Holy Pilgrimage – Ashta Veeratta Temples in Tamilnadu

Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in  Tamilnadu State


Ashta Veeratta Stalam


Amritaghateswarar-Abirami Temple,Thirukkadaiyur


Amritaghateswarar Abhirami Temple (Tamil: அமிர்தகடேஸ்வரர் - அபிராமி கோயில்) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva in his manifestation as Kalantaka (Sanskrit: "Destroyer of Death") and his wife Parvati in her form as Abhirami (Sanskrit: "Lovely One") located in Thirukkadaiyur, 21 km East of Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu in India. This temple is particularly associated with Shiva saving his devotee Markendeya from death and the tale of saint Abhirami Bhattar, a devotee of the presiding goddess.
It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where three of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Appar, Suntharar and Tirugnana Sambhandar  have sung the glories of this temple.


Name origin

Thirukkadaiyur derives its name from the ambrosia pot, called Gatam in Tamil. Vishnu, Indra, and the other Devas needed a clean place to consume the ambrosia that had been created during the Samudra manthan and, therefore, brought the ambrosia pot here.


The temple, in line with the temple architecture of the Chola dynasty, occupies a very vast area of 11 acres (45,000 m2), with five courtyards, several imposing temple towers, and large and spacious mandapas. Though the details of the king who consecrated the temple are uncertain, it can be ascertained from inscriptions in the temple that it has been in existence since at least the tenth or eleventh century, during the reign of Raja Raja Chola I.
It was during the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1075–1120) that the brick walls of the temple were replaced with stone walls and the mandapam in the front was constructed. The rajagopuram, or the front entryway of the temple, is replete with images made of mortar, depicting various legends associated with the temple.
There are three temple tanks, or teerthams, known as 'Amrita Pushkarini', 'Kaala Theertham' and 'Maarkandeya Theertham'. There is a separate shrine dedicated to Abhirami. The Shakta saint Abhirami Pattar is believed to have rendered the Abhirami Anthathi in the front hall of the shrine. The temple also maintains a separate shrine for Markandeya worshipping Kalasamhara Murti. Although Thirukadaiyur is a Shaiva temple, it contains an old Vaishnava temple. The gods in this temple are Amrita Narayana (Vishnu) and his consort Amrita Valli (Lakshmi).



Shortly after the creation of the universe, when the devas and asuras churned the Ocean of Milk to create Amrita, they forgot to worship Ganesha, who is to be worshiped before any great undertaking. Ganesha, hurt and offended at the unintentional slight by the devas, stole the pot of Amrita and hid it at Tirukkadaiyur. While there, Ganesha created a Shiva Lingam, dedicated to his father and mother, and poured some of the Amrita over it. Therefore, it is believed that the Shiva Lingam in this temple has the power to grant longevity to its worshipers. For this reason, the Shiva Lingam at this temple is known as Amrita Ghat Eshwarar, which, translated from Sanskrit literally means "Lord that leads to immortality" ('Immortality' (Amrita) 'Step' (Ghat) 'Lord' (Eshwarar)). It is also believed that Abhirami incarnated here by the power of Vishnu.


Long ago, near the temple of Tirukkadaiyur, there lived a sage named Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati. They were both devotees of Lord Shiva and worshiped him day and night for many years, asking to be graced with a child. After many years of penance, Shiva appeared to Mrikandu and Marudmati. He told them that he heard their prayers and would give them a choice: they could either have a gifted son who would live to be only sixteen, or a son of low intelligence who would live a long life. Mrikandu and Marudmati chose the former, and were blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of sixteen.
As Markandeya grew, so did his devotion to Lord Shiva. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped the Shiva Lingam at Tirukkadaiyur, even bringing water from the Ganges to the temple via an underground passage. On the day he was destined to die, Yama, the deity of death, appeared with his noose to tie around the soul of Markandeya and drag it to the hell. Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Siva Lingam. Lord Shiva appeared and warned Yama not to touch Markandeya, as he was under his protection. Yama refused to listen and threw the noose anyway, binding Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by Yama's extraordinary arrogance, Lord Shiva kicked him and held him under his foot, making Yama inactive. Markandeya was blessed by Lord Shiva to remain sixteen years old eternally. It is for this reason that Lord Shiva is also called "Kala-samhara" (Sanskrit: "Destroyer of Time") at this temple.
Meanwhile, with Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth, but people were still being born. Burdened by the weight of so many people and unable to sustain their hunger, the earth-goddess, Bhumi Devi, appealed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva, feeling compassionate for the earth-goddess, released Yama, allowing death to occur again. However, in order to remind Yama never to try to kill someone while they are worshiping Shiva again, the icon of Lord Shiva in this temple depicts the Lord with his forefinger raised in warning.
Since it is believed that Lord Siva subdued Yama in Thirukkadaiyur, the Lord is called Mrityunjaya (Sanskrit: "Conqueror of Death" or "Victorious over Death").

Abhirami Pattar

At this temple, many years ago, there lived a staunch devotee of the goddess Abhirami named Subramanian. He loved the goddess so much that he saw her everywhere and in everyone, but especially in all women. Any woman that entered the temple he would offer flowers to, worshiping her as the living embodiment of the goddess.
One day, King Saraboji visited the temple as Subramanian was meditating on the glories of Abhirami. Seeing that Subramanian did not bow before him as he entered the temple, the king became irritated. He asked one of the devotees in the temple who this man was that refused to recognize him. One priest told the king that Subramanian was mad, worshiping all women as the Divine Mother and showering them with flowers. However, another priest of the temple overheard this and corrected the man, saying that Subramanian was truly a saint and a great devotee of Mother Abhirami.
The king, confused by the two conflicting accounds of who this man was, decided to put Subramanian to the test. Therefore, he asked Subramanian whether today was a full moon day or a new moon day. At that time, Subramanian was still absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother, seeing her shining face in his mind. Subramanian, seeing the Goddess' face and mistaking it for the moon, responded to the king saying that it was a full moon day when it was actually a new moon day. The king, deciding that Subramanian must be mad, ordered that he be burnt at dusk if the moon failed to appear.
After some time, the king’s army awakened Subramanian and ordered him to come with them to be executed for his madness. On returning to ordinary consciousness, Subramanian realized that he had mistaken the face of the Divine Mother for the full moon, making him say it was a full moon day when, in actuality, it was a new moon day.
Standing at the pyre, with the flames rising all around him, Subramanian realized that only the Divine Mother could save him now. He began singing a song of one-hundred praises to Abhirami (the so-called Abhirami Antati or "Song to Abhirami"), begging her to come to his rescue.
While singing the seventy-ninth verse of his song, which states that the Divine Mother is an ocean of blessing without limit whose merciful eyes grant liberation, Mother Abhirami appeared before Subramanian, his executioners, and the unbelieving king. Throwing her earring into the sky, it took the form of the full moon.
The king, having realized his mistake and immensely pleased by his devotion, released Subramanian. From that day forward, Subramanian was called Abhirami Pattar, which translates to "priest of Abhirami", and the king became his disciple. To this day, Abhirami Pattar is still celebrated at Thirukadaiyur on the new moon day in the Tamil month of Tai (mid-January to mid-February).

Relation to the Nayanars

Among the sixty-three Shaiva poet-saints, collectively known as the Nayanars, Kungili Nayanar and Kari Nayanar both worshiped and attained liberation from the cycle of birth and death here. The Nayanars Appar, Cuntarar and Tirugnana Sambandar have also sung of the glories of this shrine.

Worship and festivals

Worship is offered six times a day at this temple. Almost every day at the temple begins with one celebration or other, as hundreds of pilgrims throng the temple to celebrate their sixtieth or eightieth birthdays. Based on the legend of Markandeya, it is alleged that worshipping at this temple will give longevity to couples who have reached age sixty or eighty-one. A service called Sashtiaptha poorthi (Tamil: "completion of sixty [years]") is celebrated in honor of a husband's sixtieth birthday and Sadhabishegam (Sanskrit: "Eighty-One") is celebrated in honor of his eighty-first birthday. The annual Brahmotsavam is celebrated in the month of Chithirai (April–May) here. The Shankha-abhisheka, a festival of the Divine Mother celebrated in the month of Kartikai (November–December), is also of great importance here. Other festivals celebrated at this temple in honor of the Divine Mother include Navaratri and Aadi Pooram, a festival celebrating the day that Abhirami attained her menarche

Mayiladuthurai is situated at distance of 281 kilometres south-west of Chennai, 70 kilometres north-east of Thanjavur and 40 kilometres north-west of Karaikal.


Thiruvadigai Temple, Panruti


The Thiruvathigai Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated at Thiruvathigai Village which is about 2 kilometres east from the town of Panruti. Veerattaaneswarar is the presiding deity.



The Thiruvathigai Temple was originally built as a Jain temple by the Pallava king Mahendravarman I in the 6th century AD. However, on his conversion from Jainism to Hinduism, Mahendravarman demolished the existing temple and built a Shiva temple in its place. There are a few Jain artifacts as evidence of this legend.
There is also another Shiva temple and a Vishnu temple nearby believed to have been constructed from the remains of the demolished Jain temple.


According to the legend Thirugnana Sambanthar was glorified by the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva at this holy place. Appar's sister Thilakavathiyar settled here during her later years and devoted her lifetime service to the Lord Siva. Also notable saints Thirunavukkarasar, and Arunagirinathar visited and wrote many hymns on the Lord. Afflicted by a painful illness, Thirunavukkarasar prayed for relief at this temple where his sister Thilagavathiyar served and was cured. This temple is the place where Lord shiva destroyed three rakshashas(demons) and the three cities created by them. Saranarayana Perumal, another name of Lord Vishnu, is the one who gave the saram(arrow) to Lord shiva for killing the demons.Hence the name Saranarayanar. The Saranarayana Perumal temple is also located in Panruti.


This ancient Siva temple is located at South Arcot district 2 km from Panruti. There is a good bus network between Chennai, Cuddalore, Virudhachalam, Villupuram, Chidambaram and Thiruvathigai. One can reach the temple from Panruti bus stand towards Cuddalore road to reach Thiruvathigai. Buses will reach up to the temple location. There is also Train access to Panruti from Chennai. This temple is one among the 8 veera Siva temples in Tamil Nadu.



Viratteswara Temple, Vazhuvur


The Viratteswara Temple is a Hindu temple situated in the village of Vazhuvur, 5 miles south-west of Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, India. The principal deity is the Hindu god Shiva as Gajasamhara



According to Hindu mythology, once, some sages doubting the omnipotence of the god Shiva created an elephant and challenged the god to a duel. Shiva took the form of Gajasamharamurti or "slayer of the elephant" and killed the elephant and wore its skin as a garment. Therefore, this aspect of Shiva is also known as "Kirthivasa" or "one who wears an elephant skin as garment". Vazhuvur is also one of the places where Siva danced his cosmic dance to crush the demon of ignorance.


The temple dates from the time of the Medieval Cholas. The Gajasamharamurti idol was sculpted in the 11th century


The temple is built in the Dravidian style of architecture and is known for its exquisite bronze icons. Some of the popular bronze idols are those of Gajasamharamurti and Bhikshadana (Shiva as mendicant).



Mayiladuthurai is situated at distance of 281 kilometres south-west of Chennai, 70 kilometres north-east of Thanjavur and 40 kilometres north-west of Karaikal.

The State Highways SH-23 and SH-64 pass through Mayiladuthurai. There are regular bus services to important cities in Tamil Nadu. There are also regular services to other South Indian cities as Bangalore, Tirupathi and Thiruvananthapuram. Mayiladuthurai forms a part of the Division 1 of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation which is headquartered at Kumbakonam. The town's principal bus station is located on the SH-64 State Highway.] It has a total of 12 bus bays. The bus station has been given a class B rating and has basic restaurant, toilet and lighting facilities.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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