Ardhanareeswarar Temple, Tiruchengode - Legends
Story behind Arthanareeswarar Manifestation:
Once, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, Indra and sage Birungi went to Kailash to worship Lord Shiva. They were directed towards Lord Shiva by his Vahana, Nandhi. Everyone first had a darshan of Lord Parvathi and then proceeded to Lord Shiva. But, Sage Birungi directly marched to Lord Shiva. Parvathi Devi, annoyed by his act, sucked the flesh from the Sage's body to stop him proceeding, but the sage forwarded.
Lord Shiva recognized this act of Parvathi and blessed Birungi with a third leg. After the departure of the Sage, Lord Parvathi appeased Lord Shiva about her penance. After Lord Shiva's approval, Parvathi Devi along with her crew went to a hilltop and performed the same.
As a result of this penance, she demanded a will for getting a portion for her in Lord Shiva's sacred body thus granting the devotees for an integrated worship, which was granted by Lord Shiva. This led to the manifestation of half men and half women depiction Arthanareeswarar. Thus Lord Parvathi took up the left side and rest right by Lord Shiva. This signifies the creation of this manifestation.
Battle between Adiseshan and Vayu:
It is also believed that long ago there held a battle between Adiseshan and Vayu to prove their mighty powers. This resulted in devastating disasters and the then sages gave an idea to them. Accordingly, Adiseshan has to cling to Mount Meru with his hood and Vayu has to release him by his valour. But the former succeeded. Vayu, out of anger, stopped the air as a result all living beings fainted. Sages convinced Vayu to release his hold.
By the sudden release of air by Vayu lead the top of the mountain with the head of Adisesha, thrown into earth on three places with flesh and blood and making it red and thus the name Chengode.
The Name ‘Nagamalai’:
There is a 60 feet long snake carved on the hill, and hence the hill is also called as ‘Nagamalai’.
Adi Kesava Perumal helping Parvathi to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar:
Adi Kesava Perumal enshrined here, instructed Gowri on the Kedara Gowri Vratam, which she performed to unite with Shiva as Ardhanareeswarar. It is one of the 64 manifestations of Shiva - the man-woman form with Parvati constituting the left half of Shiva.
Aadhikesava Perumal giving darshan to Mandukarna Rishi:
Arthanareeswarar Temple’s history is steeped in legend. Mandukarna Rishi was a staunch devotee of Lord Venkatachalapathi (Lord Vishnu in Tirupathi). He would walk to Thirumalai Tirupathi once a month and worship the Lord. As he grew older, he found it more and more difficult to climb up the seven hills to Thirumalai and was heartbroken that he could not see his beloved Lord Venkatachalapathi. So the Lord, touched by his devotion, promised him that he would appear in front of the sage in the hill temple at Tiruchengode everyday as Lord Aadhikesava Perumal, and gave darshan in front of the pot where the holy basil plant grew, the Tulasi Maadam.
Lord Muruga settling in Thiruchengodu Hill:
According to the Puranas, once, in a contest between his brother Ganesha and himself, Lord Muruga lost the prize of the divine fruit (Gnana pazham). Angry with his parents, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, Lord Muruga left Mount Kailash and came to south India and reached Tiruvavinankudi from where he could still see Mount Kailash. So, he left Thiruvavinankudi and reached Nagachala Hills (Tiruchengode) and took residence here and blesses devotees as Sengottuvelar.