam on this temple connected with the saint’s spiritual exploits at Madurai? … Read More Darbaranyeswarar, Tirunallar, Karaikal

Magudeswarar, Kodumudi, Erode


Vayu and Adiseshan contested a show of strength, using Mount Meru as a pillar. In this struggle the top of Mount Meru broke in to five pieces (some say seven) and fell in various places as gems, including at Tiruvannamalai, Ratnagiri (Tiruvatpokki), Eengoimalai, and Pothigaimalai. A diamond fell here, and became a swayambhu lingam. Given Adiseshan’s connection, this temple is also well known for clearing nagadosham, and since snakes are tamed with a magudi, Siva here is called Magudeswarar. But what is unique about Vinayakar’s depiction at this temple? … Read More Magudeswarar, Kodumudi, Erode