Suryanar Kovil, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur
Suryanar Kovil (also called Suryanar Temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Hindu Sun-God, located in Suryanar Kovil, a village near the South Indian town of Kumbakonam in Tamilnadu, India. The presiding deity is Suriyanar, the Sun and his consorts Usha Devi and Pradyusha Devi. The temple also has separate shrines for the other eight planetary deities. The temple is considered one of the nine Navagraha temples in Tamilnadu. The temple is one of the few historic temples dedicated to Sun god and is also the only temple in Tamil Nadu which has shrines for all the planetary deities.
The present masonry structure was built during the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (AD 1060 – 1118) in the 11th century with later additions from the Vijayanagar period. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple has a five-tiered Rajagopuram, the gateway tower and a granite wall enclosing all the shrines of the temple.
It is believed that the planetary deities were cursed by Brahma to dwell in Vellurukku Vanam, the white wild flower jungle and were blessed by Shiva to make it their abode to devotees. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and two yearly festivals on its calendar. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
It may be recalled that the Sun Temple in Uchikizhan Kottam in Poompuhar during the Sangam Age was destroyed by a massive tsunami. Yet the Sun Temple in Suriyanarkovil in Thanjavur district had survived the test of times and stands majestically with the reputation of its antiquity and scriptural glory. This is a temple for the Navagrahas the nine planets. Huge numbers of devotees visit to worship the deities for relief from the adverse aspects of planets concerning their lives.
Suryanayanar Koil is located two kilometers north of Aaduthurai. It is situated on the road between Kumbakonam and Kathiramangalam and 15 km to the east of Kumbakonam. There are two other holy places near Suryanar Koil – Thirumangalakudi and Kanjanur. Of the nine grahas, the primary position is given to Lord Surya which is why the first day of the week is said to be Sunday. The seven days of the week refer to the seven grahas, including the Sani Bhagawan.
Brahma cursing the Planets:
As per Hindu legend, Sage Kalava was suffering from serious ailments along with leprosy. He prayed to the Navagrahas, the nine planet deities. The planets were pleased by his devotion and offered cure to the sage. Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, was angered as he felt that the planets have no powers to provide boons to humans. He cursed the nine planets to suffer from leprosy and they were sent down to earth in Vellurukku Vanam, the white wild flower jungle. The planets prayed to Shiva to relieve them off the curse. Shiva appeared to them and said that the place belonged to them and they would have to grace the devotees worshipping them from the place. This is the only temple where there are separate shrines for each of the planet deities.
It is stated in one of the inscriptions found in the temple that it was built in the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (AD 1060-1118) and was called Kulottungachola-Marttandalaya. Kulottunga Chola is said to have had a good relationship with the Gahadwal dynasty of Kanauj (1090 – 1194), whose rulers were Sun worshippers, and hence Suryanar Koyil, is considered to be an expression of their influence in South India.
The current granite shrine is believed to have been built by the Vijayanagara Empire. In modern times, the temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The temple is mentioned in the songs of Muthuswami Dikshitar, who has composed a song starting with "Suryamurthe" in Saurashatra ragam.
The presiding deity of Suryanar Temple is Lord Suryanar (Sun). And the favorite color of sun god is red. Lord Suryanar is seen with Goddess Usha Devi and Goddess Pradyusha Devi. Suryanar Temple is the only temple where the eight other planets are also housed, and each planet is located in separate Sannadhis of the temple.
The peculiarity of this temple is that the eight other planets here, faces towards the Surya god. The Vahanam (vehicle) of Lord Suryanar is horse, which is called by the name “Saptha”, which refers to number “seven” in Sanskrit. The chariot of Lord Suryanar is drawn by seven horses.
The inscriptions indicates that that the temple was believed to be built in the Kulottunga Choladeva, the greatest kings of the Chola Empire who ruled in the late 11th century and early 12th century. And it was believed that those who pray at this temple, they will get rid of from their issues.
Those who suffer the ill effects of Kalathara Dosham, Vivaha Paribandha Dosham, Puthra Dosham, Puthra Paribandha Dosham, Vidhya Paribandha Dosham, Udhyoga Padhibandha Dosham, Surya dasai, Surya Bukthi would benefit from worshipping at this temple. Father, Athma, physical strength, right eye, and governmental largesse are the beneficial aspects of this planet.
If one bathes in the nine ghats in this place continuously for 12 Sundays, they will be saved from sufferings and blessed with a happy and peaceful life.
Sree Surya Puranam is the first Puranam when the world came into existence; the first sound that reverberated was ‘Ohm’. Surya was born from this ‘Omkhara naadham’. Sree Markandeya Puranam has explained this factor. Suryan was the son of Sage Kashyapa and was the grandson of Sage Maarisi. Surya married Soorvarsala, the daughter of Vishwakarma. Vaivasvatha Manu and Yamadharmaraja were his sons and Yamuna, his daughter.
It should be mentioned here that the chariot of Surya has only one wheel. It is drawn by seven horses in seven colors. Lord Surya, who is the chief of the grahams, appears with a lotus in his divine hands. Surya Bhagawan blesses his devotees with good health, fame and efficient management.
The presiding deities are Puranavaradheeswarar and his consort Mangalanayagi. Surya is the Lord of Simma Rasi and occupies the central place amongst the Navagrahas. The adidevatha is Agni, prathyutha Devatha – Rudran. His color is red and his vahana is a chariot drawn by seven horses. The grain associated with his is wheat; the flower – lotus, Erukku; fabric – red clothes; gem – ruby; food – wheat, rava, Chakkara Pongal. Suryanaar Koyil was built by the Chola kings.
Greatness of Temple
It is noteworthy that there are only two temples in India dedicated to Sun God, one at Konarak in North and this in South. There is no idol worship in Konarak while this temple follows idol worship. Lord Sun graces from the sanctum sanctorum facing west with Mother Usha Devi on the left and Pradyusha Devi (also known as Chaya Devi) on the right in wedding form.
He is holding lotus in both hands with a smiling face. As Sun is noted for His scorching heat, to cool down the effect, planet Guru (Jupiter) is just opposite the shrine, facilitating his worship under a bearable temperature. Sun’s Horse vehicle is also before Him, as Nandhi is before Lord Shiva.
This is a temple dedicated for the nine planets – Navagrahas. The devotee can worship all the planets as presiding deities. In other temples, the planets are but sub-deities only. The Speciality is Sun God graces with his consorts in wedding form. He is not furious but calm and gracing. Every planet has its own shrine and is only graceful in nature offering solace to the devotee. There is no vehicle for any planet.
Sooriyanar Temple is located to the East of Kumbakonam, 2 km (1.2 mi) from Aduthurai and the Kumbakonam - Mayiladuthurai road. The temple has direct connectivity from lower Anicut and Thiruppanandal. The temple has a rectangular plan with compound walls, pierced by a five-tiered Rajagopuram (entrance tower).
The tower of the temple is 15.5 meter in height and consists of three tiers. At the top of the tower are five domes. To the north of the Rajagopuram lies the sacred bathing Ghat, called Surya Pushkarani. It is important to bathe in this Ghat before offering worship at the temple. If not, one should at least sprinkle its water on one’s head.
As soon as one enters the temple, there is a sacrificial platform (Bali Peetam). To its east lies a mandapam where one can see an idol of a horse. The Lord’s vehicle is the horse (vahanam) which goes by the name ‘Saptha, meaning seven in Sanskrit. The one-wheeled chariot is drawn by seven horses. The central shrine is of Suryanarayana, the Sun God, is built on an elevated structure. The central shrine houses the image of Surya and his consorts Usha Devi and Prathyuksha Devi.
The hall leading to the central shrine has images of Viswanathar, Visalakshi, Nataraja, Sivakami, Vinayagar, Brihaspati (Guru) and Murugan. On the axial line in front of the central shrine, there is an image of Guru (Jupiter), one of the planetary deities. There are separate shrines for all the other seven planet deities namely Bhutan (Mercury), Shani (Saturn), Shukran (Venus), Soma (Moon), Angaragan (Mercury), Rahu and Ketu. All the other eight shrines of the Navagrahas are arranged facing the shrine of Suryanar.
Lord Sun graces in the temple facing west with a Lotus on both hands accompanied by his consorts Usha Devi on the left and Pradhyushadevi on the right. The Navagrahas (nine planets) are without their Vahanas-vehicles.
Guru faces Suryan, who gives safety to us by the posture of refuge with his right hand and left hand planted upon his thighs. The sanctum and the ardhamandapam are built of stone, while the rest of the shrines are brick structures. The Kol Theertha Vinayakar shrine is considered to be of importance here.
Presiding Deity: Lord Surya / Kulothunga Chozha Marthandalaya Devar with his consorts Goddesses Sri Usha & Prathyuksha (Chaya Devi).
Sthalavruksham: Vellerukku (Madar Plant).
Sannidhis: Lord Ganesha, Lord Viswanathar & Visalakshi, Navagrahas, Guru Bhagavan & Lord Chandikeshwarar.
Temple Opening Time
This temple is open from 6 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on all days. The temple remains open in the morning from 6.00 AM to 12:30 PM and in the evening from 4.00 PM to 8.00 PM.
Worship & Festivals
The temple priests perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamilnadu, the priests belong to the Shaivaite community, a Brahmin sub-caste. The temple rituals are performed six times a day; Ushathkalam at 5:30 a.m., Kalasanthi at 8:00 a.m., Uchikalam at 10:00 a.m., Sayarakshai at 6:00 p.m., Irandamkalam at 8:00 p.m. and Ardha Jamam at 10:00 p.m.
Each ritual comprises four steps: Abhishekam (sacred bath), Alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for Suryanar, Ushadevi and Chayadevi. The worship is held amidst music with nagaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas read by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. There are weekly rituals like Somavaram and sukravaram, fortnightly rituals like Pradosham and monthly festivals like Amavasai (new moon day), Kiruthigai, Pournami (full moon day) and sathurthi.
The temple is one of the nine Navagraha temples of Tamil Nadu and is a part of the popular Navagraha pilgrimage in Tamil Nadu. The planets are believed to influence the horoscope computed based on time of one's birth and subsequently influence the course of life. Each of the planets is believed to move from a star to another during a predefined period and thus sway over an individual's fortunes.
The Navagrahas, as per Hindu customs, are believed to provide both good and bad effects for any individual and the bad effects are mitigated by prayers. As in other Navagraha temples, the common worship practises of the devotees include offering of cloth, grains, flowers and jewels specific to the planet deity. Lighting a set of lamps is also commonly followed in the temple. According to Atharvana Veda, one who worships Surya Bhagawan will be relieved from diseases pertaining to the eyes and heart.
Mode of Worship:
Sooriyanar Koil and Thirumangalakudi are closely related. Navanayakars did their meditation and offered worship to prananadeshvarar and Mangalanayagi.
People who offer worship at Sooriyanar temple have to go to Thirumangalakudi to offer worship there. In early days both places are same and it was called ‘Argavamam’ before dividing. Both the temples have Erukan plant as ‘Thalavirutcham’
Thirumangalakudi Temple is a famous temple. Both Thirunavukarasar and Thiruganasambhandar had rendered songs of lord Siva. Mangalakudi, Mangala Vinayagar, Mangala Nayakar, Mangala Nayaki and Mangala Theertham are five auspicious ones in Thirumangalakudi.
There is a marked difference of worshipping in this temple from other temples; one has to follow the custom of worshipping.
To offer worship at Sooriyanar Temple, one has to reach the Rajagopuram (Main Entrance) and more towards North where Pushkarani of temple is located. One can take bath in the tank or sprinkle holy water in the head as purification. Next after the bath one has to offer prayers at the Rajagopuram before entering the temple. After entering the temple, one has to turn towards Southern side where Kol Theertha Vinayagar is placed. One has to do the Sankalpam and Archana as Hindus find Vinayagar as turnover of all obstacles.
After worshipping Vinayagar, one has to climb steps to reach ‘Narthana Mandapam’ at Northern Side and then more towards ‘Sabanayagar Mandapam’ where one can offer prayers to ‘Urchava Moorthi’. After Sabanayagar Mandapam one can reach ‘Main Mandapam’ and offer prayers to Sri Kasiviswanathar and Smt. Visalakshi.
Next to Main Mandapam, there is Maha Mandapam where Sannathi to Sun-God, there is Guru Bhagavan (Lord Jupiter) stands there. People do the Archana for Guru and offer prayers to lord Sun. One has to move South wards to come out of Sanctum to reach the lord Saturn (Sani). Lord Kuja, lord Mars are placed separately then more northwards to offer prayers to lord Moon and Kethu. Next movement would be towards west where lord Sukra and Raghu are placed. Finally one has to offer prayers to Sandikeswarar.
After finishing prayers at Sandikeswarar, one has to come clockwise to reach the Vinayakar to give final prayers, after all the prayers are over, one would reach the Thotha Sampatnam (flag post) and prostrate before it. Then nine rounds of the temple is a must. After nine rounds again one has to prostrate and meditate on the nine planets for some times.
10 day Ratha Sapthami in Thai month (January-February) is a very important festival in the temple. This marks the ‘U’ turn of Lord Sun’s Rath-Car from South to North beginning the six months called Utharayanam from Thai to Aani month – June-July. Seasons are calculated by the movements of Sun God. On the first day of each Tamil month special pujas and abisheks are performed to Lord Suriya-Sun who heads the Zodiac family. This is called Maha Abhishek drawing huge number of devotees. Also Saturn (Sani) and Jupiter (Guru) transition days are celebrated with special pujas.
Sun occupies the first place among the nine planets, so his temple. Devotees throng the temple to submit their prayers to the planets to protect them from their adverse aspects in their lives. Those undergoing the seven and half years Saturn period, his position in the 8th and birth Rasi houses according to their horoscopes and those facing such aspects by other planets come to the temple seeking relief. They stay in the temple for 12 Sundays called Thala Vasam covering about two and half months from the morning of first Sunday.
The period covers about 78 days. They bathe in the sacred springs known as Nava theerthas, observe fasting and worship Lord Tirumangalakudi Prananatha and Mother Mangala Nayaki and other deities in the place. They do remedial pujas according to their problems for removal of the doshas-adverse aspects. Those undergoing Sun main and sub-periods worship on Sundays. They also succeed in their efforts.
Devotees perform a ritual called Nadi Pariharam, Navagraha Homas and Surya Archana. They also perform with sugar pudding (Sarkarai Pongal) which is considered very important here. They do abishek and archana to the planets as prescribed. They also offer wheat, jaggery and their farm yields equal to their weight – a ritual called Tulaabaaram. Those seeking child boon offer cradles. The Prasad is distributed among the visitors. Feeding also is followed besides usual abishek etc.
Sri Suriyanar Temple,
Phone: +91- 435- 2472349
Sooriyanar Temple is in East of Kumbakonam, Kumbakonam – Mayiladuthurai road. It is exactly 2 Kms to the north of Aduthurai and the temple is well connected from lower Anicut and Thiruppanandal.
Bus facilities are available from Mayiladuthurai, Aduthurai, Anaikarai and Thirupanandal. The devotees should get down at Tirumangalakudi Kaliyamman temple stop. Suriyanar koil is 2 furlongs from here.
The nearest railway station to Suryanar Temple is Mayiladuthurai railway station which is 20 Km away from the Temple. Other Nearby Railway Stations are located at Aduthurai & Kumbakonam.
The nearest airport to Suryanar Temple is Thanjavur airport, which is 44 Km from Suryanar Temple.