Yama Dharma Raja served as the vahana for Lord Shiva and carried him to Thiru Kodikkaval from Srivanchiyam – Highest status for Yama at this temple
Bhoologa Kailasam - One of the 6 sacred Saivite Temples on the banks of the Cauvery- Praised by all four Saivite Saint Poets
Located 15kms North of Tiruvarur off the Kumbakonam-Nannilam Highway between Mudikondan and Puttar rivers is the ancient and huge Vanchinatha Swamy Temple in Sri Vanchiyam, a temple whose legend dates back to the Kretha Yugam and one that in its current form and architecture dates back to the Chozha period. The entire temple complex has a strong granite structure signifying the Chozha construction.
One of the 6sacred places
Historically, six places – Thiruvenkadu, Thiruvayaru, Thiru Mayuram (Mayiladuthurai), Thiru Vidaimarathur, Chaaya Vanam and Srivanchiyam - along the banks of Cauvery have been specified as sacred and comparable to visiting Kasi. Among these, Sri Vanchiyam counts as the most sacred.
Separate Sannidhi for Yama and Chitragupta
Yama Dharma Raja, the God of Death, was worried that by being the one who was responsible for deciding the mortality of everyone on earth and the timing, he was adding to his own sins and incurring the wrath of many. Having been the cause of the unreasonable demise of Markandeya Rishi who clung on to the Shiva Lingam at the time of his death at Thiru Kadaiyur, Yama felt depressed. He came here and undertook penance invoking the blessings of Vanchinathar.
Lord Shiva appeared before him on the Barani day in Maasi and asked him for a wish. Yama Dharma Raja wanted Vanchinatha swamy to relieve the death fears of devotees from their sins of previous births. Devotees who visit Srivanchiyam and offer sincere prayers after bathing at the sacred pushkarani are believed to be relieved from any fears of death that they may have.
Yama also wanted to serve Lord Shiva as his Vahana. Pleased with the penance of Yama and his good thoughts, Shiva provided darshan at Thiru Kodikkaval with Yama taking him there from Srivanchiyam as his vahana (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2013/11/thiru-kotteeswarar-temple-thiru.html). In memory of this event, every year on the occasion of Maasi Barani,Vanchinatha Swamy goes around on a procession on the Yama Vahana. Since Yama plays the role of the security, this place is believed to be protected from earth quakes and natural calamities.
In recognition of his penance and his noble thoughts, Yama has been accorded the leading status at the Srivanchiyam temple. Devotees, after having bath at the sacred temple tank on the Northern side, have to seek the blessings of Yama at his sannidhi on the Southern side of the Eastern entrance, before they enter the sanctum of Vanchinathar.
Next to Yama is Chitragupta who is seen in a standing posture.
Equivalent to Kasi
If any one dies around the Mada Streets, the temple does not close and ‘secret’ poojas continue, though the big bell is not rung during this period as this temple is considered just as sacred as the Kasi temple.
Goddess Ganga who provides relief to devotees from all the sins that they may have committed in life came here to relieve herself from any sins. Answering her prayers, Lord Shiva appeared here and created the Gupta Theertham.
Sun God’s penance and liberation
The story goes that Brahmma’s son Dakshan refused to give his daughter in marriage to Shiva. Despite this, Dakshayini went ahead and married Shiva. Upset at this, Dakshan performed a Yagna inviting all but Shiva. Dakshayini protested against this decision but to no avail. Angered at her father’s decision to insult her husband, Dakshayini cursed all those present there for agreeing to participate in the yagna without the presence of Shiva and fell into the pyre.
Shocked at this turn of event, Shiva sent Veerabadra to knock out all those who were present at the Yagna. He went there and hit out at the Sun God, who had his teeth broken. Repenting his wrongful participation in light of Dakshan’s intent to insult Shiva, Surya undertook a month long penance at the sacred tank in the month of Karthigai and liberated himself.
Bairavar, who is normally seen on his dog mount, provides darshan here in a Yoga posture without a vahana.
Answering the prayers of Devas, Goddess Durga came here and killed Mahisasura to liberate the earth from evil forces. Providing this special display here at this temple, Durga is seen with one feet on the ground and the other on the asura’s shoulder. Offering sincere prayers to durgai here will protect one from ‘Sei Vinai’ enemy elements.
Praised by all 4 Saint Poets
Srivanchiyam temple has been praised by all the four Saivite Saint poets- Sundarar, Thirunavukarasara, Thiru Gnana Sambandhar and Manicka Vasagar.
வன்னி கொன்றை மதமத்த மெருகொடு கூவிளம்
பொன்னி யன்றசடையிர் பொலிவித்த புராணனார்
தென்ன வென்று வரிவன்டிசை செய்திரு வாஞ்சிய
மென்னையாள வுடையானிட மாகவுந்ததே - திரு ஞான சம்பந்தர்
Also, Arunagirinathar has praised Lord Muruga of Srivanchiyam in his Saranagathi (Surrender) verses.
It was here at Srivanchiyam that Lord Shiva answered the prayers of Brahmma, Saptharishi, Agni, Surya, Sankapalan (Serpent Lord), Devas, Ganga and Parvathi and provided darshan to them.
Vanchinathan temple is also referred to as Bhoologa Kailasam (Srirangam is referred to as Bhoologo Vaikuntam). Over a 1000years ago, this was a West facing temple but over time, the Lord turned direction and is now seen facing the East. There are 2 nandis one behind the other in a west facing direction now.
At the Eastern entrance is the 5Tier 110ft high Raja Gopuram one of the biggest in the region. The huge 5acre complex houses three big prakaras with 4Mada Streets around the temple complex.
Raja Raja Chozha contributed in a big to the improvement of the temple. During his period, the temple as well as the whole town was prosperous with happiness all around among the residents.
Raja Kesari Varma and Sadayavarma Sundarapandyan donated lands in big measure to the temple. The dakshinamurthy idol dates back to the 10th Century AD with Kulothunga I raising the wall of the Sannidhi. The Subramanya idol belongs to the Nayak period and 15th-16th Century AD. The Ashtabhuja Durga idol goes back to the Kulothunga III period when the temple also saw renovation. Later in the 2nd half of the 16th century, Chellappa Nayak directed a part of the taxed income to be handed over to the temple for the conduct of daily poojas and annual festivals.
The region had sandalwood trees all around. Hence this place was known as 'Gantharanya' kshetram.
Rahu and Kethu disguised themselves as Devas in order to consume the nectar that brought immortality to the Devas. Finding out their malice intent, Lord Vishnu killed them as seen from the story on Thiru Kadaiyur. Here Rahu and Kethu are carved out of a single stone and seen together in a separate sannidhi. (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/06/thiru-kadaiyur-amirtha-narayana-perumal.html).
Karthigai 5 Sundays Utsavam
Maasi 10day Mahotsavam
When here also visit, the Varadaraja Perumal Temple West of the temple (http://www.prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/08/srivanchiyam-varadaraja-perumal-temple.html)
Main Deity: Vanchanatha Swamy facing east
Goddess : Mangalambigai
Time : 6am-1230pm and 4pm-8pm
Contact : Swaminathan Gurukal@ 98421 81507 / 94880 03071
How to reach
Srivanchiyam is 16kms South of Tiruvarur. One can get down at Manakkal on the Tiruvarur- Nachiyar Koil highway. From Manakkal, auto will cost Rs. 100-125 (about 5kms).
From Achuthamangalam - on the Kumbakonam -Nannilam highway, Srivanchiyam is 2kms. Taxi from Kumbakonam and back will cost Rs. 600-750.