Tiruvetkalam Temple is located close to the Annamalai University in Chidambaram. It is a 16th century temple dedicated to Pasupateshwar or Lord Shiva. Nayaka period inscriptions can also be seen at this temple. This temple is the place where Lord Shiva gave Arjuna the ultimate weapon, named Paasupataastram.
Kiraata Murthy is the main form of Lord Shiva worshipped at this temple. The fight between Lord Shiva and Arjuna is enacted through a play during the annual festival, which is organised between May and June. Some of the nearby villages that tourists can visit are Villeruttaan Kuttai, Eesanporveli and Usuppoor. The Tiruvetkalam Temple is situated around 2 km east of Chidambaram Railway Station.
This temple is located in the vicinity of the Annamalai University at Chidambaram and is very similar to the one at Sivapuri nearby.
Tiruvetkalam is the 2nd in the series of Tevara Stalangal on the northern banks of the river Kaveri in the Chola region of Tamilnadu. Also near this temple is the Shivastalam Tirukkazhippalai. It is associated with legends from the Mahabharatam.
Engravings from the Nayaka period (16th century) are seen in this temple. The temple faces the east and has a Naagalinga tree and a temple tank in its facade. There are shrines to Siddhi Vinayakar and Somaskanda in the outer circumambulatory passage. There are also shrines to Sundareswarar, Murugan and Mahalakshmi.
In the mandapam in front of the shrine, there are sculptural portrayals of Shiva and Parvati in the semblance of a hunter and a huntress convoyed by hounds, the battle between Shiva and Arjuna etc.
The antiquity of Tiruvetkalam dates back to over 2000 years. It is here Lord Shiva granted the Pasupatha missile to Arjuna. Mother Nallanayaki graces the devotees with four hands holding Lotus and Neelotpala flowers in two hands. There is a Nandhi in Her shrine also.
The temple was built by Pallava kings strictly following the temple architecture rules with bricks. In the year 1914, this was renovated with stones by Peddha Perumal Chettiar of Kanadukathan. Sun and Moon are next to each other. Worshipping the planets during eclipse times is devotionally followed in the temple.
Arjuna was advised by Lord Krishna to perform penance on Lord Shiva to get the Pasupatha missile to win the Kurukshetra war though he got many such from his father Indira. Obeying this, he came to this place dense with bamboo trees. Duryodhana sent demon Mookasura as a wild pig to spoil Arjuna’s penance. Knowing his strategy, Lord Shiva set out with Mother Parvathi as a hunter. Mother Parvathi grew angry on Arjuna when he struck on the Lord but Lord stopped her saying that a Mother should only be loving and addressed Her ‘Sarguna’ meaning a person with calm traits. Arjuna had the benefit of the touch of Lord’s feet when He tossed him. Lord granted darshan to Arjuna with Mother Parvathi and the Pasupatha he desired. The bow-blow wound on the Shivalinga is noticeable even now.
Shiva is said to have appeared in the form of a hunter and then blessed Arjuna with the Pasupatastram & this event is enacted during the festival in the month of Vaikasi. The bows Gandipam and Pinakam are said to have been formed here. There are festival images of Arjuna, and Shiva with the Pasupatastram.
Many villages around this shrine are associated with the legend of Arjuna's encounter with Shiva. Usuppoor is where Arjuna is said to have chased a wild boar which disturbed his meditation; Nakkar Ugandakudi is another (Nakkattankudi). Eesanporveli is where Arjuna is believed to have fought with Shiva, and Villeruttaan Kuttai is where Arjuna's bow is said to have been broken by Shiva.
Sambandar, considering the entire town of Chidambaram to be the holy temple, resided in Tiruvetkalam, and visited the Chidambaram temple from here.
It is said that Appar visited this shrine after visiting Chidambaram; he is then said to have visited Tirukkazhippaalai and then returned to Chidambaram.
Inscriptions from the Nayaka period (16th century) are seen in this temple. This east facing temple has a Naagalinga tree and a temple tank in front. There are shrines to Siddhi Vinayakar and Somaskanda in the outer circumambulatory passage. There are also shrrines to Sundareswarar, Murugan and Mahalakshmi. In addition to the festival images described above there are also images of Nataraja, Sivakami and the four Saivite Saints.
In the mandapam in front of the shrine, there are sculptural depictions of Shiva and Parvati in the guise of a hunter and a huntress accompanied by hounds, the battle between Shiva and Arjuna etc.
The annual festival in this temple is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikashi on theVishaka asterism where the stalapuranam of the temple is enacted. Festivities are also held during Sivaratri and during the Navaratri season. Mondays in the month of Kartikai are considered sacred.
Ø Chithirai : mostly on 14th April
Ø Vaikasi Visakam in May-June;
Ø Aani Tirumanjanam in June-July;
Ø Vinayaka Chaturthi in August-September;
Ø Purattasi Navarathri in September-October;
Ø Deepavali in October-November;
Ø Maha Shivrathri in February-March
Ø Panguni Uthiram in March-April
Ø The annual festival in this temple is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikashi on the Vishaka asterism where the stalapuranam of the temple is enacted.
The kameeyam pooja or agmam is performed here. Thillai Chidambaram is the first of sacred Shiva Sthalas praised in Thevaram hymns followed by Tiruvetkalam. Those facing stammering problems and delays in their wedding worship here. The devotees perform abishek to Lord and Mother and offer vastras.
Lord shiva is worshipped here in the form of Pasupateshwar. The female deity is known as Nallanayagi, Sargunambal.
The temple is open from 6.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and from 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. on all days.
The Tiruvetkalam temple is located in the complex of Annamalai University at Chidambaram in Cuddalore district. The nearest railway station is Chidambaram and the nearest airport is Chennai, Chidambaram.
One has to enter the University Campus through the front entrance and the temple is located near the music college on the back side of the campus.