Swarna Kaaleeswarar Temple, Kalaiyar Kovil, Sivaganga
Swarna Kaaleeswarar Temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva situated in Kalaiyar Kovil of Sivaganga District, Tamilnadu, India which was ruled by the Maruthu Pandiyar. There is a very large Shiva temple. Kalaiyar Kovil is owned by the family of the Raja of Sivaganga. It is run by their Devasthanam, and a trust of the Zamindar family of Devakottai. This temple enshrines Lord Swarnakaleswara as the presiding deity accompanied by Someswara and Sundareswara with separate shrines within the precincts.
Kalaiyar Koyil (Also called as Thirukkanaper) is a highly revered Shivastalam in Pandya Naadu. There are three shrines in this temple associated with the three functions of creation, preservation and completion. This shrine is regarded as the 10th of the Tevara Stalams in the Pandya region of Tamilnadu. This is one of the oldest temples of Lord Shiva known as Mukthi Sthalam, occupies 4 Acres of massive land with two majestic Rajagopurams built by Maruthu Pandya brothers and Sundara Pandya of Pandya Dynasty.
Sambandhar, Navukkarasar and Sundarar sang hymns on Kaleeswarar of this temple. All the three deities are in different sanctums and Goddesses are also in separate sanctums. Lord Kaleeswarar temple is in the middle, we see Lord Someswarar to right side and to the left we see Lord Sundareswarar. Agasthyar, Ashtadhik Balakas, Thirumal, Veerasena Pandiyan, Varaguna Pandiyan and Vikrama Pandiyan worshipped Lord Siva of this place. Arunagirinathar sang Thirupugazh on Lord Murugan of this temple.
This is the 254th Devaram Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalam and 10th sthalam in Pandya nadu. The temple Kalaiyar Kovil is in Sivaganga District. It is 16 km (10 mi) east of Sivaganga, 35 km (22 mi) west of Devakottai on the Devakottai - Manamadurai Road and 66 km (41 mi) south-east of Madurai by Thondi Road.
Kali getting back her golden complexion:
The legend has that Goddess Kali was afflicted with Brahmmahathi after beheading the demon Chandasuran. In order to get rid of this curse, she arrived on this sacred land, took holy dip in the Sivagangai Theertham and prayed to Lord Shiva. Consequently, she was relieved from the sin of Brahmmahathi and horrifying dark complexion. She regained her original form and gorgeousness with golden complexion as Goddess Sri Swarnavalli and married to Lord Kaleeswarar on this sacred land.
Sage Durvasa cursing Airavatham & Indra:
Another legend has that Lord Indra’s celestial Vehicle Airavatham was cursed by Sage Durvasa. Sage Durvasa offered a garland to Lord Indra, which was used for the worship of Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi. Lord Indra erroneously accepted the garland and placed it on Airavatham. Airavatham shoved the garland on the floor and trampled with its foot. Sage Durvasa was mounted with anger cursed Lord Indra and Airavatham. In order to get rid of the curse Airavatham arrived on this sacred land and created a pond – Gaja Pushkarani with its sharp teeth plunged on the Earth. With this water Airavatham worshipped Lord Shiva and got rid of the curse. Surprisingly, the water in this pond never dries up.
Lord Shiva appearing as Kaalai Maadu (Bull):
In Sundarar’s dream, when was at Thiruchuzhi, Lord Shiva came in the form of Kalai maadu with sendu in one hand and Chuzhi on the forehead and said he is in Kaanapair. Since Iraivan came in the form of Kaalai maadu the place is called as Kalaiyar Koil.
Kalaiyar Kovil derived its name from the Kaleeswarar temple of the place. Kalaiyar is a corruption of the word Kaleeswaran. During the Sangam period, this place was known as Kaanapair as is seen from the 21st verse in the Purananooru sung by Iyur moolakizhar, a poet of the Sangam period. In the 9th Century A.D. Saint Sundara Moorthy nayanar described the presiding deity in his devotional songs as Kaalai. Since then the deity was known as Kalaiyar, with the Tamil suffix Yar added to it denoting respect. The temple came to be known as Kalaiyar Kovil and this was later adapted to the place also.
Sundaramoorthy Nayanaar and Varaguna Pandyan are associated with this temple. Maruda Pandiyar of the Sivagangai Samasthanam (Kingdom) has contributed immensely to the maintenance of this temple. The British threatened to destroy this temple, in order to force the Marudu Brothers (rulers) who were devoted to this temple to surrender. The tombs of the brothers who were executed later on are seen near the temple.
On 25 June 1772, the Company forces under Col. Joseph Smith and Cap. Bonjour marched towards Kalaiyar Kovil. The second king of Sivaganga, Muthu Vaduga Natha Thevar (1750–1772) and Maruthu brothers defended it. Rajah Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar in anticipation of the English invasion made preparation for defence. But Rajah Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar with the many of his soldiers fell dead in the Kalaiyarkoil battle. The invading English forces plundered Kalaiyarkoil and collected jewels worth 50,000 pagodas. Kalaiyarkoil temple belongs to Sivagangai Devasthanam.
The temple was kept locked and prayers stopped for some time. It was later re opened and substantial repairs and development were done by Devakottai Zamindar. In fact Shree AL.AR.RM.Arunachalam Chettiar, Zamindar of Devakottai took up sanyasa from Koviloor and moved to the Vedantha madam at Kalaiyar Kovil. He was known as Shreelashree Zamindar Arunachala Gnana Desiga Swamigal and his Samadhi is in the rear of the madam.
Shree Zamindar Swamigal, Senior heir of Devakottai Zamindar Shri AL.AR.Ramasamy Chettiar, Shri AL.AR.RM.Arunachalam Chettiar the then Zamindar of Devakottai in succession had started Devakottai Zamindar Kattalai Endowment after the demise of his father Devakottai Zamindar AL.AR Ramaswamy Chettiar (now known as AL.AR.Trust) with a Registered agreement to Sivagangai Devasthanam to conduct special daily, monthly poojas to God Sorna Kaleeswarar and deity Sornavalli Amman. This is performed continuously by his successors. Now Mr.AL.AR.K.VR Chinna Veerappan is the Senior Heir of AL.AR. Family is performing the same.
Seat of kings:
Kalaiyarkoil was the seat of the kings from very early days. King Vengai Marban ruled over this area during Sangam period. It was the stronghold of rulers of Sivagangai. It was also the seat of the freedom fighters like Muthu Vaduga Natha Thevar and Maruthu brothers.
A lofty Rajagopuram (150 feet) and an imposing Theppakulam tank (with a mandapam) named Aanai madu adorn this shrine. Airavatam the elephant of Indra is said to have created this tank. There are three shrines in this temple associated with the three functions of creation, preservation and completion.
The first shrine is dedicated to Someswarar representing Sthoolalingam the 2nd shrine is dedicated Kaleeswarar representing Saotchumalingam and the third shrine is dedicated to Sundareswara representing Karanalingam.
There are three Shiva Sannadhis with two Raja gopuram in single premises. The sanctum Sanctorium is few feet below the ground level. The center Kaaleeswarar is old and Paadal Petra swayambu lingam. From the tallest gopuram we can see the Madurai temple Gopurams. There is a local kummi - கும்மி song available for this Rajagopuram ("மதுரை கோபுரம் தெரியக் கட்டிய மருதுபாண்டியன் வாராண்டி“).
Theertham – Sivagangai Theertham, Gaja Theertham, Vishnu Theertham, Saraswathy Theertham, Kali Theertham, Gouri Theertham, Rudra Theertham, Lakshmi Theertham, Sudarsana Theertham. Gaja Theertham – Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva on this sacred land after beheading the demon King Ravana. Lord Rama took holy dip in this pond and worshipped Lord Shiva to get rid of Brahmmahathi. Sivagangai Theertham – was originated at the will of Goddess Kali.
Temple Opening Time
This temple remains open from 5.30AM to 12.30PM in the morning and 4.00PM to 8.00PM in the evenings.
Kaaleeswarar's festival is celebrated in the month of Thai where the car festival is observed during the Poosam. Someswarar's Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. The float festival also happens then. Aadi Pooram, is celebrated for Swarnavalli Amman.
Worship of Lord Kaleeswarar with his consort Goddess Swarna Valli Thayar provides abundance of devoutness includes worship of Lord in 1000 Shivalayas, also eradicates sins of the past and provide Salvation.
The Kalaiyar Kovil temple is in Sivaganga District. It is 16 km (10 miles) east of Sivaganga, 35 kms (22 miles) west of Devakottai on the Devakottai – Manamadurai Road and 66 km (41 miles) south-east of Madurai by Thondi Road.
Buses are available from Karaikudi, Sivagangai, Devakottai, and Madurai to this place. On the train route get down at Naattarasan Kottai on the Chennai to Rameswaram and Trichy to Manamadurai. Nearest Airport is located at Madurai, Trichy and Thoothukudi.