Thanthondreeswarar Temple, Belur – Legends
Story of Milagu Chetty:
Manickam Chetty, a pepper merchant was living near a village close to the temple. His job was carrying loads of pepper and selling it in the market place. One day he was crossing this dense forest where the shrine is located at present. As darkness sunk in, he wanted to take rest. In order to eat, he crossed pea aubergine (Sundaikai, an edible vegetable) with a stone.
Suddenly he heard a voice saying, "The stone hurts my head. Apply some pepper on my head. Bewildered by this incident, the merchant said that he did not have any pepper and added that he had only Black Gram (Ulundu). Next day he proceeded to the market place and opened his baggage. He was shocked to find black gram instead of pepper.
He worshipped God and prayed for his forgiveness. God asked him to bring some mud from the place where he had crushed pea aubergine (Sundaikai) and spray it in the baggage containing black gram. He followed his instructions and black gram transformed into pepper again.
On his way back, out of curiosity, he examined the place where he took rest. He was surprised to find a Suyambu Lingam (Lingam which originates by itself from earth). He worshipped the Lord and it is believed that the inner sanctum of the temple was built by him. Henceforth he was called Milagu Chetty (Milagu means Pepper) and the place where pepper transformed into black gram is called Ulundurpettai.
The place has retained its name since then. As per history the inner sanctum was constructed by Milagu Chetty and the rest was constructed by king Paranthaka chola. This has been mentioned in the book "The Manual of Salem District in the Presidency of Madras" by Lee Fanu and the same idea has been endorsed by Rajannan, a History professor.
Arjuna, during his pilgrimage came to the Theerthamalai nearby and worshipped Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu advised him to use his arrow with the worshipful thought of Lord Shiva. Pleased with his worship and the arrow shot, Lord Shiva parted with one tenth of the Ganga water under his control. It was a crystal white water that flowed as Vellaru – White River. Sage Vasishta added more reputation to the place with his Yajna.