164 feet tall Raja Gopuram - 30 day Theerthavari in Aipasi
The temple finds reference in various Puranic Scriptures
Located 5kms South West of the railway station is the over 1000 years old Mayuranathar temple in Mayiladuthurai, a temple praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Appar in 30verses as ‘Vallal Mayiladuthurai’ and the Lord as one providing relief from Navagriha Dosham.
Lord Mayuranathar is a Swayambu idol while Abhayambigai Ambal is seen in a peacock form, the one in which she undertook a penance here. The 7 tiered Raja Gopuram at 164 feet high is among the tallest in the state and is taller than the Sarangapani Perumal temple tower in Kumbakonam.
Puranas such as Skantha Purana, Shiva Purana, Brahmmanda Purana, Chidambara Purana refer to the greatness of Mayiladuthurai and glorify the presence of Cauvery. There is also a reference of Lord Muruga making his way here to invoke Lord Mayuranathar’s blessings and then moving on from here to Thiru Vidaikkazhi (near Thiru Kadaiyur).
While the temple was under the control of the Chozhas from the 11th Century AD when this was separately referred to as the Swami temple and the Ambal temple of Mayiladuthurai, Thiruvaduthurai Aatheenam took over the management once it was established. Originally the temple was of brick construction and was renovated to big Granite construction only in the early 20th century AD. Ancient inscriptions indicate significant contributions by Rajendra I, Kulothunga III, Raja Raja and Sadaya Varma Sundara Pandya.
Seeking re-union with the Lord after being cursed in anger, Ambal performed pooja through the entire month of Aipasi with Nandi Theertham. While she was thus undertaking penance here, Kanvar Rishi was undertaking penance in Kasi. He noticed that Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi were quite dirty having gathered the sins of the people. He asked them to go to the place where Ambal was undertaking penance and to do pooja there to cleanse their sins.
Lord provided darshan to all four, liberating Ambal from the curse and the sacred rivers from the sins that they had collected. The Lord saw Ambal in the form of a peacock. Pleased with her prayers, the Lord took the form of a male peacock and the two of them presented a dance here referred to as Gowri Thaandagam on the 25th day of Aipasi. Thiru Kalyanam took place on the 27th day of Aippasi. Hence he is also referred to here as Gowri Mayura Nathar. In memory of the above event, Theerthavari is performed on all the 30 days in Aippasi, quite a unique feature.
Another story goes that Lord Shiva with a slight push of his little toe sent Idaba crushing down to the nether world. Once when Shiva decided to come here on a trip along with Vishnu and Brahmma, Idaba (Rishaba Vahana) in an arrogant display of high speed rushed a long way ahead leaving behind Garuda and Anna Vahana. Later, he was brought back to Mayiladuthurai to the middle of Cauvery where Lord provided darshan facing west.
Darshan to the Handicapped Couple
A physically handicapped couple from Vriddachalam – Natha Sarma and Ana Vidya went to Thiruvayaru to have darshan of the Theerthavari Utsavam. From there, they came here to the Mayuranathar temple to witness the last day of the Theerthavari. But as they reached, it seemed that the utsavam had just concluded.
Saddened by this, they slept on the banks of the Cauvery. Pleased with their devotion, the Lord appeared in their dream and indicated to them that the new month had still not begun and that they should bathe early in the morning and promised to give them both an early morning darshan before the start of the new month.
When they wanted to head back to Thiruvaryaru, Lord Airaappar indicated that he himself will come there and provide darshan to them at Mayliduthurai. Thus one finds an Airaarappar temple in Mayiladuthurai as well. It is now a sub temple here.
In memory of this event, there is a separate sannidhi for both at this temple. To the right of Ambal is Ana Vidya seen in a linga form. A special feature at this temple is the draping of a red saree for the linga idol.
There are 16 lingams at this temple. Going around the temple 16 times is equivalent to undertaking a Giri Valam.
Distance to Mayiladuthurai in ancient times
In ancient times, the distance to this temple was indicated as being one yojana from Gaja Samhara Kshetram of Vazhuvur in the South, Kaala Samhara Kshetram of Thiru Kadavur in the East, Dakshaya Kshetram of Pariyalur in the South East and Kamakathagan (Manmadan) of Korukkai in the West.
Praised by Saint Poets
Thiru Gnana Sambanthar has praised the Lord in the 1st and 3rd Thirumurai while Appar has sung praise in the 5th and 6th Thirumurai. Arunagirinathar has praised Lord Muruga of this temple in his Thirupugazh while Sekkizhaar in his Periya Puranam refers to Sundarar coming here and having bath in the Cauvery. Muthuswamy Deekshithar has composed 9 Keerthanais on the Ambal of the temple as per an inscription at the temple.
In these ancient scriptures, this town finds reference as Mayiladuthurai and was changed to Mayavaram only a couple of centuries ago. In 1982, the town got back its original name.
Boundaries of Mayiladuthurai
After having darshan at Thiru Vilanagar on the northern banks of Cauvery, Thiru Gnana Sambanthar wanted to visit Mayura Nathar here in Mayiladuthurai but floods in the Cauvery meant he could not cross over to the Southern side. Seeking darshan of Mayuranathar, he sung a verse in praise of Vilanagar Lord. And pleased with this, Goddess Cauvery gave way to the great poet. It was after this special event that he came to Mayiladuthurai and sang praise of the Lord here. Hence the Vilanagar Lord is referred to as Thurai Kaattum Vallal.
From Mayiladuthurai, when Devas lost their way to other sacred places, it was the Lord in the West at Moovalur who showed them the direction. Hence he is referred to as Maarga Sahayar. Mayura Nathar stands here in the middle as the Vallal Nayaka.
Famouos Sapthasthaana Festival here too
On the day of Chitra Pournami, Airaappar and Aram Valantha Nayaki, the deities of the sub temple go to 7 other temples around Mayiladuthurai before finally congregating here at Mayuranathar temple to invoke the Lord’s blessings. They go back to their respective temples from here.
There is a big sacred tank on the Eastern side of the temple referred to as the Brahmma Theertham with a huge mandapa in the middle. Theerthavari is celebrated here on Chitra Pournami, Vaikasi Visakam and Margazhi Thiruvathirai day in the presence of both Mayuranathar and Ambal.
The Theppotsavam follows soon after the 10 day Vasanthotsavam in Vaikasi.
In centuries gone by, Ambal from 7 different places around Mayliduthurai - Thanthoneeswarar
(Indhalur), Karunapuri, Kanjaru (Anantha Thaandava Puram), Pasupatheeswavaram (Pasupathi Agraharam), Sakthipuram, Tharumapuram and Vallalar temple (Senthankudi) congregated here to seek Mayura Nathar’s blessings.
A 30 day theerthavari festival is celebrated during each day of Aippasi. On the first day, Amavasya and on the 30th day, pancha moorthy from Mayiladuthurai temple, Vallalar Koil, Kasi Viswanathar (both southern and northern banks) and Ayaarappar arrive here and the 25 Lords provide darshan to the devotees.
During the festival in Aippasi, Ambal in a peacock form goes around the four streets and to the banks of the Cauvery and all the prakaras dancing around as a peacock and finally merges with the Lord. This is indeed a special festival.
The temple is open from 6am-12noon and from 430pm-9pm. Contact: Balamani Gurukal @ 94422 12270 or 91505 80699.