Sapthasthanam - The 7Village Chitrai Festival is a special Occasion here
Appar provided with ‘Kailasam’ darshan here on Aadi No Moon Day here
No Perumal Temple in Thiruvaiyaru!!!
Located 13kms north of Thanjavur is the Pancha Natheeswarar temple in Thiruvaiyaru, a temple that in its current form and structure dates back to the Pallava period with further improvements and renovation during the Chola and Nayak rule. There are 4 Rajagopurams to go along with the 5prakarams each of which has interesting features to watch out for.
This is one of the famous special temples ‘north of the Cauvery’ to have received the ‘Devaram Songs’ praise of Appar, Sambanthar, Manikkavachagar and Sundarar. Sitting inside the temple, Thyagaraja sang several verses of praise of Lora Pancha Natheeswarar of Thiruvaiyaru.
This place is also referred to as Panchanatham and Bhoologa Kailasam. Inscriptions dating back to a 1000years refer to this place as Thiruvaiyaru. It was here that Appar had darshan of the Lord as seen in Kailasam.
The moolavar deity is a swayambu moorthy.
One of the Six Sacred Places
This is one of the six sacred places in Tamil Nadu equivalent to visiting Kasi. The others are Thiru Vanjiyam, Thiru Venkadu, Thiru Mayiladuthurai, Thiru Vidaimarathur and Thiru Chaaikadu.
Appar’s Kailasam Darshan at Thiruvaiyaru
சிந்திப் பரியன சிந்திப்பவர்க்குச் சிறந்து செந்தேன்.....
............அந்திப் பிறையணிந் தாடும் ஐயாறன் அடித்தலமே - Appar
The story goes that Thirunavukarasar (Appar) was keen to have darshan of the Lord at Kailasam and invoked the blessings of the Lord on the banks of Cauvery here at Thiruvaiyaru. Lord Shiva disguised as a rishi appeared before Appar and suggested that it is not possible for ordinary mortals to have darshan of the Lord as seen in Kailasam. A determined Appar replied that he would not let his life go without having darshan of the Lord in that form and that he would continue to pursue his prayers.
Pleased with his determination, the disguised Lord suggested that Appar have bath in the Cauvery and then move North. Appar followed the instructions and then went north and had bath at the Surya Pushkarani inside the temple where he had a special darshan of the Lord as seen in Kailasam. Delighted at this sight, he immediately sung verses in praise of the Lord of Thiruvaiyaru.
Finding the threat of floods in the Cauvery and unable to cross the river, another of the famed saint poets Sundarar sung a verse of praise from the western side of the Cauvery that led to the sudden raising of sand on the Eastern side preventing the river from overflowing and giving him way to cross the Cauvery. It was Lord Vinayaka who felt pleased with Sundarar’s praise and answered the call by making a special path way for Sundarar. Hence, Vinayaka is referred to as Sundara Vinayaka at this temple.
The famous Music School
Thanjavur King Saroboji built a Vedic School here that has now turned into the famous Government Music School of Tamil Nadu here in Thiruvaiyaru.
Birth place of Nandi
A childless Silaatha Rishi invoked the blessing of Ayaarappar who directed him to perform the Putra Kaameshti Yaagam here at this place. On completion, he found a child in a box below the earth but unfortunately he was destined to live only till the age of 16.
Nearing the age of 16, the boy who was named Seppesar found his parents in tears. Unable to bear this, he entered the Ayaarappar temple and for days together undertook a severe penance. Snakes and fishes bit him but unmindful of this, he continued his penance day and night. Pleased with his sincerity, Ayaarappar appeared before him and offered him any number of wishes that included a longer life. In course of time, he married Suyampira Kaasammai Yaarai, the daughter of Vyakrapatha rishi. Later, he was initiated into special mantras by Lord Ayaarappar himself and taken to Kailasam where he was accorded the special status of being the security leader of Lord Shiva. He was also the first to be initiated into Aagama Sastra by Dakshinamurthy. This was none other than Nandikeswarar.
The name Thiruvaiyaru
South of this place towards Thanjavur is the river Cauvery and four of its tributaries – Kudamuruti, Vennar, Vettaru and Vadaaru. Sacred water from these five rivers is used to bathe the Lord. Hence this place came to be referred to as ‘Thiru’ ‘I’ ‘aru’.
No Vishnu temple in this temple town!!!!!
Goddess Aram Valartha Nayaki is seen holding a Conch and Chakra. Legend has it she is an incarnation of Maha Vishnu here at this place. For this reason, there is no Vishnu temple in Thiruvaiyaru!!!!!!!!!!! The nearest Divya Desam is Thiru Kandiyur (3kms South) where the legend again has a connection to Lord Shiva – it was the place where Lord Shiva was liberated from the curse of Lord Brahmma (Hara Sabha Vimochana Perumal).
When you are at the temple, do not miss trying this out. In the South Western corner of the third prakara, if you call out for ‘Aiyaaraa’ facing the Northern direction, you can hear it echo seven times.
1000year old Inscriptions
There are several inscriptions inside the temple on the walls and floors in different prakaras.
On his way back from winning one of his several high profile battles, Karikala Chozhan’s chariot stuck to the ground here leaving him wondering. As he dug the earth, he found idols of Shiva, Vinayaga, Sakthi and Muruga. He installed the idols and built the temple as seen in the current form. In recognition of this contribution, one finds the idols of Karikala Chozha and his wife inside the temple on the western side.
In the 9th century AD, Nandivarma Pallava renovated the temple and built the Sanctum and installed the idols of Dwarapalakas. During the rule of Rajendra I, there was further renovation and improvements made at the temple.
In the 12th Century AD, Vikrama Chozha built the third and the fourth Prakara and the 100pillar mandapa where the Utsava deities provide darshan before and after festival processions.
Achuthappa Nayak built the Dhandapani Koil Mandapa with 144pillars in the 16th century AD.
Sapthasthanam – The Famous 7 city Festival
One of the famous temple festivals of Tamil Nadu is the ‘Sapthasthanam’ Festival that takes place in Chitrai when Nandikeswarar, on a horse Vahana, along with his wife Swayambirakaasai, on a palanquin go on a 7city procession around Thiruvaiyaru along with Ayaarappar and Aram Valartha Nayaki.
They are welcomed at each of the temples with flowers, ghee, sacred food accompanied with the Vedic Chants and joined by the respective Lords and Ambal at Thiru Pazhanam, Thiru Chotruthurai, Thiru Vethikudi, Thiru Kandiyur, Thiru Bhoonthuruththi and Thiru Neithaanam. It is quite a sight to see the 16 deities go around and finally congregate here at Thiruvaiyaru on the Visakam day in Chitrai.
Thiru Kalyana Vaibhavam of Nandikeswarar is re enacted at Thirumalaipadi
Beautiful mythological paintings adorn the walls of the inner prakara.
13day Brahmotsavam in Chitrai
10day Visagam Utsavam in Vaikasi
10day Pooram Festival for Ambal in Aadi
Every Friday evening, Mahalakshmi Thaayar comes around Amman on a procession
Theerthavari to the Cauvery on the 1st day of every month
On Mattu Pongal days, the cows and the temple elephant are decorated in a grand manner and go out on a procession to Thillai Sthanam, 1km west of here on the road to Kallanai.
Thiruppavai recital inside the temple!!
With the absence of a Perumal temple in Thiruvaiyaru and with Aram Valartha Nayaki seen as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Andal’s Thiruppavai verses are recited here on all the days of Margazhi.
Moolavar: Lord Aiyaarappar Pancha Natheeswarar
Goddess : Aram Valartha Nayaki
Time : 6am-1pm and 4pm-9pm
Contact: Shankar Gurukal @ 94893 60553 / 04362 260553
How to reachThiruvaiyaru is 13kms North of Thanjavur. Buses ply every 15minutes between Thanjavur old bus stand and Thiruvaiyaru. Auto from Thanjavur railway station will cost Rs. 250.