This is a big temple dedicated to Shani God. Whenever Saturn transits from one zodiac sign to another , millions throng this shrine for worship. The legendary King Nala is said to have been relieved of his afflictions caused by the malefic influence of Saturn, after worship in this temple. Of the numerous theertams, the Nala theertam is the most important one. It is believed that by bathing here, one washes off all kinds of misfortunes and afflictions caused by one's past of karmas
King Nala was ruling Nidadha having Mavindha as his capital. One day while doing his daily puja, he did not be his legs perfectly. Saturn immediately caught hold of him after waiting for a chance to hold him for about 12 years. Due to this effect, King Nala lost his kingdom in a game. His sufferings grew large. He left his land along with his queen Damayanthi. In course of his wandering in the jungles, he parted with his queen also. He joined as a cook in the palace of the Kind of Ayodhya. After a series of suffering Nala and Damayanthi joined again.
Through Sage Naradha, Nala understood that he was under the adverse influence of Saturn and began a pilgrimage to holy places. At Vriddhachalam, he met sage Srimadvaja who directed him to Darbaranyeswarar temple in Thirunallar and worship the Sani Baghwan which King Nala meticulously followed and got relieved from the adverse effects of Sani Baghwan and also was blessed by him. He stayed there for some time, dug tanks and built the temple. He also got back his kingdom.
Saneeswara Temple Karikal Pondicherry
Legend has it that in the 7th century C.E. , in Madurai, the capital of the Pandian Kingdom, the king Ninra-seer-nedumaran converted to Jainism. During this time, Jainism was spreading in influence in South India. Soon, all but his queen Mangaiyarkarasi and his minister Kulacchirai Nayanar - both staunch Saivaites had embraced Jainism, forsaking the old religion. This caused immense agony to the queen and the minister who were anxious to reclaim both king and kingdom back into the fold of the traditional religion .
To these two grief-stricken individuals came news of the camping of boy saint Thirugnana Sambandar at Vedaranyam. Having heard of the miracles performed by this young Saivite saint in Thanjavur district, they sent an urgent invitation to him to visit Madurai and extricate the king and his subjects from the clutches of Jainism. The arrival of the Saivate saint irked the Jains, who are said to have then set fire to his holy dwelling. But by his yogic powers, Sambandar had the heat transferred to the king, who consequently suffered in agony. Upon the Queen's request, the young saint then sang the Padigam 'Mandiramavadu Neeru' and sprinkled a few grains of holy ash on the right side of the king's body to alleviate the pain. In the contest, the Jains, in turn, chanted the Aruga Mantra and stroked the left side of the king's person with peacock feathers, but it only aggravated the pain! In response to entreaties by the king and his ministers, Sambandar applied a few more grains of the sacred ash to the king's left side also.
The poor Pandian monarch, who only a little while ago was the very picture of suffering, misery and distress, now smiled gaily and was free of his burns. But the Jains challenged the Saivites further, asking that the Mantras of both religions be written on palm leaves and consigned to flames to see which one survived the ordeal of fire . The Jains first placed their palm leaf onto the fire but it was soon consumed by the flames. Saint Thirugnana Sambandar placed on the flames one leaf containing the forty-ninth Padigam of the Tevaram hymn which was sung at the shrine of Lord Darbharanyeswaran Shiva at Thirunallar. The leaf remained untouched by the flames and maintained its evergreen freshness, reestablishing Saivism as the true religion in a Pandian capital. Hence the glory of the Thirunallar temple.
Presiding deity Darbaranyeswarar exists of Himself from the Darba plants. Saturn has a shrine separately. As Saturn here is in a calm state and graceful mood, the Prasad can be taken home. Generally, this is not taken home in other Saturn temples. The place gains significance as King Nala was relieved of the Sani dhosha. Thiagaraja appears on a silver throne called Velli Vimanam. Maragadha Vidangar idol is kept in a box made of emerald stones. It is here that Sani was honoured by Lord Shiva with Easwara degree. The temple is adored in the Pachai Pathigam by Thirugnanasambandar. There are a large number of visitors from North India to this temple. Foreign devotees are no less.