Thiruvanaikaval is a famous Shiva temple in Tiruchirapalli, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple was built by Kocengannan , one of the Early Cholas, around 1,800 years ago. It is located in the Srirangam island, which has the famous Ranganathaswamy temple.
This temple is situated in Coromandel between two rivers, Cauvery in south, coleroon in North. It is one of the five element shrines or Pancha Bootha sthalams and is renowned for the worship of lord Siva as representing the element of water (appulinga). As an Elephant was blessed hereafter worshipping here, this temple came to be known as ‘Thiruvanaikka’. As Lord Siva is seated below Jambu tree at this temple, it got its name Jambukeswaram. When Goddess Ahilandeswari penanced here, Lord Siva satisfied by her prayer blessed her. For this reason, this temple is also known as Gnanashethram.
A spider, which worshipped Lord Jambukeswarar in its previous life, was blessed to born as Kochengat cholan in its next birth. He constructed this temple about 2500 years ago. Uma Deviyar, Thirumal, Brahman, Attathikku Balakhar, Attavasukkal, Jambu Munivar, Gowthamar, Aghasthiyar, a spider known as Gananatharul maliyavan, an elephant named Pushbadhanthan, Suryan and Chandran attained glory by worshipping at this temple. Thirugnana Sambanthar, Appar, Sundarar, Arunagirinathar, Iyyadigal kadawarkon, Thayumanavar have enchanted the glory of Lord Jambukeswarar in their literary works. Goddess blessed poet Kalamega Pulavar with the talent to write poems at this temple.
This temple is endowed with 5 praharams.(corridor) As lord Siva himself built the 5th praharam, appearing in the form of Spider, it is known as ‘Thiruneettan thirumathil’. It is here lord Siva blessed a spider and elephant to attain moksha. Monolithic stone pillars (made from single stone) are found in the mandapam, situated at the entrance of Aariyavittan tower in 3rd Praharam. Stone chains and 12 zodiac signs are beautifully carved on these pillars. Pillars found in 1000 pillar hall and in various parts of the temple have artistic sculptural works. Temple cars In the year1910, 2 big temple cars were made for god & goddess.
‘Coratham’ and several wooden Vahanas are present in this temple. Inscriptions 156 Inscriptions have been found in this temple. Inscriptions of King Madurai konda Parakesari varman paranthaka cholan is the oldest among them. Information about renovations and wealth of this temple are found in these inscriptions.
As per Fergusson, the temple surpasses the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in architectural terms, which were both constructed at the same time. There are five enclosures inside the temple. The massive outer wall covering the fifth precinct, known as the Vibudi Prakara, stretches over a mile and is two feet thick and over 25 feet high. Legend maintains that the wall was built by Shiva working with the labourers. The fourth precinct contains a hall with 796 pillars and measures 2436 feet by 1493.
It also has a small tank fed by perpetual springs. The third enclosure is 745 feet by 197 surrounded a wall 30 feet high. This area has two gopurams 73 and 100 feet tall, a coconut thoppu and a small water tank. The second enclosure is 306 feet by 197, a gopuram 65 feet high and several small shrines. The innermost enclosure measuring 126 feet by 123 has the sanctum. Images of various gateway tower in the temple The sanctum sanctorum is a square structure, found independently situated at the centre of the innermost enclosure. There is a vimana on the roof of the sanctum.
The structure is open on three sides, with a shallow moat separating it from the circumambulation path of the innermost enclosure. The sthala-vriksham, or holy tree here is the White Jambuka, Syzygium samarangense, found growing along the south-eastern wall of the sanctum sanctorum. The trunk of the tree is protected by a walled structure. The western side of the sanctum, from where the deity is viewed, is continuous with a largely closed hall, the Mukha Mantapa, containing four-pillars and housing a bronze idol of Nandi. The Mukha Mantapa has a large, ornate western door gilded with silver that forms the principal entrance. There are two additional entrances to the Mukha Mantapa on the southern and North Eastern sides as well. A set of three steps descends to the level of the sanctum sanctorum from the Mukha Mantapa. The deity is viewed through a stone window that forms an integral part of the western face of the sanctum sanctorum. The window has nine viewing apertures, believed to represent the Navagraha.
There is a panel in bas-relief over the window depicting the sthala Purana: The jambu ka tree growing out of a meditating sage's head on the extreme right; the linga of Jambukeswarar under the tree; a spider and an elephant worshiping the linga along with the Goddess Parvati who stands to the left of the linga. The sanctum sanctorum is divided into the Ardha Mandapam or Antaralam (whose western wall bears the window) and the Garbha Griha where the deity of Jambukeswarar is housed. Entrance into the Sanctum is through a small door on the southern wall, about 4 feet in height.
The Ardha Mantapa is about 4 feet X 4 feet and contains an idol of Goddess Parvati on the right side of the door to the Garbha Griha. Devotees are admitted in groups of six into the Ardha Mantapa during sevas like Abhishekam or on payment of a small fee. The Garbha Griha is a wider structure compared to the Ardha Mantapa. At the centre, the Brahma Sthana is the self-manifested linga of Jambukeswarar. The upper conical part of the linga is the colour of copper, whereas the yoni-Bhaga or the pedestal is of black granite. A brass ring is seen at the point of attachment of the linga to the pedestal. The height of the linga is about 3 feet from the floor of the sanctum.
The Garbha Griha and the Ardha Mantapa are unadorned from the inside, the only source of illumination within the sanctum being ghee lamps. A stream of water is said to emerge from the linga, which is usually demonstrated as the soaking wet clothes in which it is draped. The water flow increases significantly during the Monsoon. The main deity of the temple is Jambukeswara, representing the element water. Jambukeswara is depicted sitting under a jambu tree, which grows over a small stream that engulfs the deity during the rainy season. The temple is also considered the abode of goddess Akilandeswari, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati. The greatest of works related to this temple include Tiruvanaikaval and Kilvelur Akshyalingaswamy temple.
Jambukeswarar Temple Thiruvanaikaval
The temples idols are installed opposite to each other - Such temples are known as Upadesa Sthalams. As the Devi was a student and Jambukeswara like a Guru (teacher) in this temple, there is no Thiru Kalyanam conducted in this temple for Shiva and Parvathi, unlike the other Shiva temples. The sannathy of the goddess Akilandeshwari and the sannathy of Prasanna Vinayaka are in the shape of the pranava manthra called "Om".
It is believed that the Amman in the temple was in deep anger hence during one of Adi Sankara's visit he installed the Prasanna Ganapathy idol right opposite to her Sannathy and installed a pair of Sri Chakra thaatankas (earrings) to reduce her anger. The image of Ekapadtha Tirumuthi, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, is present in the temple, which can be seen only in Thyagaraja Temple, Tiruvottiyur. There are a lot of inscriptions from various Chola kings from 11th - 12th-century indicating grants to the temple.
The temple was widely expanded by Hoysala king, Someswara, the son of Vira Narasimha. During 1236-37 CE, he built a lot of shrines namely Vallaliswara, Padumalisvara, Vira Narasingeswara and Somleswara evidently named after his grandfather Ballalla II, grandmother Padmaladevei, father Vira Narasimha and aunt Somala Devi.
The 7-tiered rajgopuram is also believed to have constructed by the Hoysala king. There are separate shrines beyond the temple compound namely Aadhi haing a typical structure as the main shrines. The temple and its pagodas were subject to frequent conquest between French and English forces between 1751 and 1755 CE. The temple has been widely maintained by Nattukottai Chettiars during the 19th and nearly 20th centuries.
Mother Maha Saraswathi graces the devotees from behind the Lord’s shrine in a standing form but without Veena. Nearby is Chandra the Moon with Karthika and Rohini. Other important shrines are that of Lord Panchamukha Vinayaka (with five faces) and Sani Baghwan with Jeshtadevi. Kubera Linga worshipped by Kubera is on the bank of Jambu Theertham to whom abishek is performed with three fruits-plantain, mango and jack on Aani Poornima day full moon in June-July.