Sathyanatheswarar Temple (Karaivananathar Temple), Thirukalimedu, Kanchipuram – The Temple
The temple is located in the Thirukalimedu locality in Kanchipuram. The temple covers an area of 22,500 sq. ft. (2,090 m2). Sathyanatheswarar temple complex has two prakarams (outer courtyard), a lotus tank and a three-tiered Rajagopuram (gateway tower) raising to a height of 50 ft. (15 m) facing West. The central shrine faces east and holds the image of Sathyanatheswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite and is believed to be a swayambumurthy (self-manifested).
As in other temples in Kanchipuram, there is no separate shrine of Parvathi as it is believed that Kamakshi of Kanchipuram is the common Parvathi shrine for all Shiva temples. There is a shrine facing south where the festival image of Pramarambikai is housed. All the rituals performed for the deity is similar to the ones done for the presiding deity.
The granite images of Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva), a tall flag staff and a Balipeeta, the place of offering, axial to the sanctum. As in other Shiva temples of Tamilnadu, the first precinct or the walls around the sanctum of Sathyanatheswarar has images of Dakshinamurthy (Shiva as the Teacher), Durga (warrior-goddess) and Chandikeswarar (a saint and devotee of Shiva). The temple precinct is surrounded by granite walls.
Based on the historical significance of the temple, it was in the proposal of Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Circle, as one of the seven temples to be included as an archaeological monument. Yet in this temple, Mother has a place in the sanctum sanctorum with Lord Shiva as procession deity facing south. Though a procession deity, all pujas performed to Lord are equally offered to Ambica. On festival days, Mother is not taken out from the sanctum in procession.
Generally, Lord Dakshinamurthy appears with four disciples – Sanaka, Sanantana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara. The Lord is different in this temple with seven disciples granting all wisdom and knowledge to devotees. Lord Satyanathaswami appears slightly pink in colour. Mother is also known as Kararkuzhali. Nandhi’s – bull vehicle of Lord Shiva – neck alone is south turned. There is an entrance before Nandhi. Budha-Mercury graces in the prakara with Indira nearby.
The temple tank is known as Indra Theertham and Budha Theertham and it is believed that one who has a holy dip in temple tank and worships the God here would be endowed with the best benefits. Lord Mercury rose to the position of a planet only after worshipping the God here. It is believed that sesame oil offered during ablutions is absorbed by the Shivalingam.