Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple Tamilnadu
is home to one of the oldest shrines in Tamil Nadu
state, South India
. This shrine is located in a small town- Avudayar
, situated at a distance of around 14 kms from Aranthangi city of Pudhukkottai district in Tamil Nadu state
, India. Earlier this town was known as 'Tiruperunthurai'
and was the only attraction of the town which attracted hundreds of devotees and tourists daily. Hence this temple is known as "Avudayar Koil Temple"
("Koil" means "Temple" in Tamil language). It is attractive not only due to spiritual reasons, but also due to its architecture and sculptures. The Government declared the entire Avudayar Koil town
as a 'Heritage Town'
due to presence of this temple in this town.
Entrance of Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
History of this Temple:
being one of the oldest temples in Tamil Nadu state, India, is also known as "Atmanatha Swamy Temple"
, was built in 8th century CE, around 1200 years old.
It is believed that the original temple was built by Saint Manickavasagar
in the 8th century CE and has evidence that the temple has been extended in the later years. Manickavasagar was one among the 63 Nayanmars
(63 important saints of Shiva), and was also one of the four important Tamil saints of Shaivism.
The idols of all 63 saints are visible in almost all the Shaivite Temples of South India. One can also find separate shrines or a higher platform for these four saints among 63 saints in some of the temples. Manickavasagar is one of those four important Nayanmars. Hence, the legend of Avudayar Koil Temple is associated with the history of Saint Manickavasagar.
Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Once the King Varaguna Pandya II
gave some money to minister Tiruvadhavoorar
, to buy horses. Perunthurai is the place where the minister came to buy horses. Upon visiting this place, He got influenced by a "Veda Paathshaala"
and ultimately, started attaining "Gnana"
(the ultimate knowledge), used the money given by the King to build this temple. Initially, a platform was built upon which rice was offered. He considered the steam on the platform as Lord Shiva
, and it is still present inside the shrine where same rituals are still followed. In the later years, Pandya Kings
extended the temple with beautiful sculptures and pillars. The minister Tiruvadhavoorar thus became a great devotee of Lord Shiva and got the name Manickavasagar.
The famous "Tiruvasagam"
was wrote by Him in Avudayaur Koil Temple
Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple TN
Significance of this Temple:
Saint Manickavasagar is said to have converted the king to the religion of Shiva and built the temple with money that had been intended for war-horses.
The deity in this temple faces towards South (Dakishnamurthy or Guru form).
What makes this temple unique is the absence of Nandi, Flag staff and Chandikeswarar, which are commonly found in all South Indian ancient Shiva temples, but not seen here.
Horse Sculpture in Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Deity of this Temple:
The presiding deity soul (atma
) has no form in this temple, it is known as Atmanatha Swamy (a name of Lord Shiva) who is formless doesn't have any image or figure.
There is just a platform in the sanctum. This is one of the unique feature of this temple.
The Goddess of this temple is known as 'Yogambal' (Siva Yoga Nayaki), and has a separate shrine. Similarly, there is no idol for the Goddess as well. One can only find Paadam (foot print) of this Goddess present in the shrine. A small idol of Goddess is located outside the main shrine.
Sculpture and Architecture of this Temple:
While entring into the main temple one can find a small Ganesha idol to their left. Next to that, is a big shrine for the Saint Manickavasagar
. This place would be ideal for the one interested in arts and articheture as this shrine is full of ancient paintings inside it. Also, there are very beautiful sculptures of Narasimha, Kaali, Ganesha, Subramanya and others. There are also big life sized sculptures such as Veerabhadra, Yaksha, Daksha and others. All these sculptures are very beautiful and have uniqueness. Upon entering into the temple, one can also have a glimpse of small mandap full of sculptures. There are some sculptures which are associated with the temple such as God making foxes as horses when the King, asked the minister for horses, and making those horses back to foxes. There are also idols of Arimardhana Pandian, Manickavasagar, and others.
Beautiful sculptures in Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Sculpture in Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Pillars of Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Sculptures with Idols on pillars of Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
The whole temple is noted for the roof work done by zephyr
). Further entering into the temple, one can find another Manickavasagar shrine surrounded by olden period paintings
. All the pillars in the shrine have beautiful sculptures on them. One can also find Pancha Bhootas, on the ceiling.
The corridor (prakara) surrounding the main shrine has the idols of Chokka Vinayaka, Manikavasagar, Nataraj, Bhikshatana, Kali, Veerabhadra, etc.
Avudayar Koil Temple Roof
There is a Sthala vruksham (Kurutha tree) where the idols of Shiva teaching Manickavasagar is found. There is a small shrine for Nataraj with Shivakami and another shrine for Lord Murugan. The outer prakara has the idols of Lord Ganesha in all the corners. There is huge temple tank in the outer corridor. The idols of Muthu Vinayaka and Muneeswaran are also found there.
Temple Tank of Avudayar Koil Temple TN
This shrine is full of beautiful sculptures and has no separate shrine for Navagrahas (nine planets) as seen in other temples. They are found only in the pillars. All the 27 stars are beautifully present in the form of sculptures in this temple. There is a Sapta swara pillar (musical pillar). The stone chain is a famous sculpture in this temple. This temple has many more special features which can be seen only upon visiting this shrine.
Saptaswara Pillars in Aranthangi Avudayar Koil Temple
Celebration of Festivals:
The Aani Tirumanjanam
and Maargazhi Tiruvaadirai
are the two major annual festivals celebrated here as in Chidambaram Nataraja Temple
. The Pooja archana or worship of deity is done six times a day
The temple is open from 6:00AM-12:00PM in the morning and 4:00PM-9:00PM in the evening.
How to Reach:
By Road:One can hire a bus or taxi from Aranthangi to reach this temple.
By Train:Nearest railway station is the Aranthangi Railway Station.
By Air:Nearest airport is in Trichy (around 100 kms).
Image Courtesy:chennaitian.blogspot.in, www.panoramio.com