Located about 3 kms South of Naachiyar Temple(about 15kms off Kumbakonam) is the Saaranaathan temple in ThiruCherai. This is part of the Krishnaaranya Kshetram and is between Naachiyaar koil and ThiruKannamangai Divya Desam.
Brahmma who wanted to save the Vedas tried to preserve its contents in a mud pot. Every time, he tried making the pot, it broke down. He looked up to Vishnu for solution and was asked to go Thiru Cherai to collect the sand for the making of the pot.
Ganga the most sacred
Once Ganga, Cauvery and other big rivers (transforming themselves into young girls) were playing at the foot of the Vindhya Hills. A Gandharva, who was passing by, waited for a minute and saluted them. Curious to know who he looked at, they approached the Gandharva who answered that his salute was addressed at the senior most among them.
While the rest of them gave way, Ganga and Cauvery got into an argument as to who was senior among the two and went to Brahmma for the decision. Brahmma pronounced that the water he used for the special pooja of Lord Vishnu flowed down as the Ganges and hence she was the most sacred.
Dejected by this, Cauvery was eager to get herself a similar stature. Brahmma asked her to undertake penance at ThiruCherai and invoke Vishnu’s blessings as he was the only one who could provide her with a solution.
Cauvery requested the Lord to stay at Thirucherai in the same form and he accepted her wish. Also, she wanted to achieve the status of the ‘sacred water’. Fulfilling this promise and her 2nd wish, he chose to reside in Srirangam on the banks of Cauvery when Vibheeshana was taking his idol back to Sri Lanka (as seen in the Srirangam Story- http://prtraveller.blogspot.com/2007/09/108-divya-desams-srirangam-lord.html).
Renovation of the temple
Naayak King of Thanjavur, who was attached to Vishnu temples, sent construction materials to Mannargudi for the construction of the Rajagopalaswamy temple. A minister of the king decided to bring a few bricks on every trip to Thiru Cherai for the renovation of this temple.
Suspecting this, the king decided on a sudden inspection. A worried minister prayed to Rajagopalaswamy and to the surprise of the Nayak King, the Mannargudi Lord is said to have appeared before the king at Thirucherai, at the time of the inspection. A delighted king immediately allocated funds towards the construction and renovation of the Thirucherai temple.
The temple has a big chariot comparable in size to the chariot of Saarangapaani temple
Moolavar : Saaranathan -Standing Posture facing East
Thayar : Saara Naayaki
Azhvaar : Thirumangai Azhvaar (Periya Thirumozhi 7.4)
Temple time : 7am-12noon and 4pm-7pm
Priest : Ramudu Bhattar @ 94441 04374,0435-2468078, 0435 2468001
How to reach
Thiru Cherai is about 3 kms from Nachiyar Koil on the way to Thiru Kannamangai and just under 15kms from Kumbakonam on the Tiruvarur highway. Buses ply every 15 minutes from Kumbakonam.