Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode

Thiru Kodimaada Chenkundrur
View of temple
Location in Tamil Nadu
Geography
Coordinates 11°15′N 77°56′E / 11.250°N 77.933°E / 11.250; 77.933Coordinates: 11°15′N 77°56′E / 11.250°N 77.933°E / 11.250; 77.933
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Namakkal
Location Tiruchengode
Elevation 198.12 m (650 ft)
Culture
Sanctum Ardhanarishvara
Direction and posture east
Temple tank Ammayyappar Theertham
Major festivals Vaikasi Visagam
Architecture
Architecture Dravidian architecture
History
Website http://www.arthanareeswarar.com

Arthanāreeshwarā temple is an ancient Hindu temple, located in Tiruchengode, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Arthanāreeshwarā, the unique half-male half-female of Lord Shiva. It is perhaps the only temple in Asia where this rare form of the Divine is enshrined as the principal deity. The deity here is also known as Mādhorubāgan and Ammaiyappan (mother-father). The famous Chenkottu Velavar Temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan, is also situated on the same hill.

Another name for the Arthanāreeswar Temple is Thirukodimāda Chenkundrūr (திருக்கொடிமாடச்செங்குன்றூர்).

History

The temple is one of the 275 shrines praised in the Thevaram hymns of the Saivite saints. Both Thirugnansambandar and Arunagirinathar have composed hymns celebrating the temple. In the ancient work Silapathikaram the place is mentioned by the name 'Neduvelkundru'.

The temple is also the subject of a popular composition by Muttuswami Dīkshitar, Arthanāreeshwaram, set in the ragam Kumudakriya.

Important renovations were made during the reigns of the Chola, Pandya and Nayak kings, and by a British colonial officer, Davis, whose image can be found in the Mukkoottu Vinayagar temple.

Legends

It is believed that Adi Kesava Perumāl, a form of Vishnu enshrined here, instructed Gowri on the Kedara Gowri Vratam, which she performed to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. Once Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Indra and sage Birungi went to Kailash to worship Lord Shiva. They were directed towards Lord Shiva by his Vahana, Nandhi. Everyone first had a darshan of Lord Parvathi and then proceeded to Lord Shiva. But, Sage Birungi directly marched to Lord Shiva. Parvathi Devi, annoyed by his act, sucked the flesh from the Sage's body to stop him proceeding, but the sage forwarded. Lord Shiva recognized this act of Parvathi and blessed Birungi with a third leg. After the departure of the Sage, Lord Parvathi appeased Lord Shiva about her penance. After Lord Shiva's approval, Parvathi Devi along with her crew went to a hilltop and performed the same. As a result of this penance, she demanded a will for getting a portion for her in Lord Shiva's sacred body thus granting the devotees for an integrated worship, which was granted by Lord Shiva. This led to the manifestation of half men and half women depiction Arthanaareswarar. Thus Lord Parvathi took up the left side and rest right by Lord Shiva. This signifies the creation of this manifestation.[1]

It is also believed that long ago there held a battle between Adiseshan and Vayu to prove their mighty powers. This resulted in devastating disasters and the then sages gave an idea to them. Accordingly, Adiseshan has to cling to Mount Meru with his hood and Vayu has to release him by his valour. But the former succeeded. Vayu, out of anger, stopped the air as a result all living beings fainted. Sages convinced Vayu to release his hold. By the sudden release of air by Vayu lead the top of the mountain with the head of Adisesha, thrown into earth on three places with flesh and blood and making it red and thus the name Chengodu. There is a 60 ft long snake carved on the hill, and hence the name as Nagamalai.[2] Sambandar composed the Tiruneelakandapathigam here, to help rid fellow travellers of an affliction. Saint Arunagirinathar has also composed Thirupugazh on Lord Subramanya here. Muthuswamy Deekshitar has sung of this shrine in Ardhanareeswaram in Kumudakriya.

Architecture

The sacred hill is about 650 ft. high, and a climb of 1156 steps leads worshippers to the temple at its peak. The hill is called 'Nagagiri' in the Thevaram hymns and is also known by many other names like Chemmalai, Panimalai, Nandimalai, Uragaverpu. The hill contains about 350 acres of land, which lies 2000 ft about sea level.

On top of the hill, the main gopuram (Tower) with 5 tiers is on the north side of the hill. The compound wall of the temple is 260 feet length east to west and 170 feet length north to south. The main shrine is for Lord Shiva known as Maathoru Paagar and the Ambal his consort is known Baagampiriyaalammai. The image of the main deity is 6 feet in height, the right half of the image as male and left half of the image as female. Hence the main deity is also known as Ardhanareeswarar. Subramanya known as Chengottu Velar is located on a flat surface atop the hill. This Chengottu Velar shrine is on the back side of the main sanctum sanctorum. The Theertham in this temple is called Sangu Theertham. Although the sanctum faces the West, entrance to it is from the South. There is a water spring at the foot of the image, which is said to have been divinely manifested “Uli Padaa Uruvam”. There are many mandapams on the way for people who alight steps to take rest. The sculptures found in the mandapam in front of the Chengottu Velar shrine are of intricate designs and workmanship. “Artha Jaama Pooja" the late night worship service is considered to be of importance in this shetram. New moon days are also considered to be special events. The annual festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikasi.

Along the path are 11 mandapams, providing shelter to pilgrims climbing up the hill. The first is the Sengunthar Mudaliyar Mandapam, then the Kālathi Swamigal Mandapam, Thirumudiyar Mandapam and Thailee Mandapam.

Sengunthar MandapamKālathi Swamigal MandapamThirumudiyar MandapamThailee Mandapam
Sengunthar Chinna Mudaliyar MandapamKodi Archanai MandapamSinghathoon MandapamArupadhampadiNadar Mandapam
Chetti Gounder MandapamThevaradiyar MandapamIlaippatri MandapamGoupra Vayil Mandapam

Arupatham Padi

Along the path are 60 steps called the Arubadam Padi (அறுபதாம் படி), which are considered to have special significance, and are mentioned by Arunagirināthar.

Ucchi Pillaiar

The Ucchi Pillaiyar shrine is found about 425 feet further up and is dedicated to Ganesha and to the lingam form of Shiva. On the west of it lies a stone called Varadikal, Maladi kal, or Vandhya Paatana Sikara. Couples offer worship at this shrine in the hope of being blessed with a child.

தத்வ நாற்பத் தெட்டு நாற்பத் தெட்டு மேற்றுத் திடமேவும்
தர்க்க சாத்ரத் தக்க மார்க்கச் சத்ய வாக்யப் பெருமாளே

Gopuram

The north facing, 84.5 ft tall Thirumalai Gopuram was built by Krishna Devarayar in 1512 and the basement (kalkarar) was built during the reign of Sadāsiva Mahārāyar. The 84.5 feet tall Majestic Rajagopuram of this hill temple faces north and its five stages contain fine pieces of embossed figures.

Theertham

Tiruchengode, one of the most important religious places in South India, is said to have 108 Theerthangal or water bodies.

Ganapathi TheerthamShiva TheerthamShakthi TheerthamDeva TheerthamKumara TheerthamAmmaiyappar TheerthamPāpanāsam Theertham
Bhairavar TheerthamNāga TheerthamShanmuga TheerthamSoorya TheerthamSiddhar Mooligai TheerthamKanniyar TheerthamChandra Pushkarani Theertham

Of these, the Ammaiyappar Theertham is the most important one, as it is found at the feet of Lord Arthanareeswarar.

Festivals

The most important festival is the annual chariot festival of the Sengottuvelavar temple, which occurs for 15 days in the month of Vaikāsi. The special feature of the festival is that four separate chariots are used to carry the processional deities through the streets. The first chariot carries Lord Ganesha, the second Sengottuvelavar (Murugan), the third is used for Arthanāreeshwara and the last for Adikeshava Perumāl (Vishnu). These chariots are also of considerable historic importance: the largest, that of Arthanāreeshwara was donated to the temple by Nagamalai Gouder in 1699, the chariot of Sengothuvevar was donated by Chennaraja Chikendar in 1628 and the remaining two were made by Kondabhupathi, the ruler of Kongunādu, in 1628.

Girivalam

Girivalam is the practice of circumambulating the sacred hill by foot, which is performed by large crowds on full-moon days. The route around the hill is about 7 km long and takes about 1.5 hours to cover the distance.

Arulmigu Arthanāreeshwarar Temple festivals

Festival monthFestival name
ChithiraiChithra Paurnami
VaikāsiBadrakali Amman Kovil Thiruvizha and
Vaikāsi Ther-Thiruvizhala
AaniNatarajar Thirumanjanam
AavaniVinayaka Chathurthi
PurattasiManikovil Kedara Gowri Viratham and
Navarathiri
IppasiPeriya Mariamman Kovil Thiruvizha and
Kanda Sashti
KarthikaiKarthikai Deepam
MargazhiAarudra Darisanam
ThaiPadi Thiruvizha
MasiMāsimāgam Vizha and Sivarāthri
PanguniUthira Vizha

References

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