Vilvavaneswarar Temple, Tiruvaikavur, Thanjavur
Tiruvaikavur Temple or Thiruvaikavur Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in the holy village of Tiruvaikavur, Tamilnadu, India. The temple is incarnated by the hymns of Thirugnana Sambandar and is classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam. This is the 48th sacred place in the northern bank of Kaveri consecrated by Thevaram.
Thiruvaikavur is 17 Kms from Kumbakonam, 45 from Thanjavur and 7 from Swamimalai. Praying to Vilvavaneswarar, the devotee achieves relief from depression and peace of mind. It is believed that praying in this temple on the day of Shivarathri wards off the fear of death. This was a unique temple with four Nandis (the sacred Bulls) all facing the entrance Gopuram, with the backs facing the Lord.
A saint named Thavanithi was performing his worship in the temple. A deer chased by a hunter held the aegis of the saint. The saint took the form of a tiger to frighten the hunter. The hunter out of fear climbed the Vilva tree in the temple, waiting for the tiger to relent. The tiger was relentless and the hunter spilled vilva leaves one by one the whole night. Incidentally it was a Sivarathri that day and the hunter got the blessings of Lord Siva as a result. The next day was to be the last day of the hunter in Bhoolokam. Yama, the death god approached the hunter - Dakshinamoorthy (Guru) with his soola (trident) and Nandi were driving Yama out of the temple. Lord Siva was unhappy about Nandi and just to avoid Siva's wrath Nandi faces the temple entrance. We can also see Dakshinamoorthy holding a Soolam.
It is also believed that Vishnu performed his penance here to overcome the curse of a chaste woman - the Lord Siva here is called Ariyeesar hence. Brahma & Agni held theertham here to worship lord here. The attributes of both Brahma and Agni was enhanced as a result.
Sapthamadhas (Seven lady Gods) worshipped the Lord here by having a holy dip in Yama theertham, the temple tank here to regain the Ashtama siddhis (powers) lost on account of a curse from the sage Uttala. Lord Siva and Parvathi rose here in the northern banks of Cauvery and Bhooma Devi is believed to have worshiped the Lord. The place is called Bhooomipuram hence.
During the great destruction period, the land was supposed to be destroyed and the world worshipped the Lord, who rose in the form of Vilva tree to save the land. The Lord obtained the name Vilvavaneswarar hence.
Lord rescued the life of a child who was killed by a thief for his jewels on a Sivarathri. God obtained the name of Makavaruleeswarar.
Greatness of Temple
The command of Ambal:
Valaikkainaayaki (Sarvajana Rakshaki) of this temple is a powerful deity. It is significant to perform pooja in the Tuesdays and Fridays between 6.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. At that time, we should stand near the Sri Chakram opposite to Devi, voice out our troubles and worship. We can feel that Devi talks with us. While we are praying to Ambal, the priest would perform the ‘Deepaaradhanai’ (showing camphor-light) to the Lord, come to the sanctum of Ambal, and inform us about our prayer and also the duration of time for that to get fulfilled. The devotees endorse this that things have happened as told by the priest.
Vedas in the form of Vilvam:
Legends state that the Vedas conduct their tapasya in the form of Vilvam. It is believed that the Vedas realized that everything would be annihilated during deluge. So they approached Lord Siva and asked him the way to get protected from extinction. The Lord advised them to do tapasya standing as the bael tree. They did so and hence this holy place came to be known as ‘Vilva Aaranyam’ and the Lord was called ‘Vilvavaneswarar’. Here reside Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu and so the place is celebrated as the holy place of the Trinity.
Just as the bridal couple sit in a straight line during wedding, the sanctum of the Lord and Ambal appear in straight line. The belief is that the ailments get dissolved either by taking bath in the theertham or by sprinkling that water on the body. All doshas or curses will disappear. In other places it is said that the Sapta Maathas had offered prayer; but here the Sapta Kannigaas (the Seven Virgin goddesses) are said to have worshipped. We can see the six-faced Shanmugar with the peacock and the sacred arc (thiruvacci) carved in single stone. We can see clearly in the image the nails and the lines of the palm. Another significant aspect is that the peacock stands turned towards left.
This temple has been consecrated by Saint Arunagirinathar and also by the three Nayanmar, and was erected by King Kulothunga Cholan. At Tiruvaikavur, the Divine Couple Siva and Parvathi joyfully stayed. It remains as a holy place where fear of death is annulled. The tradition is that only in this place ‘Sivarathri’ was initiated.
The temple is surrounded by vast streets on all the four sides and the Yama theertham right in front of the temple. The temple is revered by the verses of Thirugnana Sambandar. The Lord of this place graces us as a swayambu Moorthi. This place brought in the important Maha Sivarathri festival, the festival of Siva temples. In this sacred temple, Lord Dakshinamurthi appears in the standing posture with a staff in his hand. Such an icon cannot be seen in any other place.
Nandikeswarar is reversed and in the opposite side. There is no Navagraha sanctum in this temple. In the ardha mantapam, on both the sides of the door step, Lord Vishnu and Brahma stand as security guards, a feature that could not be seen anywhere.
This holy temple has no Rajagopuram. In the front appears Vinayagar. With five kalasams, the front door alone faces east. On entering we can see the Nandhi turning faces us eastward.
If we enter the inner temple door, we can see and enjoy the Hunter story imaged in mortar. In the outer prakaram are the sanctum of Saptakannikas, Sundaramurthi Vinayagar sanctum and that of Lord Arumuga.
There is no form of life that fears death. The Yama Theertha (Temple tank named after Lord Yama) here reduces the fear of life. The Yama Theertham is one similar to the one present in Tiruneelivaneswarar temple in Trichy.
Temple Opening Time
The temple is open from 6.00 am to 11.00 am and from 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm.
Sivarathri is a famous occasion here and it garners a crowd of around 2 lakh people, Maasi month – Maha Sivarathri two days festival, Theerthavari on the New Moon Day. Panchamukha Moorthis Procession in the Palm leaf cart in the night. It is a significant feature that the Rishabam, Swami and Ambal are all made in Palm leaves and they are taken in procession. Arudhra Procession - This festival is quite noteworthy in this place on the Thiruvathirai, Vijayadasami and Thirukarthigai days.
Worshipping Lord Vilvavaneswarar, our sorrows will vanish. Those who long for marriage and offspring can worship this Lord. The Lord will grant peace and serenity to those who pray to Him. The Lord also readily grants the prayers of his devotees who pray for good job opportunities, business enhancement and promotion in job.
We can perform Abhishekam to the Lord and offer milk, curd and tender coconut. We can also gift dhoti to the Lord and sari to Ambal, and distribute food to the devotees who come to the temple after offering that to the Lord along with the usual Abhishekam and pooja. Those who are rich can donate to the temple renovation.
Arulmigu Vilvavaneswarar Tirukkovil,
Thiruvaikavoor – 613 304,
Phone: +91-94435 86453, 96552 61510
This place is near the Village Antakkudi in the bus-route between Kumbakonam and Tiruvaiyaru. Bus service for this place is available from Kumbakonam. It is comfortable to travel by car for those coming from outskirts. Distance from important cities – From Kumbakonam 17kms, from Thanjavur 45 kms and from Swamimalai 7 kms.
The temple is located 8 km away from Swamimalai and 14 km from Kumbakonam on the Kumbakonam-Thiruvaikavoor road. The temple is 5 km away from Kapisthalam. The best mode is taking town buses from Kumbakonam or mini buses from Kapisthalam.
Nearest Railway Station is located at Kumbakonam & Nearest Airport is located at Trichy.